Jacob Franks was born in London, England in 1855, immigrating to America with his parents when he was two years old. He started in Chicago as a pawn shop owner and got into the loan business before he began speculating in real estate, which earned him his fortune and elevated his social standing. In 1901 he become the president of The Rockford Watch Company.
In 1906, at the age of 50, more than twenty years older than his bride, he married Flora Franks and they had three children. He died in 1928 and in his will left $100,000 for the creation of a memorial for his son Bobby. This would become a branch of the American Boys Commenwealth; a gymnasium that would help the Jewish boys of Chicago and give his son a living and happy memorial. It was dedicated on December 7th, 1930 with both Flora and her eldest son Jack in attendance.
Jacob did not, as it was rumored, set aside a large amount of money in order to keep Leopold and Loeb imprisoned forever. In actuality his family did their best to forget and move on from the tragedy, and did nothing to prevent Leopold’s eventual release in 1958.
To learn more about Jacob Franks before his son’s murder, see this post.
Flora Franks was born on August 15th, 1876 to Morris and Bertha Greisheimer in Chicago. She married Jacob Franks in 1906 and the couple had three children. After her marriage she converted from Judaism to Christian Science and remained a devout practitioner all her life. Though reporters played up her grief during the trial, printing that she was insane and convinced her son was still alive, she was articulate, though quiet, on the witness stand and spent the rest of her life working for charitable institutions and the Christian Science faith.
After Jacob Franks’ death in 1928 she lived with her son Jack before she remarried to Albert Louer, a Chicago attorney and widower, in 1933. They lived together in Highland Park until her death from breast cancer in 1937 when she was 60 years old.
Josephine Franks was born on November 30th, 1906. Seventeen when her brother was killed, Josephine was the oldest Franks child. After Bobby’s disappearance she received death threats from several anonymous sources trying to extract a ransom from her family. One guilty pair of teenagers were caught and sentenced to six months in prison. In 1927 she married Richard Glaser and they had three children.
In 1948 as the Leopold family prepared to make a case for Leopold’s eventual parole, they approached the Glasers and asked if they had any objections to his release. They replied that they had no opinion and that they would not help or hinder Leopold in his parole efforts. Several years after her husband’s death in 1954 she remarried to Carl Lederer. She had many grand-children and great-grand-children when she died in 2007, a month away from her 101st birthday.
Jack Franks was born on May 8th, 1908 and had just turned sixteen when his brother was killed. He went on to attend the University of Chicago and worked on the school’s newspaper. He later became a freelance writer and real estate agent, a partner in the Franks and Cooke firm.
He published two books of poetry, My Blessed Little Pal in 1926 was dedicated “not to a memory-but to my blessed little pal, my guiding star,” referring to his brother, Bobby. In 1929 he published another small volume of poetry entitled Echoes, dedicated to his late father. In late 1930 he married Ida Florsheim, though they divorced sometime between 1935 and his death on July 11th, 1938. He was 30 years old when he died and was found in his home at the De Witt hotel. His death certificate attributes this early end to chronic myocarditis and epilepsy.
Robert ‘Bobby’ Franks was born on September 19th, 1909 and was fourteen years old when he died. He was a student at the private Harvard School for Boys and did well academically. He enjoyed playing tennis recreationally and was a member of his school’s debate club. Two weeks before his murder he debated against capital punishment. Small for his age, sometimes described as a smart-aleck, as are many young teenagers, he was well loved by his family and had many friends, 8 of whom were pallbearers at his funeral. His memory continues to live on, even today the Franks mausoleum is decorated in his memory with small gifts of stones, plastic flowers, coins and toys.