The Spirit of Franklin Remains
History Project - Stage 1

This program is funded in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting undrestanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our livs and build community.
The Spirit of Franklin project is sponsored by the Heritage Committee of Franklin Community Council, Inc.

 The mission of the Heritage Committee is as follows:  The FCCI  Heritage Committee’s purpose is to preserve, protect and promote the cultural, natural and historical heritage of the community of Franklin.  The group works to  conserve the area's natural, cultural and historic resources.  Realizing that our inheritance of architecture, cultural landscapes, and material culture is an irreplaceable asset and resource the committee is dedicated to documenting the history of the community.  The group encourages citizens to serve the community by helping to preserve it’s rich history.  

Our goal on this project is to gather and preserve information regarding the early history of the community.  With the aging population we feel it is imperative that we begin with oral histories of local residents and former residents.  There are approximately 162 families remaining in the community.

Our project will be aimed at collecting basic historical information,  taking oral histories of the community and organizing those stories.   

Visually there remains little historical information regarding the community of Franklin.   Our goal for this project is to gather and compile oral histories from the residents. These oral records will give us guidance for future stages of our project on further research through newspapers on microfiche, government records and other sources.  It is important that we lay groundwork of how the community was formed, what ethnic groups settled here and why they came, how they worked together, etc.  We will focus on the strength on this community during the early years and how the variety of immigrants worked together much the same as the varied ethnic groups are working together today.  We will be looking at contrasts and similarities of the residents virtually 100 years later.   We know the community began as a mining camp so that will be a central theme in this early study and many of our questions will relate to that. 

We will seek to interview each senior resident within the community as well as former residents who were raised in the community or have ties to the community. Residents will be notified in advance through our monthly newsletter which is sent to every resident in the community or they will be contacted by phone.  Our goal is to reach between 25%  of the residents in this first stage.  If anyone is interested in participating in this please contact Phyllis at 347-8387.

We will interview the current volunteers who have been working on the rebuilding process.  We want to compare both generations to see what motivates them to live in Franklin, work in the area, help with building and rebuilding the community, etc.  Why did the early pioneers settle here?  What kept them here?  How do these “new” pioneers answer those same questions?

This project is important due to the large loss of historically significant photos, artifacts, etc. from the tornado.  The community began in the early 1900s with a huge influx from the Little Balkan countries who settled in this community to work in the mining industry.   Our goal is to document the development of this community by the varied immigrants who settled here.  

This community was formed as a mining camp in the early 1900s.   The mix of cultures made for a very diverse experience.   This project will be a valuable record of what influence these different cultures had in forming the values, beliefs and way of life of the community. 

Without memories and documentation of those memories, we would have no history. Every human being is a piece of history with their own unique story to tell.

A quote by Alex Haley, author of Roots speaks volumes for the importance of these oral histories:  "Every time an old person dies, it is as if a library had burned down." 

The  oral histories will be placed at Special Collections & University Archives, Leonard H. Axe Library, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS 66762, Archivist: Randy Roberts.

Copies of the results of our project will be placed in a heritage room which is being built within our new community center.   An area is also being planned in a large entry way to display any artifacts, stories, etc.    We have obtained some artifacts from an historic church that was demolished.    These items will be placed in a memorial marker at the new community park.This research will have a lasting value on this community and the entire region.    As time progresses we have other plans to move forward with other historical projects but feel time is important as we have seen how quickly life can change.  In an instant the community was lost (or so it appeared).  The spirit of the people of this community remains and they have received national recognition through the media for their efforts and their tenacity in seeing the community rebuilt.   We want to preserve documentation of the spirit that initially made this a thriving community as well as the spirit that remains within the residents and drives them forward to rebuild the community.

These oral histories will preserve the historic record of our community for present and future generations.

If you would like to be a part of this undertaking please let me know. We would also welcome former residents to take part in this by mail or e-mail.  I would be happy to send a questionnaire which can be filled out and returned to us.  We want to include everyone who played a part in the history of Franklin in any way.   I can be reached at the e-mail below or you can call 620-347-8387 or 620-249-9333.

 We welcome new members to the Heritage Committee who have an interest in preserving our heritage.