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Franklin, Alabama | The First Beachhead

Source: History of Henry County by Mrs. Marvin Scott.

Franklin River Landing Established in 1830's, Post Office was in operation 1830-1877 (Harris).

Franklin, named for Benjamin Franklin, was an important trading center on the Chattahoochee River---sort of a commercial port---which began around 1814, roughly the same time as the frontier fort (Fort Gaines) was established on the Georgia side for the protection of settlers. And, it was formerly an important Indian settlement. In 1804, 22 chiefs signed over the Forbes Purchase at a nearby horseshoe shaped grove of trees where large meetings of Native Americans were often held. It was known as Cheeska-Tolafa.

In 1814, Colonel Robert Irwin/Erwin/Irvin started the white settlement at Franklin while he was posted at Fort Gaines. (He first married Eliza Harvey, daughter of Henry County Alabama's first representative, Benjamin Harvey.) Colonel Robert Irwin and Anthony McCullough owned and operated the first ferry across the river to Fort Gaines.

After the Creeks were defeated in 1814, they were pushed into an area that began about 4 miles north of Franklin at Hardridge Creek. Franklin was the "port of entry" for many of our Henry County Alabama ancestors.

Photo contributed by Jeffrey Palmer

For many years it was the river landing or port for Abbeville. Water transportation on merchandise was cheaper than by mule team from Columbus, Georgia where it had been shipped from Savannah by railroad, after having been brought there by steamer from New York.

James Hughes of Washington County, Georgia, came to Franklin, Alabama with his family in 1817. A nephew, Alexander C. Gordon, age 6, came with him. Alex and his half-brother, Irvin Rogers played around the store of James Hughes at Franklin. These boys strayed off a good distance from their uncle’s store and some Indians, who had come to trade at the store, abducted them and carried them to their town on the Apalachicola River. This happened in 1822 when Alexander was eleven years old. They re­mained with the Indians for about 6 years during which time they learned the Indian language, customs and habits in general. A white man living in Fla. saw these white boys among the Indians. He offered the Indians fifty dollars apiece for the boys, which they accepted, and at once returned them to their home in Franklin, Henry County, Alabama. After the return of these boys, the Hughs family moved to Abbeville. Mrs. Rogers, the mother of Irvin, and sister of James Hughs lived with them for many years.

It was thought in those early riverboat days that the Chattahoochee River was going to explode the area into a major commercial district, very much like New York. (Okay, so our ancestors were a little bit wrong!) So, in those days the area attracted some wealthy New Yorkers, who thought they were gonna get even richer.

Franklin survived as a busy port until the railroad to Fort Gaines was completed in the mid 1850's. Because of the railroad to Macon and Savannah, Fort Gaines jumped to the lead over Franklin and it grew in population and wealth while Franklin slowly declined. Part of the reason for that decline was the frequent flooding that Franklin experienced, and since Fort Gaines was 140 feet higher than the river, it was the preferred settlement.

In 1867, McAllister & Morris, General Merchandise in Franklin will keep constantly on hand; bacon, flour, other staples and fancy groceries, which they will sell as low for cash as can be sold at any market on the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia to Apalachicola, Fla. Tom McAllister and Bart Spann, General Mdse. at Franklin in 1867.

Another store in Franklin was called Bennett & Chitty. They traveled to NY and London for the finest of goods. They brought Cornelius Van Clief Morris from NY to work there, and he eventually owned the store and moved it to Fort Gaines. Another daughter of Benjamin Harvey, Elizabeth Caroline, married C.V. Morris. Another, Rebecca, married Howell E. Chitty. And Chitty's daughter, Eliza Caroline, married Colonel James Bennett's son, Thomas.

I have seen a map of Franklin, but don't have one. I think I saw it in the Clay County Library in Fort Gaines, Georgia. It is simply a layout with the stores listed, and it was a very small town.

I have been told that the final blow to Franklin, however, was not a flood, but a fire which burned every building in the town. The fire was before the devastating flood of March 1888, which even took down the bridge that spanned the Chattahoochee from Fort Gaines to Franklin. After that, there was never another structure built on the Franklin site.

Although the flood water from the river did much damage to the village of Franklin it was many years, about 1885, before they entirely gave the town up and all residents moved to higher ground. It is now a lost town, covered by the waters of the Walter George Dam.

Franklin Postmasters: Lineus P. Doughty 29 July 1830; Lineus N. Doughty 10 August 1832; Joshua Doughty 25 March 1833; Richard C. Spann 17 May 1834; William E. Munford 11 July 1848; John R. Appling 14 April 1855; Discontinued 7 January 1867; Reestablished 3 June 1867; Margaret E. Morris 3 June 1867; Thomas H. McAllister 26 December 1871; James M. Rae 4 March 1875; Discontinued 8 January 1877.

This Page was Created November 2007 | Last Modified Saturday, 29-Nov-2014 02:32:45 EST