Rose GardenNellie Mae (Beal) Francis, daughter of Martha (Hatfield) and Marvin Beal, was born on December 22, 1865, in Utica, Oneida County, New York. Nellie came to the West with her family. After spending several years in Texas, her father and his brother Frank traveled to the frontier railroad town of Flagstaff, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, where the two brothers built a saloon and restaurant.

On Thanksgiving Day 1881, Marvin's and Frank’s families joined them in Flagstaff. They were the first families with children to settle there. The first Beal home was above the saloon and restaurant until a cabin could be built, a far better home for Flagstaff’s first respectable women residents. Nellie and her sister Jennie waited tables in the Beal Restaurant to help out. John William Francis, a bachelor deputy sheriff, was a patron of the restaurant and began courting Nellie.

Nellie became the belle of the little frontier town. Her name appears in almost all the reports of Flagstaff’s early social events from 1883 to 1887. Nellie was quite a beauty and, according to reports, could have had her pick of eligible young men, but it was John Francis who won her love. The couple married on the evening of July 25, 1887, at the Beal house on the corner of Leroux and Beaver Streets, where the Babbitt Thriftway now stands.

Within a month of the wedding, John was involved in the bloody vendetta of the Pleasant Valley War, and on two occasions was away from home assisting Sheriff Mulvernon in suppressing that famous feud. John became the first elected sheriff of Coconino County and was re-elected several times. He was also a deputy United States Marshal and later served as a school trustee and mayor of Flagstaff.

Nellie and John had three children: Adah Lenore (Francis) Dumas, born October 20, 1888; Marvine Josephine (Francis) Raudebaugh, born June 23, 1892; and William Irvin Francis, born August 10, 1896. In addition to being a devoted wife and mother, Nellie was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

After John’s death from cancer in March 1925, Nellie remained in their home on N. Leroux Street, which is still there. In later years, she spent her winters in Phoenix and Tempe, Maricopa County, with her daughter Lenore’s family and her summers with her son Irvin and his family in Hollywood and Burbank, California.

Nellie died March 5, 1950, in Tempe Hospital at the age of eighty-five, a well-loved mother and grandmother. She was buried in the Flagstaff Masonic Cemetery.

Donor: Martha D. Bunger, granddaughter, August 2002
Photo Located: RGC MS-39, Box F, F-Francis, Nellie
Updated: 2/17/2016, D. Sue Kissel