Pages 537-538, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




JOHN FRANCIS—In Norfolk, England, where had been born and buried generations of his family, John Francis, the subject of this sketch, saw the light of day on April 24, 1837. By the death of his father he was left at two years of age to the care of his mother, whose maiden name was Sarah Kitteringham. She was a woman of much energy and unusual strength of character and under her hand he was educated and brought to his majority. It was then that the Kansas struggle was pending and the Free State and Pro-Slavery fight was being hearkened to half way round the world. The young man listened with the rest and his sympathies being strongly awakened he determined to come to America and have a hand in the strife. He left England for Kansas in 1858, coming to Osawatomie where were gathered many of the friends and followers of John Brown. He remained there until March, 1859, when he removed to Allen county, pre-empted a claim, near his present home, and engaged in farming. The looked for crash came and in July, 1861, he enlisted in the Third Kansas Regiment, Colonel James Montgomery commanding. In the spring of 1862 the company to which he belonged was transferred to the 5th Kansas Cavalry in which regiment he served in Missouri and Arkansas, making the march from Rolla to Helena. At Helena he was invalided and sent to the General hospital at Keokuk, Iowa, from which he was discharged in November, 1863, greatly broken in health.

He returned to Allen county and was elected County Clerk and re-elected in 1865, serving four years. He also held under appointment of Judge D. M. Valentine, then Judge of the District, the office of Clerk of the District Court, receiving this appointment in 1865 at the time the county-seat was moved from Humboldt to Iola. At the expiration of his appointive term he was elected to the office which he resigned in 1868. Meanwhile he had found time to study law and was admitted to practice in 1867. In November of the same year, 1867, he was elected County Treasurer and re-elected in '69.

At the end of his term of service as County Treasurer he engaged in merchandising in Iola in which business he continued until July, 1877.

In 1873 he was appointed by Governor Thomas A. Osborn as one of the trustees of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Olathe. And on May 1st,


1874, he was appointed State Treasurer of Kansas to fill the unexpired term of Josiah E. Hayes. Again in December, 1875, he was appointed to the same office to bring order out of chaos in the accounts of Samuel Lappin, who was in trouble.

In 1876 he went before the people as a candidate for State Treasurer and was elected, was reelected in 1878 and again re-elected in 1880.

After leaving the office of State Treasurer he engaged in bond business and banking in New York City. In 1892, his health again failing him, he moved to his farm at the northern edge of Allen county, where he now lives.

In 1898 he was elected Representative of his county and was made Chairman of the Committee on State Affairs. He was returned to the House in 1900 and appointed Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means. Upon the adjournment of the Legislature he was appointed a member of the Tax Commission, authorized by the House and Senate of 1901, and was selected as its President.

John Francis is a Republican, a Mason and a Knight Templar. He became a member of the Iola Lodge, number 38 A. F. & A. M. in 1865 and filled successively its several offices including that of Master. He is a Churchman, having been confirmed in Norwich, England, at the age of fourteen, by Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand.

On February 23rd, 1862, while on furlough from his regiment, he was married to Lodeska Coffield, whose parents came to Allen county from Indiana in 1860. Mrs. Francis is a lineal descendant of Adrial Simons, a Revolutionary patriot, son of Dutch parents who emigrated from Holland in 1700, also of Benjamin Clark, likewise a soldier of the Revolution.

They have three daughters and one son, Anna, Clara, Maude Elizabeth and John.

Few men in Kansas have a more distinguished and honorable record of public service than Hon. John Francis, and none is more highly esteemed or more universally respected. For thirty years he has been a conspicuous figure in the public life of Allen county and of the State of Kansas, and he is still vigorously engaged in the performance of the most responsible and important public duties.

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