|Franklin History Book - 1832 to 1982
<Back MAIN Next>
Franklin, Illinois, a village of winding streets in the southeast portion of Morgan County, was 150 years old on April 7, 1982. To some it may be only a small village along Route 104 on the old Vandalia Road. To those who love it, Franklin is a place filled with memories of the past and hopes for the future. It is one of the oldest towns in Morgan County and is rich in historic interest and anecdote.
The infant Morgan County, named for the Revolutionary War hero General Daniel Morgan, was a sturdy youngster in the spring of 1832. Although less than thirteen years had elapsed since Seymour and Elisha Kellogg erected the first white man's cabin on the head of Mauvaisterre Creek in the fall of 1819, hundreds of pioneers had followed in their footsteps and established their homes along the creeks and near the woodlands--convenient water and fuel supplies being two of the prime necessities for existence.
Here and there settlements were coming to be recognized as community centers for the exchange of neighborly gossip and the dissemination of such items of general news brought from the east or the south by new arrivals. Jacksonville, the county seat, was already a thriving village of several hundred with three churches, a crude courthouse, a newspaper, and the newly-founded Illinois College.
At Meredosia, on the Illinois River, where a French missionary named Antoine D'Osia had labored with the Indians as early as 1816, Daniel Waldo and his brother opened a store in the fall of 1831. In November of that same year the village of Lynnville was platted, and the village of New Lexington, now knows as Arcadia, was established in 1829. However, there had been no organized community in the large territory east of Jacksonville. Here the hills and dales, known to the early French explorers and Indian traders as the "mauvias terres" or "broken prairies", merged into the beginning of the Grand Prairie which extended to the east and south and was to become one of the garden spots of the world in less than a century.
There were no roads in the interior of the state when Illinois became a part of the Union in 1818, and as late as 1837, emigrants were warned that the surest and most convenient mode of travel was on horseback. Travelers followed the Indian trails, and sometimes the well-worn trail of the buffalo served as a path across the prairie. The fear of prairie fires and of becoming lost on the vast prairie among the tall grasses (often as high as a horse's back) kept the emigrants near the edge of the timber.
Across this section of land, there stretched a crude trail which led from Jacksonville to Vandalia, approximately 15 miles southeast of Jacksonville. Vandalia was the state capitol at the time. A trail leading south to the Apple Creek settlement converged with the Vandalia Trail just west of the present day village of Franklin. This land was entered by William C. Clayton who had come to Caldwell County, Kentucky in 1819. This came to be known as Clayton's Point, which had one blacksmith's shop and a log school that also served as a church. It is not the location of Clayton Point Fertilizer, Inc.
John Wyatt, a friend of the Claytons, and William Woods, Clayton's brother-in-law, together with Walter Butler saw the opportunity for developing a village along the Vandalia Trail. These men, of Southern origins, were determined to call their settlement Simpson, in honor of their old home in Simpson County, Kentucky. The name appears on the original plat made by the surveyor, Johnston Shelton. But before the plat was recorded on April 7, 1832, the name was changed to Franklin in honor of the county seat of Simpson County.
Mr. Wyatt, a Virginian by birth, married in Kentucky and took his bride to Missouri for a short time and then finally settled in Morgan County, Illinois. The Wyatt family was prominent in Morgan County for many years. William J. Wyatt, John Wyatt's son, served as an officer in the war with Mexico and in the Civil War. He attained the rank of colonel and later returned to Franklin.
When the village was platted there were only thirty lots; fifteen on each side of the Vandalia road which ran diagonally. The little town grew rapidly, and soon there was demand for more lots for homes. Accordingly, John Wyatt platted an addition in 1837. This proved sufficient until 1871 when Col. W. J. Wyatt then platted still another addition. The establishing of a coal mine, several mills, and other commercial enterprises demanded still more ground for homes. Additions were laid out by George Hart and Clarence Reinbach in 1883; by James Eador and W. J. Wyatt in 1887; by W. H. Scott in 1891; by A. J. Wright and I. T. Mansfield in 1893; by W. H. Scott in 1895; by G. H. Wyatt in 1896, and by Jones and Buffe in 1906.