06 October 2012

Jonathan Francis, Sr., 1910 - 1963

Our new St. Helena Branch Library, located at 6355 Jonathan Francis Sr. Road on St. Helena Island, will soon be opened to the public. We've been asked for a little information about the namesake of the road.   

Q: Who was Jonathan Francis?
A: According to his death notices in the Beaufort Gazette of 1963 (on file in the BDC Research Room), Francis was the principal of St. Helena High School from 1947 to his death from a heart attack on Sept. 15, 1963.  He had previously served as the first Negro principal of Penn High School "after Penn was taken over by the State" and at Michael C. Riley school in Bluffton.  His professional memberships included Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Education Association, American Teachers Association and the Beaufort County Teachers Association.

The published obituary states: "Under the expert leadership of Mr. Francis, the St. Helena High School has progressed tremendously in the addition of faculty, facilities and educational offerings.  A student body of more than 800 students as well as many others mourn the loss of a great leader and educator of St. Helena High School, Beaufort County, and South Carolina."

Source: Beaufort Gazette, September 26, 1963, p. 5-C in our BDC obituary card files. 

Genealogical tip: No one is born a "Senior."  One becomes a "Senior," when another person, usually a son, is given the same name while the "Senior" is alive.  [This is not always the case.  Thomas Heyward, Jr. is "Jr." but his father's name was "Daniel."]  It is customary, however, for the "Senior" to appear in an obituary.  The Beaufort Gazette did not include the "Sr."  in the obituary.

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