Franklin County, organized on August 5, 1855, is named in honor of the statesman, scientist, and philosopher Benjamin Franklin.
The first county seat of Franklin County was Jefferson. This site was not suitable to most county residents, so, by order of election, it was moved to Benjamin in 1856. It was later renamed Hampton, in honor of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Other county seat battles continued, mostly from Maysville, but by April 1862, they had all but died out.
The first courthouse was built in Hampton by F. A. Denton. It was located on the Hampton square and officially dedicated on July 4, 1857. This building was made up of native lumber and resembled a one-room school house of that era. It was used by the county until 1866 when it was moved and used as a dwelling.
A second courthouse was built in 1866 at the same location. This building was contracted for $12,000, but the final cost greatly exceeded it. This large structure was made of stone and timber. It was 48-foot x 70-foot, two stories in height and capped by a cupola. This building was used by the county and community for nearly 23 years. It was finally condemned and torn down in 1889.
The county records were moved to the school until the third and present courthouse was completed in 1891. Original cost of the building was $60,000. This courthouse measures 76-foot x 102-foot, nearly twice the size of the previous one. The stone and brick structure has a large dome that contains a clock with faces for all four sides.
This building underwent serious renovation in 1975-76 at a cost of $825,000. These renovations consisted of modernization of the electrical and mechanical systems, installation of a third floor and elevator, and general repairs. This building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Franklin County is the home of Beed’s Lake State Park. The lake is near the site of the sawmill built to aid the settlers with their building. The mill was changed to a flour mill and served the farmers by buying their wheat. However, the farmers weren’t interested in growing wheat, and when they changed to growing corn, the mill was no longer needed. The area remained as a picnic and recreation area and was developed by the Civilian Conservation Commission.
The first Rural Electrification administration plant was built in Franklin County. The building, which is now owned by the Franklin County Historical Society is located southwest of Hampton.
– Arlene Maifeld, Franklin County Recorder
– Foster, J.E. Franklin County History, Franklin County Historical Society 1970.