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Oscar Augustus Adams

Oscar Augustus Adams

Male 1880 - 1933  (52 years)

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  • Name Oscar Augustus Adams  [1, 2, 3
    Born 30 Aug 1880  Knox County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Gender Male 
    Died 26 Jun 1933  Tatum, Lea County, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3
    Buried Tatum Cemetery, Tatum, Lea County, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3
    • Lea County Pioneer, Oscar A. Adams
      By David L. Minton

      An early day stockman of northern Lea County was Oscar Augustus Adams.  He and his parents homesteaded parts of five sections east of Tatum that grew into a pretty good size place over the years.  Unfortunately that is where the trouble started a few years later.

      Before I get into the trouble part, let me fill you in on Oscar a little.  Oscar was born August 30, 1880 at Knox County, Texas to Willie A. and Mary Ellie Adams.  He first tried his hand at copper mining over at Bisbee, Arizona around 1910, but I think he found that being a miner wasn't what he was cut out to be.  He soon found himself homesteading east of Tatum near Scott and that is where he settled and made his home.  He proved up on his two filings, one in November of 1915 and the other in December of 1916.

      As like many folks in those days, he had an adobe home and he built his pens and erected his windmill west of the house.   Oscar was a tall man of medium build with grey eyes and brown hair and seemed to be respected in the community.

      As time passed and fences were built, a feud over fence lines and accusations of sheep rustling festered between Oscar and his neighbor James H. Simpson.  This bad blood between the two men continued until one day in front of the Gentry Hotel on Broadway Street in Tatum, it boiled over, shots were fired and when the smoke cleared, Oscar Adams lay bleeding in the dirt.  Oscar was carried into the lobby of the hotel where he died about twenty minutes later.

      Here's how it played out on Monday morning, June 26, 1933 at about ten thirty o'clock.  For an unknown reason, Oscar Adams and an employee of Simpson's by the name of Mr. Doris Hart, age 20, were engaged in a fist fight.  Well, sort of a fist fight, Hart had punched Oscar a couple of times and in return Oscar kicked Hart a few times ( I would say the kicking was justified, Adams was almost 33 years Hart's senior).  Simpson was about a hundred yards away in Ray Sawyer's store and when Simpson saw the fight he hurried in direction of the combatants and when about fifty feet from the fight, he yelled for Hart to whip Adams and was using some rather descriptive terms including casting a reflection upon Adam's ancestry.  This got Adam's attention and he advanced on Simpson and when about thirty feet separated the two men, Simpson yelled, (with more expletives') "don't you come at me with a knife" and fired three shots at the advancing Adams, hitting him twice.  One bullet found its way through the fleshy part of Adam's left arm, but the one that killed him entered his chest just below the right nipple and exited about the same position on the other side.  The third shot missed completely.  The only knife found on Adams was his folding pocket knife which was found in his pocket…………..

      Deputy Sheriff Tom Bingham was in town and helped carry Adams into the Gentry Hotel, and then he arrested both Simpson and Hart, then took them to Lovington and deposited them in the county jail.
      Adam's body was taken to Lovington for autopsy and the next day was taken to Hobbs for an X-ray Examination.
      An inquest was held over the body of Adams with Justice of the Peace Frank Wycoft presiding and hearing the statements of about 20 witnesses.  None of the witnesses ever saw a knife and one witness stated that Adam's hands were open and raised.  Almost all of the witnesses testified that Simpson was cussing Adams pretty good as he yelled for Hart to whip Adams.  It was ruled that Oscar Adams came to his death at the hands of James H. Simpson.

      The former Pastor of the Methodist church at Tatum, the Reverend Robert O. Tomlinson conducted the service for Oscar Adam's funeral at the reverend's old church.   The large crowd made it very apparent that Oscar was a very popular man in the area.  His widowed mother who Oscar had been living with and taking care of for many years was naturally heartbroken at the death of her son.  Oscar is buried in the Tatum cemetery beside his Mother and Father; they all share one large white attractive stone.

      Oh, did I mention that James H. Simpson was the chairman of the Lea County Commission at the time he killed Oscar Adams?  Yes, that he was, and had been elected his second term in November of the previous year.  He went to jail for the murder, and bond was denied.  (It gets better)  Now, since he could not bond out, it was decided that the county commission meeting of July 5, 1933 would be held in the jail so that Simpson could preside over the meeting, and that is was.    Simpson sent a letter of resignation to the governor about October 28, 1933; it is said because he wanted to wait until Governor Seligman was out of office and couldn't appoint who he wanted to replace Simpson.  At the commission meeting of November 21, 1933 the commission accepted Simpson's resignation and E.N. Evans was appointed to replace him and serve with Commissioners R.L. Robinson and W.M. Snyder.

      James H. Simpson was convicted of manslaughter in an Eddy county court on October 12, 1933 and sentenced to six to ten years in the state penitentiary.  He did appeal, but the state supreme court affirmed the conviction.  However, he did manage to get released from prison about 4 years into his sentence and live out his days on his ranch at Santa Rosa, New Mexico until his death on October 9, 1955.
    Person ID I9937  Strong Family Tree
    Last Modified 17 Aug 2014 

    Father Willis A. Adams,   b. 8 Jan 1856, Arkansas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Dec 1928, Lubbock County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years) 
    Mother Mary Ellie McDonald,   b. 15 Feb 1863, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Oct 1958  (Age 95 years) 
    Family ID F4499  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsDied - 26 Jun 1933 - Tatum, Lea County, New Mexico Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Tatum Cemetery, Tatum, Lea County, New Mexico Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Adams, Oscar Augustus ca 1900's
    Adams, Oscar Augustus ca 1900's
    B. 1880 Texas D. 1933 New Mexico
    An early day stockman in Lea County, New Mexico. He and his parents homesteaded east of Tatum. As fences were built, a feud festered between Oscar and his neighbor James Simpson. This bad blood continued until one day shots were fired and Oscar lay bleeding in the dirt. He died 20 minutes later. (Courtesy of David Minton).

    Adams, Willis and Mary Ellie, with son Oscar
    Adams, Willis and Mary Ellie, with son Oscar

  • Sources 
    1. [S532] Cordell, Lynell Gentry-Family Researcher P.O. Box 1992 Duncan OK 73534-1992 Correspondence, Gedcom, Family Group Sheets, Email.

    2. [S384] 1900 United States Federal Census [ database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004, (Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls. This database is an index to individuals enumerated in the 1900 United States Federal Census, the Twelfth Census of the United States. Census takers recorded many details including each person's name, address, relationship to the head of household, color or race, sex, month and year of birth, age at last birthday, marital status, number of years married, the total number of children born of the mother, the number of those children living, birthplace, birthplace of father and mother, if the individual was foreign born, the year of immigration and the number of years in the United States, the citizenship status of foreign-born individuals over age twenty-one, occupation, and more. Additionally, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1900 Federal Census.), Knox Co. TX   ED 43 pg. 172A 53/53 (Reliability: 3).

    3. [S873] Find A Grave [database online];, (Thousands of contributors submit new listings, updates, corrections, photographs and virtual flowers every hour to the FIND A GRAVE website. When it comes to administrating, building and maintaining the site, Find A Grave is largely operated by its founder, Jim Tipton.), # 10382570 (Reliability: 3).