~Source: Iowa State Atlas - 1904, Counties of Iowa
Descriptive and Historical;
Huebinger and Company, 1904; Franklin County, pg 353
Franklin is in the third tier of
counties from the north line of the state and the
fifth from the east. It is twenty-four miles square
and contains 576 square miles of surface or 368,640
acres. The Iowa river crosses the extreme southwest
corner of the county. In the east part are a number
of good sized creeks at almost regular intervals. The
west and northwest part of the county is quite level
with but few water courses.
A moderate amount of native timber and good building
stone are found in places along most of the streams.
The general surface of the county varies from the
very level to the smoothly rolling with fragments of
broken land in places on the streams. No county or
country has a richer soil.
The county is crossed by the Iowa Central, Chicago
Great Western and Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific
The settlement of the county was begun in October,
1852, by James B. Reeve, John Mayne and a Mr. Phelps.
They settled at what became known as Mayne's Grove.
Mr. Reeve became a permanent settler, Mr. Mayne was a
hunter and trapper and only remained a couple of
years, and Mr. Phelps but a few months.
During 1853 a Dr. Aldred settled at what was later
called Down's Grove, in the southeast corner of the
county. In a short time he sold out to a newcomer,
Thomas Downs. In March, 1855, Mr. Downs was frozen to
death between his home and what was called Hardin
City. During 1853 several families settled along
Mayne's creek, and in the southeast part of the
In 1854 many others came, among whom were John I.
Popejoy, Amon Rice, John Shobe, L.W. Bailey, Geo. W.
Eckley, A.T. Reeve, C.M. Leggett, Richard Blake,
Patrick McCann, L.H. Morgan, H.J. Mitchell, James Van
Horn, David Allen, John R. Hartgraves and William
Tharp. Mr. Mitchell is still a resident of the
county, living at Hampton.
The first death in the county was that of Mr. Webb at
Mayne's Grove, in April, 1854.
The first school taught was in the summer of 1854, in
a log cabin in Mayne's Grove by Miss Octavia Smith,
who afterwards became Mrs. H.J. Mitchell and now
resides with her husband at Hampton. Of the pupils
who attended that school three are at present
residents of the county: Mrs. H.A. Clock who resides
at Hampton; her sister Mrs. R.E. Train, residing at
Dows, and Joab S. Mulkins, residing in Reeve
The first marriage license issued was to Daniel B.
Martin and Nancy Garner, August 9, 1855.
On the 4th of July, 1854, a report reached the
settlement at Mayne's Grove that a large body of
Indians was approaching the settlement. The settlers
gathered in a body, but concluding their number was
too small to risk a battle, they all made a hasty
march to the next nearest settlement, which was at
Beaver Grove, in Butler county. In about three weeks,
after sending scouts ahead, all came back. No Indians
had been there, at least nothing had been disturbed,
and it was evident the alarm had been a false one.
The county was organized in 1855, the election of
officers being in August. Prior to this the county
had been attached first to Chickasaw county and
afterwards to Hardin county for judicial purposes.
The first officers elected were as follows: James B.
Reeve, county judge; S.R. Mitchell, county clerk;
Isaac Miller, treasurer and recorder; Solomon Staley,
sheriff; Henry Shroyer, school fund commission; Q.A.
Jordon, coroner; and C.M. Leggett, justice of the
The county seat was first located at a point two
miles south of the site of the present town of
Hampton, but failed to give satisfaction so an
election was called and the question submitted of
removing it to the new town of Benjamin. The election
was held April 7, 1856, and the proposition carried,
so Benjamin became the county seat. Its name was
afterwards changed to Hampton.