Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
FRANKLIN PIERCE FRENCH, real
estate and insurance man of Ritzville and one of the most extensive wheat
farmers of Adams county, was born in Morrow county, Ohio, November 4, 1854--the
day upon which Franklin Pierce, for whom he was named, was elected president.
His father, James French, was a native of Connecticut, as were also his
parents, though the family originally came from England. They were
early New England settlers, and prominent in the Revolution and the War
of 1812. The mother of Mr. French was Elizabeth (Cronk) French, born
in New York of old Knickerbocker stock. The father of our subject
was a carriage maker by trade, and died in 1888 in Eaton county, Michigan,
where also the mother
Until five years of age Franklin P. French
was reared in Ohio, from which state the family removed to Michigan, where
Mr. French remained until twenty-five years of age, acquiring a common
school education. He went to California in February, 1877, and worked
at contracting and building eight months, then removed to Klickitat county,
Washington, where he remained three years, employed meanwhile, by the Oregon
Railroad and Navigation company as a carpenter. He also fought Indians
in this county, and was made deputy sheriff, which office he held for two
years. He then returned to Michigan on a visit and just prior to
starting on this trip he was married to Mary F. Mescher, born near Silverton,
Oregon, daughter of William and Ann (Moores) Mescher, both of whom are
dead. The father and mother were natives of Missouri and crossed
the plains to Oregon in an early day,--about 1850.
Upon his return from this visit Mr. French
rented a farm near Silverton, and also followed his trade there for four
years, after which he came to Ritzville in April, 1886. He filed
on a homestead fifteen miles west of town and engaged in the cattle business,
but owing to the severity of the winters following this venture he lost
so heavily that he abandoned the business after three years of poor success.
He was elected sheriff of Adams county on the Republican ticket in 1889,
served his term and also took the census of his county in 1890. In
1891 he was elected assessor of the county. After completing his
term he retired to his farm and commenced raising wheat. After harvesting
one crop he rented his land, removed to town and was appointed United States
court commissioner, which office he held eight years. He now gives
most of his attention to farming. He has three thousand acres of
land, two-thirds of which is sown to wheat. The principal portion
of his land is rented to others. In Ritzville he has a lot upon which
his one-story frame office stands, and one of the handsomest homes in the
city on Knob Hill.
In January, 1888, Mr. French lost his wife
by death. One daughter was left; Edna A., aged sixteen, an exceptionally
promising high school girl.
On March 17, 1892, Mr. French was again
married, his wife being Alice C. Cunningham, daughter of William R. Cunningham,
a sketch of whose life appears elsewhere in this book. Mrs. French
was born in Kentucky, August 17, 1869, and was educated principally in
Lexington, Missouri. She is now United States court commissioner
of Adams county, being the only lady commissioner in the state.
To this union has been born one child; Elsworth
C., aged six years.
Franklin P. French is a member of the Republican
party, and has at different times been delegated to state and county conventions.
He is a charter member of the Ritzville lodge of Odd Fellows; and is the
only charter member in the county at this time. There were only five
members in the county at the time of the lodge's organization. Mr.
French has been through all the chairs of the order and has represented
his lodge in grand lodge. Both he and Mrs. French are Rebekahs, of
which lodge the latter is present noble grand. Both are ardent and
liberal members of the Church of Christ.
After a long litigation, Mr. French has finally
secured the title to the old homestead in Ohio, where he was born.
Aside from his children, Mr. French is the only member of the family that
now bears the name.