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Franklinton Town

Franklinton Town Hall is located at 7 West Mason Street, Franklinton, NC 27525; phone: 919-494-2520.

Beginnings [1]

Chartered in 1835 and completed in 1840, the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad was one of North Carolina's first two railroads. Like many other towns that grew up along the Raleigh and Gaston and other new lines, the town of Franklinton owes its existence primarily to the railroad. The site of the town was originally called Franklin Depot when Shemuel Kearney, a landowner in western Franklin County north of Raleigh, deeded a parcel of 10 acres to the new Raleigh and Gaston Railroad in the late 1830s for the establishment of a depot at the site. Kearny was also one of those Franklin County landowners who deeded right-of-way across their lands for the proposed railway.

Construction of the new railroad went through Franklin Depot in late 1838 or 1839. While the line was under construction, three men realized the potential for a town around the depot, which was located near the crossing of the new railroad and the Hillsborough Road (later the Louisburg Road and now Mason Street), which ran between the county seat towns of Louisburg in Franklin County and Hillsborough to the west in Orange County. These entrepreneurs were Thomas Howerton, a well-to-do planter in the area who represented Franklin County in the state legislature from 1835 to 1840; Thomas Crocker, a Baptist minister and member of the original Board of Trustees for Wake Forest College; and William R. Hargrove, a surveyor.

Thee three men purchased seventy acres surrounding Franklin Depot from Shemuel Kearney in a deed dated April 16, 1839. This tract was divided into numbered lots with the earliest sale being recorded May 15, 1839 to Beverly L. Waddle, whose lot was located between Hillsborough Road and the southern boundary of the Depot tract. Most important of these first sales was lot No. 1, located at the southeast corner of the Depot tract on the north side of Hillsborough Road. This was sold to Benjamin Jones and was to be the location of his tavern, the new community's social center and later the location of the Franklinton Hotel.

On December 20, 1842, the North Carolina General Assembly, in "An Act to Incorporate the Town of Franklinton," set forth its limits and Franklin Depot officially became the town of Franklinton. The town grew from this beginning to a small but thriving trade and service center for the outlying area. Early records suggest that there was a depot building located in Franklinton from the very start. The present depot, identified in the railroad's 1886 annual report as having been constructed that year, is probably the second or third depot building at the site.

  1. T. H. Pearce, consulting historian and Michael T. Southern, staff, North Carolina Division of Archives and Historic, Franklinton Depot, Franklin County, North Carolina, nomination document, 1990, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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