Josiah Francis Baxter was born to Josiah and Elizabeth Baxter in 1841 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He married Eliza C. Holmes about 1862 and worked as a school teacher in Plymouth, Winchester, Nantucket and Amesbury. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Otto Baron.
Frank’s interest in Spiritualism began sometime around 1870. In 1875 he taught a course of six lectures. Soon after, he began to deliver addresses at New England Spiritualist camps, including, “The Reality of Spiritualism,” given in 1876 at Shawsheen Grove.
By 1877, Frank was listed as a test medium at the Onset Bay Grove Spiritualist camp. The Boston Globe 23 July 1877, reported that, “Among them was a communication purporting to come from a girl named Matilda Frances Lyons. Through Mr. Baxter she recalled several things of her life on earth. Her father and mother, who were both present, responded to a question of the speaker, and asserted that what had been said was true, every word.”
Frank was known as one “who has won golden opinions for his eloquence of speech and song, and for his mediumistic gifts, and lectures at the Brooklyn Institute.”
His work as a lecturer and medium continued through the 1880s and 1890s.He frequently attended Lake Pleasant and Cassadaga Lake/Lily Dale. One address at Onset Bay was entitled: “The Rise and Progress of Modern Spiritualism and its Demands upon its Advocate.”
A booklet of one of his lectures was printed in 1893 entitled: “The Development of Spiritualism and its Demands upon its Recipients.” In it he wrote, “Spiritualism should be presented by competent lecturers, exemplified by honest mediums, demonstrated by positive manifestations, not only in every city, but in every town throughout the United States, and our efforts should ever be bent in such direction. Our best literature should also be extended through some system to all these places. Our lecturers and workers should always find a welcome in every place, sought, encouraged, and pleasantly environed, instead of finding themselves left apart and treated as strangers.”
Frank was present at the Ohio State Spiritualist convention in May of 1897. He participated with other well-known Spiritualists: Rev. Moses Hull, of Massachusetts, Maggie Waite of California, Hon. L. V. Moulton of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Mrs. Cora L. V. Richmond of Chicago.
Frank’s wife, Eliza, died in 1897, but Frank continued with his lectures, traveling from Maine, all the way through the Midwest, including Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri. In 1899, he spoke at the Woman’s Progressive Union in New York. His lectures included: “Heaven: What, Where and Who’s There” and “The Scope and Value of the Spiritualist Platform.”
For 30 years, Frank was a lecturer, singer and medium. He was also a member of the Temple Heights Spiritualist Corporation of Northport for many years. He died in February 1904 from typhoid fever at the age of 62.