Francis Xavier Ransdell

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Francis Xavier Ransdell
Judge of the Louisiana 6th Judicial District (then 9th District)
In office
June 1900 – December 31, 1936
Preceded by Clifton F. Davis
Succeeded by Frank Voelker, Sr.
Personal details
Born (1861-05-23)May 23, 1861
Rapides Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died February 11, 1939(1939-02-11) (aged 77)
Baltimore, Maryland
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Lake Providence Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katie Blackburn Davis Ransdell (married 1892–1939, his death)

Brother, U.S. Senator Joseph E. Ransdell
Son-in-law, Frank Voelker, Sr.
Son-in-law, John Martin Hamley
Grandson, Frank Voelker, Jr.

Great-grandson, David Ransdell Voelker

Six daughters, including:

Isabel Voelker and Kate Hamley

Lake Providence

East Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Occupation Attorney; Judge

Francis Xavier Ransdell (May 23, 1861 – February 11, 1939) was a lawyer and judge of the 6th Judicial District Court, based in Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish in the far northeastern corner of his native Louisiana. He was the younger brother of three-term U.S. Senator Joseph E. Ransdell.


Francis and Joseph Ransdell were born at Elmwood Plantation in Rapides Parish near Alexandria. During the American Civil War, a skirmish broke out between Union and Confederate troops in their yard. Their father sent his wife and children in a covered wagon westward to take refuge in Texas until the war ended. The senior Ransdell was accidentally killed in 1865 in the sugar mill on his plantation, and the family faced much difficulty during Reconstruction. Joseph helped his brother Francis through college[1] and relocated to Lake Providence in 1882 to live with a sister and to study law successfully in the office of Judge Field Farrar Montgomery, as then permitted at a time before law school graduation was required prior to taking the bar examination.[2]


Francis Ransdell joined his brother in Lake Providence, where he too studied in the law office of Judge Montgomery. The brothers soon established law offices, farms, and residences.[2]

Ransdell was first elected in 1899 as the state judge for the 9th Judicial District (now 6th District) encompassing Madison and East Carroll parishes; Tensas Parish was later added and remains a part of the 6th Judicial District. In 1892, Ransdell married the former Katie Blackburn Davis at her home on Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee. They lived for four years in Chattanooga, Tennessee,[3] but returned to Lake Providence in 1897. Judge Ransdell and his family were members of the St. Patrick's Catholic Church, now at 207 Scarborough Street in Lake Providence.[2]

Joseph Ransdell's political career was cut short when he was defeated for senatorial renomination to a fourth term in the Democratic primary election in 1930[4] by then Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr. But Francis Ransdell continued to serve on the bench for a total of thirty-six years, from June 1900, when he took office, until his retirement on December 31, 1936. He was succeeded on the court his son-in-law, Frank Voelker, Sr., who was married to Ransdell's daughter, Isabel.[2]

Ransdell died at the age of seventy-seven in a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He was survived by his wife and four of their six daughters. He is interred at Lake Providence Cemetery along with other family members.[2]

Other family members[edit]

Another son-in-law, John Martin Hamley, was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1912 to 1924, clerk of the state House from 1924 to 1931, and was elected tax assessor of East Carroll Parish in 1933. He was married to the former Katie "Kate" Ransdell (1893–1980).[2]

A Ransdell grandson, Frank Voelker, Jr., was city attorney in Lake Providence from 1950 to 1962 and chairman of the since defunct Louisiana Sovereignty Commission, a body established to promote states' rights in struggles with the national government during the second administration of Governor Jimmie Davis. The junior Voelker ran for governor in 1963[5] but polled few votes; the eventual winner of the race was John McKeithen.

A Ransdell great-grandson, David Ransdell Voelker, was an entrepreneur and philanthropist in New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, Democratic Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco named him to the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Blanco's successor and past opponent, Republican Bobby Jindal, elevated Voelker as the chairman of the authority. David Voelker died at the age of sixty from complications of lung transplant surgery.[6]


  1. ^ The East Carroll Parish genealogy source does not give the name of the college that Francis Ransdell attended, but his brother Joseph studied at Union College in Schenectady, New York.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, Genealogy, August 24, 2010". Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ There is a chance that this East Carroll Parish genealogy source meant Nashville, instead of Chattanooga.
  4. ^ "Joseph E. Ransdell". Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ Ruston Daily Leader, Ruston, Louisiana, May 30, 1963, p. 1
  6. ^ "David Voelker, 'one of the great saints of the recovery,' dies at 60". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Clifton F. Davis
Judge of the Louisiana 6th Judicial District (then 9th District) in Lake Providence

Francis Xavier Ransdell

Succeeded by
Frank Voelker, Sr.