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 John Christian Franks

John Christian Franks

Death 13 Nov 1913
Burial Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA
Plot Section D, lot 515
Memorial ID 146912991 · View Source
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** Sheriff of Monterey County, California **

There are some records have John C. Franks's birth year as 1844, but his headstone states 1845, and for the purposes of this memorial, that year seems appropriate.

It is known that he was born in Tiffin, Seneca County, OH. of German parentage, as recorded in the 1900 Census for Contra Costa County, CA.

His early life seems to have centered around the family farm and going to school with his brother Frederick during the winter months.

He was orphaned when he was eight years old, however, he continued to help support the family by working for neighboring farmers. At fourteen, he became an apprentice in the carriage making trade under the training of Peter Van Ness.

When the Civil War broke out, his brother Frederick, enlisted and was later killed at the Battle of Stones River (Dec 31,1862 to Jan 2, 1863) in Tennessee.

John joined the State Militia, but due to his age, never saw active service. He did, however, help guard Confederate prisoners at Johnson's Island near Toledo, OH.

In 1863, he moved to California and settled in Sacramento, earning his living at his trade. While there, he met and married Caroline A (Carrie) Haas on November 11, 1869.

He seems to have followed the progress of the Central Pacific Railroad, eventually arriving at Colfax in Placer County. He established a wagon building and repair business with J. A. Culver as a partner.

In 1872, the family moved to Monterey County, where he was elected as the first Marshal of the fledgling town of Salinas. The streets of Salinas had been laid out in 1867, and was incorporated in 1874.

In 1878, John C. Franks was elected as Sheriff of Monterey County, which by then had moved the seat of county government from Monterey to Salinas. The reason for the move was the arrival of the railroad.

A new jail was badly needed and Sheriff Franks pressed hard to secure a holding place for the criminals that plagued the area.

A bond issue was finally passed for the building of a new courthouse and jail at a proposed cost of $60,000, or approximately $1,400,000 in today's money. Quite a endeavor for such a new town.

After leaving office in 1882, John headed for Santa Rosa where he engaged in the fruit growing business. Three years later, on February 19, 1886, he was appointed by President Grover Cleveland to be the United States Marshal for Northern District of California.

He was reappointed in 1890 and served six months in office. On June 24, 1891, Franks was appointed Marshal for the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 1900 he is recorded as being the Vice-President of the Bradford Reclamation Company, Bradford Island, CA. This company appears to have evolved in the Bradford Island Reclamation District 2059, Contra Costa County, CA.

He was an active Mason and was a Sir Knight of the Watsonville Commandery.

In his 68 years he was a brother, farmer, soldier, wagon maker, husband, father, businessman, Freemason, Sheriff , US Marshal and much more. Truly an amazing man.

Ben M.

Family Members




  • Maintained by: Ben Martinez
  • Originally Created by: Louis Roth
  • Added: 
  • Find A Grave Memorial 146912991
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Christian Franks (Apr 1845–13 Nov 1913), Find A Grave Memorial no. 146912991, citing Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Ben Martinez (contributor 46502509) .