Franklin County, Illinois Genealogy and History Illinois Genealogy Trails
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Franklin County History
Franklin county was formed in 1818 from territory formerly attached
to White, Jackson, and Gallatin; the county seat is Benton. The courthouse, while partly protected against fire
by its location in a public square, is not fireproof. The vaults are fireproof and though small are large enough
to accommodate the records. The filing equipment, however, is old; the papers are in cardboard filingboxes fitted
in wooden pigeonholes, and the books are stored on end in wooden racks. The courthouse of Franklin county was burned
in 1843, practically all the records going with it.
(Source: Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, v. 12, 1915)
In consequence of the difficulties that existed among the Indians,
there were no settlers this side of Equality until the year 1804, when seven brothers by the name of Jordan, John
and Willing Browning, Joseph Estes, and a man by the name of Barbrey, a brother-in-law to the Jordans, from Smith
County, Tenn., located in this county, and built a fort and block-house where the residence of Judge William Elstun
now stands. These settlers were all related. John Browning's mother was Mollie Jordan, sister to the seven Jordan
brothers. John Browning was the father of James and Levi, who were well known to nearly all citizens of the county.
The latter still survives and is a prominent merchant at Benton. Elias Jordan, the father of Moses, was one of
the seven Jordans. William Browning died in 1817. From the time of the building of the fort until about the year
1815, little or no attempt was made to cultivate the soil, the settlers subsisting almost entirely upon game, honey
and a little corn, which they, by close watching, succeeded in raising and preventing the Indians from stealing.
While these early settlers were thus fortified, and in the year 1812, James Jordan and Mr. Barbrey, while out of
the fort gathering wood, were fired upon by the Indians. Barbrey was killed and scalped. James Jordan was wounded
in the leg. After obtaining re-enforcements from Frank Jordan's fort, which was then located in what is now known
as Williamson County, about three miles south of the first named fort, the whites started in pursuit of the Indians,
and followed them as far as the , Okaw River, but did not succeed in overtaking them. Barbrey was buried at the
fort and his grave still remains near the residence of Judge William Elstun. This was the starting of the first
graveyard in Franklin County.
The Jordan settlement was made in what is now Cave Township.
James K. and William R. Browning, twin brothers, and sons of
John Browning and wife, were the first white children born in the county. The were born Dec 24, 1810 in the old
The next settlement seems to have been made on Six Mile Prairie,
in what is now Six Mile Township. In 1811 Charles C. Humphreys, grandfather of W. J. N. Moyers the present county
judge, came from Philadelphia and settled on this prairie. His nearest neighbor was then twelve miles away. In
1812 he kept a ferry across Big Muddy, above the present site of Blairsville. Subsequently, on account of the hostility
of the Indians, he moved with his family to Kaskaskia, and when it became safe he returned to his farm on the prairie,
where he lived until his death. He was undoubtedly the first settler in that portion of
the county. [Source: "History of Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton,
Franklin, and Williamson Counties, Illinois : from the earliest time to the present, together with sundry and interesting
biographical sketches, notes, reminiscences", 1887]
Cities and Towns * Benton * Christopher * Orient * Sesser * West Frankfort *
Villages * Buckner * Ewing * Freeman Spur (north half) * Hanaford
* Macedonia (west half) * North City * Royalton * Thompsonville
* Valier * West City
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