History of Franklin County

The story of Franklin County is as uniquely wonderful as the people who live here. Named after Benjamin Franklin, Franklin County was created on February 25, 1784.

The original inhabitants of this Piedmont region were the Creek and Cherokee Indians. Typically, the Creek Indians were warlike while the Cherokee were more peaceful. Yet over the years, the Creek and Cherokee Indians became indebted to the new settlers which led to the treaties of 1773 and 1783 where they relinquished claim over the land to the white settlers.

The Treaty of May 31, 1783, between the State of Georgia and the Cherokee Indians, led to the development of the ninth county in Georgia, Franklin County. The original Franklin County encompassed parts of South Carolina and twelve counties in Georgia. Starting with the Treaty of Beaufort in 1787 that allowed the secession of the northern section of Franklin County to South Carolina, and ending on November 3, 1914, with the formation of Barrow County, Franklin has been pruned, plucked, and picked into the home you know and love.

The City of Lavonia began in 1878 with the coming of the Elberton-Air-Line Railroad. The railroad allowed Lavonia to become a thriving cotton market. The first industries to come to Lavonia were agricultural in nature such as the Southern Cotton Oil Company and the Lavonia Cotton Mill. Sewing plants for men’s and women’s attire opened when the economy changed. Alan B. Sibley Mill and a Milliken Textile Plant were among the many in Lavonia.

In September of 1983, the Department of Natural Resources announced that Lavonia had become the 1,000th listing in the National Register of Historic Places. A few of those historic places are the Southern Railroad train depot, the Andrew Carnegie Library, and former Governor Ernest Vandiver’s home. The train depot was acquired by Lavonia’s Chamber of Commerce in 1979. The Lavonia Library was established by Andrew Carnegie, a philanthropist, and steel industry tycoon. Lavonia is the smallest city in the United States that has an original Carnegie Library.

Today Lavonia is home to around 1,830 people and continues to be a thriving industrial city with a strong sense of heritage.

It wasn’t until 1902 when Canon was chartered that it received the name it has today. For many years it was known as West Bowersville, named after Job Bowers. In 1875, with the help of J.J. Manley, Bowers laid out the streets of West Bowersville. Mr. Bowers was the first postmaster of the post office located on the Bower plantation. This small town had many names, such as “Old Field,” “Newton,” and “Fairview.” Home to around 750 people, the small city has maintained the same number of people since 1907 and is keeping with its small-town atmosphere. It is also home to the Franklin/Hart public Airport with a 3,500-foot lighted runway only 10 miles south of Interstate 85.

The railroad that runs through Royston was completed in 1878 and the city was incorporated in 1879. It was home to Tyrus Raymond Cobb whose home-run record in baseball is still remembered today. Cobb Memorial Hospital was built through his and his family's efforts and became the Ty Cobb Healthcare System today. The Ty Cobb museum houses baseball history and visual accounts of the legendary baseball player as well as original works of art. Home to around 2,500 people it is this home-run hitter that causes the largest city in Franklin County to receive worldwide attention.

In the 1800’s Franklin Springs, just two miles down the road from Royston was a popular travel spot with its beneficial mineral, sulfur, and freestone springs. By 1890 Franklin Springs’ resort had two hotels, a skating rink, two pavilions, and about 15 private residences on about 87 acres. The reputation of Franklin Springs as a health resort was spreading, and people from Augusta, Savannah, Atlanta, towns in South Carolina, and even as far south as New Orleans, were coming to derive benefit from its health-giving waters. Faith in the springs diminished as other health remedies became available. The Springview Hotel was offered for sale. On March 1, 1918, the property was sold to the Pentecostal Holiness Church. The former resort with natural springs became the home of Franklin Springs Institute on January 1, 1919. It was later renamed Emmanuel College.

On July 22, 1924, the city was chartered and is also home to the Georgia Conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and Lifesprings Resources located on Highway 29.

Carnesville was proclaimed as the permanent seat for Franklin County on November 29, 1806. The city is named after Judge Thomas Peters Carnes noted lawyer and congressman during the Revolutionary war. With crops like cotton, corn, and sorghum, the city prospered.

It is the smallest city in Franklin County with a population of about 540. Yet despite its size, its beautiful architecture has been noted by the National Register of Historic Place. The Franklin County Courthouse was built in 1906 in a neo-classical style. Beautiful Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge is one of only a few covered bridges remaining. It is located on Highway 106 just south of Carnesville.

The beauty and history of Franklin County is remarkable. From Hartwell Lake to Victoria Bryant State Park and golf course it is easy to see why the early settlers staked their claim on this land. It is our heritage and tradition that keeps Franklin County dear to our hearts, and may this slice of Georgia forever be on our minds.