Secretary of State

George Madison "Matt" Adams

Term of OfficeSeptember 3, 1887 - August 25, 1891
Significant Accomplishments
Governor during his term of OfficeGov. Simon B. Buckner
EducationCentre College (Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky)
Spouse(s)Sarah L. Gordon
ResidenceKentucky (Knox County; Clark County)
Birth Date12/20/1837
Birth PlaceKentucky (Barbourville, Knox County)
Date of Death4/6/1920
Place of DeathKentucky (probably Clark County)
Place of BurialKentucky (Lexington Cemetery)
National OfficesAppointed U.S. Pension Agent in Louisville by President Grover Cleveland
Other State Offices HeldClerk of the Ky House of Representatives (1874-1881); Register of the Ky Land Office (1884-1887); State Railroad Commissioner (1891); Kentucky House of Representatives (1867-1874)
County Offices HeldCircuit Court Clerk (Knox County): 1859-1861
Military ServiceCivil War (Captain, 7th Reg. Ky Vol Inf, USA)
NoteDuring the Civil War, Adams raised a company of volunteers then served as Captain, Co H, 7th Regiment Ky Vol Inf USA (1863 - 1864); later he was commissioned Paymaster & promoted to Major. He was the nephew of former Secretary of State, Green Adams. Secretary of State Adams was appointed Railroad Commissioner by Gov. Buckner on August 25, 1891. (Willis L. Ringo was appointed to serve the one week remaining on Adams' term as Secretary of State.)

George Madison "Matt" Adams, a nephew of Green Adams, was born in Barbourville, Knox County, on December 20, 1837. He was educated at Centre College, studied law, and then served as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Knox County from 1859 to 1861. In 1855, he married Sarah L. Gordon of Winchester. During the Civil War, he raised a company of volunteers and became the captain of Company H of the Seventh Regiment of the Kentucky Volunteer Infantry from 1861 to 1863. In 1864, he was commissioned paymaster and promoted to major.

After the war, Adams served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1867 to 1874. After an unsuccessful bid for a fourth term, he was Clerk of the House of Representatives until 1881. In 1881, Adams was appointed Register of the Kentucky Land Office and served from 1884 to 1887 under Governor J. Proctor Knott. In 1887, he was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Simon B. Buckner and served until 1891. He was appointed State Railroad Commissioner in 1891. In 1894, he was appointed United States pension agent in Louisville by President Grover Cleveland. He retired in 1898 and lived in Winchester, Clark County, until his death on April 6, 1920. His last public activity was campaigning for John Young Brown in the gubernatorial primary against William Goebel in 1899. He is buried in the Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky. He was survived by a nephew, Charles N. Manning of Lexington.


"Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky," (1878);

"Dictionary of the American Congress," (1949);

Obituary, "Winchester Advocate," April 7, 1920.