Franklin History Book - Burgoo
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Franklin might well be called the Burgoo Capital of the World as there is probably more of it made here than anywhere else. It is a well established fact that the first burgoo recipe was brought to this area from England in the latter part of the 19th century. The earliest record that we have of burgoo making is the account of John Ranson, Isaac Watson, John Scott, and Jim Scott. All were Englishmen who met at the Ranson farm near Woodson in 1885 to make burgoo. For many years soup makers depended on pigeons and wild game to furnish the meat accompanied by plenty of home grown vegetables. Within a few years other nearby communities had to go at making the concoction.

Just when the first burgoo was made in Franklin is not certain. However, we do know that early in this century, it was being made here and served at the community picnic. As a youngster in the 1920's Wayne Rolston and the other boys were responsible for retrieving pigeons from nearby farms and dressing them to be used by the Methodist Church for burgoo. Beef and chicken soon replaced the traditional pigeon and wild game. In 1949, the newly chartered American Legion sponsored the Franklin burgoo and picnic. The Businessmen's Club followed by the Franklin Booster Club also had it for a year or two. In 1952, the newly organized Lions Club took over the sponsorship of the 4th of July festivities and has continued to do so for thirty years.

While most of the country has never heard of burgoo, it is quite popular in this region. Each year the Lions make 35 kettles or approximately 1500-1600 gallons of burgoo. Preparations begin on the evening before the celebration. Different communities use various ingredients in making the soup. In Franklin, we start with dressed, whole chicken and beef. After this cooks for several hours over fires stoked with our favorite osage (hedges), the chefs start adding tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, macaroni, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions, and several "secret ingredients."

The fires are started about six o'clock the previous evening and burn all night until dawn. Burgoo has to be stirred continuously using long paddles from midnight until the early morning. Drive-up kettle service is available from six o'clock until nine or ten when the burgoo is sold out. Four kettles are reserved for bowl service in the Lions Pavilion starting at eleven o'clock. Burgoo chefs Bill Haycraft and Joe Whalen have been in charge of the soup making for many years and with the help of club members, their wives, and community volunteers, have made the Franklin Burgoo famous throughout the area.

The entertainment includes carnival attractions, music, dancing, sky divers, a tractor pull, and a fireworks display. The churches and other community organizations sponsor food stands. Many extra attractions have been added to this year's festivities in honor of Franklin's sesquicentennial. The two day celebration will feature a community church service, a parade, a dress-up contest, beauty contest, and hand car races.


Bill Haycraft


Joe Whalen
Mayor of Franklin in 1982