Adams, John Maurice (1864–1923)

By: R. Matt Abigail and Shain Thomas

Type: Biography

Published: January 23, 2018

Updated: September 30, 2020

John Maurice Adams, humanitarian and state representative, son of George and Sarah Adams, was born in Tyler, Smith County, Texas, on May 24, 1864. He grew up in Tyler, where his Scottish-born father worked as a blacksmith. Adams married Jenny May Scott in 1887, and his family eventually grew to include four children–three boys and one girl.

In the early 1880s John M. Adams was apprenticed to the Tyler Democrat and Reporter, and he later worked as an editor for that publication as well as a correspondent to the New York Mirror and the Chicago World. Afterwards, he worked as a ticket agent for the St. Louis and Southwestern Railway, commonly referred to as the “Cotton Belt.” During this time he became involved with the Knights of Pythias and eventually served as grand chancellor for the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1892. Additionally, in 1887 he represented Smith County as a delegate to the “Nonpolitical Prohibition State Convention” at Waco in 1887. In 1899 the Cotton Belt transferred Adams to Fort Worth, where he lived for the next twenty-four years.

After relocating to Fort Worth, Adams became heavily involved in the Texas Sunday School Association as a field worker, district representative, and general secretary. In this capacity he toured the state extensively and visited 236 of 254 counties to speak publicly at local Sunday school conventions. From 1909 to 1923 he also held the position of secretary and superintendent of the Tarrant County Humane Society. Additionally, he was a national committeeman for the Southern Benevolence League, a member of the American Humane Association, and in 1902 he was elected state commander of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans. In 1917 Adams was appointed secretary of the Texas Bureau of Child and Animal Protection. He later served on that body’s legislative committee. In 1920 Adams, a Democrat, ran to represent Texas House District No. 54, a flotorial district consisting of Tarrant and Denton counties. In May 1920, amid a highly contested race, he signed a waiver of election in favor of his opponent, Brent C. Jackson, to guarantee that the Fifty-fourth District would have a representative at the special session of the Thirty-sixth Texas Legislature. In January 1921 Adams assumed the role of representative for the Fifty-fourth District in the Thirty-seventh Texas Legislature. During the regular session in 1921 he served on the Appropriations Committee, Education Committee, Insurance Committee, Representative Districts Committee, Senatorial Districts Committee, and was vice-chair of the State Eleemosynary and Reformatory Institutions Committee. He also worked to support the two colleges in Denton that eventually became Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas.

In 1922 Adams ran successfully for re-election to the Thirty-eighth Texas Legislature and represented House District No. 102, also consisting of Tarrant and Denton counties, but failing health prevented his actually serving when it met in 1923. He died in Fort Worth after an extended illness on June 11, 1923, and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth.

Denton Record-Chronicle, June 12, 1923. Galveston Daily News, September 25, 1910. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: John M. Adams (, accessed January 17, 2018. National Humane Review 5 (May 1917). Waxahachie Daily Light, June 13, 1917. 

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Thirty-seventh Legislature (1921)
  • Thirty-eighth Legislature (1923)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

R. Matt Abigail and Shain Thomas, “Adams, John Maurice,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

January 23, 2018
September 30, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: