|Franklin History Book - Disaster Strikes
<Back MAIN Next>
On January 25, 1938, a fire swept through Franklin's business district and destroyed three buildings and damaged three others. The blaze originated in the grocery store of Harry Whitlock on the south side of Main Street. The store was a total loss. The building east of the Whitlock store, owned by the A. H. Wright estate and the Wadley Masonic Lodge, was also destroyed. On the west side, the drug store of J. Earl Miles was completely gutted, and two buildings between it and the Franklin State Bank were damaged. The first building contained the property of the Baptist Church congregation that had been saved from a previous fire in December which had destroyed their church. The other building was a restaurant and card room operated by Ray Jones. Both buildings were owned by A. F. Ruble of Waverly. The George Shaaf building on the east was also damaged.
The fire broke out at approximately 3:00 a.m. And was discovered by nearby residents. The Jacksonville Fire Dept. Responded to a call made by Mayor Marion Spires, and fought the blaze, assisted by local volunteers, until 6:30 a.m. The wind was high, and the temperature was about eight degrees above zero. Had it not been for the heavy rain which had fallen just the day before, the property loss might have been more extreme.
Probably the greatest disaster that has ever struck Franklin throughout its 150 year history was the tornado of May 7, 1942. Although there were no lives lost, the property damage was far greater than that caused by the tornado that hit the village in 1918, killing Mrs. Charles Hart and her daughter, destroying their home.
It was a Saturday evening, about 6:30, when the funnel cloud roared in from the southwest following a heavy hail storm. Two thirds of the village was left in ruins. Scarcely a home or building east of the west side of the square escaped damage. Twenty-five houses, 11 barns, and 30 garages were demolished or so badly damaged that rebuilding was impossible. Approximately 80 homes suffered slight or severe damage, but were repairable. All of this happened in about four minutes. The people of Franklin were thankful that they were all alive, and no one was seriously injured. The force of the wind had been so great that several cars loaded with coal in the Burlington yards were toppled over like cardboard boxes. All residents who lost their homes were able to find refuge and temporary living quarters until their houses were rebuilt or other arrangements could be made. The American Red Cross was prompt in responding to a call for help and was on hand the following day to set up cots for sleeping, provide hot lunches in the high school gym, and distribute funds for the immediate relief of the disaster victims.