Monday, February 15, 2010

History Of Franklin

Oakland county was home to many established Indian tribes but formalized treaties with the territorial and state government pushed the Indians slowly north and west of Franklin. Thus when Franklin's first settler of European descent arrived in 1824, the native Indians had been dispersed. Oakland County and Franklin were settled soon after the completion of the Erie Canal which allowed settlers from the New England area easier access to Michigan.

The Franklin Village settlement was founded by two families. Dillucena Stoughton arrived in 1824 and was soon followed by his father and four brothers. Elijah Bullock purchased land in 1825 and arrived with his four sons and his son-in-law George Gage. Franklin was first known as the Stoughton and Bullock Settlement. By the time Franklin's first physician, Dr. Ebenezer Raynale, arrived in 1828 the fledgling community contained nine families. Many of those settlers had trades including Henry S. Smith, a blacksmith; Richard Bignall, a carpenter joiner; Dorus Morton, a mason and bricklayer and Harvey Lee, a shoemaker. For the next decade Franklin continued to grow and had many businesses including flour and feed mills, a lumber mill, a brick and tile yard, a wagon and sleigh shop, a cooperage, distillery and many small shops.

In the mid 1830's Franklin was larger than the small settlement of Birmingham to the east. Birmingham, however, was chosen as a stop on the railroad route between Royal Oak and Pontiac. Birmingham prospered and grew while Franklin, bypassed by the rail line and removed from any major roads, settled back into a quiet existence. Franklin businesses continued to serve the scattered farms around Southfield Township. For other items, people had to travel by horse and wagon to Pontiac, two hours away.

Life in the Village did not change until the advent of the automobile and the construction of improved highways. It became possible to live in Franklin and work as far away as Detroit. A local developer laid out a plan calling for curving roads and large single-family lots in the 1920's. The steady growth along these residential lines has continued to present day. Franklin was incorporated as a Home Rule Village on November 8, 1953. Later Franklin residents valued the character of early Franklin and formed a committee that resulted in the designation of the Franklin Village Center as one of the first registered Historical Districts in the State of Michigan. Current Franklinites are proud to live in "The Town the Time Forgot".

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