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Franklin County Alabama






THIS county took its name from the great American philosopher, Benjamin Franklin. It was organized in the year 1818. It is one of the border counties of the State, lying adjacent to Mississippi; notwithstanding it is placed prominent among the mineral counties, its agricultural resources are also of superior order.


The area of the county is 610 square miles. Population in 1880, 9,155; population in 1890,10,681. "White, 9,520; colored, 1,161.

Area planted in cotton, 12,117 acres; in corn, 20,130 acres; in oats, 2,152 acres; in wheat, 193 acres; in rye, 4 acres; in tobacco, 3 acres.


Cotton production—2,669 bales. , The northern half of the county is a valley known as Russell's Valley; the southern portion is a high tableland, which is the northern part of the Warrior coalfield.


The soils, especially in the northern part, are of such character as to be favorable to the production of cotton and the cereals Indeed, in some sections of Franklin the lands fall not a whit behind the fertile lands of the famous Tennessee Valley.


The lands which lie along its attractive valleys, and those of the western part of the county, which are of a loamy character, are favorable to the production of cotton. As is seen from the aggregate statement of productions, furnished above, the varied soils of Franklin are productive of almost every cereal. Grasses and clovers grow with great readiness, and hence stock-raising is easy. In some portions of the county are valuable timbers, which will be of immense value when the transportation facilities of the county are improved. Among these may be mentioned the different varieties of oak, viz: red, white, post and black-jack, together with an excellent growth of cedar, dogwood, chestnut, walnut, wild cherry and black locust, hackberry and hickory.


The streams are Cedar, Big and Little Bears Creeks, all of which flow toward the northwest and empty into the Tennessee River. Other smaller streams, which are tributary to these already mentioned, afford an abundant water supply to every portion of the county, enhancing its value, both with respect to its manufacturing and stock-raisiug facilities. The centers of interest are, Bellgreen, the county-seat, Frankfort, Russellville and Center Line, all of which have good local schools. The county is now penetrated by one of the most important railway lines in the State, viz: The Sheffield & Birmingham Railroad. This gives the county transportation advantages to Birmingham in one direction and to the Tennessee River in the other.


The Savannah & Memphis Railroad is projected through Franklin county. Should it come to pass that this important line will be completed, it will necessarily cross the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railway system at Talladega, and the Anniston & Atlantic at the same point.


It would also intersect the great thoroughfares, the Georgia Pacific and the Louisville & Nashville. But that which will be the chief glory of the county will be the development of its ore wealth. Its beds of iron ore are known to be immense, but they are, as yet almost untouched by the hand of art. It was in this county that the first effort was ever made in Alabama to manufacture iron. This was undertaken as far back as 1818, but after an experiment of nine years the enterprise was abandoned. The mines of this primitive establishment are still to be seen in Franklin county. Remote from transportation, it is amazing that it should have so long existed. But the transportation is now supplied, and a new impulse will be given the iron interest of this section of the State. The extent of the coal deposits of Franklin are unknown. The evidence exist of its prevalence, however, and like its twin associate, iron, it will have to wait future progress for its development.


The long continued absence of transportation has depressed the market valuation of the lands of Franklin county, but they will now come rapidly into notice, and their valuation will be greatly advanced. A healthy climate, excellent farming lands, superior water, and deposits of iron and coal, offer inducements to persons seeking a prosperous section.


Besides, its numerous districts of land which may be purchased at moderate prices, there are in the county 32,040 acres of Government lands, some of which are subject to entry.


Source: Alabama As It Is by Benjamin Franklin Riley, D. D., The Brown Printing Co, State Printers and Binders, 1893 , Transcribed by Veneta McKinney  



“The first furnace ever operated in the state,” says A. J. Franklin, of Mobile “was located in Franklin county in 1812.  The furnace was constructed of limestone lined inside with fire-brick, being in cone-shape, with base down. The main furnace of that plant is standing today as it did nearly a century ago. The fuel used in melting the ore was charcoal, and many of the charcoal beds can be found in the vicinity. The forest near by show that the first growth of timber was cut down to furnish fuel for the furnace.  Old pieces of kettle and other household utensils are scattered through the fields in the neighborhood of the furnace, showing the kind of wares made there.’ - (Marion County Democrat, Marion Ala, April 9, 1903 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)




Population: White, 10,456; colored, 1,699. Area, 610 square miles. Woodland, all. Red Valley and other calcareous lands, 220 square miles. Sandy soil and gravelly hills, 240 square miles. Coal measures, 150 square miles.

Acres - In cotton, approximately, 10,368; in corn, 21,038; in oats, 320; in wheat, l,606; in tobacco, 17; in sugar cane, 96; in sweet potatoes, 137.

Approximate number of bales of cotton, 3,000.

County Seat - Bel Green : Population, 500 ; located 23 miles from Tuscumbia.

Newspapers published at County Seat - Franklin News, Democratic.

Post officesin the County - Alanthus, Bel Green, Burleson, Ezzell, Fordton, Frankfort, Isbell, Mountain Springs, Nelsonville, Newburgh, Pleasant Site, Russellville, Spruce Pine, Waco.

Franklin is one of the northwestern counties of the State, and adjoins the State of Mississippi. Its history as a county antedates the history of the State, it having been organized in 1818, by the first Territorial Legislature. The county perpetuates the memory of Benjamin Franklin, the great American philosopher. It is one of the oldest counties in the State, and has long been noted for its richness in minerals as well as the fertility of its soils. At Russellville, which was once the county-seat, there was established the first iron furnace erected in the State; but, owing to superior facilities of transportation in other quarters, its operation has long since been discontinued, and now its existence is only a memory of the past.

The principal mineral resources of the county consist of coal and iron ore, both of which are found in apparently inexhaustible quantities. The presence of these minerals bids fair to bring Franklin County into prominence and materially increase the value of its lands. The want of facilities of transportation, in the past, has been the cause which retarded the development of the resources of this county; but this condition is somewhat changed now, as the county is penetrated by the Sheffield & Birmingham Railroad, which will soon be completed through to the latter city. In addition to this road, others highly important to the interests of Franklin are projected, and no doubt the work of constructing some of them will be commenced at an early date. This is what Franklin has long awaited, and when the time arrives the county will enjoy an era of prosperity greater than is now dreamed of.

The surface of the county is marked by a series of ridges, and taken as a whole is more or less broken, but has frequent valleys notable for their fertility, which furnish excellent lands sufficient to support a large population of small farmers. The soil on the ridges is thin and cultivation of it yields poor return; but in the valleys the results will compare favorably with sections which are strictly classed as good agricultural regions. The princpial products of the county are corn, cotton, wheat, oats, rye, tobacco, sorghum, potatoes and the usual field crops. Probably the leading crop of the county is corn, although it produces nearly 4,000 bales of cotton per year. This crop was placed at 2,072 bales by the Census of 1870, while the Census of 1880 shows a yield of 3,603 bales.

The conditions of the county especially adapt it to the cultivation of grain, in which it will compare favorably with leading counties of the cereal belt.   The matter of stock raising is receiving much attention, and Franklin County's wool product bids fair to be a most important feature at an early day.

The county is fairly well wooded, the principal of its timbers being red, white, post and blackjack oaks, dogwood, chestnut and hickory. Considerable quantities of the more valuable timbers - black locust, cedar, walnut and cherry - are found in many portions.   Bear River, Little Bear, and other smaller and unimportant streams give the county an ample supply of water. Until changed at the last session of the Legislature, Bear River was known as Big Bear Creek.

The County Seat is Bel Green, a pleasant little town, located about the center of the county. The other principal towns are Russellville, Frankfort, Nelsonville and Center Line. The educational and religious facilities of the county are up to the standard. Fine private schools are kept up in almost every town, while every township has its public school. Meeting-houses are found in all portions of the county.

Source: Northern Alabama - Historical and Biographical by Smith & De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney



Source: Bulletin, Geological Survey of Alabama, by Truman H. Aldrich, 1886 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


The following is a list of the water powers that are utilized.  The most of these powers are small, but they make a large aggregate, and they represent only an insignificant  part of the power that is capable of development.



FRANKLIN COUNTY......................................................................................... H.P.

Helm's Mill. Belgreen, flour and grist mill ....................................................... 6

M. J. Height, Baggett, flour and grist mill ..................................................... 10

James McNair, Kirby, flour and grist mill........................................................ 20

Andrew Posey, Igoburg, flour and grist mill..................................................... 24

Thomas Watson, Phil Campbell, flour and grist mill ...................................... 20

S. T. Bonds. Pleasant Site, flour and grist mill .............................................. 80

Jes. S. Scott, Russellville, flour and grist mill ................................................ 10

Sparks Mill, Underwood, flour and grist mill ................................................... 10

John T. McAlister, Phil Campbell, lumber and timber mill ............................. 10



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