My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in the book,  Biographical Souvenir of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, Phelps, Harlan and Franklin, Nebraska published in 1890 by F. A. Battey & Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM H. FRANK, SR., was born in Knox county, Ohio, December 20, 1817. His father, John Frank, was a native of Petersburgh, Va., and served under Gen. W. H. Harrison in the War of 1812. He was a participant in the famous battle of Tippecanoe, and rendered honorable service throughout the entire war. He settled at Mount Vernon, Ohio, in an early day, where he took to wife Miss Sarah Hickman, a native of Pennsylvania. She was a modest, unassuming christian woman, and lived to the ripe old age of eighty-nine years. John Frank died in 1824, at the age of thirty-three years. The paternal family were left poor and almost helpless after the death of the father. There were four children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the eldest. The mother was a seamstress, and an industrious, cheerful-hearted woman. When William H. Frank, Sr., was only seven years old, he exhibited signs of industry. He would secure odd jobs of piling wood from such men as the Hozomerses and Curtisses, famous in their day in Ohio. At the age of nine years he secured employment of good old Philip Plummer, who kept a hotel at Mount Vernon. Here young Frank did chores, waited on the table, and blacked the travelers’ boots, receiving sometimes a sixpence or a few coppers. At the age of ten he sought and obtained of Dr. John P. Brookins a position in a drug store at Mount Vernon. Here he continued his remarkable habits of industry by studying chemistry and learning to prepare extracts. In the course of a year, Dr. Brookins disposed of the drug store, and, together with Philip Plummer, laid out the town of Richmond, in Union county, Ohio. They were accompanied to this place by young Frank, who carried the chain while the survey was being made. He also helped Dr. Brookins build the first house in this place, which is now one of the most prosperous and wealthy little cities in Ohio. In the spring of 1833, this industrious youth was apprenticed to a cabinet maker at Marysville, the county seat of Union county. His apprenticeship extended over a period of three years and eight months, during which time he would often get up at three and four o’clock in the morning and work in order that he might earn a little extra money.

In 1836 he was sent by his employer to Missouri to aid in the completion of a large order of furniture for the female department of Marion College. He spent six months in Missouri during the most exciting times of the anti-slavery agitation. While there he walked seven miles one Sunday to hear Dr. Nelson, president of Marion College, preach against slavery, in consequence of which there were present a great concourse of people to hear him. It was a well known fact that the professors of Marion College were bitter opponents of slavery, and were recognized leaders of the anti-slavery movement. There were also present, on this occasion, a large number of prominent slaveholders, who were determined to prevent Dr. Nelson from preaching on the anti-slavery question. The Doctor, however, judiciously refrained from even alluding to the subject in his excellent sermon that day. At the close of the services. Col. Muldrow, president of the female department of Marion College, arose to call the attention of the people to a petition which related to the anti-slavery movement, and was interrupted by Dr. Bosley, a prominent slaveholder, who drew his cudgel and was about to strike Col. Muldrow, when the latter drew his knife and stabbed him. The affair created the wildest excitement throughout the state on account of the prominence of both parties, and resulted in driving the anti-slavery advocates from Marion College. Mention is made of this incident merely to show the deep interest manifested on the great questions of the day by the young cabinet-maker. Deprived of school privileges during his early life, he dug his knowledge from such books as he could obtain with his limited means.

Mr. Frank was married, April 17, 1837, to Miss Rachael Wolford, who is still his faithful and loving companion. She is a native of Ohio, and was born April 13, 1817. This union has been blessed by the birth of eight children, as follows — John E., born in Union county, Ohio, January 8, 1836; Joseph W., born in Union county, Ohio, December 12, 1840; William H., born in Union county, Ohio, November 29, 1843; Leonidas F., born in Union county, Ohio, February 15, 1846; Mary L., born in Union county, Ohio, April 12, 1848 (deceased); Charles L., born in Union county, Ohio, May 11, 1850; George S., born in Henry county, Iowa, May 28, 1853; and Otway C., born in Henry county, Iowa, August 28, 1860.

In 1837, Mr. Frank located at Marysville, Ohio, and was appointed postmaster under President Taylor’s administration. He served during Taylor’s administration and nine months under Pierce’s administration. He was also justice of the peace as long as he would accept the office. In 1840, he was elected coroner of Union county, Ohio, and was elected mayor of Marysville about the same time. He was at the head of the city government for four years, acquitting himself in a most praise-worthy manner.

In 1856, Mr. Frank moved his family to Mt. Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa, where he followed contracting and building for several years. The country was new, and as he was an efficient workman he found plenty of employment. In 1859, he went to Marshall and continued his vocation successfully until he moved to Red Oak a few years later. While at Marshall, he was postmaster for three years and justice of the peace several years. He remained in Red Oak about ten years, after which, in January, 1882, he removed with his family to Phelps county, Nebr. He immediately purchased a section of land in Cottonwood township, in the Platte River valley, where he has since resided. He has since sold a portion of land to four of his sons, who are among the wide-awake young men of Phelps county. Mr. Frank organized the Frank post office in 1882, and has since been postmaster. The name of the office, however, has been changed to Romeyne, on account of a similarity of names of other offices in the state. He has been the efficient clerk of the township since its organization, and, in 1885, was appointed to take the census of Cottonwood township. Mr. Frank has been identified with the republican party since its organization up to within recent years. He now is a third party prohibitionist. He is a strong advocate of temperance, and in favor of wiping the traffic in intoxicating liquors out of existence as soon as possible. He is an able writer, and has corresponded considerably for various papers and periodicals. He has never tasted a drop of liquor, and never has used tobacco in any form. He and his estimable wife have been members of the Methodist Episcopal church nearly all their lives, and although they are each past three-score years and ten, their faith in the Master is as firm as the Rock of Ages.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Biographical Souvenir of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, Phelps, Harlan and Franklin, Nebraska published in 1890 by F. A. Battey & Company. 

View additional Phelps County, Nebraska family biographies here: Phelps County, Nebraska Biographies

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