The area that became Franklin County was included in the Dearborn Treaty
on 7 January 1806 at Washington City. It was proclaimed by the President, 23 May
1807. By this treaty the Cherokees ceded to the United States an extensive
tract, lying in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. All of the counties in the
area came into being about the same time as a result of the Indian cessions.
By an Act of the Legislature, Franklin County, Tennessee was created from
White County on 3 December 1807. White County was formed from the older counties
of Overton, Jackson, and Smith in 1806 and was known as the "Mountain District."
Surrounding counties of Bedford and Warren were also formed in 1807. Bedford
County also on the 3 Dec. 1807. Deeds in White County as well as Bedford and
Warren describe land in Franklin County in the formative years.
The boundaries of Franklin ran: "beginning at the southeast corner of Warren
County, thence the line ran west to the eastern boundary of Bedford, thence
south to the State line, thence east along this line to the southwest corner of
Bledsoe, thence North to the beginning."
Tennessee inherited North Carolina land laws that could not be changed
because of the reservations in the deed of cession. The owner of a North
Carolina land warrant was free to locate his entry anywhere and in any shape,
without regard to cardinal points and without reference to prior entries.
Litigation often evolved from land being entered by more than one person.
An act of the General assembly, passed November 22, 1809, provided for the
holding of an election of commissioners to establish a permanent seat of
justice. On February 10, 1812, 26 acres of land was purchased upon which to
locate the town. The town was named "Winchester" after Gen. James WINCHESTER of
The first court house and jail were erected soon after the purchase of the
land. The jail was destroyed by fire in 1813. The court house was finished in
about 1814. This court house was used until 1839, when it was torn down and a
new one built.
Winchester was to become an important town on the long stage road extending
from Nashville to the settlements in Alabama. The first road to run through
Franklin County was opened in 1806 and ran diagonally across Tennessee from east
to west. It entered the state from Albany, Kentucky and passed through places
later called Livingston, Cookeville, McMinnville, Viola, Hillsboro, Winchester
and Salem. It intersected the Nickajack Road near Hillsboro.
By the 1830 census there were 6126 free white males, 5897 free white females,
3591 slaves and 39 free persons of color living in Franklin County. By the 1840
census there were 4,578 white males, 4,358, females, 3,085 slaves and 12 free
persons of color.
The county of Coffee was taken from Franklin in 1836, and Grundy came off of
Coffee in 1844. A part of Moore County was formed from Franklin in 1871. Because
of these boundary changes, the researcher needs to be mindful of these and other
neighboring counties when looking for their ancestors.
Franklin County has boasted three Governors: Isham G. Harris served November,
1857 - March, 1862; Albert S. Marks served February, 1879 - January, 1881, and
Peter Turney from January, 1893 - January, 1897.