My Contribution: I served as minister at Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church and as the Grand Master of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows at the Brotherly Love Lodge. I started the Prince Hall Masonic Home and Orphanage in Linglestown, PA.
My Legacy: I was an icon of the efforts in Harrisburg toward abolition and enfranchisement, particularly in my role in 1870 as assistant marshal for the 15th Amendment Parade in Harrisburg. In addition to representing the activism within the Eighth Ward toward freedom and respect for all people, I was a faith leader who served and preached at Harrisburg’s African-American churches. My work with the Masons to open the home and orphanage in Linglestown is still remembered today. The church communities that I supported are still active in Harrisburg today.
About Me: “No man in Harrisburg, white or black, was held in higher respect by those who knew him. He was at once proud and humble, upstanding in defense of his race and religious faith, but ever ready to submit his own views to the spirit of fair play his own righteous life led him to expect of others. It was of such men as Mr. Adams that Burns wrote, ‘The rank is but a guinea stamp, / A man’s a man for a’ that.” – Harrisburg Telegraph, January 13, 1917
Full Name: John Quincy Adams
Birth Date: Between 1837 and 1845, likely ca. 1837
Death Date: January 12, 1917
Place of Birth: Winchester, Virginia; was born enslaved and escaped enslavement in 1862.
Places of Residence: I resided in several locations near the river just south side of Market Street in Harrisburg: 27 S. Front Street, where I boarded with Judge John Pearson, for whom I served as coachman (1870); 213 S. 2nd Street (1876-1877); 115 and 145 S. River Avenue (1878-1882); and 102 S. Cherry Street (1885-1917).
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: I served as minister at Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church in the Old Eighth Ward, preached at Second Baptist and Capital Presbyterian Churches, and was involved in numerous organizations that met in the Eighth Ward.
Family Members: Brother: Aaron Adams. Sister: Sallie Adams. Wife: Frances “Fannie” Adams, married in Elmira, NY on June 21, 1866. Sister-in-Law: Nancy Stover.
Education: Taught myself to read and write, as documented in my narrative.
Occupations: Hotel worker. Coachman. City agent for Our National Progress, published by C.M. Brown and edited by William Howard Day. Minister for Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church. Missionary.
Church Membership: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church
Activism: I was involved significantly with the Masons and Odd Fellows. I was connected to the Underground Railroad and gave the prayer at Harriet Tubman’s funeral. I was a founding member of the Colored Protective League of Harrisburg and the Citizens Republican Club of Harrisburg.
Connections: William Howard Day, Joseph Thomas, John P. Scott, Josephine Bibb, James Grant, W. Justin Carter, James Auter, Dr. William H. Jones; Morris H. Layton Sr., Cassius Brown, Ida Brown, James H.W. Howard, James Stuart, William H. Marshall, George Imes, Joseph Popel, John Gaiter, O.L.C. Hughes, Joseph Compton, John W. Simpson, Charles Carter, Anne E. Amos, Aquila Amos, David Stevens, Zachariah Johnson, George Galbraith.