Frank G. Ellis (1868 - 1932)




Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas


at Old Soldiers Home,
Leavenworth, KS
Cause of death: heart attack

Cause of death

heart attack

Burial / Funeral

at Leavenworth National Cemetery,
Leavenworth, Leavenworth County, KS


Last Known Residence

Doctor's Residence,
Old Soldier's Home, Leavenworth, KS


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Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon

Military Service

US Army, WWI

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Daniel Pinna I love the photos and your descriptions of Frank Ellis. What kind of serious trouble did he get into in Kentucky? You've got my interest piqued!
Apr 23, 2013 · Reply
Mary Vail Well, it seems my illustrious great-grandfather was involved in a duel in Kentucky sometime around 1885 or 86. He 'won' the duel, however, duels had been outlawed in Kentucky by that time, so he now was a fugitive. His father, Dr. Wiley Bridges Greene, spirited him away to New Orleans, bought a ticket for him to South Africa, changed his name and sent him away.

In his mother's diary, there are no entries for the year this happened. The next time he is mentioned is several years later and was thereafter referred to Frank or F Ellis, or FE instead of James or Jimmy.

He was certainly a colorful person, prone to fits of ranting and raving about the 'damned Democrats' and the buracracy at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I have a letter from Teddy Roosevelt in response to one of Frank's letters concerning the deplorable conditions on the Reservations. Needless to say, Teddy wasn't particularly interested in the Indians and sent a polite "thank you for your concern" type letter.

Just because he was an interesting character, you might want to look at a posting on the website of the Sharlot Hall Museum in Arizona. An article "Looking back at Dr. Frank Ellis and the Colorado River Agency" gives some details about the assignment to the Colorado River Agency at Parker Arizona. My grandmother, his daughter, was six when they made the trip from Missouri to Arizona. This involved taking the train to wherever it ended, boarding a stage coach to the end of the line and then going down the mighty Colorado River in a canoe or raft to the reservation. My grandmother remembers having to sit under a blanket for the trip down the river because the "Indians" who guided the raft/canoe were not properly dressed.

This became home for their family for the next several years. My grandmother attended the Indian school on the reservation. My great grandmother finally had enough of living on the reservations and told him to find some other means of support. After Parker, he was hired as one of the surgeons at the Old Soldier's Home in Leavenworth KS. Of course, many things happened in the meantime, but that is where he eventually died in 1932. We've always enjoyed the stories of him because he was such a scoundrel in many ways. I am only sorry I never got to meet him and only know him because of the stories from my grandmother and mother. They both idolized him. My great-grandmother was a little more realistic, and, while she loved him she wasn't blind to his faults.

He also served several stints in the Army, the latest was WWI. I've always enjoyed the pictures of him because his pomposity shines through. I'll post some additional pictures of him in the next few days. He had his picture taken at every opportunity, had numerous prints made and was always posing in some perfectly ridiculous way. Just makes me smile!

Thank you for your interest in the old scoundrel. He is one of the people that makes geneology interesting!
Apr 24, 2013 · Reply
Kathy Pinna Mary - Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your great-grandfather's story. Personally, I think the "colorful" people in our family are far more interesting than the "upstanding" (and boring!) citizens. And you write so well, it all comes alive. I can't wait to see your other photos now that I've heard more of the story!
Apr 25, 2013 · Reply
Mary Vail That is so nice of you to say! I will get busy and post those pictures. If I do them all at once, there will be a cronology to it. He is a fun character to poke at! I have to say, he did a huge amount of good for the Native Americans in his care, though. It really makes up for some of his other shenanigans. The tribes grieved his passing since he was so good to them. The Leavenworth Old Soldier's Home was built on what was an Indian camp site. The government, in its infinite wisdom and mercy, allowed the Indians to camp nearby in the summer. Frank held clinics (of sorts) to treat the eye diseases of the Indians and saved many from being blind. The Indians were very, very grateful. I read an article my grandmother had that detailed his efforts with the Indians at Leavenworth. It was a posthumous account of his work. The newspaper was from that area of Kansas and was for the reservation Indians. Maybe one day I'll find it but the original article wasn't in the papers left from my Grandmother so I assume someone else in the family was interested and took it. One day I may make the trip to Kansas to see what I find there.

Again, thank you for your kind words. As I said, this is what makes geneology work worthwhile. Most of it is simple dates - birth, marriage, death and the names of the children of the union. Pretty dry stuff. But, once in awhile a true gem surfaces and it keeps us going!
Apr 25, 2013 · Reply
Filipe Medeiros That's an incredible story! You had me at "I have a letter from Teddy Roosevelt...". What a character
Apr 25, 2013 · Reply
Mary Vail Isnt that the truth, though. Later, I'll post excerpts from his mother's diary. Those men made her life a living hell!!
Apr 25, 2013 · Reply
Daniel Pinna Mary I shared your photo on our facebook page! Did you see how popular it was? [external link]
Apr 25, 2013 · Reply

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