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
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
Coloring for the Time Capsule
Children colored photos of
Kansas which will be placed in the time capsule.
Historic Program -Phyllis
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.
Sunday, May 8, 2005
Franklin residents gather for annual picnic
By NIKKI PATRICK
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.
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
<>"I have great memories of growing up in Franklin, and that's
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
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
"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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News.net May 10, 2005
TOWN PRESERVES POST TORNADO HISTORY
a sunny Saturday afternoon in Franklin, Kansas, residents gathered to
celebrate the town’s rich history – even the painful parts.
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
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 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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”
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
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!!