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Frank Voelker Sr.

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Frank Voelker Sr.
Judge of the Louisiana 6th Judicial District
In office
January 1, 1937 – July 2, 1963
Preceded byFrancis Xavier Ransdell
Succeeded byClifton C. Adams
Personal details
Born(1892-08-30)August 30, 1892
Lake Providence
East Carroll Parish
Louisiana, USA
DiedJuly 2, 1963(1963-07-02) (aged 70)
Lake Providence
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeLake Providence Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Isabel Ransdell Voelker
RelationsFranxis Xavier Ransdell (father-in-law)

U.S. Senator Joseph E. Ransdell (uncle by marriage)

David Ransdell Voelker (grandson)
ChildrenFive children, including:

Katherine Voelker Cain (1919–2008)
Isabel Voelker Hathorn (1923–2003)
Frank Voelker Jr.

Flournoy "Flo" Voelker Guenard (1924–2016)
ParentsClemens August and Kate Ashbridge Voelker
Alma materChristian Brothers Academy
Tulane University Law School
OccupationAttorney; Judge
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Battles/warsWorld War I

Frank Voelker Sr. (August 30, 1892 – July 2, 1963),[1] was an attorney and judge of the Louisiana 6th Judicial District Court[nb 1] of his native Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish in the northeastern delta of Louisiana. The 6th district also encompasses Madison and Tensas parishes south of East Carroll. He served from 1937 to his death in 1963.

Background[edit]

Frank Voelker was born in 1892 in East Carroll Parish. His father, Clemens August Voelker (1855–1926), was a planter and politician of German descent. Clemens Volker was elected to the police jury, the parish governing body. Frank's mother was the former Kate Ashbridge,[2] a descendant of an English-American antebellum family in the area. His younger brother, Stephen Voelker (born 1900), became a businessman. In 1930 Stephen organized the Tallulah Production Credit Association in Tallulah, Madison Parish, which in 1937 lent some $1.5 million to farmers.[3]

Frank Voelker was sent to Christian Brothers Academy in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his legal degree from the Tulane University Law School in New Orleans.[3]

Career[edit]

Military and law career[edit]

Voelker served in the United States Army during World War I. After the war, he set up a law practice in Lake Providence. He practiced for about two decades before running and being elected as state district judge in 1936.[3]

Judicial career[edit]

Voelker was repeatedly re-elected as judge, serving on the state court for twenty-six-and-a-half years, from 1937 until his death. He was elected five times without opposition.[4] Voelker was an alternate delegate to the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago to nominate the Roosevelt-Truman ticket.[5]

African-American voter registration[edit]

Voelker upheld a conservative view of Southern society and did not support the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In the summer of 1962, Judge Voelker attracted national attention for challenging U.S. District Judge Edwin F. Hunter in Lake Charles regarding the pending voter registration of twenty-eight African Americans.[6] They would be the first members of their race registered to vote in East Carroll Parish since 1922. Few blacks had been allowed to register since 1898, when a new state constitution instituted measures that enabled discriminatory administration of barriers to voter registration. Voelker said that Hunter had overstepped his judicial limits by acting in an executive authority in ordering the registration of the black citizens. The East Carroll Parish voter registrar, Cecil Manning, resigned and closed the office on June 14 rather than allow the new registrants to be placed on the rolls. Blacks had been largely excluded from the political system since 1898 by whites' discriminatory application of barriers to voter registration.

But Hunter acted under a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, signed into law two years earlier by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ultimately, the judge registered the new black voters. Backing up Hunter, U.S. district judge Benjamin C. Dawkins Jr. of Shreveport issued an injunction against racial discrimination in the registration of voters.[7][8] The 1960 provision was strengthened and made uniform across most of the United States in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Marriage and family[edit]

Voelker married Isabel Ransdell, one of six daughters of Francis Xavier Ransdell and his wife. He was a longtime Louisiana state representative, who ran unsuccessfully one year for nomination as governor against Huey Pierce Long Jr..[9]

Frank and Isabel Voelker had five children. Son Frank Voelker Jr., became an attorney and gubernatorial candidate.[10] Frank Jr. was a city attorney in his native Lake Providence for nearly two decades. After serving in the state administration, he established a practice in New Orleans.

During the second administration of Governor Jimmie Davis, Voelker, Jr. was appointed as the chairman of the Louisiana State Sovereignty Commission, authorized in 1960 by the legislature to develop alternatives to resist integration. It was modeled on the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. Voelker, Jr. resigned to run in 1963 as a gubernatorial candidate in the Democratic primary,[10] but he withdrew from the race after placing poorly.

The senior Voelker died in 1963 and is interred at Lake Providence Cemetery in East Carroll Parish.[1]


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Notes[edit]

  1. At the time of Voelker's service the present 6th district was the 9th district.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Grave transcription - Frank Voelker". Find a Grave. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  2. "Clemens August Voelker". Findagrave.com. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Frederick W. Williamson and George T. Goodman, eds. Eastern Louisiana: A History of the Watershed of the Ouachita River and the Florida Parishes, 3 vols. (Monroe: Historical Record Association, 1939, pp. 734-735, 782-786
  4. James Matthew Reonas (December 2006). Once Proud Princes: Planters and Plantation Culture in Louisiana's Northeast Delta, From the First World War Through the Great Depression (PDF). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Ph.D. dissertation. p. 269. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 21, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. "Voelker". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  6. "State Judge Restrains Federal Judge's Order", Sumter Daily Item, Sumter, South Carolina, July 21, 1962, p. 1
  7. John Henry Scott (2003). Witness to the Truth: John H. Scott's Struggle for Human Rights in Louisiana. University of South Carolina Press. pp. 131–146. ISBN 978-1-57003-489-3. Retrieved 26 June 2013. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. Associated Press (July 21, 1962). "Order Halts Voter Action". Lake Charles American-Press (accessed via newspapers.com). Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  9. "Joseph E. Ransdell". bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ruston Daily Leader, Ruston, Louisiana, May 30, 1963, p. 1
Legal offices
Preceded by
Francis Xavier Ransdell
Judge of the Louisiana 6th Judicial District (then 9th District) in Lake Providence

Frank Voelker Sr.
1937–1963

Succeeded by
Clifton C. Adams


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