GEORGE M. FRANCIS.
Napa County has been specially honored in the high character and superior ability of her journalists, who have
through the years exerted a potent influence on the growth and development of the county along material, civic
and moral lines. Among the men who have done particularly effectual work in the newspaper field, George M. Francis,
editor of the Napa Register, is eminently worthy of specific mention, for through a period of more than a half
century he has not only given the people the news, in clean and well edited shape, but he has stood on the bulwarks
of good citizenship and fought for all that is best in community life; standing for the right because he believed
it to be right, regardless of the opinions of others. For this quality of his character alone he deserves the thoughtful
appreciation of the people of his community who stand for the highest standards of living.
George M. Francis was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on the 28th day of May, 1844, and is a son of Sylvester and Mary
Ann (Gregory) Francis. His father was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on October 12, 1805, and his mother was
born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on February 2, 1808. Of the five children born to this worthy couple, George
M. was the youngest. When a lad of seven years he went to make his home with an uncle at Troy Corners, Oakland
county, Michigan, and in the district schools of that locality he secured his educational training. Later he joined
his two brothers, James and Jesse, in Potosi, Wisconsin, and in 1859 he became a printer's "devil" in
the office of the Grant County (Wis.) Herald, where he learned the art preservative. When the tocsin of war sounded,
however, Mr. Francis laid aside his "stick and rule" and, in August, 1862, enlisted in Company C, Twenty
Fifth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, with which he served until the close of the war, taking part in many
of the most important battles and campaigns of that great struggle. He was with General Sherman's army on its historic
march from Atlanta to the sea, and thence on up through the Carolinas to the surrender of General Johnson, near
Raleigh, in 1865. He was detailed at Columbus, Kentucky, at General A. J. Smith's headquarters, and was also on
detail as inspector clerk at General Mower's headquarters after the capture of Atlanta. He was mustered out at
Washington, D. C., and was present at the Grand Review in that city in 1865.
On his return to civil life, Mr. Francis went to work on the Republican at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and later became
foreman of its job department. In 1869 he came to California, stopping first in San Francisco, but in 1870 he came
to Napa and bought a half interest in the Napa Weekly Register, of which he later became the sole owner. During
the fifty five years that he has been connected with the Register, as owner, publisher and editor, Mr. Francis
has devoted himself indefatigably to the end that it should be to the community what a newspaper should be, the
purveyor of news, fresh and up to date and presented in an interesting and readable form, and that its editorial
influence should ever be exerted for the betterment of the community. A man of strong convictions and vigorous
intellect, with a forcible yet pleasing literary style, his paper has through all these years stood as one of the
beneficent institutions of the county, giving of its space freely for the benefit of the people, supporting that
which was good and condemning the wrong. The paper has always enjoyed a good circulation and has always been considered
an excellent advertising medium. Typographically, it is the equal of any of its contemporaries and is a welcome
visitor in the homes into which it goes. Politically, Mr. Francis has been a lifelong supporter of the republican
party and has taken an active part in the political affairs of his community. In 1881 President Arthur appointed
him postmaster of Napa, in which position he served until 1885, and again, in November, 1894, he was appointed
postmaster by President McKinley, serving also under Presidents Roosevelt and Taft until 1910. Mr. Francis was
appointed by Governor Waterman a trustee of the Napa State Asylum on March 11, 1889, and four years later was reappointed
to that position by Governor Markham. He later, under appointment of Governor John, rendered service as a member
of the board of managers of this institution and was president of the same. In 1896 he was elected a presidential
elector and carried the record of California's vote to Washington. He is a member of Kit Carson Post No. 74, Grand
Army of the Republic, which was organized at Napa in 1885, and was the first commander of that patriotic body.
He is a member of the Presbyterian church.
On June 16, 1866, in Lancaster, Wisconsin, Mr. Francis was married to Miss Eliza Horton, and they became the parents
of three children, Mrs. Mildred Benjamin, Mrs. Ethel Rohner, and George H. Francis, the latter of whom is associated
with his father in the publication of the Register. Personally, Mr. Francis is a man of quiet and unassuming manner,
but possesses a forceful individuality and has always been a prominent figure in all local movements for the upbuilding
and advancement of the community. Genial and companionable, he enjoys a wide acquaintance throughout the county
and no man here is held in higher esteem than he.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Napa County, CA
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