Deep River Landmarks

Environmental and Geographical Features of Franklinville


      The "island" of the name Island Ford has become an overgrown and silted-up peninsula, and the steel bridge which replaced the ford in 1901 was itself torn down in 1969, but Island Ford remains central to knowledge of the prehistoric Franklinville area. Educator and historian Braxton Craven indicated that the Indian name for the crossing was "Threntauna," although it is unclear which Indian group should be connected to the word. Indian tribes in piedmont North Carolina were migratory, and little information exists on the inhabitants of eastern Randolph County. In 1670 the German explorer John Lederer met the Watary Indians on the Great Trading Path near the present vicinity of Julian. Later the Keyauwee, Saponi and Tutelo tribes were all found in the region. But even the aboriginal name of Deep River is uncertain; recent writers have referred to it as the "Sapona," but this was the name applied in 1701 to the Yadkin. Indians certainly inhabited the area. and a burial mound is said to exist near the river between Franklinville and Ramseur. Island Ford was probably the point where Crafford's path (or "Crawford's Road") crossed Deep River. This road was established before 1750, and may originally have been an Indian trail. It left the Trading Path at McGee's Ordinary near Julian, where the Trading Path crossed Sandy Creek. Crawford's Road then ran due south toward the Peedee River settlements.  

The power dam for the Lower Mill was located just upstream from Island Ford; a flood in 1985 breached that dam and let the water out of the lower mill pond.


FAITH ROCK.    Rising out of Deep River several hundred yards upstream of the site of Island Ford is Franklinville's major geographic landmark, a huge bluestone outcrop known as Faith Rock. It was the setting for Randolph County's most legendary Revolutionary War incident. While taking a wagon of produce to trade for salt at the Peedee River market on May 2, 1782, local resident Andrew Hunter was captured by the notorious Tory guerrilla leader David Fanning.  Facing immediate execution, Hunter made a desperate escape. In Fannings' words, Hunter "sprung upon my riding mare, and went off with my saddle, holsters, pistols, and all my papers... We fired two guns at him; he received two balls through his body but it did not prevent him from sitting the saddle, and make his escape."  Enraged, Fanning plundered Hunter's home, holding his pregnant wife hostage for the return of Bay Doe, "a mare I set great store by, and gave One Hundred and ten guineas for her."  Fanning's guerrilla band was forced to release Mrs. Hunter and ride out to join the British evacuation of Charleston, but Fanning risked a final return to Randolph on September 5, 1782, solely in an attempt to recover his mare. The incident at Faith Rock must have occurred at this time.  Hunter "was riding the Bay Doe, on the high ground South of Deep River, and not far above the... ford, where the village of Franklinville now stands" when he was overtaken by some of Fanning's men. "He first attempted to gain the ford; but found they were heading him in that direction. He then turned his course up the river, but they were there ready to receive him. The only alternative was to surrender, which would be certain and Instant death, or to make a desperate plunge down a precipice, some fifty feet high into the river. He chose the latter... It was such a daring adventure that his pursuers... stopped short, in a kind of amazement, and contented themselves with firing two or three pistols after him. As there was no level ground at the bottom of the descent, he plunged right into the river... sometimes swimming and sometimes... floundering over rocks, until he found a place where he got out on the north side and made his escape." Fanning left the country in frustration on September 22, neither recovering his horse nor gaining revenge. 

COVERED BRIDGE.  The Franklinsville Covered Bridge was built by local carpenter and "mechanic" Thomas Rice in 1844.  It stood until a one-lane concrete bridge was built and dedicated to Andrew Hunter in 1928 (the dedication plaque is now affixed to a rock near the footbridge in the riverside park).  The covered bridge was used as a footbridge until about 1935, when a fire damaged one end and it was demolished.

UPPER DAMThe upper dam was the most vital piece of the village's industrial complex.  A dam at the falls above a horseshoe bend in Deep River created a head of water at least 40 feet above the level of the river below the bend.  That difference in water level represented quite a bit of energy that the original millwrights could tap in 1801 to power the first grist mill, saw mill, wool carding machine and cotton gin.  In 1838 the head race was re-routed to connect to the cotton mill.  The upper photograph, shows the dam being rebuilt in 1901, "King and Hackett, Contractors."  lThe view looks south from a bridge abutment on the north shore; note to the left how close the covered bridge is to the dam.  The photo below is of the completed dam in 1901; the south or apse end of the Methodist Church is visible above the mill pond.

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