THE DOUBLE DEATH
Which Disgraced Mississippi Last Tuesday.
The Fatal Meeting Between General Wirt Adams and Mr. John H. Martin — The Cause of the Tragedy.
VICKSBURG, Miss., May 3. –[Special] — A Jackson, Miss., special gives full details of the tragedy of last Tuesday. The tragedy occurred there about 2:15 p.m. General Wirt Adams, postmaster, and one of the most distinguished citizens of the state, and John H. Martin,, editor of the New Mississippian, met in deadly combat on President street near the corner of Amite. Martin had published General Adams in several personal squibs in his paper for some weeks past, to which General Adams paid no attention. The issue of the New Mississippian, today contained another and severe personal article against him and is supposed to be the direct cause of today’s tragedy.
They met at the time and place above stated, General Adams going north and Martin south.
Mr. Farish, who was walking with General Adams, says that as they approached each other General Adams accosted Martin and said, in effect: “You damn rascal, I have stood enough from you,” and Martin replied, “If you don’t like it,” simultaneously with the remark he drew his pistol and commenced firing and got behind a large china tree on the outer edge of the pavement, two and a half feet in diameter. General Adams also fired about the same time, but Farish, thought not certain, thinks that Martin shot first.
Mr. Thomas Helm, Jr., who was sitting at his window just across the street, immediately opposite the scene of the conflict, some sixty feet distant, says “that he was looking out of the window south and saw General Adams and Farish coming up the street. They passed his line of vision and on hearing a shot he looked around and saw Martin on his knees behind the tree, and he heard him cry out and saw him fire at General Adams, and the general walking around the tree to get at him and firing at the same time. Martin scrambled to a little south of the tree and continued firing. General Adams reached the north side of the tree, following Martin, when he fell.”
Both died in less than one minute. Martin said to those who first reached the scene: “I am dead,” and died immediately. General Adams never spoke. General Adams had but one wound and that was directly through the heart. Martin was shot in the right breast, two and three-quarter inches left of the right nipple and in the upper part of the right leg, breaking the thigh bone. There was also a bullet hole in his hand. Both men used Colt’s six-shooters, Martin a forty-one calibre and Adams a forty-four. All the shells in Martin’s pistol were exploded. Three shells in General Adam’s were exploded, and one gave evidence of having been snapped upon, but failed to fire. Two of the shells were intact.
The following are the publications which are supposed to have led to the difficulty:
The New Mississippian, of March 27th, alluding to the Hamilton trial, then in progress in Brandon, said in effect: “General Wirt Adams, a witness for the defense, testified as to Hamilton’s character. The general ought to remember that character, like charity, should begin at home.”
Again, on April 3: “Nellie Dinkins’s testimony for the state has been impeached, but she has this advantage of General Wirt Adams, a witness for the defense. She never gave certificates and was forced, after they had been published a year, to admit they were utterly false.” And again, today: “People who do not receive the New Mississippian regularly will please remember that since we exposed the obliquy of General Wirt Certificate Adams, the postoffice is endeavoring to wreak its spite against the paper in every possible way. This paper has to be in the postoffice about a half or an hour sooner than the republican paper here, or it is made to lay over for another mail. It is strange how mad some men get when the plain truth is told about them in print, and yet this paper is feeling remarkably well.”
An untold gloom hangs over and the deepest sorrow pervades this community in consequence of this terrible tragedy.
The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 4, 1888
THE “RED MANIFESTO.”
Editor John H. Martin, Killed in the Street Duel at Jackson, Miss., Said to Have Been Its Author.
NEW YORK, May 3. — The Sun’s Washington special says that John H. Martin, the editor who was killed in the street duel with General Wirt Adams, the postmaster at Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, was the author of the “Red Manifesto,” issued last December, and which first conveyed to the colored people of Jackson the notice that they would not be allowed to vote at the election held on the first Monday in January. The manifesto is in evidence before the Senate judiciary committee in connection with the investigation of the alleged suppression of votes of the colored citizens of Jackson. It is printed in large type, in blood-red ink, an at the head is displayed an engraving of two pistols, two shotguns and a powder flask.
Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) May 5, 1888
THE JACKSON TRAGEDY.
MISSISSIPPI’S CAPITAL MOURNS TWO OF HER NOBLEST SONS.
Funeral Services Over the Remains of General Wirt Adams and John H. Martin — Additional Evidence to the Killing — Another Attack.
[From the New Orleans Pleayune Special.]
Jackson, Miss., May 2. — Jackson yesterday evening and last night was a seething cauldron of excitement. The mortal combat of both Martin and Adams was the entire theme of conversation. Business was practically suspended and groups of men stood on the streets discussing the sad an sudden demise of those two gentlemen.
Thee were threats passed to and from the friends and sympathizers of both sides and considerable apprehension was felt. Cooler heads reasoned, however, and are triumphant so far in
AVOIDING A CONFLICT
between the two factions. It may come, though, any moment. There is a perceptible feeling of bitterness on both sides today, greater than last night.
There were but few transactions of business, and the state house was deserted. The entire city was in gloom. There were great crowds of ladies and gentlemen all of to-day carrying beautiful bouquets of flowers to the residences of hte unfortunate victims of the deadly bullets. Messages of condolence crowded the wires from sympathetic friends abroad.
THE FUNERAL SERVICES
of Jno. H. Martin were held at the Methodist Episcopal church at 3 o’clock this evening. The coffin was of handsome mahogany and was covered with the choicest and most delicate flowers. The last tribute that Dr. C.G. Andrews, the minister, could pay to his dead friend was beautiful and touching. His remains were carried from the church to the south-bound Illiniois Central train at 5 o’clock, and thence to Brookhaven, the place of his birth, followed by several of his friends, where he was interred this evening in the little cemetery to the north of the town. The following were the pallbearers: W.D. Ratliff, C.H. Alexander, Professor L.A. Wyatt, Harry Brown and John Lizor.
The funeral services of the loving husband and father of several children and that noble gentleman,
GENERAL WIRT ADAMS,
was the largest seen in Jackson for several years. Almost every carriage and buggy in the city was in the procession which followed the remains from his home to the Episcopal church, Rev. William Short, the rector, officiating. The church was packed with the best people of the country. The services were short and impressive. Truly there was no man whom Jackson loved more than General Adams. The pallbearers were Governor Lowry, Jude T.J. Wharton, E. Voreten, G.C. Eyerich, J.S. Hamilton, Marcellus Green, Geo. Lemon, and Oliver Clifton. Strangely enough the same hearse which conveyed Martin’s body to the train also bore General Adams’ body; and then, too, both were compelled to cross the bridge that one year ago on the 5th of this month was the scene of the tragedy in which Jones S. Hamilton killed R.D. Gambrell, the special friend of Martin, and that homicide was a sequel to the terrible on of yesterday.
ORIGIN OF THE TRAGEDY.
The terrible affair was not entirely unexpected. The New Mississippian has been characteristically bold and scathing in its criticisms of General Adams. The first attack was in connection with the late exciting city election, when the paper charged that General Adams would either vote for McGill or vote a folded ticket. Then he was sharply criticised with regard to his recent testimony in the late Hamilton-Gambrell case and the certificates given the lessees of the penitentiary.
It is said that General Adams had restrained himself, fearing that any too early movement might prejudice the interests of his friend Hamilton. And then yesterday the New Mississippian contained another scathing and sarcastic article, which the intrepid and restless general could not stand, and his fury could not be appeased until he had seen Martin.
The Clarion-Ledger will to-morrow contain the following statement of two eyewitnesses:
MR. THOMAS HELM
says: I was sitting at the second window in my room Tuesday evening, probably a little after 2 o’clock, looking eastward across President street. Saw General Wirt Adams and Mr. Ned Farish turn the corner at the Cartwaliader residence, southwest corner of President and Amite streets. They passed up President street northward on the west side of the pavement, and had barely got beyond the range of my vision when I heard a shot. I then got up and looked in the direction the noise came from and saw Mr. John Martin on his knees with his pistol in his hand firing, or in the act of firing. Martin was two or three feet north of the large china tree, and seemed to be behind it. General Adams was on the south side of the tree, probably six or eight feet from it, the tree being between Martin and Adams. Both men were firing and General Adams came from the sidewalk into the street. Martin bearing around to the west side of the tree struggled to his feet and got on the southwest side of the tree, General Adams having gotton on the north side. They were
SHOOTING AT EACH OTHER
all the time they were reversing positions. Don’t know how many shots were fired or how many each party fired. The firing was very deliberate. Heard some cry of agony that I thought came from Martin. After Martin had got out on the south side of the tree he lunged forward toward the east and fell just off the sidewalk into the street all doubled up. Adams, who was then behind the tree on the north side, seemed to ease down slightly and suddenly fell backward, apparently dead. The bodies were not more than five feet apart. I don’t think either party fired after being down, as both seemed disabled when they struck the ground. Did not see anything more of Farish till he was assisting to take the body of General Adams to witness residence. Asked if a doctor had been sent for, when Mr. Farish said
“There is no need for a doctor for he is dead.”
Saw only one wound in General Adams’ body, which seemed to be just above the region of the heart. After the body of Adams had been taken to his house friends of Martin started homeward with his body. Saw nobody engaged in the shooting but Adams and Martin. Did not see the first shot.
STATEMENT OF NED FARISH.
As seen from the foregoing statement of Mr. Helm General Adams was accompanied by Mr. Ned Farish. Mr. Farish is reported as stating that as General Adams and Mr. Martin approached each other the former addressed the latter in substantially the following words:
“You damned rascal, I have stood enough from you,” and to which Martin replied: “If you don’t like it,” at the same time drawing his pistol, he fired, says Mr Farish, and got behind a large china tree on the outer edge of the pavement. About the same time General Adams also fired. Farish, however, though not certain, thinks Martin fired first.
An examination of the wounds showed that General Adams was shot in the heart, the ball entering the collar bone. Mr. Martin was shot in the right breast, 2?/? inches to the left of right nipple, and 1 1/4 inches below a line drawn between the right and left nipple; in the right thigh (10)? inches below the thigh joint, which broke the thigh bone; marked on the right elbow with a ball and skin bruised, but flesh not entered; a bullet hole was also in his hat, entering the center of the crown and coming out at the top.
GENERAL WIRT ADAMS,
who many years before the was became a citizen of Jackson, was born in Kentucky sixty-nine years ago. For a great while he was the senior member of the banking firm of Adams & Horn. He had also been a large planter, a large capitalist and slave owner. When the war was declared he was one of the first to volunteer, and his record as a soldier will compare with that of any man who bared his breast to shot and shell. Never was produced a better or braver soldier than General Adams. The war over he returned to the life of a civilian, engaged in planting, banking, etc. When Mr. Davis’ work was issued General Adams was complimented with the exclusive southern agency. He served as state revenue agent several years, and has been postmaster at Jackson since 1885 (or 3?).
JOHN H. MARTIN
was chosen at the last Mississippi press convention as annual orator, and the convention is to meet in Grenada on the 9th instant.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 5, 1888
The Adams-Martin Duel — The Unprovoked Assaults on Adams.
The attacks of the New Mississippian on General Wirt Adams, which resulted in the death of General Adams and the editor, appears to have been unprovoked as they were brutal. Major Livingston Mims says of the affair:
“I was with General Adams two weeks ago. He was then restless under the attacks of this editor. He said to me: ‘I do not want to be forced into a difficulty with him. I have no quarrel with him, and I actually avoid the public streets that I may not meet him casually and be betrayed into assaulting him.’ The family of General Adams was entirely dependent on his petty salary, and this knowledge forced him to submit day after day to the most wanton insult. I was hardly surprised that he was at last goaded into action, though unspeakably grieved. A knightlier man never lived — a loftier or finer soul. He was very rich before the 60’s, and lived like a prince, whether at his $90,00 home in New Orleans or at one of his superb plantations. He was offered the postmaster generalship of the confederacy by Mr. Davis, and equipped a full regiment from his private purse. Truly he was a king among men.
“He came of a brave and illustrious family. General Dan Adams, his brother, killed Hogan, the editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel, and the fourth editor killed in succession on that paper. Hogan wrote an article reflecting on Judge Adams, the father of Dan and Wirt. Young Dan went to Vicksburg to get a retraction. He called at the house of Duke Gwinn, the United States marshal of Mississippi, Mrs. Gwinn found what his purpose was.
“Are you armed?” she asked.
Young Adams replied that he was simply going to have a reasonable talk with Hogan and had not thought of arming himself.
“‘Little do you know the man you are about to deal with,’ said Mrs. Gwinn, and with her own hands she buckled a pistol at his waist. Adams went out and met Hogan on the street. He introduced himself and stated his mission. Hogan, as brave as a tiger and as restless, closed with him instantly and in the fight was shot and killed. The trial of Dan Adams for the killing of Hogan was one of he famous events of Mississippi history, and ended in his acquittal. With the death of Wirt Adams this splendid and dignified family becomes but a memory — but a glorious and unstained memory!”
The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 6, 1888
An Old Mississippi Reminiscence.
To The News,
CALDWELL, Tex., May 6. — I noticed an article in to-day’s NEWS from Hon. W.J. Jones of Virginia Point, paying a tribute to the late General Wirt Adams of Mississippi, in which an error occurs. Many years ago Dr. Hagan, editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel, was killed by Daniel W. Adams, on account of a slanderous assault upon the character of his father, Judge Adams, and not by Wirt Adams as stated. Both Generals Daniel W. and Wirt Adams (brothers) were brigadiers in the confederate army. After the war General Dan W. Adams located in New York to practice law, where he died a few years thereafter. I am a native Mississippian, was well acquainted with the Adamses, and familiar with the Hagan Homicide.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 7, 1888