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Franklin County
Community News Items



"The Southern Idea" is the name of a new Democratic Paper, just started at Russelville, Franklin County, edited by Rev. J. B. STEADHAM.  Source: Lamar News, Lamar County AL,April 8, 1886;- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


We learn that the Southern Idea is to move from Russellville to Belgreen and will consolidate with the Franklin Democrat.  It will resume its old name and management.; Source: Lamar News, Lamar County AL,;September 9, 1886;- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


Mr. B. S. Oliver, of Russellville, has invented and patented a machine, that harrows, scrapes, hoes, and plows cotton all at the same time, and that too is the most approved manner.; The machine has been thoroughly tested and does the work of five mules and eight men.; It requires the work of one mule and man to operate it.; So cotton raising may become profitable again inasmuch as labor saving machinery is coming into use in its cultivation and picking. - [Southern Idea] - Source: Lamar News, Lamar County AL,February 17, 1887;- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Isbell has a quarry, a bucket factory, five saw mills and will soon boast of two furnaces.  Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, May 12, 1887- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A new paper just established in Belgreen, Ala. called the Franklin News.  We received a copy last week and gladly placed it on our exchange list.  Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, June 16, 1887- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT RUSSELLVILLE - The thriving little town of Russellville, in Franklin County, was visited by a destructive fire on the night of the 8th inst. and the whole business portion of the town came near being destroyed. The fire when first discovered was confined to the boarding house of Mr. MALONE, but the flames soon spread to the adjacent buildings and the fearful work of devastation increased. And as the Idea says; looked as if the whole business portion of the town would be destroyed. But fortunately the night was still and this together with a good supply of water, wet blankets and prompt action other part of those present the flames were finally stayed, but not until after considerable damage had been done.   Below we publish a list of losses as given in an extra edition of the Idea of 10th inst., and which it says is thought to be very nearly correct:

R. D. MALONE, loss estimated at $1200. Boarding house and furniture blacksmith shop and tools, and all his books and accounts.

J. T. MANSELL, loss estimated at $1500. One store house, one dwelling house and butcher shop.
W. S. WILSON, loss estimated on meat market tools, $40.
MCINTOSH & Co., loss estimated on stock of goods at $500.
JAS. SCOTT, one house, $72.
J. S. IRVIN, loss on goods, $300.
WILSON & CO., loss on stock, between 1500 and 1800. Warehouse, 2000; Idea building damaged $10
GEO. ARMSTEAD, loss on store house, $500.
E. THOMPSON & Son, lost nothing by fire as yet known, only a box of ills.
W. C. HURST, guardian, one store house, $500.
R. K. SPEED, loss on tools, $60
'Squire WARNOCK, loss on household goods $40.  (Source: Marion Herald, Sept 15, 1887 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney)

Mr. HENSLER, of Franklin County, was in town [Hamilton Ala] on Monday last.  He brought his little daughter, MAY FANNY, and LULA and JOSIE ALLEN who will attend school at this place during the winter. (Source: Marion Herald, Nov 17, 1887 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney)



Editor Herald:

                Some very prominent gentlemen from Nashville, Tenn. and Russellville, Ala. came out yesterday to buy up the remaining ale of cotton left in the hands of the planters and country merchants.  To avoid the excessive freight charges on the S. & B. Railroad they undertook to navigate Bear Creek, and launched three boats in the Big Bear at the railroad crossing, and all the citizens and country merchants turned out and sold their cotton and other produce.  They sailed out on the 1st day of May, with all three of the boats well loaded with cotton, beef, cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, eggs a large quantity of tan bark, hoop poles, stoves, beeswax, tallow and everything of any commercial value they could get.  They were a jolly crowd of good fellows, and seemed to be in good cheer.  They were well supplied on said bots with eatables, kept fine tables and a splendid bar room, and had a prominent physician from Russellville on board.  The citizens of this vicinity are in excellent spirits as the captain of said boats promised to make regular trips provided they got through all right.  But alas for the sad fate.  They were seen rowing through the shoals near Allen’s factory on the evening of 1st inst., and about 9 o’clock at night the boats capsized over what is known as the Falls.  The harboard of the foremost boat caught in the stern whell of the second, and the boiler of the hindmost boat burst about the same time and all the valuable lading was lost, a number of the crew injured but no lives were lost.  The good people of the Falls Mtg. Co. turned out en masse to do all they could toward relieving the suffering and terrified crew.  Ambulances were prepared and the wounded removed to the hospital where they will be well cared for.  The losses are terrible and the people seem discouraged as this is the first attempt at boat navigation that has ever been made in this water, and they fear the disaster may dissuade others from trying similar voyages.  Our report was unable to get the names of the sufferers but a late telegraphic dispatch reports the wounded all doing well.  The Russellville doctor, as also Dr. WHITE, of this city, are doing very efficient service.  Many articles of value are being recovered below the Falls, such as barrels of flour, bales of cotton, etc.  A telegram has been sent to Sheffield for a special train to be sent out immediately to convey those of the wounded able to stand the trip back to the city.

                The boats were all new, having been built at Russellville especially for this trade, to ply between Allen’s Factory and Cincinnati, and up and down Big bear Creek to the S. & B. railroad crossing.  We extend to this unfortunate crew our sympathies, trusting they may not become discouraged but make another voyage soon.

                The prospects are very flourishing for a new town at the R. r. crossing near Bear Creek.  The country surrounding this place is very beautiful and is well supplied with coal of the finest quality.  

                Mr. J. R. PHILLIPS is having more building done.

                Mr. L. M. ALLEN will commence building here soon.

                The Falls Manufacturing Company will have a large cotton shed erected there by the time cotton is gathered.

                Mr. JACK DOWNEY will have a gin in readiness at this place by the next ginning season.   

                Mr. J. Y. BOND, our distinguished house carpenter, is very busy at his trade

                We learn that Mr. J. C. SRYGLEY has a very badly sprained ankle.

                Mr. W. T. LINDSEY is very busy repairing broken watches, jewelry, & c.

                No more at this time, but will write again if this is published.         

                BETSY TROTWOOD

Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, May 17, 1888- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


The mammoth cave near Belgreen, Franklin County, is attracting considerable attention just now.  Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, June 14, 1888- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Messrs. HENSLER and MILLS, two of Franklin County’s citizens, were in town on last week. The former came for his little daughter and JOSIE and LULA ALLEN who have been attending school at this place.; Source: Marion Herald,June 21, 1888- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Russellville pays her mayor $4 per month.  Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, December 13, 1888- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. F. O. H. WHITE of Texas who was born and raised five miles from Russellville in our town yesterday.  Mr. WHITE is 70 years old today and wile he has chosen Texas for his home, he still clings to old Alabama and says that she is destined to be the leading state of the union.  He went to Texas 14 years ago and this is his first visit to his native heath.  We wish him a pleasant visit and a safe return to his home.  Source: Marion County Herald, May 9, 1889- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Revs. G. W. ROWE and J. M. COLEMAN will preach at THOS. NIX’S residence in Franklin County on the 2nd Sabbath in June.  Source: Marion Herald,June 6, 1889- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney



Isbell, Sept. 25 – Not seeing anything from our quiet little city in your paper, I will try to give you a few dots, and hope they will be of interest to your readers.

                The health of the community is very good.

                The Baptists held a protracted meeting at an arbor about one mile from this place last week, which resulted in 7 additions to the church.

                An accident occurred on the Fossick Branch Road last Sunday which came near being fatal to HARRISON ALLEN. They were riding on a hand car when a lever caught in the clothing of ALLEN and he was badly bruised before the car could be stopped.

                The wedding bells are swinging preparatory to sending out their merry chimes in this vicinity.  Dame rumor says that J. C. ARMSTORNG will lead Miss LCY REID to the altar next Sunday and the writer knows of several who are saying “I wish it was me,” but we can only say , do not mourn, your time will come bye and bye.

                Cotton is opening fast and the farmers will soon commence picking soon.


Source: Marion Herald,Marion County AL, September 26, 1889- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


The new town of Websterville was duly placed on its feet by Mr. H. E. Silverman and Mr. John Webster the other day.  It is on the borders of Colbert and Franklin counties, near Good Springs, about three miles from Russellville. Source:Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, February 6, 1890 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Messrs. KEY and BULLOCK have purchased the Russellville Idea.  J. H. WEST becomes editor under the new management, and the clear ring in his salutatory gives forth no uncertain sound.  The Idea will remain democratic.  Source:Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, February 27, 1890 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

A telephone line is being erected from Russellville to Belgreen. Source:;Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, March 6, 1890- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney 

A telephone line is being erected from Russellville to Belgreen via Forsick’s rock quarry in Franklin County. The company is known as the Tennessee,Alabama, and Mississippi Telephone company, Ed. Hill president. Source:;Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 13, 1890;- Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney 

Russellville is to have a newspaper called the Russellville Chronicle.  Messrs WHITE and Spurlock will engineer the new venture.  (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County, AL, June 26, 1890 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

FRANKLIN’S COURT HOUSE BURNED - Sheffield, Dec. 5 – The court house at Belgreen, the capital of Franklin county, Alabama was burned Thursday night.  Belgreen is remote from telegraph of telephone connections, and there is an agitation in the county to move the capital to Russellville, and some think that cause the burning, as the fire originated in the office of the treasurer, where there has been no fire since last winter  All the books and records of the county were lost.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  December 11, 1890 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

COURT HOUSE BURNED - Records Worth Thousands Together with the Entire Building Goes Up in Smoke
Thursday night about half past eleven o'clock, the Franklin county court house at Belgreen and all the county records of every description burned to the ground. When first discovered the top was falling in and in a short time records worth thousands upon top of thousands of dollars were in ashes.  The house amounted to comparatively little, the loss of the records, can not be estimated. Every man who had valuable papers records sustained loss.  Probate, Circuit, and Chancery court records were all destroyed.
      Who committed the act is of course not known.  It was indeed the work of some miserable fiend, some thief at heart, against whom perhaps some indictment was pending.  This is to us out of many suppositions is the most reasonable. Taking advantage of the agitation of the removal of the court house some miserable scoundrel sought to destroy the record of his own crime.
      It is a sad misfortune and is deeply regretted by all honorable people.  Let a good reward be at once offered for the apprehension and conviction of the four-handed fellow who fired the building. The Southern Idea leads off with twenty five dollars.  Who else will give? (Source; Hamilton Times, Marion County, AL, Dec 11, 1890 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)


The Southern Idea is never in the rear when it comes to keeping abreast with the times.  It was recently destroyed by fire but Bro. West will bring it phoenix like from its ashes and give the people of Franklin a better paper than ever. (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, April 9, 1891 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

Isbell, Franklin county's new town, has reserved a court house lot. (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, May 28, 1891 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

 An election was held in Franklin county on last Monday to locate the county site.  A special to the Age-Herald says Russellville won by not less than two hundred majority. Everything is reported to have passed off quietly at the polls.
 We congratulate Br. WEST of the Southern Idea, upon the result of the contest.  He made a manly fight for Russellville. (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, July 16, 1891 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

A TEMPTEST IN A TEA POT - Montgomery, July 9 – Governor Jones has receive a requisition from W. M. Waltrip , sheriff of Franklin county, stating that he feared that there would be serious trouble in the election next Monday for the removal of the county seat and calling on the governor for troops.  The excitement in Franklin County is intense over the contest between Russellville and Isbell and the advocates of the respective places have become personal and bitter in their charges and counter charges.

                The governor telegraphed to W. M. Waltrip, Darlington, Ala. as follows:

                “You can summon very able-bodied man in your country to your assistance, and appoint as many deputies as you think proper.  Will not this give you a sufficiently strong and reliable force?  Confer with leaders on both sides, and take prominent citizens in your counsels.  If necessary get a meeting of citizens called to co-operate for the preservation of peace. Try this course and advise me fully.  It would require most urgent and pressing necessity to authorize use of troops, especially on ever of an election and unless the necessity is most manifest, they ought not to be called for and cannot be sent. - THOS. G. JONES, Governor - Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  July 16, 1891 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

RUSSELLVILLE VICTORIOUS - Russellville, July 13 – The election to locate the county site of Franklin county was one of the most quiet elections ever held in the county.  Not a single row or disturbance of an kind came up during the day.   Russellville will get the county site by at least 200 majority.  Isbell and Russellville were the contenting points.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  July 16, 1891 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

FRANKLIN COUNTY SHERIFF – [Russellville Idea] - Sheriff W. M. Waltrip sent the governor his resignation last week and stepped down and out.  He gave no reason, however for doing so.  His resignation was accepted and another man will be appointed in a few days.  The governor will no doubt make a good selection, as the most of his appointments have given general satisfaction.  The only applications for the office that we know of are Messrs. B. H. Sargeant and G. L. Cleece. Either of these gentlemen would make a good sheriff.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  August 13, 1891 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

At Russellville Postmaster E. S. Vinson sent in his resignation a few days since, Mr. Will J. Clark, son of Dr. J. M. Clark has been appointed in his stead.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  August 20, 1891 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Prof. M. M. Summar, of near Russellville, lost his school house by fire a few days ago.  He is now teaching temporarily in Pleasant Grove Church.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  December 10, 1891 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Russellville Idea; one of the longest ears of corn we have seen this year was raised on Mr. S. D. Sargeant’s farm near town.  It measured fifteen inches from tip to tip.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  December 10, 1891 - Transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


Work has commenced at Isbell on a new and handsome Methodist Church.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  January 7, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

 Russellville presents quite a different appearance since the street lamps have been put up. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  April 21, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A Christian Church is being built at Russellville.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  September 1, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

 Among the applicants for the post office at Russellville are: T. S. Hyde, Mrs. Lonella Drake, Mrs. A. W. deviancy, A. C. Frederick, N. C. white, R. J. Nanse, and others. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  December 8, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A new and handsome Christian Church has just been completed at Russellville.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  December 22, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


An effort will be made at the present session of the general assembly to have open saloons in Russellville.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,  February 2, 1893 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

[Hackleburgh Items] - P. N. GREEN and W. W. OZBIRN made a business strip to Russellville last week, and attended the closing exercises of the school at that place, at night, which were held in the Alliance Hall. The house was packing full of people.  Some estimated the number to be 800 or 1000 and others aid 1,200 or 1,300.  The danger of the floor falling had been discussed among many in the building.  It being so warm that night about the close of the exhibition, a lady near where the performances were carried on fainted and fell on the floor. Those people nearest the lady began crying "Fire!" "The floor is sinking!"  Nearly everybody was excited and could not be controlled. Some jumped out at the windows to the ground, a distance of 12 or 15 feet, and yelling at the top of their voices and running over each other.  One man was actually knocked down at the top of the stairway run over and rolled own the stops into the street before he could get up.  One young man was near a window, when three ladies attempt to escape there, and the caught them and held them, when a fourth lady leaped out and he also caught her and held her till some one outside procured a slab and placed it against the wall and succeeded in getting the lady back into the building.  One man ran up the center column of the building to the ceiling and knocked a large lamp to pieces in the crowd, formally there were none of the people serious hurt. (Hamilton Times, Marion Co, AL, June 22, 1893 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)


The Free Press has been received and highly appreciated.

Miss STRATTIE ALLEN has been visiting relatives at Isbell for a few weeks.

Mrs. VIRGINIA SRYGLEY visited Russellville one day this week.

Our school this winter is in charge of Miss MAGGIE GRESHAM, of Mars Hill.  She is a good teacher.

The boys have organized an interesting debating society. They meet every Friday night.

We have also a nice literary society under the management of the young ladies.  This society is named in honor of ALICE and PHOEBE CARY, and, by the way, Mr. Editor, if you come across any writings from their pen, please save them for us.

Miss VIC PHILLIPS has been quite sick, but under the treatment of Dr. J. M. CLARK, of Russellville, she is improving fast.

PHOEBE, Bear Creek, No. 3

Source: Hamilton Free Press, Marion County AL,  November 8, 1893 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney 


JOHN WILLIAMS is now carrying the Belgreen mail.  Source: Hamilton Free Press - Marion County, AL - January 3, 1894 - transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


On last Saturday night we received an invitation to attend circuit court at Bellgreen, and in accordance with that invitation we mounted a mule and started on Sunday morning. After a long ride of some 40 miles we reached the capitol of Franklin. The town is small, but contains some of the cleverest and most hospitable people on the globe. During our stay we stopped with Mr. A. G. SMITH who is the prince of hotel men, and treated us as well as one could ask. When you go to Bellgreen stop with him and you will be treated well. On Sunday night we attended church and heard an excellent sermon by Rev. G. W. CRUTCHER. Mr. C. is an eloquent and able divine, and we wish him success wherever his lot may be cast. We also saw the place at which LOCK EZELL shot and killed CHAS. SPARKS. The affair was an unfortunate one, but could not be avoided. Mr. EZELL threw up his hands and told SPARKS that they could settle the matter without blood shed, and received in reply two shots from a pistol at which time EZELL replied by firing three shots in rapid succession killing SPARKS. The grand jury which was in session failed to indict EZELL. The killing was one of those unfortunate necessities.  Source: Hamilton News Press - Marion County, AL - Oct. 24, 1895 - transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney

Rev. W. H. LANTRIP, who has been pastor of the Baptist Churches at Sulligent and Guin for the last two years, passed through Hamilton on last Friday en route for Russellville, where he has been called to take charge of the Baptist Church at that place. Bro. LANTRIP is a devout Christian and an able minister, and we congratulate the Baptists of Russellville in their good fortune in securing his most valuable services. Bro. LANTRIP leaves many dear friends behind, who grieve to give him up, but all join The News Pres in wishing him every possible success in his life work at this new home.  Source: Hamilton News Press - Marion County, AL - November 14, 1895 - transcribed and submitted by Veneta McKinney


 William Rollins of Burleson is buying yearlings for his canebrake on Bear Creek, in Franklin county. He will put in a lot of stock and utilize the excellent grazing offered cattle in the creek bottom.  Source: Marion County News, Marion County, AL , - February 25, 1897 - transcribed  by Veneta McKinney


The residence of Mrs. E. J. GORMAN, one mile north of Russellville, was destroyed by fire.  None of the household effects or wearing apparel were saved.  The loss is estimated at from $4000 to $5000.  No insurance.  Source: Marion County Democrats, Marion County, AL - May 7, 1903 - transcribed  by Veneta McKinney


The county jail at Russellville burned last week and it is a total loss. The building caught in the ceiling near the roof, supposedly set on fire by prisoners.  The fours prisoners, all negroes, were taken out and were held in the sheriff's office.  The jail cost $9,000 and there is no insurance.  Source: Marion County News, Marion County, AL  - December 10, 1903 - transcribed  by Veneta McKinney


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