Our Inspiration, Holy Joe

Joseph “Holy Joe” W. Folk

Missouri Governor, 1905-1909

The Holy Joe Society is proud to embrace the appellation often applied to Joseph W. Folk, the 31st Governor of Missouri.  Renowned for his devotion to honest government, Folk popularized the doctrine that public office is a public trust, not merely an opportunity for private gain.

First elected as St. Louis Circuit Attorney in 1900, Folk led investigations of corporate bribery in both state and local governments.  Folk’s success in prosecuting corrupt “boodlers” led to his nomination and election to the governorship of Missouri in 1904.

Due to “Holy Joe” Folk’s record of anti-corruption and legislative accomplishments, including curbing child labor, instituting compulsory public education, and the adoption of direct primary elections, he is considered one of Missouri’s outstanding governors.

Once seriously considered as a presidential nominee, after his governorship Joseph Folk served as U.S. State Department Solicitor in the first Woodrow Wilson Administration and later as Chief Counsel for the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Joseph Wingate Folk died May 28, 1923 in New York City after having practiced law there and in Washington D.C. for several years. The New York Daily News stated, “He was known as the man who cleaned up Missouri politics.”

Holy Joe Society
Holy Joe Society - Joseph “Holy Joe” W. Folk