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The Right Rev. Joseph Marshall Francis

Sixth Bishop of Indianapolis

Joseph Marshall Francis was born April 6, 1862 at Eaglesmore, Pennsylvania to James Booth Francis and Charlotte Augusta(Marshall) Francis. He was a paternal descendent of Sir John Francis,mayor of London in 1400-1401. A later ancestor Philip Francis, was mayor of Plymouth, England in 1644 and his son, John Francis, was Dean of Lighland in 1704. Another John Francis was Dean of Lismorein 1722.

Charlotte Marshall Francis was descended from John Marshall, celebrated Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who presided over that high tribunal from January 1, 1801 to March 15, 1836.

Life and Career

Joseph M. Francis graduated from the Episcopal Academy at Philadelphia, Penn. in 1879. He then attended Racine Collage at Racine, Wisconsin until 1883. He was ordained a Deacon in 1884. In 1885, he attended Oxford University in England, then returned to Wisconsin where he was ordained in the Priesthood in 1886. He began his ministry at All Saints Cathedral of Milwaukee, Wisc.in 1886.

On June 14, 1887, he married Kate Stevens of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.She was the daughter of George C. and Catherine (Green) Stevens. They had no children.In 1887 he became rector of St. Luke’s Church at Whitewater,Wisc. In 1888 he went to Japan as a missionary and served as instructor in the Divinity School, being in charge of the Cathedral congregation at Tokyo for nine years.

In 1897 he returned, with his wife in ill health, to the United States and became rector of St. Paul’s Church at Evansville, Indiana.1899 saw the Rev. Francis, at age 37, elected Bishop of the New Diocese of Indiana (the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, becoming named thusly in 1902) and was consecrated on St. Matthew’s Day, September21, 1899, taking residence in Indianapolis on October 1, 1899. These were very trying times for the Bishop and the new Diocese, struggling with Diocesan finances and various other problems associated with the division of the state into the two dioceses.

During the World War, Bishop Francis went to France as Chaplain of Base Hospital No. 32. He returned to the United States on leave in August 1918, and was engaged until the end of the war in speaking for Liberty Loan drives. He received the Crown of Belgium Medal, given for outstanding civil activities in an order dated June 17, 1925 by Albert, King of Belgium.

In 1933, he was the third oldest prelate, in years of service, still in active work in the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. He was a devoted worker in the missionary field throughout his long ministry.For many years he served in the executive board of missions and the National Council of the National Episcopal Church. He was chairman of the Indianapolis branch of the United States Society that issued a weekly publication called “Uncle Sam’s Diary”,giving an impartial view of governmental activities and distributed free to high schools. He was also a member of the Columbia Club.

Falling into ill health in 1934, he gave up his national church responsibilities on the National Council, a position he had held since 1904. In April of 1938 he asked for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor. On Wednesday February 8th, the day of Bishop Kirchoffer’s consecration, Bishop Francis, being severely ill, sent him a notice giving over full ecclesiastical authority. Five days later, Bishop Joseph Marshall Francis died. He was seventy-six years old, the oldest Bishop in active Diocesan service in the Church. His total time of ordained service was fifty-two years,almost forty of which was as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

How the World Changed Between 1899 and 1939


  • On Dec. 30, 1922, the Congress of Soviets approved the formation of a Russian-dominated Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.
  • Henry Ford joins the new Detroit Automobile Co. as chief engineer. 
  • A Stanley Steamer driven by F. E. Stanley climbs to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. 
  • B. F. Goodrich at Akron, Ohio, produces the first U.S. Clincher tires, producing 19-ply rubber tires in sizes ranging from 28 by 2.5 inches to 36 by 3 inches. 
  • Kelly-Springfield pneumatic tires are introduced at Springfield, Ohio, by the Rubber Tire Wheel Co.
  • Boston’s last horsecar runs December 24. A trolley line replaces the horsecar as Boston extends its 2-year-old subway.


Then Things really took off - - - - - - -
  • The notion (but not the reality) of television came in 1908. 
  • Automobile manufacture started in the United States in the 1890s and progressed rapidly in the early 1900s.
  • In 1908 Henry Ford introduced assembly-line manufacture of cars. 
  • By 1905, the Wright brothers had built and flown the first practical airplane. Within a decade, airplanes were being used in warfare. By the 1920s they were carrying mail, and by the 1930s extensive passenger service was being introduced.



  • Nearly25 percent of Americans are still on the land, but the average farm family has a cash income of only $1,000 per year. 
  • Germany has stockpiles of 8.5 million tons of grain as World War II begins. 
  • NBC televises opening ceremonies of the New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows April 30. One thousand viewers see the telecast, which is picked up by somewhere between 100 to 200 experimental receivers set up in the metropolitan area. 
  • FM radio receivers go on sale for the first time. 
  • “Batman” is launched by DC Comics artist Bob Kane, 18,whose comic book hero, accompanied by a youthful Robin, will soon be syndicated to newspapers. 
  • Al Capone is released from Alcatraz, his mind destroyed by syphilis. 
  • Seventeen percent of the U.S. work force remains largely unemployed,but while the actual number of unemployed men and women has fallen from 15 million in 1933 down to 9.5 million, even Americans with jobs have relatively low average incomes. More than 4 million Americans declare incomes above $2,000 for the year, 200,000 declare more than $10,000, 42,500 more than $25,000. Only 3 percent have enough income to pay any tax at all, and 670,000 taxpayers account for 90 percent of all income taxes collected.
  • Thanksgiving Day is celebrated November 23 — the fourth Thursday in the month rather than the last. Federated Department Stores chief Fred Lazarus, Jr., has persuaded President Roosevelt that a longer Christmas shopping season will help the economy, the president has issued a proclamation, and within a few years most states will pass laws making November’s fourth Thursday Thanksgiving Day. 
  • General Foods introduces the first precooked frozen foods under the Birds Eye label, marketing a chicken franchises and crisscross steak. 
  • A 5-minute Cream of Wheat is introduced to compete with quick-cooking Quaker Oats, which reduced its cooking time in 1922 from 15 minutes to 5. 
  • Lay’s potato chips are introduced by Atlanta’s H. W. Lay Co. founded by Herman Warden Lay, 30, who has taken over Barrett Food Products for which he was a route salesman in 1932. 
  • Pepsi-Cola challenges Coca-Cola with a radio jingle written for $2,500by Bradley Kent and Austen Herbert Croom to the old English hunting song “D’ye Ken John Peel”:
“Pepsi-Cola hits the spot
Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot
Twice as much for a nickel, too
Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you”
  • The pressure cooker, introduced at the World’s Fair by National Presto Industries, is a saucepan-like pot with a locking swivel lid. It does in minutes what used to take hours.


PRESIDENTS 1899-1939

President William McKinley 1897-1901 Republican-25th

President Theodore Roosevelt 1901-09 Republican-26th

President William Howard Taft 1909-13 Republican-27th

President Woodrow Wilson 1913-21 Democratic-28th

President Warren G. Harding 1921-23 Republican-29th

President Calvin Coolidge 1923-29 Republican-30th

President Herbert Hoover 1929-33 Republican-31st

President Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-45 Democratic-32nd

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