Full disclosure: I have been behind in posting and finally able to get caught back up. However, I have found that all but a select few photos from this county and the next (Stokes County) that I had posted to my personal Facebook are completely missing from my phone; they apparently disappeared during a phone update. I am devastated. So, until I can get back to these counties, I will have to rely on the few photos I have and supplement with some public domain photos. Please accept my sincerest apologies.
Franklin County was formed in 1779 from the southern half of Bute County and is named for Benjamin Franklin, who was serving as foreign minister to France at the time. It is a part of the Research Triangle.
The “Franklin County Song” was selected in a 1929 contest by the county historical association as the song most suitable for public occasions. The words were written by Fred U. Wolfe, an agriculture teacher at Gold Sand. Sung to the tune “Maryland, My Maryland” (“O Christmas Tree”), the song was incorporated in the Bicentennial programs of 1979.
With loyalty we sing thy praise,
Glory to thy honored name!
Our voices loud in tribute raise,
Making truth thy pow'r proclaim.
Thy past is marked with vict'ry bold;
Thy deeds today can ne'er be told,
And heroes brave shall e'er uphold
Franklin's name forevermore.
We love thy rich and fruitful soil,
Wood, and stream, and thriving town.
We love the gift of daily toil,
Making men of true renown.
Thy church and school shall ever stand
To drive the darkness from our land—
A true and loyal, valiant band,
Sons of Franklin evermore.
A shrine of promise, pow'r and truth,
Lasting righteousness and peace,
A land of hope for toiling youth,
Yielding songs that never cease.
Let ev'ry son and daughter stay
The hand of vice that brings decay.
When duty's voice we shall obey,
Franklin's name shall live for aye.
Franklinton is in midst of 5-year downtown revitalization plan, but it seems to be on pause or doesn’t have much in forward momentum for the moment.
Franklinton, was established as Franklin Depot in 1839 on land owned by Shemuel Kearney (1791–1860), son of Crawford Kearney and Nancy White. A home constructed by grandfather Shemuel Kearney (1734–1808) was originally located south of town and is currently the second oldest residence in Franklin County, built in 1759. The building was purchased in 2009 and moved to nearby Louisburg for restoration. Franklin Depot changed its name to Franklinton in 1842 when the town was incorporated. Like Franklin County, Franklinton was also named for Benjamin Franklin.
Tragic story: In December 1919, an African-American veteran of World War I named Powell Green got involved in an altercation with a white man named R.M. Brown over smoking in the movie theater, and Green allegedly killed Brown. The police arrested Green, but then a lynch mob seized him, pulled him behind a car for two miles, and hung him from a tree.
Franklinton was once home to Albion Academy, a co-educational African-American school started by clergyman Moses A. Hopkins in 1879. Once a State Normal & Industrial School (trade school), it eventually became a graded school and later merged with the B.F. Person School in 1957 to become B.F. Person-Albion High School. When schools were fully integrated, the upper grades consolidated with Franklinton High School in 1969. Mary Little was the first African-American teacher to begin teaching at the newly integrated Franklinton High School, who taught there till her death in 1984. The B.F. Person-Albion High School was renamed Franklinton Elementary School.
Also located in Franklinton is the historic Sterling Cotton Mill, founded by Samuel C. Vann and first opened in 1895. Remaining in the Vann family for many years, the mill was purchased in 1972 by Union Underwear Company, manufacturers of Fruit of the Loom fabric products. Sterling Cotton Mill eventually closed in 1991. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Burlington Industries, another well known textile and fabric maker at the time, had a facility located in Franklinton known as Vamoco Mills. It closed in 1989 and was demolished in 2007. A third mill was also located in Franklinton which has since closed.
On April 4, 1963, the entire town of Franklinton was threatened by a large wildfire which consumed roughly 9,500 acres of woodlands and destroyed several homes north and west of town. A similar incident occurred on February 10, 2008, covering nearly the same area (though not as widespread), about 1,000 acres. A few homes were damaged during that event. U.S. Highway 1 was temporarily closed adjacent to the affected area while firefighters battled the fires. No injuries were reported. High winds and dry conditions were factors in both incidents.
In 1996, Franklinton, North Carolina became the home of Opio Holy Spirit Academy a private school providing an academic arena for both academically gifted and students who face academic challenges from grades K-12. The school was established and directed by Lenora E. Attles-Allen a former elementary school teacher from Boston, Massachusetts. Allen’s work became known and respected in Wake, Granville, Vance, and Franklin counties as well as her dedication to the Franklin County Community Restitution Program. Opio Holy Spirit Academy closed its doors for the last time after the final High School commencement ceremony in 2012.
Franklinton has been a Tree City USA community since 1985.
Youngsville has a small downtown area with a VERY busy and heavily travelled road that passes right through the center, which it makes it challenging to build a downtown that’s both walkable and social. Even so, there are some cute shops here, such as Archer + Pratt (138 E Main St.) , The Tin Pig (127-100 E Main St.), Tobacco Road Primitives (102 SW Railroad St.) , and a few others along with a handful of restaurants and a delightful coffee shop — all within sight of one another. Youngsville was my favorite stop of the day simply because of the quaintness they’ve achieved despite the drive-through traffic.
The settlement was originally established as Pacific around 1839 on land owned by John “Jack” Young. It was renamed Youngsville in his honor when the town was incorporated in 1875.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The photo above may have been one of the last taken of the Youngsville wall mural intact, as the building shockingly collapsed on Labor Day 2022 — two days after my visit! Archer + Pratt was luckily mostly unaffected and was allowed to continue operations once the cleanup was done and the remaining attached structures were deemed safe. The main building that collapsed had been recently purchased and was expected to become a restaurant. See below.
Founded 1913 and located in the southeastern part of Franklin County, Bunn is named for Green Walker Bunn, who first settled southeast of the current town in the late 1800s. The rural town was established on land purchased around 1909 by the Montgomery Lumber Company and incorporated four years later.
The town is surrounded by farms where surrounding acres of land are filled with tobacco and soybean farms. Some fields are farmed directly by families that have been in the area for generations, while other acres are leased. The pick-your-own fields in the area draw visitors to Bunn during the spring and summer.
Stop by Vollmer Farm (677 North Carolina 98 Hwy E) for some local goodies, flowers, plus enjoy an ice cream treat on the rocking chairs outside and play a game of checkers.
Nestled on the banks of the Tar River, the town of Louisburg is a charming, small town in the heart of the North Carolina Piedmont with rolling terrain dominated by abundant creeks and granite rock outcroppings. Louisburg is the county seat of Franklin County and is located in the geographic center of the County.
The Act of 1779 creating the town spelled it Lewisburg. This may have been a transcription error, but many maps of the era also spelled the town as Lewisburg. However, most contemporaries in Franklin County insisted that the correct spelling was/should have been Louisburg. The US Postal Service had it identified as Louisburgh from 1795 to 1890, when the final “h” was dropped. Apparently no one bothered to challenge the USPS until around 1890.
A Revolutionary War veteran, William Ferrell (S3355), asserted in 1833 that Louisburg was formerly known as Massey’s Bridge.
Louisburgh was granted a US Post Office on April 1, 1795, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Thomas Rowlett. It has been in continuous operation ever since.
Louisburg was established on land purchased for the erection of a courthouse in 1779. Benjamin Franklin’s negotiations with France helped secure financial and military support to the infant country, support that eventually led to the independence of the United States. As a result of this U.S.- France alliance, the Town of Louisburg was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France, who was aiding the American Revolution at the time.
Louisburg soon became to hub for business activity for Franklin County, especially as the main point of agri-business of the time as cash crops such as cotton, wheat, and eventually tobacco were marketed in town. Soon the town enjoyed an influx of merchants, doctors, attorneys, and craftsmen, which also led to the movement of wealthy families to the area. Such demographic shifts resulted in strong, established social and religious organizations that are still alive and vibrant today.
Tragic story: In June 1965, the local newspaper and radio station publicized the names and addresses of African-American families who had applied to attend white schools in Franklin County. The families were attacked on numerous occasions by white extremists, who fired into their homes or destroyed their cars. In the summer of 1966, a series of cross burnings were perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan in Franklin County, including one in front of the County Board of Education in Louisburg.
With a legacy of 215 years, Louisburg College evolved from three earlier institutions: Franklin Male Academy, Louisburg Female Academy, and Louisburg Female College. Louisburg College is the oldest chartered two-year, church-related, co-educational college in the nation.
Located in Louisburg, North Carolina, the school focuses on getting students ready for the next step to a four-year school offering baccalaureate degrees. The three degree programs offered are an Associate in Arts (general college degree), an Associate in Science (general science degree), and an Associate in Business degree.
Laurel Mill dates from the mid-1800s. The dam stretches between two large rock outcrops, and impounds water from Devil’s Cradle Creek, Flatrock Creek, and outlets from several farm ponds. The combined flow becomes Sandy Creek below the dam.
The dam does not appear to have much height when viewed from the road, causing one to wonder how much force could be generated. However, the power for a water wheel is not a function of the water’s flow. Rather, it is the weight of the water in the wheel’s “buckets” which produces energy.
Laurel Mill (Perry’s Mill Pond) is not open to the public. However, it can be viewed (and photographed) from the bridge over Sandy Creek, as well as from the road on the east and west banks. The structure was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1975. (See this post’s feature photo.)
DIRECTIONS: From US-401 in Louisburg, take NC-561 east for several miles. Turn left onto Laurel Mill Road at the sign pointing to Laurel Mill School. At the intersection with Jones Chapel Road, bear right, across the bridge. The mill will be immediately on the left.
From the mill, SR1436 continues eastward, through gently rolling hills, and rejoins NC-561 near Centerville. Along the way, it passes lovely farms, several old homesteads, and Perry’s School which dates to 1927, but which ceased being an educational facility in 1990.
DeHart Botanical Gardens
Stop by here for a stroll through the woods and some unexpected discoveries (3585 US 401).
Next stop… Stanly County!