Community Institutions

Churches, Schools, Lodges and other Institutions of Franklinville's Daily Life


      The first Masonic Lodge in Randolph County was Hank's No. 128, organized March 26, 1850, at Franklinville. The second was built five years later at Foust's mill (now Coleridge), with Asheboro's Balfour Lodge in the same year. Ten Masonic brothers residing in the Franklinville neighborhood were granted permission to establish a Lodge of Ancient York masons; by 1869 there were 82 members. In July, 1850, a building committee was appointed, and on September 10, 1850, the committee signed a contract to "erect a Masonic Hall" in the village. The contractors were Spencer M. Dorsett, 28, and Thomas W. Allred, 27. The temple-form Greek Revival building is one of the oldest public buildings in the area, and is doubly important since the surviving contract has preserved the names of its builders. Dorsett and Allred were obviously men of some skill, for the Lodge is as sophisticated an example of the Greek Revival style as can be found in Randolph County. The contract price of the structure was $1,350.00 and it was to be completed in six months from the date of the contract. The framing was to be of oak five inches thick and the studding set on 18-inch center. The remaining exposed timbers and shingles were "to be of good heart pine." Hank's Lodge was built on the North side of the River Road betreen the two cotton mills. The River Road fell into disuse following the construction of 'Highway 90' (the present NC 22), and in early 1924 the Lodge was moved to its current location on the south side of that highway.



    On August 14, 1839, Elisha Coffin deeded a 1.64 acre tract to Phillip Horney, Alexander S. Horney, Elisha Coffin, Bethuel Coffin, and J.M.A. Drake, "Trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church...who shall erect thereon a house or place of worship."  As the early records are lost, this is one of the few facts known about the founding of the church.  The Coffins and the Horneys were major stockholders in the factory.  James Murray Anthony Drake (ca. 1812-?) was a lawyer and a relative through his wife Eliza Balfour of the company president, John Balfour Troy.  Troy himself was a Steward of Bethany Church near Liberty, built on the site of the former "Troy's Camp Ground."

     At the Annual Conference in the fall of 1839 Franklinville was placed on the Randolph Circuit, which included all Methodist Churches in the county, and Rev. T.R. Brame was appointed Preacher in Charge.  His relative Moses Brame was then Presiding Elder of the Greensborough District.  The Circuit's next Quarterly Conference was held in the Franklinville Church on March 2, 1840, the church having been rapidly completed over the winter.  The original church building was frame, approximately thirty by fifty feet in plan, with twin front doors and a gable steep enough to include a gallery facing the pulpit.  Only two pictures of the building are known, one of the south side taken from across the river, and one of the north side taken as the building was demolished in 1918.  All that is known about the interior is that, after the rush to ready the building for Quarterly Conference it was evidently left partially unfinished for years afterwards.

     But at some point during the first ten years of the church, the District was reorganized and Franklinsville became the head of its own Circuit, encompassing more than twenty individual churches in eastern Randolph, western Chatham, and southern Alamance counties.  Washington Sandford Chaffin (1815-1895) was the Preacher in Charge for 1849.  The conference paid him $216.00 per quarter, with a family allowance of $70.00 per quarter.  Thomas Rice of Franklinsville was recorded as a Class Leader and Steward that year.  Rice (1803-1892) had been active in the Greensborough Quarterly Conference even before moving to Franklinsville, and is remembered as the builder/ contractor of the Franklinville covered bridge and Greensborough's West Market Street Methodist Church.


Franklinsville Methodist Church was five years old before a cemetary became necessary.  The oldest known burial is that of William Arnold (1786-1844), just east of the brick cemetary.  That grave, however, was not included in "half an acre laid out for a burying ground" deeded from Elisha Coffin the Phillip Horney, Alexander S. Horney, Benjamin F. Coffin, John M. Coffin, John Miller, John Hendricks, Joshua Pool, Trustees of the Franklinsville Methodist Church, on November 2, 1844.  The Arnold burial is near the next oldest known, that of "Marcara" McCuiston Coffin (1778-1845), wife of Elisha Coffin.  Mrs. Coffin's grave was specifically included in one-quarter of an acre deeded by Elisha Coffin to members of his family on July 5, 1848, and now known as the "Brick Cemetary".



 The first school in Franklinville was built by the Randolph Manufacturing Company as part of the original factory development.  Later schools serving both the Franklinsville and Island Ford villages were built on a larger tract of land at the northwest corner of Academy and Pine Streets, where the Franklinville Elementary School remains today.  (more information to be added)

To Make a Donation to support the restoration of the factory and the creation of the Franklinville Mill Museum, go here.

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