Mollie Holmes Adams

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Mollie Wade Adams (Holmes)

Death: 1973 (91-92)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Coleman Holmes and Manie Adams
Wife of Jasper Lewis Adams
Mother of Herbert Adams; Andrew Washington Adams; Walter Adams and Jasper Coleman Adams

Managed by: Private User
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About Mollie Holmes Adams

Mollie Wade Holmes Adams (October 8, 1881 – December 14, 1973) was a tribal elder among the Mattaponi people of Virginia. Her efforts to advocate for the tribe and support tribal culture led to her selection for the Virginia Women in History program.


Adams was born into the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, or Adamstown Band of Mattaponi, and grew up in the Adamstown community in great poverty. In 1900 she married Jasper Lewis Adams, who would serve as the chief of the tribe from 1923 to 1973. She joined him as a tribal leader; he was involved in the purchase and construction of the Sharon Indian School in 1919 and the Indian View Baptist Church in 1942. The couple had twelve children.

Adams was of partial white ancestry, and she and her husband shared a common lineage. The Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, led by Walter Plecker, attempted to classify Indians like Adams and her children as "colored". To counter this, Adams was required to provide a statement signed by eight white men certifying her Indian ancestry; the document still exists.

In her role as tribal elder, Adams played a pivotal role in preservation of feather weaving, which had almost been lost and which she passed on to others. She assisted anthropologists with a variety of studies, including discussing herbal remedies with them. Her activism provided a strong base of support for tribal life. She was the mother of Andrew Washington Adams, who served as chief from 1974 to 1985; her grandson, Kenneth Adams, has served as chief of the tribe as well. Her husband died in 1971.

Adams was honored as one of the Virginia Women in History for 2010.

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