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Franklin Had A Private School Back In 1840, Records Show
76 YEARS OLD
Present Public School
Here Goes Back
Earliest records of schools in
Franklin date back to 1840. when
a private school was set up some
where in Franklin. No informa
tion on that school other than
the fact that it existed has been
In 1849. a private academy foi
boys was established here.
A Methodist "Young Ladies
Academy" was opened, where the
Methodist parsonage now stands,
in 1854. , ,
One teacher was in charge ol
the school. She taught the youne
ladies (many of them rode to
school on horseback) such weighty
subjects as Greek, astronomy, my
thology, logic, philosophy, and
four years of Latin.
The Masons erected their lodge,
which is still in use today, on
Church Street in 1870. Part of
this building was used as a female
academy until 1875. when a semi
public school was instituted there.
Free public school was held for
three months, and for the remain- ,
der of the year a subscription
school was conducted. This is the
first record of free public school
of any type in Macon County.
First preserved records of the
Macon Board of Education date
back to 1885. Entries in the old .
minute book show that teachers
salaries ranged from $20 to $40
a month; assistant teachers ? $10
A rapid build up of schools in
Macon was achieved between 1875
and 1885 because the records show
there were 50 white schools
and five Negro schools maintained
in Macon County in 1885, while
1875 is the first year that public
schools were operated in the coun
Most of these were one teacher
schools. Private teachers were also
paid by the board to tutor child
ren in remote sections who could
not reach a school.
The first county superintendent.
A. D. Farnum, received a salary
of $2 per day. Records show that
$33 was appropriated to build 1
a schoolhouse in Nantahala dur
.ing that period.
Tuition $1.50 Per Month
The Methodists organized an
other academy in 1888. Dr. J. M.
Lyle deeded them the property
where the Franklin Terrace is
now located for the academy.
Another academy, the Saint
Agnes School for Girls, was found
ed about 1890 and operated until
about 1900. It was located behind
the present Episcopal Church on
A teachers' institute was estab
lished in 1885. It was conducted
during the summer months at the
courthouse. Normal schools were
conducted on and off until about
1930. These classes were taugnt
in churches and other buildings.
After a course in teachers' train
ing, a high school graduate could
For several years prior to 1902,
part of the public elementary
school was held in a building near
the old Baptist cemetery. The
high school used the St. Agnes
School for Girls building part of
Rates for private schools about
1900 averaged $1.50 to $3 per
In 1902, all of Franklin School
was moved to the building now
occupied by the Franklin Terrace
Hotel, which was previously used
as a Methodist academy. The
school was still semi-public, char- '
ges being made for school part I
of the year.
Then, in 1910, a brick building
was constructed on a lot between 1
Students T ell Story
Of Education Here
The first settlers here nut have brought with them a
respect for knowledge. Because education always has had a
high place in their interest* and their a/fection s ? they
have always been ready to sacrifice for schools.
This is attested by several facts: First, Macon was the first
North Carolina county to have a compulsory school atten
dance law; second, as long as forty or fifty years ago Frank
lin had the reputation of having the largest proportion of
college graduates of any town in the state; and, more re
cently, this county has spent, out of its own funds, more
than a million dollars for new school facilities.
The history of education here, therefore, is an important
part of the history of Franklin. And who could bring greater
enthusiasm to the task of collecting the facts and writing the
story of education in Franklin than students? So the Frank
lin High School was asked by The Press to assign a gToup of
students to this task.
The accompanying article was prepared, under the direc
tion of Richard Stott, high school history teacher, by four
students ? Tommy Gnuse, Miss Joyce Gribble, Franklin Mc
Swain, and Norman Smith.
the present Franklin High School
classroom building and the new
gymnasium. In 1919, this struc
ture was destroyed by fire.
A temporary wooden frame
building was erected and part
of the students attended school
there the following year. The
others went over to the building
on Harrison Avenue now occupied
by Trimont Inn.
A new building was put into
use in 1923. This building, which
also housed the Franklin High
gymnasium for many years, burn
ed in 1954.
In 1925, there were, 75 high
school students and about 250
elementary school students at
There were 58 white and four
Negro schools in Macon County
at that time, with a total of 105
teachers. This shows how many
one-teacher schools were in the
county then. Teachers' salaries
averaged $75 per month.
Hie grammar school at Frank
lin was built in 1926. This build
ing is still in use. A four-room
annex was added in 1948.
2 Factors Cited
Two factors which increased
school attendance in Macon Coun
ty were the compulsory school law
passed in 1905 (Macon County
had the first compulsory school
attendance law in North Caro
lina) and the introduction of
school busses in 1927.
In 1952 a school buliding pro
gram was completed in Macon
County. This program, and others
in the previous 15 years, ended
the era of the one-room school
house in Macon County.
A modern, 15-room high school
classroom building, equipped with
a cafeteria, library, and office
facilities, was built at Franklin
East Franklin Elementary
School was built in that year.
This school absorbed students
from several small county schools
and decreased the load at Frank
This year, seven new classrooms
were added at Franklin High,
which in the last few years has
become the only white high school
in District 1. Graduates from
eight elementary schools now go
to Franklin High.
A new gym with a seating ca
pacity of 2500 is now under con
struction. Four classrooms are al
so being added at East Franklin.
On the campus at Franklin
School are an athletic field, with
a press box, dressing rooms, and
permanent seating; vocational ag
riculture building with barns, man
ual arts shop, and pasture; and
a bus garage for servicing all
busses in District 1; as well as
the high school and elementary
classroom buildings, and the new
Plans for the near future call
for an auditorium and a new
elementary school building at
| The monument on the Public
Square, dedicated to the soldiers
of Macon County who served in
the Confederate army, resulted
from a suggestion by Major N. P
At his call, a number of Con
federate veterans met November
26, 1903, and formed the Macon
; County Monument Association.
Major Rankin read a plan of
organization and submitted a
form of constitution; which was
adopted. Nine officers were elect
ed for the association? president.
| seven vice ? presidents, and sec
retary and treasury. Of the seven
vice ? presidents, one was chosen
from each of the seven companies
that served in the war.
In 1907, by an act of the Gen
eral Assembly, the association was
incorporated. In 1909 the General
Assembly authorized the Board
of County Commissioners to do
nate a plot of land in the Public
j Square, 68 by 83 feet, to the as
sociation on which to erect the
The monument consists of 26
stones, is 25 feet high above the
concrete foundation, and is built
of fine marble.
The six-foot statue depicting
a Conferate soldier was made in
Italy of Italian marble. The statue
The entire weight of the monu
ment is about 35,000 pounds: it
was erected by the McNeel Marble
Company of Marietta, Ga., at a
cost of $1,650.
The event of unveiling the mon
ument in 1909 was attended by
two governors ? W. W. Kitchen,
governor of North Carolina, anc!
M. F. Ansel, governor of South
Carolina. Governor Kitchen made
the main address.
Six Tourist Courts
Here Have 90 Units
Franklin has six tourist courts
with a total of 90-odd units. In
addition, there are many courts
outside the town limits.
Franklin School. The old build- j
ing is to be converted into a
vocational training center.
Attendance at Franklin High
is 650, Franklin Elementary, 415;
and East Franklin School, 350.
Value of buildings and grounds:
$547,000 at Franklin School, and
$180,000 at East Franklin; or a
total of $727,000 inside the city
limits of Franklin.
Teachers' salaries are from $240
to $423 per month in this county.
There are eleven white schools
and one Negro school in this coun
FRANKLIN, N. C.
ML D. BHttnss,
The Sixth Year Under Present Management.
The Fall Term, 1904, Will Begin
September 5th, 1904.
TufKon Cltniyes Reasonable.
? A first class institution in which to prepare pupils for
College or Business.
For further information, address the Principal,
Franklin, N. 0.
The reproduction above, of a page advertisement from an
old Franklin booklet, speaks for itself. The building, known then
as the "Academy", is now the Franklin Terrace Hotel.
She Remembers When . . .
By MRS. MARY L. WALBROOF
I was here when Franklin was
still young. (I am not really an
old woman; still I have been here
quite a little while).
Franklin was a much smaller
town, as I first remember it, than
It is now; and not many conven
! iences as compared with the con
] veniences of today. There were
no telephones nor electrical ap
pliances and water had not been
piped into the homes, but was
drawn from wells or carried from
nearby springs; kerosene lamps
or tallow' candles were used for
lighting the homes. There were
no paved roads, so after rains
the streets were really muddy ?
the sidewalks were made of
I recall the old courthouse,
with steps, i leading upstairs to the
courtroom) on the outside; an
other (probably the one that is
here now) was built in the early
'80's, if I am not mistaken.
There were no telephones and
no hospitals, so when one was
sick enough to need medical at
tention, some one came to town
for a doctor, and he would re
spond immediately. My father was
a physician (Dr. J. M. Lyle), and
I have seen him go on horse
back in rain and snow, on ice
covered roads, to relieve suffer
ing humanity. %
The Indians who lived at Qualla
came often to Franklin with a lot
of hand made baskets to sell to
the white people, and the young
ones would play ?ball In Mrs.
(Timoxena) Sloan's meadow by
the Tennessee river. Another thing
I remember very well was the
old covered bridge across the Ten
nessee River where now is a more
modern structure. The old bridge
was almost like a haunted house
to us youngsters, since it was
pretty dark inside. It must have
j been there a long time; for it
] gave way one night and fell into
i the river, about the year 1883.
A ferry boat was used for cross
j ing the river, until a new iron .
bridge was made.
There were churches and
schools, too ; guess they were built ;
about 1860. Most of the dwelling
houses have been taken down and
replaced by business houses. Very
few of the old landmarks are
In those days, for recreation,
there were quiltings, corn shuck
ings. and sometimes barn raisings
or log rollings. These were a lot
of fun as well as work, but they
are "things of the past."
Another thing that always ex
cited and, pleased the younger
| set, was the little "one-horse" cir- 1
! cuses that came to town with j
monkeys, an elephant or two, and
possibly a few other animals. One
show I remember was when "Tom
Thumb" and his wife were along.
They were so small they would
remind one of a pair of oversized ]
dolls. They were dressed in even
ing clothes; he in full dress suit,
and she in gray silk with high
neck, long sleeves, a bustle and
slight train. They were a fascinat
ing and interesting pair.
County Moved Promptly
To Build Courthouse
After the organization of Macon
County in 1829, the people started
at once to build a courthouse and
Jail. In the minutes of the June,
1829, term of court is the record
of the contract for the courthouse
let to Col. David Coleman at
$3800. The contract for the Jail
was let to Col. Benjamin S. Brit
tain for $2995. The bricks were
made by Samuel Lyle and Dr.
T. T. Young, of Washington coun
ty, Tenn. "The brick they manu
factured were of excellent qual
ity and the house they built would
have stood for a century", but a
more modern one was needed. So
i it gave way to the present one,
which was built in 1880.
Franklin Has Had Free
Library Since 90s
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The fol
lowin* sketch ot the early his
tory of Franklin's public library,
now some 60 years old, was writ
ten by the late J. S. (Jnle)
Robinson, always a loyal and
enthusiastic library supporter.
It appears to have been read at
a library meeting about 1915.
Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson, in
preparing the mansucript, left
blank the number of volumes
then in the library. Before he
left Franklin, he rave the paper,
the only known history of the
library, to Mrs. W. B. McGuire
for safe-keeping;. She loaned the
manuscript to The Press.)
The history of the Franklin I
Public Library is one of varied
experiences but from its start
in the early nineties up till the i
present, its growth has been slow
? steady but sure.
Most everyone here tonight
knows of the ten public spirited
young men and women who some
20-odd years ago decided that
Franklin should have a free pub
lic lihrary. So by voluntary con
tributions, by gifts, begging and
by entertainments, a library was
started. There wjts such a rush
made by the loyal public to be
the first with a voluntary contri
bution that the placards posted
in conspicious places bearing this I
startling announcement, "This j
library is kept up by voluntary
contributions", had to be taken
down and burned to prevent a
too sudden decrease in the pop
ulation. So the years passed on
and the library was slowly- gain
ing headway. Everyone knows of
the disastrous fire in the spring
of '94, which burned everything
from the Jarrett Hotel block down
to E. H. Franks' store and one
This fire swept away in a few
minutes all that the library had
worked years for. Part of the
books were saved, but interest
lagged for a while; but the loyal,
faithful ten kept at work and
pretty soon rented a room from
Dr. Higgins ? the one he now uses
for his dental office ? and moved
the books up there and were a
gain ready to accommodate the
The Library kept its quarters
in this room till the fall of 1901,
when we moved to our present
quarters. The Masons very gen
erously tendered us a home free
of rent in the lower part of their I
hall (our present Library room ? j
and a complete reorganization
Officers elected, constitution l
and by-laws drawn up, commit- j
tees appointed, new members '
elected, and the Masons' prop
osition accepted. Anything new I
always takes, so the Library Club ,
was very popular and new mem
bers were added at each meeting
till the membership had grown
from the ten charter members
to 40 or 50.
Our one room was altogether
too small for our literary, social
and business meetings; so we ask
ed the Masons for the use of
their large room which at that
time was used by them as a stor
age room and wood house and
asked them to state their terms.
They said if the Library would
build them a wood house with
secure fastening, we could have
the large room free of rent, so
we spent $65 painting and furn
ishing this room.
The membership increased rap
idly. On one occasion at a meet
ing, something like the one we
are having tonight, 40 new mem
bers were enrolled. The ladies,
young and old, of Franklin have
always been the main workers
for the Library and ' its most
enthusiastic supporters. They have
gotten up and given the plays
from time to time, the oyster
suppers, and have canvassed for
new members and collected dues.
From the "Old Maids' Convention"
alone over $100 was added to our
treasury. For the last year or so,
while our book list has been grow
ing steadily till today we have
books on our shelves, the list
of members has been growing
rapidly less till today instead of
100 members as we had three
years ago, we have 47. This is
a little alarming and must be
remedied at once. We must have
more good substantial paying
working' members or we must
quit business. The Library is to
day doing a work for the people
of Franklin and Macon County
that is far in' excess of our fond
est fancies. A literary spirit is
being created which was the first
object and intent of this free '
HAS 11,000 VOLUMES NOW
The Franklin Public Library,
for the very life of which J. S.
Robinson found it necessary to
plead 40 years ago, today has
11,000 volumes, and is supported
by state, county, and town
As a result of its tie-in with
the Fontana Regional Library,
the Fontana bookmobile makes
40 stops in this county.
Since the Masonic Hall, long
time location of the Franklin
library, is about to be razed,
the library had to move in May.
It is boused in the West Main
Street building formerly occu
pied by Miss Lassie Kelly's an
tique shop, pending erection of
a library building.
public library. Don't let it be said
of the people of Franklin that
after having launched a free
public library, they grew tired
of it and it died a slow death
from lack of interest and support.
There is not a man or woman, boy
or girl in this room tonight who
cannot afford $1 a year for the
support of a free library. Most of
us have books in our homes. That's
not the question ? we are by our
dues furnishing reading matter
for many who have no books and
cannot afford to buy the new
books as they come out.
Remember this, that there are
few towns in North Carolina to
day with our population that sup
port a free public library. Some
with ten times our population
that have no library at all. So
let us rally to the support of
our own library and be anxious
to have our names on its honor
By Mrs. Allman
Mrs. Myra Allman, who is ap
proaching 91, clearly recalls the
Confederate veterans' reunions
that were held in Franklin an
nually for many years, and the
honor paid the old soldiers by
young and old alike.
Especially vivid in her memory
is a barbecue given for the vet
erans, at one of their reunions
'perhaps the one pictured in this
issue I, at hers and her husband's
home on the Georgia road.
Her husband, the late Lee H.
Allman, was one of the Southern
veterans of the War Between the
States, and took a keen interest
in the reunion.
In that day, a barbecue for
a hundred or so persons was not
the chore it would be today. First
of all, there was plenty of help
then; and. financially, it present
ed no great problem, because
everybody had plenty of their own
cattle, sheep, and hogs.
The modernistic Franklin High School plant came into being with the million dollar
school building program undertaken by Macon County several years ago. A new seven-room
annex is now under construction on the north end of the building. Also going up is a new
$157,000 gymnasium to replace the one that burned more than a year ago.
Kast Franklin School is the workhorse when it conies to outside activities for Franklin
ites. The modern school, built under the million dollar school building program a few years
ago, is the only one inside the city limits with an auditorium. So, naturally, it is used exten
sively by civic and other groups for a variety of events.