Franklin County, in northeast Georgia, was the first county established in the state after the American Revolution (1775-83). William Bartram traveled through part of present-day Franklin County in 1773. At that time members of the Lower Cherokee Indian tribe lived there. The 1783 Treaty of Augusta established the land claim from the native residents. The county was created in 1784 and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. In 1787 parts of the original lands were ceded to South Carolina.

The exact location of the first courthouse, established in 1793, is unknown. The county seat, Carnesville, was incorporated in 1807, and in 1826 a second, more substantial courthouse was built there. The town is named for Thomas Peter Carnes, a lawyer and congressman of the Revolutionary War era. The current courthouse dates to 1906. Other  towns include Canon, established in 1875 as West Bowerville (changed to Canon in 1902); Lavonia, established about 1878; Royston, incorporated in 1879; and Franklin Springs, a pre–Civil War (1861-65) health resort known for its mineral springs. Lavonia is the smallest city in the United States with an original Carnegie Library building. The Franklin Springs property is now owned by the Pentecostal Holiness Church and houses Emmanuel College.

Franklin County Courthouse
Franklin County Courthouse

Photograph by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The terrain of the county originally consisted mainly of oak-hickory forests. The early settlers cleared large tracts for agriculture, and for 200 years much of the land was devoted to cotton, corn, sorghum, and more recently, livestock. Some of it is now reverting to old-field succession, which, if uninterrupted, will culminate in broadleaf deciduous forest. Livestock production constitutes an overwhelming majority of the agricultural output of the county; the Franklin County Livestock Market in Carnesville is the largest in the state. The Cromer’s Mill covered bridge was built in 1906 and still stands, though it is no longer used for motor traffic. Lake Hartwell, at the northern end of the county, and two state parks, Victoria Bryant and Tugaloo, provide recreational opportunities.

Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge
Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge

Courtesy of Georgia Archives.

Annual county events include the Junior-Senior Fishing Rodeo at Victoria Bryant State Park in May, the Lavonia Fall Festival in September, and various festivals at Tugaloo State Park throughout the year. Baseball great Ty Cobb was a native of Royston and donated $100,000 to build a hospital for the town; the Ty Cobb Museum is located in the Joe Adams Building there. Other noted residents include former Georgia governor Ernest Vandiver and D. W. Brooks, the founder and chairman of Gold Kist. Interstate 85 provides transportation links to the county. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population is 22,084, an increase from the 2000 population of 20,285.

Ty Cobb Museum
Ty Cobb Museum

Courtesy of the Ty Cobb Museum

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Historic Franklin County Courthouse

Historic Franklin County Courthouse

Carnesville residents gather outside the Franklin County Courthouse around 1900. The courthouse, now razed, was built in the early 1800s.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
fra190-82.

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Franklin County Courthouse

Franklin County Courthouse

The Franklin County Courthouse, in Carnesville, was built in 1906 in the neoclassical revival style. The county was named for Benjamin Franklin.

Photograph by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge

Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge

The Cromer's Mill covered bridge, shown circa 1975 in a state of disrepair, was built in 1907 by James M. Hunt. It spans Nails Creek and is located about eight miles south of Carnesville.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, #
fra001.

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Ty Cobb Museum

Ty Cobb Museum

The Ty Cobb Museum in Royston features, among other things, a uniform worn by the baseball legend.

Courtesy of the Ty Cobb Museum

Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge

Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge

Before the Civil War, the Cromer family operated a woolen mill near this site in Franklin County. In 1907 the 110-foot bridge was built in a "town lattice" design by James M. Hunt. The bridge was restored in 1999.

Image from Jimmy Emerson, DVM

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