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Franklin County came into being on January 2, 1818, as one of the original fifteen counties when Illinois was admitted that year to the union. At that time it included the territory of the Franklin county of today and the territory of Williamson, just south.

In about the year 1804, seven brothers by the name of Jordan, William and John Browning, Joseph Estes and one Barbrey, settled in what is now Cave township, the southeast township in the county, and there built what was known as Jordan's Fort some time prior to 1806. Here Barbrey was killed and scalped in 1812. The Brownings came to be very important people in the history of the county. The McCreerys, Cantrells, Swoffords and the Joneses were early comers. After the war of 1812, other settlers came to different parts of the county and by 1818 the south and east part of the county was sparsely settled.

The early settlers raised just about enough grain for food and feed. It appears that the streams and woods along them were full of game and the fur trade was an important line of business. Regular trips were made to St. Louis with loads of furs, venison, and farm products.

Slaves were held in Franklin county by the leading families until 1824, and then were taken to Missouri and sold. In some cases they were later brought back to Franklin county and manumitted, a specific case is that of the purchase of Richmond Inge by Alexander McCreery. Inge and his wife were put on a farm in Williamson county where they lived for many years.

When the county was created in 1818, the county seat was fixed at Frankfort. The court house and jail were not built until 1826 and prior to that date the county seat was temporarily in the home of Moses Garrett, about three miles east of Frankfort. When Williamson was cut off from Franklin in 1839, the county seat of Franklin was permanently fixed "on or near the summit of a mound or hill in the edge of the timber, and at the south end of Rowlings Prairie." This was to be the site of the future city of Benton. The court house in Benton was built in the spring of 1841. It was a small frame building and stood in the square. A second court house was built of brick in 1845, and a third, the present one, was built in 1874.

Franklin County Clerk
202 W. Main
Benton, Illinois 62918
Vital Records

Franklin County Circuit Clerk
202 W. Main
Benton, Illinois 62918
Court Records


The 1818 Franklin County Census

The 1820 Franklin County Census

The 1850 Franklin County Mortality Schedule

The 1924 Johnston City Mining Disaster

The 1914 Royalton Mining Disaster

Franklin County Divorces 

Index to Estates



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