Andrew Adams (1905–1985)


Andrew Adams served as the Upper Mattaponi chief from 1974 until his death in 1985. Born in King William County, Adams attended the Sharon Indian School and served in the U.S. Army during World War II (1939–1945). He then lived in Philadelphia until 1974, when his father, chief since 1923, died. Adams was elected leader of the tribe, reformed its government, and helped obtain a charter incorporating the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribal Association. The tribe received state recognition just before Adams’s death in 1985.

Sharon Indian School

Andrew Washington Adams was born on July 21, 1905, in King William County, the second of six sons and fourth of twelve children of Jasper L. Adams and Mollie Wade Holmes Adams. He began his education in a private school and in 1919 was one of the first students to attend the tribe’s new Sharon Indian School. He worked on his father’s farm before going into the timber industry, cutting wood for the Chesapeake Corporation, one of the largest pulp mills in the Southeast. In 1941 he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Adams was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, and at Camp Blanding, Florida, before his discharge on September 2, 1945.

Current Location of the Upper Mattaponi

On October 13, 1945, Adams married Ocie Allmond, the daughter of Caroline Adams Allmond and William Thomas Allmond, a widow who lived on the Pamunkey reservation with her three-year-old son. Adams moved his new family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a mechanic until he retired in 1973. Both of his parents died that year, and Adams returned to Virginia. He was elected leader of the Upper Mattaponi in 1974, the office his father had held from 1923 until his death. Adams reformed the tribe’s governmental organization and on June 14, 1976, obtained a charter incorporating the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribal Association. With the tribe’s legal ability to manage its affairs secured, he worked to improve educational opportunities for the children. Adams was also very active in the campaign to obtain formal recognition of the Upper Mattaponi as a distinct Virginia Indian tribe in order to enable it to participate in more federal Indian programs. The Virginia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution in February 1983 recognizing the Upper Mattaponi as a Virginia tribe. Unfortunately, Adams’s poor health kept him from the ceremony in the governor ‘s office in Richmond in March 1983 at which Governor Charles S. Robb signed the recognition papers.

Adams died in a Richmond nursing home on September 10, 1985, and was buried in the churchyard of Indian View Baptist Church in King William County.

July 21, 1905
Andrew Adams is born in King William County.
Andrew Adams is one of the first students to attend the Upper Mattaponi tribe's Sharon Indian School.
Andrew Adams is drafted into the U.S. Army.
Andrew Adams lives in Philadelphia and works as a mechanic.
September 2, 1945
Andrew Adams is discharged from the U.S. Army.
October 13, 1945
Andrew Adams and Ocie Allmond are married.
Andrew Adams is elected leader of the Upper Mattaponi tribe, a position his father held since 1923.
June 14, 1976
The Upper Mattaponi tribe obtains a charter incorporating the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribal Association.
March 25, 1983
Virginia Joint Resolution 54 extends official state recognition to the Chickahominy Tribe, the Eastern Chickahominy Tribe, the United Rappahannock Tribe, and the Upper Mattaponi Tribe. It also acknowledged the recognition of the Pamunkey Tribe and Mattaponi Tribe, which the commonwealth had recognized since the colonial era.
September 10, 1985
Andrew Adams dies in a Richmond nursing home. He is buried at the Indian View Baptist Church in King William County.
  • Adams, Eunice A. “Adams, Andrew Washington.” In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, edited by John T. Kneebone, et al., 20. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998.
APA Citation:
Adams, Eunice & Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Andrew Adams (1905–1985). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/adams-andrew-1905-1985.
MLA Citation:
Adams, Eunice, and Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Andrew Adams (1905–1985)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 20 Jul. 2024
Last updated: 2021, December 22
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