Williamson County Tennessee
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project


Franklin County Seat of Williamson County

On the organization of Williamson County, in 1799, the Legislature appointed a board of town commissioners consisting of Samuel Crockett, Charles McAllister, David Figures, John Sappington and E. Cameron, whose duty it was to select a site for a county seat to be called Franklin; to procure a tract of land for that purpose either by purchase or donation. It was their duty to erect a court house, jail and stocks. The Public Square, consisting of two acres, was donated to the commissioners by Peter Perkins, on condition that the county seat should be located at Franklin.

The name was given to the place in honor of Dr. Benjamin Franklin. The town was surveyed and laid out in 1800 by Henry Rutherford, who was chosen county surveyor in February of that year. The plat consisted of between 100 and 200 lots. The most of the lands on which the city of Franklin now stands were entered by Abram Maury, who gave name to the sister county. Among the purchasers of lots in 1801 and 1803 were:

William Campbell
J. B. Porter
S. Moore
Thomas Harmon
Samuel McClary
Ephraim Brown
Robert Harmon
Ewen Cameron
William Smith
Samuel Chapman
Peter Edwards
James Hicks
Samuel Mitchell
Alexander Myers
John McKay

The first house is said to have been built in Franklin in 1797 by Ewen Cameron. The court house, as stated elsewhere, was built in the spring and summer of 1800. Thomas McKay, at whose house the first court met, was a resident at that time. Other settlers followed in rapid succession.

Benjamin White built an ordinary on the lot adjoining, where Mr. Gault now lives, in 1803. This old building still stands though in a very dilapidated condition. He with his sons became the owners of a tavern, wagon yard, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, butcher shop and gunsmith shop.

Alexander Myers and Phillip many obtained tavern license in 1803. Ordinaries or taverns were supposed to afford food, feed and drinks. the following were the rates established by the county courts: breakfast, dinner and supper, each 25 cents; one-half pint of whisky, 12½ cents; one-half pint of peach or apple brandy, 12½ cents; one-half pint of rum or gin, 37½ cents; one horse feed, 12½ cents.

Other tavern keepers during the first decade were Henry Lyon and Stephen Barfield.

The bridge across the Harpeth was sold by N. Scales, Thomas Edmundson, S. Green, R. Puckett, D. McEwen, James Boyd, S. Buford and George Hulme to W. Witherspoon, Jacob Gantt, John Witherspoon, Benjamin Holen, Thomas McKinney and John Blackman on April 8, 1805.

In 1820 the contract for paving the Public Square was let to Stephen Childress, John Watson and Hinchey Petway for $1,600. The money was raised by a levy on the county for $1,200, and on the town for $400 additional.

The act of incorporation passed the General Assembly October 9, 1815. The act reads as follows: "That the town of Franklin, in the county of Williamson, and the inhabitants thereof are hereby constituted a body politic and corporate by the name of the mayor and aldermen of the town of Franklin, and shall have perpetual succession, and by their corporate name may sue and be sued, and may use a town seal." It was given power to employ night watches, establish streets, restrain gambling, regulate amusements, establish and regulate markets, fire companies, and other measures for the benefit of the town. The act provided for the election of mayor and aldermen and other town officers. The following are given as the limits as included in the charter: "Beginning in the center of the old Natchez road where a small branch crosses the same, about 150 yards from the margin of said town; thence in a direct line to Big Harpeth River, so as to include the house where Nicholas Perkins. Jr., now lives; thence down the middle of said river with its meanders to the mouth of Sharp's branch; thence up said branch until it receives another small stream on the east side; thence up that small branch to the beginning; provided that no land or lots of ground included within the above described bounds shall be subject to pay a greater tax to said corporation, etc., etc."

A branch of the Union Bank of Tennessee was established in Franklin in 1832. The stock allowed for the bank was $200,000. To give an estimate of the amount of business done by this bank in its early history it is shown that March 4, 1835, there were discounted $26,000, and more than $80,000 were offered. This bank continued in operation till it was closed by the operations of the war. The First National Bank of Franklin, the only banking concern in the place, is on a good financial basis and is well managed.

Hiram Lodge, No. 7, F. & A. M., was originally Lodge No. 55, and was instituted under the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. Authority was granted by Robert Williams, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee of Ancient York Masons. The delegates to the Grand Lodge, which met at Knoxville December 2, 1811, were Archibald Potter, Stephen Booker and John A. Rodgers. At this meeting a Grand Lodge for the State of Tennessee was organized, and Hiram Lodge, No. 55, now became Hiram Lodge, No. 7, of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. The present lodge building was erected sometime between 1818 and 1825.

The Commandery at Franklin is called DePayen, No. 11, and consists of thirteen members. Its officers are J. L. Parkes, E. C. Altha Thomas, G.; T. F. Perkins, C. G.; J. P. Hannes, P.; Burke Bond, S. W.; J. P. Hamilton, J. W. D. B. Cliffe, Treas.; T. A. Pope, R.; J. H. Rolffs, S. B.; W. Jones, Sword B.; A. Truett, Warden; E. T. Wells, Sentinel; Altka Thomas, J. P. Hanner and J. L. Parkes, Past Commanders.

The date of the foundation of a paper in Franklin is a matter of some uncertainty. It was some time near 1820, but neither the exact date nor its founder is known. In 1831 the paper was called the Western Weekly Review and was owned by J. H. McMahan and J. Hogan, Jr. and was edited by Thomas Hoge, of East Tennessee. Soon after the now venerable Don Cameron became editor.

In 1852 the name of the paper became The Review and Journal. Don Cameron sold the paper and N. J. Haynes and D. L. Balch with S. P. Hildreth, editor.

In 1858 Edwin Paschall became editor for a very short time and was succeeded by Hildreth again.

Judge W. S. McLemore was editor a short time in 1860 and to June 13, 1861, when Mr. Haynes became editor and proprietor.

In 1865 it was owned by N. J. Haynes & Son and in 1870 by Haynes & Bro., with Burk Bond as editor. In a short time T. E. Haynes alone became editor and proprietor.

In 1873 Haynes, Andrew & Co. became owners, with T. Dick Bullock as editor. Mr. Bullock was out for a time but returned again in 1876 when Haynes & Andrews became editors and proprietors.

On accepting the postmastership under the present administration, Mr. T. E. Haynes retired from the paper and Mr. M. L. Andrews became sole manager.

The Review and Journal is one of the oldest, if not the oldest paper in the State with an unbroken management. It has always been a clean, high-toned, consistent paper. It is well edited and is good authority on Democratic doctrines.

Williamson County |  AHGP Tennessee

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886


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