A Biography of Rev. John Adams, Sr.

John Adams, Sr. (1876-1962) of North Omaha served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1949–1962.

A lawyer and minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, John Adams, Sr. only ran for the Nebraska Legislature after his son John Adams, Jr. left to serve in WWII.

He was a Republican who served the Fifth District. Rev. Adams lost twice before winning, then served in the Legislature for 13 years.

According to the Nebraska State Bar Journal, after marrying Hattie E. Bowman in 1904, Adams earned a bachelor’s degree at Lincoln University. Afterwards he attended, Yale University, and took classes at Gammon Theological Seminary. From 1914 to 1915, Adams served as a civilian defense counsel at Pt. George Wright in Spokane, Washington as part of the 24th Infantry of the U.S. Army.

(1944) Rev. John Adams, Sr., North Omaha, Nebraska
This is a 1944 image of Rev. John Adams, Sr., an attorney and state senator from North Omaha.

After first practicing law in South Carolina and Colorado, he permanently settled in Omaha in the early 1920s. He first lived in the city in 1914.

In 1935, the Omaha Guide announced that Rev. Adams, Sr. was opening a new law office in Omaha along with his sons John Adams, Jr. and Ralph W. Adams. Attorney Charles F. Davis was also going to keep his desk there. With his sons John Adams, Jr. (1906-1999) and Ralph W. Adams (1911-1968) eventually joining his law firm, Rev. Adams is still regarded as a highly influential and groundbreaking African American lawyer in North Omaha. Rev. Adams was the presiding elder of the Omaha District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and later became went on to serve as the presiding elder for the international African Methodist Episcopal Church.

From 1935 to 1939, Rev. Adams served as president of the Greater Payne University in Alabama, which was a historically Black university opened in 1889. He was a trustee of Wilberforce University, a historically Black university established in 1856 in Ohio, in the late 1940s.

The Prince Hall Masons in Omaha gave Rev. Adams many titles as well.

Rev. Adams was born in Atlanta on February 2, 1876, and died in Omaha on April 22, 1962.

Special thanks to Malcolm Adams and David Adams for their corrections to this article.

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This is Rev. John Adams, Sr., D.D., Esq. (1876-1962). He was a member of the Nebraska Legislature from North Omaha.

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