Frank Adams, a deputy sheriff for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed in the line of duty October 7, 1901 while attempting to arrest a man who had interfered with him in the discharge of his duty.

The shooting occurred after two drunken men started fighting near Jackson Square in Key West. They separated and one of the men began to use profane language as he walked up Thomas Street. Deputy Adams, who was sitting near the corner of Southard and Thomas Streets, arrested the man and attempted to take him to jail, but the man resisted and Deputy Adams called out for assistance.

Two men named Fleming and Gabriel took hold of the man to assist the deputy. Another man pushed some bystanders aside and said that he would not allow them to arrest his brother. Deputy Adams released the first man he had arrested and grabbed the man who interfered. They began to struggle, and after a short scuffle a pistol shot rang out. When the first shot rang out all the bystanders with the exception of one, a mate on the steamer Laurel, ran away; the two men holding the arrested man let him go and fled also.

Adams had been shot in the arm, and he fell to the ground, with the man who shot him falling on top of him. Adams was shot several more times, with one bullet hitting him in the left chest, penetrating his heart and another wounding him in the face. After shooting Adams, the man got up and ran down Southard Street toward what was then the Government Reservation.

A large crowd soon gathered around the body of Deputy Adams and the mate from the Laurel - the only one to stay at the scene. The mate told the crowd how the murder had happened. Deputy Adam’s body was taken home. The following day the shooter, Robert J. Frank, was caught and identified by the mate from the Laurel as the person who shot and killed Adams. He was arrested for and charged with murdering the deputy. At the preliminary hearing Robert Frank admitted to the shooting and said that he was sorry for it. He said that had anyone attempted to arrest him, he would have shot them as well. When searched he had some empty cartridges and a loaded pistol, with extra ammunition in his pocket.

Frank Adams’ Legacy

Frank Adams was born to William and Miranda Adams July 12, 1859, one of six children. He and his wife, Clementine in turn had six children, Lillian (died 1957), Lenora (died as a toddler), Willard (died 1918), James (died in the 1940s), Gladys (died in the 1930s) and Bernard (died in the 1980s). Gladys married William McGee and had one child, Wilhelmina. Gladys died when Wilhelmina was very young and the child was raised by Lillian. None of Frank’s other children had any offspring. Wilhelmina was his only grandchild. Wilhelmina married and had two girls, Lillian and Angela. Lillian, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia has one son, William, and one grandchild, Alexa. Both William and Alexa live in Miami, Florida. Angela has one son, who just returned from duty in Iraq and is stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.


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