|Franklin History Book - The Methodist Church
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By the time Franklin was established, a church has been built. A log structure 18 x 24 feet was erected by the Methodists in 1831 on the present cemetery grounds. Two acres were donated by John W. Burch and his wife Peggy. Trustees were John Sappinton, Thomas Antrobus, and Seefyrd England. Methodism in the Franklin community had its beginning in the cabins of the pioneers, many of whom were Methodists back in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. A group of families known to be living here in 1827 formed the nucleus of the Franklin Episcopal Church. They were the families of William Woods, John Sappington, John C. Caldwell, John W. Burch, and Newton Cloud. The first preaching services were conducted by local preachers.
Rev. Newton Cloud came to Morgan County in 1827. He had been born in North Carolina in 1804. He was a prominent preacher, farmer, and legislator. He served as the justice of the peace, a trustee of the Franklin M. E. Church, and was elected to the state legislature sixteen times. After the Franklin circuit was established in 1853, he became the town's first pastor, and preached for 45 years.
In 1839, the log church was torn down, and the first brick building was completed in the same location in 1840. Trustees at this time was Samuel Keplinger, John Sappington, James Scott, Newton Cloud, and William Wood. The bricks were made locally. This building stood until May 7, 1861, when it was destroyed by a tornado while church services were in progress. No one was injured.
For thirty years the pioneers had buried their dead west of the church in the old church yard, and the trustees decided to purchase the present lots on the public square for which they paid $120, and to leave the old grounds for burial purposes. A large, frame building, 36 x 54 feet, was erected in 1861. The entrance faced the public square. Peter Cartwright was serving his third term as presiding elder of the district and preached in Franklin on the dedication day. Peter Akers, another prominent pioneer preacher, was also present. In 1894, an addition to the church building was made to provide a Sunday School room, a tower, and a basement. These additions cost $2600. Other improvements were made in 1907, but by 1913, this building was deemed inadequate for the needs of the congregation, and plans were made for a larger edifice.
This frame building was sold to William Whalen and removed to a site near the Catholic Church. It was ultimately converted into the Marquette Hall which was later destroyed by fire in 1954. A large brick building, 58 x 82 feet, was constructed by Charles E. Seymour and Ellsworth Wells. It had a seating capacity for 500 people. A pipe organ was installed, and the church was dedicated in 1913 by Bishop Quayle. Dr. F. A. McCarty was the presiding elder; Rev. Peter Kittel was the pastor, and John B. Burch, J. P. Woods, M. B. Keplinger, George E. Brown, and Dr. J. B. Perkins served on the building committee.
In the early morning of Feb. 27, 1959, this church building was completely destroyed by fire. The loss was estimated at $200,000. The cause of the fire was never determined. Members and friends immediately began to clear the site, and plans for a new building were soon underway. Accepting an invitation from the school board, Sunday School and worship services were held at the high school until construction was completed. A local contractor, W. L. Chance, was in charge of the stone work. On Nov. 13, 1960, the dedication of the fifth Methodist Church in Franklin was held with Bishop Edwin E. Voight officiating, with Dr. Russell Coultas assisting. Dr. Coultas was the district superintendent of the Jacksonville District. Also participating in the service was Rev. George J. Garris, the pastor at that time. Sufficient funds had been raised to erase all debts with a balance left in the building fund. Other improvements have been made in recent years. The 60 x 92 foot building is made of Bedford limestone and is well-appointed for service to the community.
In earlier years, local preachers served the village, but from 1865 to the present time, the following have served as pastors: R. C. Norton, 1865; N. Cloud, 1866; R. Clark, 1867-70; G. W. Bates, 1871-83; J. H. Dickens, 1874; A. Don Carlos, 1875; O. L. Tyndal, 1876; S. H. Clark, 1877; G. S. Ferree, 1877-79; E. S. Carlisle, 1880; D. H. Stubblefield, 1881; J. W. Hlmick, 1882-84; H. M. Hamill, 1885-87; E. A. Squier, 1888; Charles Wehram, 1889-90; W. H. McGhee, 1891-94; W. T. Heater, 1895-96; M. M. Want, 1897-99; W. H. Schwarts, 1900; M. L. Browning 1900-1903; Fred L. Buck, 1904-1905; A. H. Flagge, 1906-1910; J. C. Bell, 1911; Peter Kittle, 1912-1913; E. S. Vorbeck, 1914-15 K. M. Keram. 1916-17; W. H. Miller, 1918; J. H. James, 1919; H. A. Sherman, 1920-23; T. S. Mitchell, 1924-27; H. Higgins, 1928-29; M. J. Hall, 1930-32; J. A. Bittle, 1933-38; C. Coleman, 1939-41; W. H. Gillis, 1942; Charles Junk and W. Williams, 1943; J. Washburn, 1944-50; C. Leonard, 1951; P. G. Batty, 1952-55; G. J. Garris, 1956-62; and Glen Garvin, 1962-68. Kenneth Junk is the present pastor and has been serving since 1968.