About an hour’s drive of Mount Olivet Cemetery is an old graveyard in the northeast corner of Carroll County, just below the Mason-Dixon Line. This hallowed ground began as the burying location for Zion Union Church, formed in 1760, long before the surrounding town of Manchester came into being.
The original log church house is long gone as it served two congregations over its first century of existence—German Reformed and Lutheran. Each group worshiped on alternate Sundays and buried their dead here. New immigrants, many of whom were Germans from Pennsylvania, arrived in the area and caused church membership to grow. This eventually led the two congregations to amicably separate in 1862.
The Reformed Congregation became the Trinity Reformed Church, today known as the Trinity United Church of Christ. The present building was begun during the Civil War and completed in June of 1864. Located on the corners of York and Church Streets, the steeple is the highest point in Manchester and appears on the town’s logo. The 700-pound bell within the steeple was purchased at a cost of 55 cents a pound and continues to summon people to worship each Sunday. The sound reverberates out across the many grave monuments that pepper the adjoining landscape. One of these belongs to William A. Stultz and his wife, Edna (Wink) Stultz.
The cemetery is filled with Edna’s Wink family relatives boasting stones of various shapes and designs. In contrast, the Stultz’ final resting place is punctuated with a marker about as plain and simple as a memorial monument can possibly be. It’s a footstone including both decedents’ names, but devoid of birth or death dates. This is a true oddity. The Findagrave.com website does, however, remove some of the vital mystery of this grave plot. It provides Edna’s birth year as 1877, and death year as 1948. William A. Stultz’ year of birth is listed as 1876, but no death year is given.
I question why no one could find Mr. Stultz’s date of death, because I discovered the event as “front-page news,” being highly publicized, and personally eye-witnessed by hundreds of people.
You see, William A. Stultz became the last person executed at the old Frederick County Jail. The building still stands and is just a few blocks away from Mount Olivet on West South Street. Today, this location serves home to the Frederick Rescue Mission, positioned at 419 West South Street.
Although William is buried in Manchester, instead of here in Mount Olivet, another individual is proverbially “resting in peace” within our peaceful confines as a result of Stultz’ callous actions. This gentleman was a beloved citizen who worked as one of our early policemen. His name was John Henry Adams. Before I get to “Johnny” Adams, I want to take an opportunity to paint a brief picture of the guilty party who literally “hung his head” through an ill-fated response to law enforcement officers paying a visit to his home at 135 W. 4th Street on August 9th, 1922.
William Alexander Stultz was born February 6th, 1876. My research is not definitive, but I believe he was born in the Uniontown/Union Bridge area of Carroll County, MD, the son of William Stultz (a laborer and fence-maker) and wife Ann.
After attending local schools in Carroll County, William seemed to follow in his father’s footsteps as a laborer. He would marry Edna Mae Winks on June 15th, 1899 and can be found living on Westminster’s West Main Street in the 1900 US Census. His parents also lived in Carroll County’s “county seat” at this time. Interestingly, our subject (William) is listed as having the profession of that of a bicycle dealer.
By 1910, the William A. Stultz family was living in downtown Frederick on W. 4th Street with the addition of two children: Josephine age 7, and Belschner age 6. William’s occupation is shown as that of a plumber and I found several mentions of him being an active member of the Junior Fire Company.
Nothing much changed throughout the following decade safe for the occurrence of World War I and the Spanish Flu Pandemic. I found William’s draft registration, but he was too old to be drafted at 42. A city commercial directory shows Stultz as a plumber who worked out of his own home, a fact proved again by the 1920 census.
Somewhere along the way, Mr. Stultz became fascinated with “plumbing” of another kind—that of the items used in the making moonshine. Unfortunately, this would wind up being the death of him.
That leads us to that fateful day in August of 1922. To set the scene, we should jump back a few months to June of that year. William A. Stultz was arrested for bootlegging and fined $200. In lieu of the fine, our subject opted for a 40-day imprisonment.
One week later, an article in the local newspaper provided information that William and wife Edna were living separately, and the couple’s 17-year-old son, Belschner, had been ordered by a local court to live with his mother in Baltimore while his father was serving his sentence. Signs of impending trouble were certainly in the air as Mr. Stultz would be chastised by court officials for apparently encouraging his son to run away from home (to avoid being sent to Baltimore to live with his mom).
By my calculations, William A. Stultz would have served out his sentence by mid-July. Once released, it appears that he was understandably in dire straits for money, exemplified by him actually serving time instead of paying the assessed $200/fine. While in jail, however, he had no opportunity to make money through his plumbing business, or in any other way. As bills mounted, so did his troubles.
In early August, a civil judgment of $30 was served to Stultz, resulting from him not paying rent for his home at the corner of Bentz and Fourth streets. Refusal, or inability, to pay this fine led to officers being dispatched to take possession of Stultz’ car on the morning of August 9th, 1922.
Deputy Sheriffs Charles W. Smith and Allen Bartgis paid a visit to Mr. Stultz and informed him of the reason for their visit. Things did not go as planned, as you can probably guess. My friend, and history mentor, John Asbury succinctly picks up the story from here in his book …And all our Yesterdays: A chronicle of Frederick County, Maryland published in 1997:
“Stultz objected strenuously, perhaps because he had three stills in his house and feared a search of his property. He grabbed a shotgun, and opened fire on the deputies, wounding both with buckshot. A call went out immediately to Frederick City Police for assistance. Officers John Henry Adams, Martin J. Walsh, and James P. Painter answered.
Adams went to the front door and called out to Stultz. Receiving no answer, he kicked in the door, and he and Walsh entered. Stultz opened fire, hitting Adams in the neck. The officer staggered into the street and fell, mortally wounded. Stultz surrendered an hour later, after several more shots were exchanged.”
The front page of the Frederick News shared details of the tragic event and the subsequent arrest of Stultz.
In the days and weeks to follow, the papers carried editorials and more details associated with Officer Adams untimely death, funeral, and the plight of his family. Readers also learned of the conviction and steps towards an administration of justice for defendant William A. Stultz.
To give a little more background on the victim, John Henry Adams was born on August 3rd, 1874 in Frederick, the son of Henry Andrew Adams and Margaret (Fishbach). He grew up on North Bentz Street and attended local city schools. He can be found in the 1880 US Census living with his widowed mother and siblings on the east side on North Bentz between Sixth and Seventh streets.
John's father, Henry Andrew Adams, had died tragically earlier in this year while performing his job. He too was a Frederick City policeman, and only 30 years of age. Apparently he was struck in the back of the head by an assailant who had wrapped a brick in a handkerchief. This info is in our cemetery records but I couldn't locate in newspapers.
Our records also state that Henry Adams had suffered with heart disease, and this is given as the true cause of death. Mr. Adams would later succumb to the wounds received from this unfortunate event or the heart disease. Regardless, this loss widowed "Johnny's" mother and took a father away from John and his younger brothers.
Henry Andrew Adams was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery's Area H/216 on April 26th, 1880. This was two days after his death. His grave site boasts a very nice marble monument, that today includes the names of parents (Andrew and Catherine) and son, Charles who died In October, 1881.
"Johnny" Adams got married in 1898 and can be found working at the Ox Fibre Brush Company in the 1900 and 1910 US Census records. He performed various jobs, including that as a cutter. John Adams and family were living at 274 W. Fifth Street in Frederick.
Before I get back to the tragedy that beset Officer Adams, I wanted to share a small sampling of the many newspaper articles that can be found on him in the local papers of the early 20th century. He appears to have started his career in law enforcement around 1913.
On August 10th, the Frederick County Court recalled the federal grand jury to probe the murder of Officer Adams. A day later, large crowds would attend his funeral here at Mount Olivet.
Adams was buried in his family plot in Area Q/Lot 177. I found it interesting to learn that Frederick City mayor Lloyd C. Culler and his Board of Aldermen were listed as the party responsible for handling the arrangements for Officer Adams’ service. John H. Adams would be laid to rest in a plot that contained his first wife Anna “Elizabeth” (Biser) Adams (1879-1916), five-month-old daughter Annabelle Biser Adams (1916), and son Leon Henry Adams (1899-1903). The children’s gravesite is marked with a beautiful cherub monument, a popular style that can also be found elsewhere throughout our cemetery as well.
At the time of his death, Officer Adams would leave five children and a widow in second wife, Rubie Adams. The town rallied to raise nearly $5,000 to assist this family in need. In the days to follow, it was reported that authorities found three stills belonging to Stultz, and a Grand Jury began a probe which led to a Montgomery County petit jury being recruited to try the defendant for murder.
On August 29th (1922), the Frederick News announced that 11 jurors were impaneled to try William A. Stultz at Rockville in what would be a one-day case. A day later, the 46-year-old defendant would be pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by hanging by a three-judge panel consisting of Hammond Urner, Glenn H. Worthington, and Edward C. Peter. The defendant would be removed to the Frederick County jail to await his execution.
Throughout September and early October, efforts were made to have Stultz pronounced insane and another included the circulation of a petition to have his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Neither strategy worked, and the same can be said with a late October order by Maryland governor Albert C. Ritchie calling for an evaluation of Stultz by the State Lunacy Commission.
The death warrant was read to William A. Stultz on October 13th. Defense attorneys held out hope for the chance for a new trial, but this was overruled on November 8th.
William A. Stultz fate was cast, and in the early morning of November 10th, 1922, William A. Stultz would become the the last person hanged at the Frederick County Jail. The time was 6:30am.
Stultz went to the gallows still blaming everyone but himself for his actions, including the police officers involved. Hundreds of spectators looked on as the former Frederick plumber and resident of W. 4th Street took his last breath. Afterwards, his body was taken to Manchester for burial.
Six of the leading players in the court case and hanging are buried in Mount Olivet. These include: Albert Gannon who drove the defendant to Baltimore in an effort to avoid a possible lynching; two of the court justices who handed down the sentence of death in Hammond Urner and Glen Worthington; Stultz's counsel Sherman P. Bowers; Sheriff James Alonza Jones who pulled the lever to open the trap door of the gallows; and States Attorney Aaron Anders whom Stultz blamed for not only Adams' death, but also his own.
On January 1st, 1923, a new state law became effective, mandating all executions be conducted at the Baltimore penitentiary. Meanwhile, the Adams family was initially cared for by the community, however, wife Rubie would re-locate to Sykesville in Carroll County, and shortly thereafter brought suit against the family in order to take up her share of the Adams estate.
William Stultz’s children were raised into adulthood by their mother, Edna. She would be buried next to William in 1948 completing this sad tale about a plain and lonely grave in Manchester, Maryland.
Meanwhile, here in Mount Olivet, the grave space of John Henry Adams was occupied much sooner than it ever should have been. The same could be said for two of John Henry Adams’ sons who would follow him to the grave shortly thereafter with Marshall Earl Adams (1907-1925) and Leon Maynard Adams (1904-1928). Their final resting places are marked by a simplistic footstone, not unlike that of the man who murdered their father, however, vital dates are included.
John Henry Adam’s other son, John Quincy Adams (1910-1991), can also be found in Area Q/Lot 177 with his wife Nannie. (Note: Read last week’s “Story in Stone” entitled “Hail to the Chief.”) Officer Adams’ oldest daughter Lulu Ella (1902-1988) can be found in Area FF/Lot 75 with husband Walter Hugh Wills, Sr. His youngest daughter, Margaret Louise (1914-1955), married Harry Lee Wachter and is buried in Area X/Lot 65.
Lastly, I found the gravesites of Deputy Sheriff Charles W. Smith (1883-1948) and police partner Allen Spencer Bartgis (1887-1962). These were the deputies who came to impound Stultz’s car. I also located the gravesites of Johnny Adams’ colleagues with the Frederick City Police who accompanied the slain officer on that fateful morning. These were James Pascal Painter (1876-1943), and Martin Joseph Walsh (1880-1935), a native New Yorker also shot by Stultz who would go on to serve as Frederick’s chief of police for seven years. Walsh is not in Mount Olivet, but was laid to rest in an old churchyard much like Stultz—Charlesville’s Old Zion Reformed Cemetery, (today known as Faith United Church of Christ Cemetery) located off Opossumtown Pike.
Unlike Officer John H. Adams, these gentlemen were lucky not to come to Mount Olivet (or Zion Reformed) much sooner thanks to the rage that manifested itself in William A. Stultz in early August, 1922.