Frank Bishop, 1884–1942
and Mary Elizabeth Michael Masterson, 1892–1969
Born in Aurora, Illinois, on 25 June 1884, Frank Bishop was married to Mary E. (Michael) Masterson, also from Illinois and born about 1892. Frank began in the automobile business in 1906, working for Frank H. Britton at Walton and Washington Avenue downtown. After eight months with Britton, Frank left to start his own company, the Bishop Auto Supply Company. At the time, it was the only retail auto supply company in St. Louis, and it supplied most of the cars in the city with tires and accessories. He moved his office after a while to 4390 Olive, where he had a garage and a repair shop. In 1909, he became vice president and general manager of Phoenix Auto Supply Company. The United Railway Company was one of their biggest customers. Also in 1908 and 1909, Frank was in charge of automobile shows at the St. Louis Coliseum.
In 1910, Frank patented the Bishop Bull Frog horn reed for automobile horns. This predated the Klaxon horn, the more “modern” horn we associate with cars of that era, and was discontinued when the Klaxon electric horn was invented. When airplanes began to capture the imagination of the public, Frank Bishop promoted the first airplane show in St. Louis.
Frank opened showrooms at Washington and Vandeventer to sell Briscoe cars, a French design with only one front headlight. Later, the business became the Briscoe Motor Sales Company, and Frank was its president. The location was 2925–29 Locust Street in St. Louis, in the heart of what was then a booming automobile showroom district. He was working there in 1918 when he registered for the World War I draft. He described himself as of medium height and build, with blue eyes and brown hair. At the time, he lived at 7201 Maryland Avenue in University City; he and Mary were the first owners of that home.
For the next few years, Frank sold Marion-Handley, Roamer, Mercer, and Liberty cars. He stayed in the auto business until all the companies that manufactured the cars he sold had failed and in 1923, he left the automobile business behind him.
The 1930 federal census shows Frank and Mary living in St. Louis at 4410 West Pine, and Frank was working as a real estate salesman. He stayed in that position until his death, as that is the occupation listed on his death certificate. On 31 March 1942, when Frank passed away, he and Mary lived at 6711 West Florissant Avenue in Jennings. Mary died in St. Louis in September 1969.
(Sources include death records, magazine and newspaper articles, obituaries, and U.S. federal census records)
Written by Ilene Kanfer Murray
February 2017 (excerpted from a longer essay originally written in 2009)
© 2017, St. Louis Genealogical Society
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Last Modified: 25-Oct-2018 21:48