A step back in time

Abigale Trout, Staff Writer

There have been many changes in Franklin through the years, including a new addition to the high school for third, fourth, & fifth graders, a new water tower, and the introduction of wind turbines. While we watch these exciting changes for our small community, it’s important to reflect on how far we’ve already come. On January 2, 1818, Franklin County was founded. On April 7, 1882, the name was changed from Franklin County to Franklin, Illinois. The first known inhabitants to live in Franklin County were Native Americans.

Franklin, Illinois, is a small village off of winding streets in the southeast portion of Morgan County filled with memories of the past and hopes for the future. It is one of the oldest towns in Morgan County and has a rich history.

Morgan County is named after the Revolutionary War hero General Daniel Morgan. Jacksonville, the county seat, was already a thriving village of several hundred people with three churches, a courthouse, newspaper, and the newly founded Illinois College in 1829. Across town from Jacksonville there was a trail that led to Vandalia, which was the state capital at the time.

The first houses and stores built in the village of Franklin were mostly log cabins. In 1850, Harry Reinback and Edward S. Heinrichson opened a tavern in the first brick building in Franklin. Their tavern, which was called Jack Wright and located on Main Street, lasted until 1851 when Heinrichson retired. His son W. H. Heinrichson, born in Franklin, later became the Secretary of State. The tavern reopened with the help of Heinrichson’s son and Reinback until he died in 1878. There was also a hotel at this time in 1836 called the Cottage Hotel. also located near the square. 

On July 3, 1886, George E. Goodhead issued the first edition of the Franklin Transcript, which contained an obituary notice for Samuel Keplinger and informed people that William Jennings Bryan, a lawyer from Jacksonville who was later to be one of the three candidates for president of the United States, had visited the village and subscribed to the transcript.

At one time there were four different physicians practicing in Franklin. The first physician to come to Franklin was Rosenberg, the pastor of the Franklin Methodist Church at the time. The last two physicians were Ladenheim and Kearns, who were only here for a short period of time. Dr. Ladenheim entered the military service, and Dr. Kearns died soon after moving to Franklin and practicing. One of the physicians that came to Franklin was Dr. Glenn, a dentist. His home was his office located in the central part of town.

On January 25, 1938, a fire swept through Franklin, destroying three buildings and damaging three more. The fire started at the grocery store on the south side of Main Street. The stores on the east and west sides of the grocery stores were totally destroyed after the fire started. The Franklin Bank, which was standing in the same place it is today, was also damaged. According to Wayne M. Rolston, who wrote Franklin, Illinois History wrote, “The fire started at approximately 3:00 a.m. and lasted until 6:30 a.m. The wind was high and the temperature was about eighty degrees fahrenheit.”

One of the most popular, lasting traditions in town is Franklin’s burgoo. The State Journal-Register deemed Franklin the burgoo capital of the world. According to an article in the State Journal-Register on July 3, 2017, the tradition of burgoo started in 1952, when the Lions Club took over the sponsorship of the Fourth of July festivities and continued this tradition for 30 years. According to Darin Seymour, one of the members of the committee, the Lions Club and Fourth of July committee makes up “at least 24 kettles and sells 1200 gallons this past year of 2018.



Nevel, J. (July 4, 2016). “Burgoo, tradition brings crowds back to Franklin for the fourth.” The State Journal-Register. Retrieved from https://www.sj-r.com/news/

Rolston, W. M. Thru the years: Franklin Illinois History. Retrieved from Franklin High School library.