Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Jane Adelaide Pritchard Adkins, 1847-1931
By Denise Dutton Benshoof, Cultural Historian, Snellville, Georgia.
Recording Secretary of the Atlanta South Side Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.T.C.U.) [also known as the Frances Willard W.C.T.U. and the Mary Latimer McClendon W.C.T.U.], in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1899 through the 1920s.
Jane Adelaide Pritchard Adkins was recording secretary of the Atlanta South Side W.C.T.U. for twenty to twenty-five years, and worked closely with Mary Latimer McClendon, who was president of both the South Side W.C.T.U. and the Georgia Women's Suffragette Association.
Jane Adelaide Pritchard was born January 1 in either 1845 or 1847 in Richmond County, Georgia. Her father, William Henry Pritchard, was born in Columbia, Richland County, in South Carolina in 1807. He was listed as a painter in the 1850 US Census in Richmond County, Georgia, and died in Richmond, Virginia, while in military service for Georgia during the Civil War. Her mother is listed as Adelade D. Moore on Jane Adkins' death certificate, but as Jane A. Pritchard in census and tax records. Her mother was born in Richmond County, Georgia, in 1810, and died in 1872, also in Richmond County.
Jane Adelaide Pritchard's future husband, Aaron Jefferson Adkins, was born in Georgia in 1842 or 1843. He enlisted as a private for the Confederacy on June 14, 1861. He mustered out on January 3, 1862, and then reenlisted with Company I, of the Georgia 28th Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to Full Corporal on January 15, 1863. His service in the military before he married Pritchard provided a pension for her after his death from malaria in 1906.
Pritchard married Aaron J. Adkins on June 10, 1869, in Augusta, Georgia. Aaron J. Adkins was the son of Isaac F. Adkins, a teacher in Jefferson County, Georgia, and Frances Wynn, who was born in 1823 and died in 1848. In the census records after their marriage, Aaron J. Adkins is listed as a clerk in a clothing store in 1870, and later, in 1880, as a “retired merchant” at age 37. At that time, Jane and he had two living children and had moved to Thomson in McDuffie County, Georgia.
The growing family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in September of 1894. The 1900 census states that they rented a house at 35 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, where they then rented rooms to several boarders. Seven of their twelve children also lived at the boarding house. Adkins was 52 years old.
In 1899, the South Side W.C.T.U. meeting announcements, published in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, listed Adkins as the Recording Secretary for the union, where she worked closely with Mary Latimer McLendon, who was president. Among Adkins's duties as recording secretary was posting the meeting announcements, and her name, “Mrs. Jane Adkins,” and title are listed in all the published meeting announcements. Adkins continued to be the Recording Secretary for the next two decades for the South Side W.C.T.U., which later was known as the Willard W.C.T.U. in honor of Frances Willard, president of the national W.C.T.U. After McClendon's death in 1921, the name of the Willard W.C.T.U. was changed to the Mary Latimer McLendon W.C.T.U.
Adkins's husband died of malaria in Atlanta in September, 1906. Jane Adkins filed for a Confederate widow's pension in Richmond County, Georgia. McClendon was one of the two witnesses testifying on the application that Jane Adkins was indigent and required the pension. Adkins was receiving $30 a month from this pension at the time of her death in 1931.
During the late 19th century, pensions for disabled veterans of the Civil War were provided for Union veterans by the federal government. State governments across the South had to provide for Confederate veterans. Georgia passed a law to provide pensions for Civil War disabled veterans in 1886, and for veterans who could no longer work to provide for themselves in 1894. Widows' pensions were passed in 1890 for the former, and for the latter in 1900. In 1906, Adkins would have had to apply for one of these two reasons, for which her husband would have been receiving a disability pension. The law to provide for all Civil War widows was not passed until 1907.
After her husband's death, Adkins continued her work as Recording Secretary and offered her home for meetings of the South Side W.C.T.U. She was a delegate at two Georgia W.C.T.U. state conferences, and was given a position on a state-level committee to raise funds for a fountain to be donated to the state capitol grounds commemorating men in the state legislature who had voted for and passed a state-wide prohibition of alcohol the previous July. In 1915, she hosted the Willard W.C.T.U.'s silver anniversary tea at her home.
After the Nineteenth Amendment passed on August 18, 1920, the suffragists in Georgia discovered that the deadline for registering to vote in the upcoming elections in November had passed and they were ineligible to vote. The Atlanta Women's Suffragette Association decided to try to register to vote at the Atlanta property tax office. Confederate veterans were allowed to register to vote while paying their property taxes. Widows paid their own property taxes, and four women who were widows were selected to go to the tax office to try to register to vote. The women chosen were McClendon, Adkins, Julia H. Ellington, and Nancy Duncan. Their requests were refused by the tax office. Women in Georgia were unable to vote in the elections of 1920.
Adkins participated in several more community and religious organizations as well as the W.C.T.U. She was a member of the Altar Society and the knitting guild at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Atlanta (now the Basilica of the Sacred Heart). She also joined the Atlanta chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1920. In 1927, the W.C.T.U. packed boxes of clothing for flood victims at her home. Then in 1930, she was presented for membership in the Rebecca Latimer Felton chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
In 1927, Adkins wrote a letter to the editor of the Constitution, “Urges Greater Pensions for Confederate Veterans,” and it was published on July 4. Adkins wrote that $16.99 a month was not enough for a Civil War veteran to live on. She closed her letter with her beliefs about giving, and receiving: “Go, give to the needy sweet charities' bread, for giving is living, the angel said. And shall I give always? Yes, give until the Master stops giving to you.”
As Adkins neared eighty years old in the late 1920s, announcements appeared in the Atlanta Constitution of recognitions held in her honor and family events.
On December 30, 1926, the Mary Latimer McLendon W.C.T.U presented Adkins a “small gift” for twenty years of service.
A family dinner was held on January 1, 1931, for her eighty-fourth birthday. She was reported as ill in the Atlanta Constitution on January 16. She died two months later.
A Requiem Mass was held for Adkins on March 9 at Sacred Heart Church. Her obituary in the Georgia W.C.T.U.'s newsletter, “The Georgia Bulletin,” recognized Adkins for her volunteer work as secretary of the Mary Latimer McClendon W.C.T.U. for 25 years.
Adkins is buried at Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.
After her death, the Barclay and Brandon Company of Atlanta applied for payment of $550 to cover Adkins's funeral expenses from the Confederate Pension Fund.
1850 United States Census Records, Georgia, Richmond, Division 73
1860 United States Census Records, Georgia, Richmond, Augusta Ward 1
1870 United States Census Records, Georgia, Richmond, District 123
1880 United states Census Records, Georgia, McDuffie, Thomson 075
1900 United States Federal Census, Georgia, Fulton, Atlanta Ward 6, District 0076
Aaron J. Adkins, Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22922116/adk
Ancestry.com. Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.
Atlanta Constitution, Newspapers.com.
“W.C.T.U. Election of Officers,” December 7, 1899 (page 11)
“Old-Fashioned Fair,” October 4, 1914 (page 5)
“W.C.T.U. Silver Tea,” September 21, 1915 (page 6)
“Delegates to W.C.T.U”, October 24, 1915 (page 7)
“Catholic Red Cross Auxiliary,” September 28, 1917 (page 4)
“Atlanta Chapter, U.D.C., Music Study Club,” April 21, 1920. (page 12)
“McClendon W.C.T.U Holds Meeting,” January 2, 1927 (page 40)
“Mrs. Jane Adkins is Guest of Honor,” January 4, 1927 (page 10)
“McLendon W.C.T.U. Conducts Silver Medal Contest,” May 1, 1927 (page 50)
“Urges Greater Pensions for Confederate Veterans,” July 4, 1927 (page 4)
“Rebecca Felton Chapter, U.D.C., Holds Meeting,” February 23, 1930. (page 36)
“Mrs. Adkins Honored,” January 3, 1931 (page 11)
“Mrs. Jane Adkins,” January 16, 1931 (page 12)
“Adkins” (Obituary), March 9, 1931 (page 14)
Jane A. Adkins, USAMILCONFEDGA 178729-0062, Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office, RG 58-1-1, Georgia Archive.
Harper, Ida Husted, editor. The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI, 1900-1920, Chapter X, Georgia. National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK]
Typed draft for history of the Georgia W.C.T.U., Manuscript Collection, Box 10, Folder 7, Georgia Woman's Christian Temperance Union records, 1888-1982, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.
“Report of the Twenty-fifth Annual Convention of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Georgia, 1907,” WCTU Records, Series V, Convention Reports 1907-1908, Box 23, Folder 6. Georgia Women's Christian Temperance Union records, 1888-1982, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.
“The Georgia Bulletin, 1931,” OP 5, Folder 2. Georgia Women's Christian Temperance Union records, Bulk 1930-1956, Series 5, Printed material, 1888-1982, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.
Young, James R. “Confederate Pensions in Georgia, 1886-1929.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol. 66, no. 1, 1982, pp. 47–52. www.jstor.org/stable/40580853.