Franklin, Kansas


Franklin, Kansas Townsite

Franklin, Kansas Townsite

Franklin, Kansas, an extinct town today, was located just four miles southeast of Lawrence in Douglas County.

When the settlement was founded in October 1853, it was a pro-slavery stronghold during the days of Territorial Kansas. Situated between the Kansas River and Wakarusa River, it was one of the oldest settlements and Indian trading posts in the county, and the first stage stop west of Westport (now part of Kansas City, Missouri.)

When Kansas was opened to settlement in 1854, a number of Missourians moved to Franklin, further strengthening its pro-slavery stance. In 1855, Franklin received a post office. Situated so closely to Lawrence, the “unofficial” Free State capital, the settlers were constantly in conflict. Two battles were fought near here in 1856 — the Battle of Franklin in June and the Battle of Fort Saunders in August. A number of small skirmishes continued through the fall, but afterward, the pro-slave forces began to leave.

In 1857, the town was officially incorporated, a ferry was established on the Kansas River north of town, and a general store was opened by Dr. R.L. Williams.

During the Lawrence Massacre of August 1863, there was such a demand for houses, that many of the dwellings in Franklin were moved to Lawrence and after the Civil War, Franklin dramatically declined. The post office closed its doors in 1867 and the entire townsite eventually was owned by Dr. R.L. Williams, who farmed the area for several years.

An old homestead appears to be utilized for construction  purposes, Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

An old homestead appears to be utilized for construction  purposes, Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The old townsite of Franklin is today, but a suburb of Lawrence. However, it must have had some development in later years, as the one street in old town is lined with an old sidewalk.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated September 2020.

Also See:

Douglas County Extinct Towns

Douglas County Photo Gallery

Kansas History

Kansas Main Page