Thursday, January 10, 2019

Town of Franklin Accepts Being in Idaho and is Formally Incorporated [otd 01/10]

Lorenzo Hill Hatch. Family Archives.
On January 10, 1873, the Idaho Territorial legislature passed a “special act” to incorporate the village of Franklin. The Act defined the boundaries of the town, specified that it should have a mayoral form of government, and decreed that it should hold its first election “on or before the first Monday in August, A.D. 1873.” At that election, Mormon Bishop Lorenzo Hatch became the first mayor.

Franklin had begun as a normal extension of the Mormon colonies pushing north from Salt Lake and other already-settled areas. Outposts had appeared in Utah’s Cache Valley around 1855 and several towns, including Logan, were established by 1859.

In April 1860, thirteen Mormon families brought their animals and wagons to a spot not quite twenty miles north of Logan. The mountains provided wonderful scenic views, but the plains between interested them most. An abundance of streams flowed onto the flats. They could graze stock on the foothills while raising food and forage crops near the available water.
Franklin plains with mountain backdrop.

The settlers laid out a town and, about two months later, named it Franklin, in honor of LDS Apostle Franklin D. Richards. The village eventually came to be recognized as the first permanent settlement in the state of Idaho. Soon after laying out the town, the settlers dug irrigation ditches to divert water from the Cub River and its tributary creeks. Before the year was out, there would be around sixty families in residence.

The colonists also erected a log schoolhouse and recruited a pioneer’s daughter to start classes in the fall. Except for the missionary schools for Indian children in the Panhandle, the Franklin school thus set another first for Idaho. In 1863, Brigham Young moved Thomas Preston, the first Bishop of Franklin, to a post near Bear Lake and assigned Lorenzo Hatch as Franklin’s second Bishop.

At first, everyone, including the Idaho Territorial government, thought that Franklin and the other Mormon colonies were in Utah. Inhabitants there even voted in Utah elections. In fact, Charles C. Rich, founder of Paris, Idaho, and father of Amasa [blog, Oct 25], served in the Utah Territorial legislature.
Hatch House, Franklin, built in 1872.
Franklin Historic District.

Finally, in early 1872, an official survey defined the correct Idaho-Utah border: it runs about a mile south of Franklin. Despite this, people in the region continued to act like they were in Utah. For example, later that year their representatives attended a Utah constitutional convention, hoping to frame a document that would lead to Utah statehood. (It didn’t. Their memorial never even made it out of committee.)

Within a year or so, however, they reconciled themselves to their “new” status, especially after the legislature granted Franklin’s incorporation. In 1874, a narrow gauge railroad began service between Ogden and Franklin.

But the impact of the financial “Panic of '73” stalled further construction, so the town became a major terminus for stage lines and thousands of freight wagons running back and forth to Montana. That sparked a period of great commercial prosperity. Perhaps because of the local Mormon influence, Franklin apparently avoided the general lawlessness and violence often associated with being the “end of track.”

The tracks continued north in 1878, and Franklin was again simply a commercial center for livestock, dairy, and grain producers in the area. It was estimated to have a population of about 600 in 1918, roughly what it has today.
References: [B&W], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
Jo Ann F. Hatch, Willing Hands: A Biography of Lorenzo Hill Hatch (1826-1910), Kymera Publishing Company, Pinedale, AZ (1996).
JMerlin R. Hovey, "An Early History of Cache County," Logan Journal, Logan, Utah (January 1923).
“Idaho's Boundary Dispute with Utah (1860-1872),” Reference Series No. 1016, Idaho State Historical Society (1993).

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