Franklin County Alabama
THE FIRST FURNANCE
WATER MILLS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY IN
FRANKLIN COUNTY HISTORY -
By Smith and DeLand - 1888
ALABAMA AS IT IS - by Ben F. Riley -
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.
area of the county is 610 square miles. Population
in 1880, 9,155; population in 1890,10,681. "White,
9,520; colored, 1,161.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
unknown. The evidence exist of its prevalence,
however, and like its twin associate, iron, it
will have to wait future progress for its
long continued absence of transportation has
depressed the market valuation of the lands of
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
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
Alabama As It Is by Benjamin Franklin Riley, D.
D., The Brown Printing Co, State Printers and
Binders, 1893 , Transcribed by Veneta
“The first furnace
ever operated in the state,” says A. J. Franklin,
of Mobile “was
located in Franklin county
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
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
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
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
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
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
Alabama - Historical and Biographical by Smith
& De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 - Transcribed
by Veneta McKinney
WATER MILLS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY IN
Source: Bulletin, Geological Survey of
Alabama, by Truman H. Aldrich, 1886 - Transcribed
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
Belgreen, flour and grist mill .......................................................
M. J. Height,
Baggett, flour and grist mill .....................................................
Kirby, flour and grist mill........................................................
Igoburg, flour and grist mill.....................................................
Thomas Watson, Phil
Campbell, flour and grist mill ......................................
S. T. Bonds.
Pleasant Site, flour and grist mill ..............................................
Jes. S. Scott,
Russellville, flour and grist mill ................................................
Underwood, flour and grist mill ...................................................
John T. McAlister,
Phil Campbell, lumber and timber mill .............................
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