Illinois Genealogy Trails

Franklin County, Illinois
Genealogy and History

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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 Jordan Fort.

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 * Zeigler

* Buckner * Ewing * Freeman Spur (north half) * Hanaford
* Macedonia (west half) * North City * Royalton * Thompsonville
* Valier * West City


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Our Franklin County Data


Census Records

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Website Updates:
Oct 2016:  obits for:  HEFNER, KELLERMAN, ROSS.  Death Records for HEARD, HEFNER
June 2016:  obit for STEWART, MILLIKEN, death certificate info for RUSSELL. Gossip news:  LUSTER, CURLIN.  Crime news: BRAYFIELD;  1928 Reed School Picture
Jan 2016:  obit for GARASCIA;  Community news:  ZWENGEL.  Bio for ROBINSON
June 2015:  Pension Record for ZWENGEL, obits for MILLER




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Franklin County Clerk
202 W. Main
Benton, Illinois 62918


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