Why Construct a Monument for David R. Francis?

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Why Construct a Monument for David R. Francis?


You may have noticed the pioneer monument which stands at the southeast corner or the Madison County Courthouse. If you look at it closely, you will notice that it once was a fountain. It once sat out in the street so you could let your mule or horse drink from the trough while you drank from the spigot.

The monument commemorates the pioneers who settled in Madison County, as well as those who went on to settle in the west (mainly Missouri). The bust of the pioneer used to face Cumberland Gap, symbolic of the westward movement of American pioneers into Kentucky. The monument was erected around 1906.

The monument honors David R. Francis, who was born across the street from the monument on North First Street. The Farris Parks building now occupies this lot. Francis was born there in 1850. Why a monument to him? The plaque placed on the monument by the Madison County Fiscal Court answers this question. This Madison County native was mayor of St. Louis (1885-1889), governor of Missouri (1889-1893), Secretary of the Interior (1896-1897), President of the Louisiana Exposition (1903-1904) and Ambassador to Russia (1916-1921). Quite a resume.

It is interesting to note that native son, Cassius Marcellus Clay, was Ambassador to Russia during our Civil War, enhancing our Madison County-Russian diplomatic connections. Other Madison County natives who became governors were William J. Stone (Missouri), James B. McCreary (Kentucky — twice), and Green Clay Smith (Montana Territory). Also worthy of note is Keen Johnson, born in western Kentucky, later editor and owner of the Richmond Daily Register and Governor of Kentucky from 1938-1943.

David R. Francis died in 1927. He returned to Richmond from Missouri in 1906 and was honored at a homecoming celebration. More about this ceremony another time.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Why Construct a Monument for David R. Francis?,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed June 15, 2024, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/1830.