Community Picnic, 2005

Morning Sun Article
Disaster News Net Article
Speech, History Program & Awards
Pictures Setting Up

Pictures of Guests
Children's Coloring Pages

Date:  May 7,2005  Saturday
Time:  4:00 pm
Place:  The New Franklin Community Park, 502 S. Broadway


Residents of Franklin, Kansas and friends will join thousands of individuals around the country as part of a nationwide celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, May 2005.  “Restore America: Communities at a Crossroads" is the theme of the month-long celebration, which is sponsored annually by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Here in Franklin Preservation Month 2005 will be observed by a Community Picnic with displays and programs regarding preservation of historic items remaining after the May, 2003 tornado destroyed much of the community. A report on the History Project leading up to the centennial celebration in 2007 will be given.  There will also be an awards ceremony and placement of a time capsule.  

 Food, door prizes, games and music (polka and gospel) will be provided.  Bring your own lawn chairs.

Come join your neighbors and friends for an afternoon of fun.

Schedule of picnic:

Welcome - Craig Stokes

Picnic

Coloring for the Time Capsule
Children colored photos of Kansas which will be placed in the time capsule.

Historic Program -Phyllis Bitner
Candy (Toschi) Pitts won the historic contest by guessing 17 of the 25 historic structures.
1st Annual Historic Preservation Award - Toschi Pitts Family

Awards Ceremony - Craig Stokes
1st Annual Friend of Franklin Award - Nikki Patrick
1st Annual Appreciation Award - Kevin Mitchelson

Door Prizes - Dianna Morrison
Practically every guest at the picnic received a door prize or a monetary prize in the drawings.

Game Prizes - Dianna Morrison
Guessing Game won by Marshall (M.C.) Rials for guessing how many pieces of candy in a jar.

Closing-Craig Stokes
 

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Franklin residents gather for annual picnic
By NIKKI PATRICK
Morning Sun Lifestyle Editor

The community of Franklin celebrated National Historic Preservation Month during its annual picnic Saturday at the site of the future FranklinCommunity Park.

Theme of the observance this year is 'Restore America: Communities at a Crossroads," and Craig Stokes, president of the FranklinCommunity Council, noted that this has special meaning for Franklin residents.

"Franklin

definitely was at a crossroads on May 4, 2003, when the tornado struck," he said. "The community came together and saw that it would be rebuilt. The community pulled together and is on the road to becoming the fine rural community it once was. With the help of our residents and neighboring communities, the job is being accomplished."

Photos were taken throughout the picnic, and other items collected for a time capsule to be buried later. "We hope to open it again at the centennial celebration and add to it, then open it again every five years," Stokes said.

Following the picnic and games, Phyllis Bitner presented a brief historical program.

<>"I have great memories of growing up in Franklin, and that's why I'm working so hard to rebuild the community," she said. "I want the children growing up here now to have the same good memories I have."

Bitner noted that, in the early 1900s, Franklin

was a vibrant community with five schools, numerous grocery stores and meat markets, barbershops, shoe shops, filling stations, a bowling alley, a theater, several dance halls, restaurants, a boarding house, a hotel and many other small businesses.

"A streetcar and trolley line ran through the community," Bitner said. "Several residents formed bands that played at many of the local dance halls. Sausage making was an art form. On any given day you could see groups gathering for the ritual of making sausage for their family and friends. It was a very festive event."

The spot where the picnic was held had been a school yard, then became the site of the community hall, which stood until it was destroyed by the 2003 tornado.

"How fitting that this spot will now become a park, where families can gather and children can play," Bitner said.

In 2007, she said,  Franklin

will mark its centennial. "While we know there were people living here before 1907, that seems to be the year when the community was first really established," she said.

The Heritage Committee of Franklin

Community Council is now working on an oral history project, funded in part by a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council.

"These histories will be placed into a book format which we hope to have completed by the centennial," Bitner said.

Historic artifacts from the community will be displayed in the new Franklin

Community Center and at the park. These artifacts come from St. Philip Neri Catholic Church. While it survived the tornado, the former church, which had been closed for several years and had been sold, was in poor condition and was demolished.

"The Toschi/Pitts family donated anything we wanted to salvage from the church building," Bitner said. "Their generosity is overwhelming. In this day and age of ebay and other auctions, historical artifacts such as these could easily have been sold for profit."

<>For their contribution, the family was awarded Franklin's first Preservation Award.

"Getting this award means the world to me," said Candy Pitts. "It was a very difficult time to tear down the church. We contacted the Kansas State Historical Society to see if there was any way of saving the building, but it was falling down and it was dangerous to anyone who went in."

"These artifacts will be a lasting monument to the true spirit of this community," Bitner said.

Stokes noted that many others had been impressed with the community's spirit, including famous actor Paul Newman, who made a generous donation to the rebuilding effort, and the Pritchett Foundation in Pittsburg, which has donated funds to build the new park.

"We appreciate so much all the work that everyone has done," Stokes said. "Whether it's baking a batch of cookies for the clean-up crews, or spending hours on a lawn mower keeping the grounds mowed - every single effort is noticed and appreciated. There is always plenty to do, and anyone who wants to be a part of the rebuilding is welcome to contact any of the Franklin Community Council board members."

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Disaster News.net May 10, 2005
(visit disasternews.net website)

KANSAS TOWN PRESERVES POST TORNADO HISTORY
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Franklin, Kansas, residents gathered to celebrate the town’s rich history – even the painful parts.

Heather Moyer

FRANKLIN, Kansas (May 10, 2005) —

Devastated by a powerful tornado two years ago, Franklin residents are still rebuilding homes and much of the almost wiped-out downtown business district. Saturday’s event was in honor of National Historic Preservation Month, and those in attendance were able to look back at Franklin’s lifetime of almost 100 years.

The Community Picnic included displays, games, and programs regarding preservation of historic items remaining after the tornado.

“It went very well,” said Phyllis Bitner, chair of the city’s heritage committee. “We had a great turnout.”

The crowd was in very good spirits despite the town and community park still looking a little bleak, she noted. “We still have stripped trees everywhere, and some homes are not rebuilt yet. But people are excited to see the City Hall and the park being rebuilt.”

At Saturday’s community picnic, residents looked through photos of Franklin through the years and shared stories. Bitner said one popular event was guessing which old building was which based on old photographs, saying even many of the town’s “old-timers” were stumped at times.

The heritage committee is holding onto relics that survived the 2003 tornado, including pieces of a local church, concrete markers from around the town, and numerous old documents from the town and from the residents’ own collections. Bitner said some of the outdoor items that survived the twister will be incorporated into concrete structures and columns around the new community park.

“We’re also going to have a heritage room in the new city hall,” she added. “We really do have all kinds of stuff.”

A time capsule will also be embedded into a concrete column in the new park as well. The capsule will include newspaper articles, photos, and even drawings by some of the town’s children.

The community picnic included an awards presentation for some of the volunteers involved since the 2003 tornado. “It’s amazing how dedicated the volunteers still are,” said Bitner. “Some have been instrumental in the process.”

The community park is still in its very basic stages, but a community volunteer day on June 4 will hopefully spruce up the land with grass and flowers, she added. Despite the current bleak look and slow rebuild the town is experiencing, Bitner said the residents are determined to bring the town back to where it was.

“Everybody is still sticking to it,” she said.

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Welcome - Craig Stokes
I’d like to welcome everyone to Franklin’s annual community picnic.  We  join thousands of individuals around the country as part of a nationwide celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, May 2005. “Restore America: Communities at a Crossroads" is the theme of the month-long celebration, which is sponsored annually by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Franklin was definitely at a crossroads in May, 2003.   The community came together and saw that it would be rebuilt. 

We are here celebrating the rebirth of the community of Franklin.   It has been a long process and you can see signs of the rebuilding efforts.   This time next year we hope to have the community hall and the community park completed.     These are your facilities.    We hope all families will enjoy them.

We can’t help but remember the 2nd anniversary of the tornado which was this past week.  Our lives were changed forever by that event.  We will hold Josephine Maghe (pronounced Mack) in our hearts forever. 

But this community pulled together and is on the road to becoming the fine rural community it once was.  

With the help of our residents and neighboring communities the job is being accomplished.

We have several activities planned for today.    I’ll give you a run down and then just enjoy the day.   

The area over here is set up where you can sign the guest book which will be used for the door prizes.    Be sure that each individual signs as there are some nice prizes.    We also will be putting together a time capsule today that we hope to open again at the centennial celebration which is just 2 short years away and then every 5 years we plan to add to it.   The guest list will be placed in the time capsule.  Also there are coloring sheets of “Kansas” for the children to color to place in the time capsule.  Parents - please be sure that your child’s full name is on the photo they color.  We’ll be taking photos all day that will be added to the website as well as placed in the time capsule.

Also we hope you will enjoy the historical display and play the game attached to it.    We will be giving a prize to the person with the most correct answers. 

For the kids is a guessing game - guess the number of pieces of candy in the jar.  

There will be music provided for your enjoyment.    Shortly after the picnic we’ll have having a short presentation ceremony and a short program on the history of the community.   

We hope everyone will enjoy this beautiful afternoon.   Have a great time and I’ll be back shortly after the picnic.   The picnic will begin shortly and if you’ll form a line over there the food will be served.      Prayer by Ted Wynn, Paster of New Life Baptist Church
Historical Program & Awards Ceremony: Phyllis Bitner

Looking back at Franklin we can only envision the way of life in this tiny community in the early 1900s.   We will soon have a very good picture of that time.  The Heritage Committee of Franklin Community Council is working on an oral history project.  These histories will be placed into a book format which we hope to have completed by the centennial in 2007.    We have been working with a consultant at the college and the State Humanities Council on this project.  Upon reading the first oral history the professor at the college wanted to know more about Franklin.  She loved the story and said it left her yearning to know more about this little community.   We hope to be able to tell that story.   

Franklin was a vibrant community in the early 1900s.  There were 5 schools, numerous grocery stores and meat markets, barbershops, shoe shops, filling stations, a bowling alley, a theater, several dance halls, restaurants, a boarding house, a hotel and a variety of other small business.  Of course mining was the occupation of many of the residents.  

A streetcar and trolley line ran through the community.    Several residents formed bands that played at many of the local dance halls as well as others in the county.     Sausage making was an art form.    On any given day you could see groups gathering for the ritual of making sausage for their family and friends.  It was a very festive event.           

This very spot where we stand today was a school yard.   After that it became the community hall.  How fitting that now it will now be a park  where families can gather and children can play just as it has been for 100 years.  

The sidewalk running the course of the community is always a good topic of discussion.  We hope to have all the facts soon.     The sidewalk was started in 1936 and was completed in 1937.  Most of you have heard the story that it appeared in the “Guinness Book of Records” as the longest sidewalk connecting two communities.  We are working on obtaining a listing on the national historic register and have hopes to restore the sidewalk.    If anyone has any information about the sidewalk please let me know. 

Many have asked about the date of 1907 and it has been said that Franklin has been around longer than that.   We worked with the State Historical Society and the History Department at Pitt State in deciding how to determine that date.    While we know there were people living here before 1907, that seems to be the year when the community was first really established.  The schools were built that year, mining came to the area that year, the post office was established shortly after that in 1908.    Our centennial in 2007 will celebrate the “establishment” of Franklin.

There have been so many interesting stories about the history of the community and we hope to be able to share them with you all by the centennial.    Those interesting stories continue as we watch the volunteers of today working to rebuild the community.  


In recognition of National Historic Preservation Month we felt it appropriate to honor a family who has made a great donation to the community.   While the tornado ravaged the community and left little standing most of the history of the community is in our hearts, minds and photos.   However, one family saw to it that a part of the history of Franklin will be preserved forever and will be available for all to see and read about.   Their generosity is overwhelming. How many of us would have done the same.   In this day and age of ebay and other auctions -historical artifacts such as this could have been easily sold for profit.  They chose to leave a legacy to their family by donating these treasures to Franklin.   We are so thankful to them for their generous donation.   When you visit the park and the hall you will see these artifacts on display for generations to come.    They will be a lasting monument to the true spirit of this community.   These artifacts are from St. Philip Neri Catholic Church which was one of the few remaining community buildings left in Franklin.    The Toschi/Pitts family donated anything we wanted to salvage from the building.  The decision to tear down the church was not an easy one and was not taken lightly.   The State Historical Society was contacted and every effort was made to reach a good decision on saving the building.  It was not to be.  The Toschi/Pitts family then started to work on a solution to saving the artifacts.   They are to be commended for their efforts and we are most thankful.   We would like for them to come forward now to accept their award.  Candy, your family will be remembered for decades to come as the artifacts become a part of our daily lives here in Franklin.     

Candy, Jerry - Franklin Community Council, Inc. and the entire community of Franklin offer you our sincere thanks and would like to award you the 1st Annual Preservation Award for your generous donation to the community.  


Other Awards

2003 Friend of Franklin Award:  When the tornado came through Franklin in 2003 media representatives were quickly on the scene. Many stories were written and shown on TV. Franklin continued to be an interesting news item as we saw by the number of national newspapers and television stations that carried stories about the rebuilding process.  While we know that all reporters have a job to do and we appreciate all the coverage we have received from all the media one particular reporter stands out.    Her heart has followed Franklin throughout the entire two years and she has always been concerned about the community and it’s residents far beyond just doing her job.    In fact if you try to call the newspaper and ask for another reporter to cover a Franklin story - you are told “Franklin is Nikki’s baby”.   She has been here through our sadness and our happiness.  We feel that we have a true friend in Nikki Patrick from the Morning Sun.  Nikki, I’m thrilled to present this plaque to you as the recipient of our 1st annual “Friend of Franklin Award”. 

Appreciation Award:  Special people come into our lives in mysterious ways.   We were all stunned when the tornado made it’s way through the community in 2003.   Help came from every corner of the county and state.    We are forever grateful to the people who came and comforted us, provided food and necessities, led us through those first weeks of utter disbelief of what had happened.   We received a phone call one day from a person saying they wanted to help and asking what they could do.   I’m sure this person never dreamed that 2 years later we would still be depending on his help.    How can we explain why someone would be so generous and giving to spend 2 years on a project to which he has no personal contact?  What sort of person would devote so much of his time to this community when he has never lived here?    There are words that come to mind that describe someone like that - generous, caring, giving, charitable, kind-hearted, unselfish, and compassionate.  Those are just a few of the words that we feel describes a person we are very appreciative of.    He has given us days, nights and week-ends to help with the rebuilding of this community.  He has inspired us when we were weary and felt we couldn’t go on.    We owe a great deal to Kevin Mitchelson and his family for their generosity.  Kevin, could you come forward.  We will be forever indebtedness to your generous spirit and kindness.   Kevin, I am honored to have been a part of your life for the past two years and on behalf of the entire community I’d like to present you with our first annual “Appreciation Award”

Closing - Craig

Everyone can be proud of the fact that this tiny community will survive when so many others would just wither away.    What a story to tell your grandchildren - Paul Newman saw the spirit of this community and donated to see that it was rebuilt.   The Kansas Humanites Council saw the spirit of this community and issued a grant to tell their story.   The Pritchett Foundation in Pittsburg saw the spirit of this community and has donated funds to build a park in the center of the community.  The list could go on and on.  

Every resident in this community is important to it’s rebuilding efforts.    We appreciate so much all the work that everyone has done.   Whether it’s baking a batch of cookies for the clean up crews or spending hours on a lawn mower keeping the grounds mowed -every single effort is noticed and appreciated. 

Remember this is your community.  If you want to be a part of the rebuilding in any way contact any of the board members.    There is always plenty to do (grass mowing, picking up rocks at the park, building a shelter and bathrooms, planting trees, plants and shrubs).   Paperwork is endless.  If you have a time or talent please offer to help even if it is for a short time.  

We hope you’ve enjoyed the picnic and please feel free to stay and enjoy the music and visit with your neighbors.        Thanks for coming and have a great time!!

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