Lasa Adams (1811-1894)
Grave of Lasa Adams, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Brooks County, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland
Lasa Adams [sometimes referred to as Lacy Adams] was born May 13, 1811, in Georgia, a son of Dennis Adams. While yet a boy, his parents moved first to Alabama then to Gadsden County, FL, where he grew to manhood on a frontier still troubled by conflict with Native Americans who resisted being displaced from their ancestral lands.
According to William Harden’s History of Savannah and South Georgia, Lasa Adam’s father established the family homestead in Gadsden County, FL:
“Dennis Adams located near the present site of Wakena, Gadsden county, becoming one of the original settlers of that locality. His brother-in-law, a Mr. Carr, located on a tract of land two miles away. Indians were then very troublesome in that locality, and one night when Mr. Carr and his wife were away from home raided his place, and brutally massacred their two children. A slave made his escape to the Adams farm, and told Mr. Adams the tale, and Mr. Adams sent to Thomasville, Georgia, for aid. The following night the red skins paid a visit to the Adams cabin. The family were well prepared, and after several of the Indians had been killed the remainder retreated.”
It was around 1834 that Lasa Adams came to Thomas County, GA and on December 1, 1834 he married Sarah Wooten, daughter of Redden Wooten of the Tallokas district (territory now in Brooks). Another of Wooten’s daughters married Morgan G. Swain, who owned a hotel at Troupville, GA.
“Lasa Adams was young when the family came from Florida to Georgia to escape the malignant attacks of the Indians, although many red skins were then living in this vicinity, the dense forests being their happy hunting ground. The few daring white people of the county built a strong log fort to which the women and children were sent when ever trouble with the savages was brewing, and he immediately joined the company formed for protection against their raids, and took part, in 1836, in the battle of Brushy creek, when the Indians made their last stand in Georgia.”
Lasa Adams left this area in the 1850s to make his home in Florida, but not long before his death June 17, 1894, he returned to Brooks County after an absence of forty years. On May 5, 1893 Lasa Adams, responded to a questionnaire by William T. Gaulden about the Battle of Brushy Creek. Although he joined the militia the week after the battle was fought, he was intimately familiar with the participants and subsequent engagements against the Indians.
Mr. Adams recalled that the Indians were Cherokees who were fleeing “to the Seminoles in Florida, near Tampa Bay” to escape the forced relocation to western territories. Adams questioned the purported force of Indians ranging through the district that July of 1836 “estimated to be 300, but I have my doubts. I think 150 would be a fair count. About 300 men were after Indians but only about one hundred were in the battle,” which took place “about the 12th or 13th of July, about 10 or 11 o’clock a.m.” and lasted about two hours.
The engagement at Brushy Creek was fought under the leadership of Major Michael Young (Thomas County), Capt. James A. Newman (Thomas County), Capt. John Pike (Lowndes County), Capt. Hamilton Sharpe (Lowndes County), and Capt. Henry Crawford Tucker. (Captain Levi J. Knight (Lowndes County) and his company of arrived just after the conclusion of the battle, coming straight from a skirmish with a squad of Indians at William Parkers place in eastern Lowndes County.)
Adams gives an accounting of those killed at Brushy Creek, listing the dead as Pennywell Folsom and Edward Shanks, of Lowndes County, and a man from Thomas County, Gabe Ferrill, who is variously identified in other accounts as Bartow Ferrell or Burton Ferrell. (A Berton Ferrel also appears in the 1830 census of Thomas County). Among the wounded were Captain Charles Screven Gaulden, Lowndes County; Daniel McClane, Thomasville, GA; William Drew, Lowndes county; James Blackshear, Thomas county; Robert Parrish, Lowndes County. (To this list of wounded Norman Campbell, who also completed a questionnaire, added Agnes McCauley, Malcolm McLane, Monroe, and Edward M. Henderson. Edward Marion Henderson, who was then Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA died on July 20 as a result of his injuries.)
The story of how Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek was posted previously. According to Ferrell family research, a brief note on the death of Burton Ferrell appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder a few days after the incident.
Milledgeville Southern Recorder
Tuesday August 2, 1836
KILLED…. On Friday the 15th ultimo in the county of Lowndes, BURTON FERRELL of the county of Thomas, was killed in battle with a band of Creek Indians. It is not the intention of the writer to eulogize the deceased, but this much it is considered necessary to say, that Mr. Ferrell was brave almost to a fault; for he refused to take shelter which the trees might have afforded him in the fight, and rushed fearlessly in the front of the company, and was shot through the body at the first fire of the enemy.
Adams noted that among the Indians, those killed at Brushy Creek were “about 15 or twenty, including women and children” and captured were “eight to ten women and children…no men taken.” These prisoners were taken to Thomasville, GA where they were held about a month before being sent west.
Following the Battle of Brushy Creek, Lasa Adams was drafted to serve in a Thomas County company under Captain Grantham in further actions against the Indians on Warrior Creek. The local militia was joined on August 12, 1836 by forces of General Julius C. Alford, who had pursued the Indians from the Alabama border above Chickasawhatchee Swamp north of Albany, GA. General Alford assumed command of the combined forces which by now included Capt. Grantham’s company as well as the companies of Capt. Pike, Capt. Newman, Capt. Burnett, and Captain Levi J. Knight. Following the advice of Captain Knight, their goal was to prevent the Indians from reaching Grand Bay, near present day Ray City, GA, and thus cut off their rendezvous with the force of Indians gathering in the Okefenokee Swamp.
In August of 1836 the Georgia newspapers were full of celebratory news of victory over the Indians in engagements all across the state. From the perspective of half a century of reflection on the conflict, Adams offered “My opinion is the whites were in the wrong.”
Lasa Adam’s responses to the questionnaire on Indian Times, along with his sketch (provided below) of his service in Captain Benjamin Grantham’s company of Thomas County militia during the 1836 Indian War, was posthumously published in the Valdosta Times, November 16, 1895. Adams describes how his company came to the aid of a Company of men, who were the advance force of General Alford. Adams variously refers to the captain of this company as Captain Hawthorne, Hatthorn or Haththorn. Undoubtedly, he is actually referring to Captain Michael Hentz, and his Company of Baker County Militia, who was operating under the orders of General at the time and place described.
“Government let out Indian Claims at Cherokee, Georgia, and were to send them out west. Between 3 and 5 hundred were dissatisfied with the treaty made with the chief – and they withdrew and thought they would go and unite with the Seminoles in Florida near Tampa Bay. So they started and crossed over the Chattahoochee River and burned up a town called Roanoak, Georgia. The whites formed companies and went in pursuit of them, and had a fight in Chickasawhatchee Swamp above Albany. Indians were scattered and between 100 and 300 were in the gang that was in the Brushy creek battle. Several more small squads went through the country from 15 to 20 in squads, in different directions.
At Brushy Creek, Capt. Scriven Gaulden had a company from Lowndes county, Col. Mike Young from Thomas county, Capt. Hamilton Sharp of Lowndes county, Georgia.
They all united, and Capt. Scriven Gaulden led the front guards to battle and made the attack on Indians at Brushy creek and then the fight commenced. Captain Scriven Gaulden was hit by three balls from Indian guns only one took effect right cheek “I think,” one passed through his hat, one hit his pistol in pants pocket (pistol saved his life.) Several more were slightly wounded but don’t remember the names of none, as they were from Lowndes county and strangers to me. All Indians not killed and captured kept their course for Tampa, Fla.
In about a week or so after the Brushy creek battle, I was drafted together with 30 or 40 more men, and Capt. Grantham was elected our captain. We were ordered up on the Warrior creek, as squads of Indians were continually passing down that creek. One day while on a scout we heard guns firing. Capt. Grantham ordered a force march and we went as quick as he could in order, and when we got nearly to the place Capt. Hawthorne had followed a squad of Indians from above Albany and had attacked them, and the Indians had whipped him out and he was retreating and the Indians had captured six horses from his men.
Then Capt. Grantham, with his men and a few of Capt. Hatthorn’s pursued the Indians and run them in the Little River swamp near James Rountree’s place in Lowndes county (now Cook), and we had to stop, as night overtook us. We camped over the other side of the river, expecting the Indians to come through next morning. That night Buckston, Ison Vaun and myself were detailed to go to Capt. Hatthorn and tell him to come down and draw supplies at Lawrence Folsom’s place. We returned from Capt. Haththorn’s to our camp, and we received news that Indians had gone across the river that night. The Indians had used a little stratagem to fool us. They made a display that night with torch lights as if they were going across the river, so next morning we had to go back to Capt. Haththorn to carry the news that Indians had crossed the river, and about daylight as we were on our way to carry the news we discovered Indians jumping over the road to keep from making any sign, and they were going down the river. So we returned to our camp and reported what we had seen and Capt. Grantham ordered a force march to a ferry three miles below on the river, expecting to head them off, but they had beat us to the ferry and kept down the river swamp. We struck their trail and followed them down the swamp near Maj. Simmon’s plantation and pushed them so close that the Indians took into the swamp and we recaptured the six horses taken from Capt. Haththorn’s men. That night General Aulford [Julius C. Alford] came to us with 30 or 40 men and took command of the forces. A good many volunteered and joined us. Gen. Aulford ordered all the men to string across the river 20 yards apart and drive up, as we had got ahead of the Indians. We had gone about one mile up the river when the Indians used another trick to draw us off. The Indians were seen in Jones’ peach orchard on one side of the rive and in John Blacksher’s peach orchard on the other side. They were fired at by scouts at long range in John Blackshear’s orchard. This shooting frustrated our drive up the river, and we made for Blackshear’s. A little Indian girl about eight or ten years of age went next day to the house of James Williams and Mrs. Williams was at the wash tub washing. The little girl went and put her hands in the tub before Mrs. Williams saw her, and like to have frightened Mrs. Williams to death. Mrs. Williams kept the little girl and raised her and sent her to school and she married a man by the name of Artley. This was another one of their tricks, sending the child in to make us believe they were in that neighborhood.
General Aulford went over the river after the squad in Jones’ peach orchard, and I never saw him in about two weeks. We were ordered back to the Warriors and General Aulford followed Indians down in Florida and the Indians went into the Okeefenokee Swamp and he gave them up.
I think that was the last squad that passed through. If any more passed, the squads were so small they made no signs and did not bother anyone.
Additional Notes about Lasa Adams:
“Lasa Adams bought land in what is now the Tallokas district, Brooks county, and engaged in farming. He married Sarah Wooten on December 1, 1834 in Thomas County, GA. There was one son born to that marriage, Dennis R. W. Adams, born 1839.
“There being no railways in the state all transportation was by teams, and after his land became productive he used to take his cotton to Newport, Florida, going in company with several of his neighbors, some of whom perhaps lived miles away from him, each man taking provisions with him, and camping and cooking by the wayside.”
After the death of his first wife, Mr. Adams married Miss Orpha Lee Holloway, born 1825, youngest daughter of William and Orpha Holloway who were among of the very first settlers of what is now Brooks county. This marriage took place April 17, 1842. There were four children by the second wife:
- Rhoda Ann Adams, born 1843, married William Hurst of Brooks County, GA.
- Jane Irene Adams, born 1845, married J. M. Yates of Brooks County, GA.
- James C. Adams, born 1850, married Mary Holman of Jefferson County, FL.
- Cason F. Adams, born 1852, married Texas Smith, daughter of J. R. M. Smith.
Lasa Adams was elected Sheriff of Thomas County in 1842 but resigned a few months after assuming office.
Lasa Adams Sheriff’s Sale, 1842. [Note: This legal advertisement appeared in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder, Mar. 29, 1842 – the date printed in the ad is typo.
During his short term as Sheriff of Thomas County, one task Lasa Adams dealt with was the sale of two town lots in Troupville
, and other goods, to satisfy a debt owed by Joseph S. Burnett and Hiram Hall to Bazzel Kornegay, of Thomas County
In 1852, Lasa Adams returned to Florida:
“In 1852, Lasa Adams sold his Brooks county land, moved to Florida, locating in Madison county, where he purchased a squatter’s claim to a tract of government land situated about sixteen miles northeast of Monticello, and about the same distance northwest of Madison. A few acres had been cleared, and a log cabin had been erected. He continued the improvements, and there carried on general farming for some time. In 1864 he enlisted in the Florida Reserves, and continued in the Confederate service until the close of the war, when he again assumed charge of his farm. Selling out in 1870, he was for four years a resident of Jefferson county, Florida. Coming from there to Thomas county, Georgia, he bought land three miles south of Boston, and was there employed in tilling the soil for many years. Shortly before his death, which occurred in 1894, he returned to Brooks county, Georgia, and there spent his last days, passing away at the venerable age of eighty-three years.”
Lasa Adams was buried at Bethel Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. His second wife (Orpha Lee Holloway) died September 28, 1887, and is also buried at Bethel.
Lasa Adams account of the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek, Lowndes County, GA