Friday, July 2, 2010

Franklin Cousins Seem to be Everywhere!

It was the Summer of 2009 and the National Trust for Historic Preservation held its National conference in downtown Nashville, TN at the Convention Center. In attendance was Lauren Adkins, Assistant Director for Consulting Services with the National Trust Main Street Center in Washington DC. Lauren is the childhood friend of L. Hoyt, the husband of Lyn Franklin Hoyt. So while Lauren was in town the Hoyt family entertained Lauren both in Nashville and at the Franklin/Howell family summer home in Beersheba Springs, TN.

Lyn’s first cousin Sara Franklin Homer also joined the group on the mountain in Beersheba Springs that summer. Sara, a degreed archeologist, is now working in administration for the New Jersey Department of Historic Preservation in Trenton and was also in town to attend the conference. We were just a bunch of history geeks and family spending time together. In passing Lauren mentioned she had a friend named Kimberly Franklin Nyberg who is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Main Street Program, which is part of the National Trust. Kim and her husband John Nyberg are residents of Gallatin. And Lauren wondered if we were ‘kin.’

After connecting on Facebook through our Lauren Adkins introduction we all discovered we were related. Our GG grandfather’s were brothers. Son’s of John Franklin, grandsons of James. Sara and Lyn are GG grand daughters of Dr. John W. Franklin and Kim is the GG granddaughter of Thomas J. Franklin. All of us share a curiosity of our past and Kim is front and center professionally, being directly involved in Gallatin and the State of TN not only with her own work, but through the work of her husband John who is the Director of Historic Rock Castle.

Needless to say we were all pretty excited about this new-found reunion of Franklin relatives and the passion we all have for historic preservation. So one night at church Lyn mentioned to her friend Julie Watson Parker what had transpired. Julie and Lyn had attended church together and their daughters attended pre-school together for years in Nashville. But, neither knew that they were both Franklin descendents until Lyn shared the story about her ‘new found’ cousin Kim and much to Lyn’s surprise Julie reveals she too is a descendent of the Gallatin Franklins! As the GG grand daughter of Dr. Joshua Howell Franklin Julie had been following the Franklin family and properties for years. As a Nashville native she had made the trips to Gallatin to attend the open houses and check on James Franklin’s grave site. And she had wonderful documentation to share.

The next 6 months were spent sharing information by email and online. Culminating in a meeting in April of 2010 at the Gallatin Archives with cousin Ken Thomson, well-known Franklin family historian. It was an exciting meeting! The Franklin cousins are now very concerned the James Franklin gravesite will be lost if something is not done soon. The descendants are united in the effort to restore James Franklin’s grave site and preserve a bit of Sumner County's founding history. Any and all support from other family members and the Sumner County Community is welcome. Franklin descendants seem to be everywhere. So please reach out.

We are moving forward with connections at the DAR, SAR and with cemetery restoration specialists. Any and all advice or feedback is encouraged. Look for an opportunity soon to donate to this cause. And we are hopeful grants and funding will be available to insure the site is restored in a way that honors James Franklin as an original Sumner County Land Grant Settler.

Photo of the four cousins at the grave in April 2010.

Monument to a Subdivision

Our research continues this Summer in Gallatin. We have reached out to the subdivision developer and they are pleased talk is moving forward within the family to restore the grave site. Southeastern Building Corporation has been conscientious, putting up temporary fencing and protecting the site while roads have been put in and property divided.

While we are sad to see the land go the way of serving the needs of the growing Gallatin Community we hope that by restoring our grave site it will bring awareness to the surrounding landowners. Archeology exists everywhere across this landscape that marks the moment settlers put down roots here. With each effort to save relics and historical places, we hope people will become more respectful of the land they own and be aware when operating the bulldozers they run to make a place for ‘progress’.

We look forward to furthuring our relationship with Southeastern Building Corp. And we hope they will be willing to work with us to develop our landscaping plan, both short term and long term. Our vision is to make the restored site something the neighborhood will be proud to be a part of, marking the heritage of the land they own.

Maybe you would like to own a piece of Franklin history? Lots are still available at Franklin’s Reserve.