East Tennessee Roots
- the history and genealogy of East Tennessee
The State of Franklin
I want to real quickly post some brief info on the state of Franklin, since there seems to be so much incorrect information out there. Eventually this will be a comprehensive page - but for now, just these facts:

North Carolina's legislature ceded us to the Federal Government in 1784, giving a year to accept or reject the cession. When our representatives returned home with that news, it was decided to go ahead and form our own state.

But, here's the thing: only a few months later, before Franklin had really gotten off the ground, North Carolina's new legislature undid the cession. What to do now? Some people returned their allegiance to North Carolina ("Anti-Franklinites"). Others continued in their efforts to form Franklin ("Franklinites"). So Franklin was never 100% supported here, and as years went by, fewer and fewer people remained supporters. Generally speaking, Franklin as an entity ceased in 1788 - although it may have remained as a dream in the minds of a few until 1789. So, basically, we're talking four, at most, five years that Franklin semi-existed: 1784-1788+.

Keep in mind that, as years went by, some of the people who were at first quite ardent Franklinites, kind of... well... gave in. It was not that they changed their mind; no, far from it. It was that they realized the only way to achieve statehood was to give in to North Carolina's demands that they return their allegiance to the mother state. And as soon as they did, North Carolina again ceded this area to the Federal Government; this time the result was, first, in 1790, the Territory South of the River Ohio, and, in 1796, the state of Tennessee.

But I digress.

Franklin did have a functioning government. Franklin's legislature met periodically, made laws, and, most importantly, created counties. Now, remember what area we are talking about: uppermost East Tennessee. Some of the counties they created were the area that is now Unicoi, Johnson, Washington, and Sullivan counties. These whites were legally settled per North Carolina's laws. It was here area where the most "Anti-Franklinites" were. 

Now, other of the counties Franklin's legislature created were in the area that either 1) had once been legally settled, or 2) had never been legally settled - but were now (due to the Federal Hopewell Treaty, 1785) off-limits to white settlers. Examples of the former: the present counties of part of Greene, part of Hawkins, Jefferson, Hamblen, Cocke. Examples of the latter: the now counties of Sevier, Blount.

Thus you can see why whites settled in now Blount and Sevier counties, as well as Cocke, Jefferson, Hamblen, and so forth, were mostly supporters of Franklin: it was only by the authority of Franklin (such as it was) that they had any legal title to their lands.

And this 'legal title' to their lands was founded in the Treaty of Dumplin Creek and the Treaty of Coyatee, which were the only two treaties negotiated by Franklinites. 

The Treaty of Dumplin Creek - this little nuance is most significant - was not negotiated in the name of Franklin, or even in the name of North Carolina! But more on that later. The Treaty of Coyatee was 'negotiated' at the point of a gun.

So, where are the Franklin records?
There aren't any separate Franklin records that have survived! 

Why not?
Well, up in Washington, Sullivan, and Greene existed the spectacle of two rival functioning governments, two sets of governmental officers, two sets of books, and so forth. Reportedly one faction would chase the other from the courthouse and destroy their books; then the other faction would retaliate. And, in those counties where white settlement was legal only by the Franklin treaties, whatever records or books may have once been kept, are gone.

The best you can hope for is to find a few scattered Franklin records incorporated in the ordinary court record books. 

Examples of the kind of scattered Franklin references you can find in court record books:
1- Washington County wills:
We abstracted some Washington County wills and administrations back in East Tennessee Roots, v---.

2- Greene County deeds:
  • William Reed, of Spencer County, Franklin... 17 May 1787. [Greene Co., TN, Deed Bk 2, p15.]
  • Alexander Galbraith, of Greene County, Franklin... 05 Jul 1787. [Greene Co., TN, Deed Bk 2, p36.]
  • John Pool, of Washington County, Franklin... 06 Nov 1786. [Greene co., TN, Deed Bk 4, p113.]
  • Henry Earnest, of Greene County, Franklin... 11 Feb 1786. [Greene Co., TN, Deed Bk 6, p302.]
  • Robert Kerr, Sr. and Jr., of Greene Co., Franklin... 13 Nov 1787. [Greene Co., TN, Deed Bk 6, p387.]

By the way - avoid Noel B. Gerson's Franklin: America's Lost State. It's difficult to find much accurate information in it. Book review coming.

Highly recommended is Samuel Cole Williams' History of the Lost State of Franklin.