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Adkins Family Papers

Identifier: 2018.028

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, military paperwork, papers, books, objects, and photographs belonging to the Adkins family. The bulk of the collection pertains to the life of Frank E. Adkins (1914-1945) and his service in the Army Air Corps during World War II (1941-1945). His father, Grover Cleveland Adkins (1889-1956) is also heavily respresented in the collection.


  • 1884 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Grover Cleveland (G.C.) Adkins was born in Montgomery County, Tennessee to Francis (Frank) Marion Adkins and Ida Texas Rhinehart Adkins in 1889. Their other children included Nettie Jane (Adkins) Shelton, Una Pearl (Adkins) Kelley, Wiley M. Adkins and Hardy E. Adkins. Frank established a general store in the New Providence area, following in his father’s footsteps as a merchant. The collection includes an 1893 ledger, but it is unclear if it is related to store business. Frank eventually passed the management of the store to Grover Cleveland in 1911.

In 1909 G.C. Adkins married Ethel Darnell, the daughter of R. E. and Lula (Riggins) Darnell. Their first child, Doris Adkins, was born in 1910. He died in 1916 at the age of 5 due to cancer of the kidneys. The couple had two more children, Harold Adkins and Francis (Frank) E. Adkins, while in Montgomery County before moving to Deep Creek, Virginia. There are a large number of photographs in the collection that feature Harold Adkins and Frank E. Adkins together as young children.

G.C. and Ethel’s remaining three children, Kenneth Adkins, Margaret Adkins, and Barbara Adkins, were all born while the family lived in Virginia. Sometime between 1924 and 1926 the Adkins family returned to Montgomery County, Tennessee. In 1926 Harold Adkins died at the age of 14 in an accident involving a horse. He is buried in the family plot in Greenwood Cemetery.

G.C. Adkins succeeded R.C. Wilcox as the Montgomery County Register of Deeds in 1934. He served in that post for twenty years until his retirement in 1954. He died just two years later at the age of 67. His wife Ethel continued to live in Clarksville until her death in 1981.

In 1940 Frank E. Adkins joined the Army Air Corps. He had been taking flying lessons at Austin Peay Normal School prior to his enlistment. He completed his flight training in Texas before he was transferred to March Field in California. When the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred Frank was sent to Australia to join the Allied forces in the Pacific. He became well known as a skilled pilot of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning aircraft. On March 1, 1942 he was flying a P-40 when he was shot down over the island of Java. His escape from capture by Japanese troops while on the handlebars of a local man’s bicycle was well publicized.

Frank was welcomed home to Clarksville as a hero in November 1942. Festivities included a parade downtown on Franklin Street and Welcome Home Celebration at the B.F. Goodrich plant where Adkins was employed at one time. The collection includes several photographs of the event at the B.F. Goodrich plant. Some of these photographs are labeled with the date April 28, 1943, but after review it was determined that all the photographs were from the same event that Frank Adkins attended in November 1942.

On November 11, 1942 Frank Adkins married Charlotte Nicodemus of Winchester, Virginia. The couple was only married for a short while before Frank was sent overseas again to join the European campaign. He was there until 1944 when he was stationed at Kissimmee Air Field in Kissimmee, Florida. Several copies of Frank’s military paperwork from this time period are included in the collection. Although stationed in Florida, Frank was frequently in Texas for assignments as a test pilot. On February 23, 1945 Frank Adkins was killed in a plane crash near Freeport, Texas. His remains were returned to Clarksville for burial in Greenwood Cemetery.


4.46 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



A collection of Adkins family papers and photographs. The collection consists largely of items pertaining to Frank E. Adkins and his time as an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II, but includes the papers and photographs of other family members. A small number of books and material objects are also in the collection.

Processing Information

There was no discernable order to the arrangement of the collection upon receipt. It is now arranged by subject, with a focus on the military career of Frank E. Adkins and how it affected his family. Objects and oversized items have been placed in boxes at the end of the collection. All photographs have been removed from the collection, scanned, and housed with the Archives Photograph Collection.



Adkins Family Papers
Sarah Fry
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Montgomery County Archives Repository

350 Pageant Lane
Suite 101D
Clarksville Tennessee 30741 United States