HISTORY OF FRANKLINTON
Franklinton, originally named Franklin, was named in honor of the great American, Benjamin Franklin. Located in Washington Parish and named after President George Washington, the community had already come into existence by the turn of the 19th century. Located approximately 5 miles south of the present Town of Franklinton, the community was designated as the Washington Parish Seat of Justice by the Louisiana Legislature in 1821.
In 1819, an act of generosity of John Bickham had set into play the events which would cause the town to be located at its present site. Bickham had donated a 30 acre parcel as the site for a town and had set aside a courthouse square which continues to serve that purpose today. He also had set aside certain properties for public schools along Main Street.
The laws of that time provided for in election of the citizens to determine the location of the Seat of Justice for each parish, so an election for that purpose was held on July 4, 1826. The citizens voted in favor of selecting this 30 acre parcel donated by John Bickham, hence the Parish Seat was moved from the southerly location to the present site of this town.
Local citizens later designated a delegation to travel to Baton Rouge and petition the Legislature to have this new town officially designated as “Franklin.” When the delegation appeared in Baton Rouge for that purpose, they learned that a delegation from St. Mary Parish had already petitioned to use that same name, Franklin. A compromise was reached whereby St. Mary Parish was awarded the name of “Franklin” while the Washington Parish Seat was named “Franklinton.”
On March 7, 1861, Governor Thomas Overton Moore officially signed Act 96 of the Louisiana Legislature, incorporating the Town of Franklinton. It is this date which Franklinton has claimed as its “birthdate.” The town was very small when the federal census of 1860 was taken. Only 17 residences existed and two of those were vacant.
Franklinton Masonic Lodge #101, which continues to this day, was organized in 1851. Located on the property immediately north of First Baptist Church, this lodge remains active, meeting monthly and often conducting Masonic Funeral Rites for departed Masons in this area.