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The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Franklin is one of the thriving villages of Renville County. It is a pleasant hamlet of good homes and busy business streets, with many more shade trees than are usually found in a town that is so comparatively new. The village is located on the Minneapolis & St. Louis, at the corners of sections 11 and 12, 1 and 2, Birch Cooley township.
It was platted in the fall of 1882, the land being the homestead of Halleck Anderson, an early settler. In the winter of 1881-82 work was commenced on the railroad grade through the village and the grade was completed, rails laid and the first train service established in the first part of November, 1882. A box car served as the first depot. The first business house was built by E. S. Johnson on a street extending south from the depot, but after the town was platted this was found not to be the main thoroughfare and Mr. Johnson moved his building to the southwest corner of block 1. In moving, the building was wrecked by a severe wind storm just as it was nearing its new foundation, being thrown over and split into several sections. A "bee" was organized and the building was again put together and placed on its foundation, after which it was occupied by the postoffice, E. S. Johnson, postmaster, and the firm of Hohle Bros., who conducted a general merchandise business. A blacksmith shop was built by Nils Anderson in block 2. A hotel was built by Peter Johnson on the northwest corner of block 5. A general store building was built by Peter Henry on lot 20, block 2. T. Mackintyre and J. M. Johnson also built a general store building which ended the building in the fall of 1882. Ed. H. Anderson had built the first residence building that year.
During 1883, J. A. Bergely, T. Tweet, M. Casey, U. Tibbits and John Frieze built each a business building.
Martha E. Johnson, now Mrs. J. L. Jacobs, was the first child born in the village, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Johnson.
The first school house was started in 1883 and completed in 1884. This was a frame building of two rooms. In 1899 a 56 by 60 brick structure two stories high was built. This is a modern eight-room building. The addition of a manual training hall was made in 1914, when the Woodmen hall adjoining the school house block was purchased.
Electric light and power service was established in Franklin in 1914, when the Wherland Electric Co., of Redwood Falls, Minn., extended their lines to this village, giving a 24-hour service a day.
A complete waterworks system was put in about 1896. The supply tank is of 1,000 barrels capacity and rests on a tower eighty feet high. The tower was first constructed of wood, but later changed to steel.
The Citizen's Milling Co. of Franklin was organized in 1907 to take over the old mill and property of the Franklin Milling Co. The old mill was completely overhauled at that time and new machinery put in, bringing the plant up to date in every respect. This plant was operated until June, 1913, when it was destroyed by fire. As soon as possible after the fire the stockholders were called together, plans for rebuilding the present mill were formulated and Jan. 1, 1914, the new mill started grinding. The first officers of the company were: B. F. Weber, president; A. S. Erickson, vice-president; A. J. Olin, treasurer; C. A. Fleming, secretary. The present officers are: A. S. Erickson, president; J. H. Elstad, vice-president; Geo. Forsythe, treasurer; C. A. Fleming, secretary. The plant is located on a private sidetrack of the M. & St. L. Ry., and is of 100 barrels' capacity wheat flour and 50 barrels' capacity rye flour. The capital stock is $25,000. Credit should be given the business men and farmers around Franklin who made this plant possible by investing their funds when money was needed to rebuild the burned plant.
The Franklin Lutheran Cemetery is located in the southwest corner of section 8, in Camp township. The school house is located in the extreme southwest corner of the section, and north of the school grounds is the cemetery. The cemetery is controlled by the Norwegian Lutheran church of Franklin and was laid out in the winter of 1867.
Franklin is ninety-five miles southwest of Minneapolis, has a population of about 550. Is has Catholic, Methodist, Norwegian Lutheran churches, two banks, a hotel, four grain elevators, and a flour mill. A weekly newspaper, the Tribune, is published.
A brief business directory follows: P. A. Brown, automobile agent; Citizen's Milling Co. (A. S. Erickson, president; Henry Bluhm, secretary; George Forsyth, treasurer), flour mill; Citizen's State Bank (capital, $17,000; president, Henry Halverson; vice-president, Edw. F. Johnson; cashier, Otto Erickson); Herman B. Cole, physician; Otto Erickson, insurance agent; Albert Erlandson, general store; William Fox, fuel; Franklin Farmers' Elevator Co. (J. C. Farrell, president; Geo. Forsythe, secretary; A. J. Anderson, treasurer; Oscar Johnson, agent); Franklin Farmers' Co-operative Creamery Co. (Wm. A. Johnson, president; J. C. Farrell, vice-president; Fred Tower, treasurer; Wm. Fox, secretary); Franklin Automobile Co. (H. B. Cole, C. E. Freeman, A. J. Olin); Franklin Farmers' Co-operative Shipping Association (F. H. Gallery, manager); Farmers' Equity Shipping Association (O. M. Schott, manager); Franklin Independent Elevator Company (William Fox); Franklin Local and Rural Telephone Co.; Franklin Mercantile Co. (A. S. Erickson, president; Jno. Curran, secretary and treasurer), general store; Franklin Produce Co. (Benjamin Weisberg, Max Kaplan), J. B. Tweet, manager; Franklin Tribune, Julius L. Jacobs, publisher; Chas. H. Gilbert, restaurant; Great Western Elevator Co., Julius H. Anderson, agent; William L. Grimes, livery; Henry Halvorson, garage; Hauser Lumber Co. (Henry Hauser, president; Chas. Lammers, secretary; G. A. Rieke, treasurer); Julius L. Jacobs, publisher of the Franklin Tribune; Johnson Bros. (Edward, Martin and Andrew), shoes and jewelry; Edwin S. Johnson, postmaster; Luke H. Kirwan, drugs; Andrew Lund, harness; Lynch & Son (Jas. W. and Chas. L.), real estate; S. O. Mundal, bakery; Geo. Nelson, blacksmith; Olaf Nelson, blacksmith; U. G. Orris, pool hall; Pacific Elevator Co., Vic Lindquist, agent; Andrew H. Pederson, barber; Poss and Freeman (A. Poss, hardware; C. E. Freeman, lumber and furniture, undertaker); Jos. C. Sampson, general store; State Bank of Franklin (capital, $15,000; surplus, $15,000), Anthony Poss, president; A. J. Olin, cashier; Geo. Steen, shoes; S. Steffenson, tinsmith; Clarence J. Wagner, meats; Jacob C. Wagner, confectionery; Wellington and Birch Cooley, Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Co. (Jno. Drury, president; Jno. Head, secretary); B. F. Ziegler, railway express and telegraph agent.
Village lots in Franklin were first assessed in 1883. The principal owners were Ellen M. Anderson and a party who was designated by the term "Unknown." Those who had already secured lots were: Jacob Friess, lots 13 and 14, block 1; Edwin Johnson, lots 15 and 16, block 1; Thomas Tweet, lots 17, block 1; lots 17, 18, block 2; Henry Jenson, lot 19, block 1; T. P. McIntyre, lot 20, block 1; John M. Johnson, lot 21, block 1; Maggie Anderson, lots 15 and 16, block 2; Peter Henry, lots 19 and 20, block 2; Fuller & Johnson, lot 21, block 2; H. L. Ihle, lot 1, block 4; John Dixon, lot 5, block 4; Peter H. Johnson, lots 13 and 14, block 5; J. A. Bergley, lot 10, block 6; George O. Steen, lots 12 and 13, block 6; Margaret Casey, lot 14, block 6.
(Note: The above history of the early days of Franklin has been prepared for this work by Julius L. Jacobs.)
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