Frank Knox (January 1, 1874 – April 28, 1944)
“The Knox Road, whose real name was 27th Avenue West, is named after Frank Knox. He was originally from Grand Rapids and graduated from Alma College in 1898. Mr. Knox moved to begin a newspaper career in Sault Ste. Marie. In 1910, he became chairman of the Republic Party. Following his political career, he died in Washington, D.C. April 28, 1944..”
Source: “On the Streets Where We Live”
A history of the streets and avenues of Sault Ste. Marie – A Tercentenary and Michigan Week project of the seventh grade students of Sault Junior High School – 1968.
Frank Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts on New Year’s Day January 1, 1874. His parents, William Edwin Knox and Sarah Collins Barnard Knox, were of Scottish-English stock and ran a market. Though his grandfather became a successful builder in Boston, his father’s lobster canning factory in Nova Scotia went under, and the family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Frank was raised under modest circumstances. Frank’s first job at the age of 11 was that of delivering papers, the “Democrats” before breakfast, and the “Eagle” after school. The $2.25 a week earnings went into the family purse.
He quit high school at age fifteen and worked as a shipping clerk’s helper and traveling salesman before losing his job in the 1890s depression. At that point, he began working himself through upgrading his education, as he enrolled at Alma College. Being a stocky, powerfully built man who was slightly over medium height, he played football as a halfback. Throughout his lifetime, he still put himself through the exercises he used to lead, as the school’s physical training director. Due to circumstances, he terminated his educational career as a Senior, to enlist in the Spanish-American War. He ended up as a Private with the famed Rough Riders, serving in Cuba with Theodore Roosevelt. He returned to Grand Rapids as a hero in 1898, after being discharged because he had contracted malaria.
Knox accepted a position with the Grand Rapids Herald. He broke in as a cub reporter on the “Herald” and later as the Editor, within one year. He moved to the business side of the paper in 1900. In 1902, he and a printer of his acquaintance purchased the Evening Journal in Sault Ste. Marie. A year later, they changed the name of the paper to the Evening News.
Knox was a progressive Republican who aligned himself with fellow Sault journalist Chase Salmon Osborn whom he had met in 1901. When Osborn ran for political office at the state level in 1910, Knox was his campaign manager. Following Governor Osborn’s successful nomination, Frank Knox became chairman of the Republican State Central Committee. In 1912, Knox left the state to take over the Manchester Leader, with the financial backing of Governor Robert Perkins Bass of New Hampshire. A year later, he bought out the rival Daily Union, and the paper became the Manchester Union-Leader. With the onset of World War I, he enlisted again in 1916 at age 43, assuming command of the ammunition train in the 78th division and being promoted to major while serving in France.
Upon his return, he continued to run the Union-Leader until 1927, when he was appointed general manager of the Hearst newspaper chain, a post he held for four years, resigning in December 1930. In 1931, he became publisher and owner of the Chicago Daily News, where he contributed editorials harshly critical of the New Deal.
He ran as vice presidential candidacy with Alfred Landon in 1936, but lost in a landslide election. He was appointed by President Roosevelt as the Secretary of the Navy (1940-1944).
Knox died in office on April 28, 1944, after a series of heart attacks. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. His widow, Annie Reid Knox established the Frank Knox Memorial Scholarship in his name at Harvard University to support educational exchange between the U.S. and countries in the former British Commonwealth. Annie Reid Knox (October 15, 1875-September 15, 1958) is buried with him.
Knox Road, now referred to as West 27th Avenue and Victor A. Knox Drive are two separate thoroughfares within our community. Knox Road/West 27th Avenue is located off the I-75 Business Spur and extends to West 7th Street. As for the Victor Knox Drive, it branches off Myrtle Elliott Circle and loops back to its original point. They each have a respective distance of 1,959 feet and 734 feet in length. This information was garnered from the City of Sault Ste. Marie Engineering Department.