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  • Stay On For New Frankton
    They stayed on. They were helpless as the hundreds left and then dozens of houses were loosened from their foundations and moved. In their favor were two points, both virtues -- loyalty and determination. Upon these two community fundamentals they set about to make the most of the situation and to produce a new Frankton, a substantial Frankton as it had been before the artificial splurge. From that day on Frankton started upward and today it is, by reason, of the loyalty and determination of her people of the post-boom era and those who have followed them, a community of which her people and her country can be proud.
  • Community of Distinction
    Frankton is, in fact, a community of distinction. Frankton is truly a grassroots community. Like the other communities we have covered in this series, Leisure, Aroma, Rigdon, Curtisville, New Lancaster, Windfall, Hobbs, Omega, Orestes, Point Isabel and Dundee, Frankton is a community of neighborly, Christian people who live by law and support their common interests. We would be overlooking another Frankton virtue if we did not mention that Frankton is also a community of most courteous people. This was refreshingly evident everywhere that we went during our various visits, day and night. Frankton is a community of pride. This is displayed by the care that is taken by its people of the houses and their yards. Frankton is a community of modernity, yet it retains a touch of yesterday, the old school bell of yesterday still sending its message over the housetops, some of which support television aerials of today. Frankton is distinctive in various ways. It is distinctive because it owns its own water works and offers its people the lowest rates in the country. It is distinctive because its ultra-modern school is on the verge of becoming a first class educational institution. It is distinctive by being a community of paved streets, and it is distinctive because of its civic pride.
  • Population Climbing Today
    And we might add that Frankton is distinctive because it is reported by history to have had its inception, so to speak, in a tree. Down through the years after its founder endured the hardships of living in that tree grew a community whose population rose to 2,500 during the artificial era and then fell to half that figure. But, we reiterate, “you can’t keep a good community down,” gradually rose after the big “bust” until the 1940 census showed 824. Today’s Franktonians who are observers of the overall picture put today’s population at around 1,200. New houses which are springing up over the town support their figure.
  • History Of Community
    It was 120 years ago this year that the first ground was turned for the establishment of what is not Frankton, but it was not until 1853 that the site was platted and it was not until 1871 that the village was recognized as a village through official articles of incorporation. In a preceding paragraph we referred to Frankton as a community that was conceived in a tree. This at-a-glance fantastic assertion sounds absurd, but, nevertheless, history gives it the element of truth and permanent plan in the archives of this pleasant little community. Frankton’s inception came in 1829 when, according to a brief history, loaned to us by Mrs. William Miller, Jacob Sigler, a pioneer of the first order, decided to settle a plot of land near what is not the K.P. - IOOF Cemetery. He took over 80 acres and during the time that he was clearing the land Mr. Sigler is officially reported to have lived in a large hollow of a sycamore tree along the banks of Pipe Creek, named for Chief Pipe, an Indian of the era.
  • Infested By Wolves
    It is written that the area was then infested with hungry wolves which howled through the long nights to the founding father’s consternation, but he carried on until he had cleared a sufficient amount of land to lay claim to it. This done, Mr. Sigler rode horseback to Fort Wayne, where he entered the land and took a deed to it. The trip to Fort Wayne, 76 miles from Frankton, took two days. Today, Fort Wayne is less than two hours from Frankton. During his first night on the road he was attacked by wolves, but is said to have scared them away with fire. Upon his return to his 80 acres, which now were in his name, Mr. Sigler continued to till the soil and eke out a living. He had built a log cabin and gradually improved it as others came to the little settlement and themselves entered land through the Fort Wayne land office.
  • Town is Born
    By 1853 a sizable community, as size was measured in rural areas in that day, had been developed and Frankton as a community was born on March 3. Unlike many other communities of today, including Elwood, Frankton has always had but one name, as far as we could determine in our various talks about the community. The official history of Frankton, as found in the libraries, disclose that Frankton was laid out by Francis Sigler, eldest son of Founder Sigler, and Alfred Makepiece, who operated a general store. Frankton then was named in honor of both Founder Sigler and his son, who helped in platting the village. It is assumed that the “Fran” was taken from Francis, but history does not say why the “ton” was added. It is purely possible that the name might have been intended as “Franktown” and the “w” was dropped. Be that as it may, another village was in the making during the same era. Four years before Frankton was laid out, John Chamness, established a village named New Madison two miles ‘’ above Frankton, but today New Madison is not even on the county map.
  • First Post Office
    Frankton’s first post office was established in 1837, almost 20 years before the town was laid out and the first school had also been established one year earlier on the original Jacob Sigler land. Also established before Frankton was really a village was a bank which was operated by Cornelius Quick. Having taken its place among the society of Indiana villages, Frankton passed the years in typical down-to-earth American custom. Nothing unusual marred the tranquility of the corporation until 1893 which Frankton welcomed as it had welcomed other years with ringing church bells, gunshot and church-sponsored watch parties. Frankton little knew on that New Year’s eve that it was ushering in its best and its worst year for that was the year that brought the big gas boom that skyrocketed Frankton overnight and then unmercifully dropped it and left the town with more problems than a town of such size deserves. Six hundred peaceful Franktonians had welcomed that year on the night of December 31. Within a matter of months the population jumped to 2,500 and new houses appeared everywhere as did new businesses. Through the courtesy of Agent A.I. Griffin, we found one of the few remaining relics of these days in the Pennsylvania railroad station (covered more fully in another part of this story).
  • Map Picture Boom
    Hanging on one of the interior doors of the station and completely covered by other maps for protection is a map of Frankton in its boom days, a map which is surrounded with pictures of some of the boom-day factories, the station and the old Grand View hotel, now the Knights of Pythias home. The map is the property of Archer Jackley, one of Frankton’s well known citizens. Here indeed is a souvenir possessed by a comparatively few Franktonians of today. A little larger than the size of this newspaper sheet, the map and pictorial story of Frankton in the gay 90’s was circulated by the Frankton Land and Improvement Company. In the center is a colored map of Frankton and around the map in addition to the pictures, is an announcement of lots for sale in the boom town and a list of the factories with the number of employees of each.
  • 1000 Employees
    More than 1,000 persons, or a little less than today’s estimated population of Frankton, were employed in these plants, according to the map. Here is the list of factories and total employees shown: Weatherall Rolling mill, 300 employes; Brenkman Novelty Glass Company, 250; Lamp Flue Company, 250; Clyde Window Glass Company, plant No. 1, 60; plant No. 2, 60; Frankton Brick works, 30; Hoosier Fence Company, 30; Frankton Lumber Company, 25; Farm Fence Company, 25. Directly above this lineup is the map distributor’s message to the populace of the day. Here it is: “The Frankton Land and Improvement Company’s addition, one square from the depot, two squares from the Grand View Hotel; 600 lots for sale on easy terms; perfect drainage, abundance of stone and gravel, a living stream of water (probably meaning Pipe Creek), good school building, good churches, thousands of acres of undeveloped gas lands, and one of the most healthy stations in the state.”
  • But the Gas Give Out
    A very enticing bit of advertising, but the “thousands of acres of undeveloped gas lands” went dry after the turn of the century and by 1905 they were history and so were the factories that sprung up after discovery of the gas wells. The frenzy that comes with the discovery of gas, oil and gold was over. Hopes for a metropolis faded, hearts sank in spirits and hundreds left Frankton as they had arrived -- overnight. Within a short time more than 100 houses had been moved out of Frankton. Some went to Elwood and some to New Castle and some to closer neighborhoods. It was then that the substantial citizenry of Frankton bit their lips and settled down to remake their community into what it is today, a thoroughly substantial town of distinction.
  • Water Department
    Frankton has one of the most unique and one of the most inexpensive water systems in America. No matter how many water outlets a citizen of Frankton may have, the highest water rate that he can pay is $14 a year and the lowest is $4 a year. It was around 40 years ago that the citizens of Frankton decided to take advantage of natural water wells under the village to begin piping purified water into the village’s homes. As a result today’s Frankton is honeycombed underground with a network of cast iron water pipes from two to eight-inches that run into practically every home. Here are the almost unbelievable rates: One spigot $4 a year; one tap and stool, $7 a year; kitchen tap and bathroom, $9 a year and top price, outside tap, kitchen and bathroom $14.
  • Municipal Power Setup
    About 40 years ago the people of Frankton also decided upon municipal ownership of the distribution facilities of electric power. All power is purchased by the corporation from Indiana and Michigan Electric Company through its Elwood office. Frankton, however, owns all of the poles, wires and other equipment necessary to distribute the purchased power. At present the municipal setup is serving around 450 subscribers. Minimum domestic rate is $1 a month. Bills on an average run between $3.75 and $4.25.
  • Railroad
    One railroad, the Pennsylvania, has been serving Frankton since before the boom days. The railroad station is today one of the community’s outstanding landmarks along with what is left of the old Grand View hotel, now the K. of P. home, from whose porch a sweeping view of the countryside and railroad station is afforded the visitor. A. L. Griffin has been the railroad agent for the last 14 years, having come to Frankton May 1, 1935 from the Logansport division where he had been employed in agent positions since 1912. The old station, built solidly of yellow poplar, is a quiet place these days compared with the boom era, when everyone came to and left Frankton by rail. Every train brought newcomers in those days and all of them were met by a hack, which upon request, hauled them to the Grand View, one short block away. Those were the days when townsfolk in all communities did not consider their day complete unless they met the 5:18 or the 10:46 train to see who arrived or departed.
  • Part of Hotel Burns
    The old Grand View, Agent Griffin recalled as he stood by the station window and looked toward the former hostelry, originally had three floors, but the top one burned out some years ago. He was in the building when it caught fire. It was 58 years ago, in 1891, that the railroad station was built. This was shortly before it became such an active place as the hundreds came to Frankton by rail. During the years that followed the boom, Frankton still continued to have passenger train service, but came 1941, and came also the abolition of all passenger service as it came to so many other communities over the country. Today, Frankton station is purely a freight office and express.
  • Good Freight Service
    But Frankton still has good freight and express service, there being two train and two truck outlets, and in addition, the railroad company maintains pickup and delivery service on less than carload lots to and from the station and Frankton business houses and homes. This service is handled by Virgil House who operates by contract and who, incidentally, is one of Frankton’s day marshals. No tickets are sold at Frankton, but Agent Griffin is equipped to offer travelers whatever information they need on rates and routes and times, but Pennsylvania trains are boarded at Elwood. The station is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with time out for lunch. There are no Saturday hours. At present a great amount of business is handled in the station on coal, livestock is handled, however, outgoing livestock goes to Elwood for loading. The Pennsylvania continues to operate its “local freight” which does switching at Frankton.
  • Industries
    Five industries and an elevator lead the list of business enterprises in today’s Frankton. The industries are the Wann Packing Company, the Laughlin Packing Company, The Fern Canning Company, the Frankton Provision Company, a meat packing industry, and a saw mill operated by Ed Ault. The Wann plant has been operating in Frankton since 1939, when the Wanns, following a fire in their plant near Elwood, took over the Charles Leggett plant in Frankton. Orla Wann originally operated the plant with his son, Russell. Today, Russell’s son, Merl, is also associated in the company which cans between 50,000 and 60,000 cases of tomatoes a season. Roy Laughlin Jr. operates the Laughlin plant, which was started by his father, Roy Sr., who now lives in Orlando, Florida, but keeps close touch with his Frankton interests.
  • Other Canneries
    The Laughlin plant was started in Frankton in 1934. Previously the senior Mr. Laughlin had operated plants in Daleville and Upland. A veteran in the canning business, Mr. Laughlin has been associated with canneries for 28 years. Another member of the family, Mrs. Helen McNamara, a daughter, serves the plant, which cans around 50,000 cases a year, as vice president. Fern’s Packing Company is operated by Mr. and Mrs Carl Fern, who started the cannery 15 years ago. Until recently the cannery did custom packing for firms as far distant as Indianapolis, Tipton and other cities, but today the company cans only on a commercial basis. Average pack runs around 7,000 cases a year. In addition to tomatoes, the cannery also produces canned peaches and applesauce and a special Fern product, a spiced tomato juice. Fern, who formerly was employed at Delco, employs around 20 people during the season.
  • Meat Packing Plant
    The Frankton Provision company is operated by a father and two sons, Walter Hughes, the father serving as president. His sons, Russell and Robert are vice president and treasurer, respectively. The company does both custom and commercial cattle killing and deals in all kinds of cattle meat in halves or quarters. It also deals in all cattle meat products. It employs nine or ten persons. Frankton has been the home of an elevator for many years. Since 1914 the establishment has been known as the Farmers Coal and Grain Company, which this year established a new record in handling soybeans, 140,000 bushels having been handled during this year’s season. The Ault sawmill was taken over by Mr. Ault on October 1, 1948. He now employs two men in the mill and six in the woods. In addition to routine sawmill activities the mill manufactures corn cribs, hog houses, cattle feeders and other equipment for farm usage.
  • Financial Institution
    One of Frankton’s prominent business places is the Frankton Building and Loan associations, a financial institution whose records show a steady growth and steady increase in assets. Known not only in this part of the state but in the rest of the state as well as the “Little Giant on Pipe Creek,” the institution is now more than half a century old. It was organized in 1893 when Frankton was a boom town. Frankton has an unusually large lumber yard for a small community. The Frankton Lumber company, managed by Robert Frank, employs eight persons and has been under the control of its present management since 1925. Mr. Frank is president; Mrs. Alice Moyer of Indianapolis, vice president; William Heeff, also of Indianapolis, secretary, and Miss Pauline Frank is treasurer. The company deals in all kinds of building supplies as well as lumber.
  • Other Businesses
    Other businesses in Frankton and operators are: Walker grocery, A.P. Walker; Hayes filling station, Harold Hayes; Frankton Shoe hospital, Earl Pointer; Smith restaurant, Willard “Speedy” Smith; insurance agency, O.A. Taylor; John Ackerman, grocery; Frankton Package store, drug store merchandise and recently established headquarters for the latest tunes in records, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Saulmon; Webb and Day Barber shop, Frank Webb and Fred Day; L and H food market, James Lennon and Thomas Heath; Brombach tavern, Hobart Brombach; Frankton Standard garage, William F. Spoo (fire chief); Harper Furniture store, George Harper; Harper Funeral Home, also operated by George Harper. Norris Meat Market, Harold Norris; Turtle Inn, a tavern, Morris Hobbs; Cromwell’s Hardware store, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Cromwell; Braddick restaurant, Ezra Braddick; Holland Coal Company, Robert Holland, manager, Dick Holland, proprietor; Stand Oil bulk station, L.H. Wilson, manager; Morgan Electric Company, Thomas Morgan; King Funeral Home, Raymond King, who also operates an insurance business. John Dwiggins’ restaurant and filling station; Ash Pure Oil station, Donald Ashton; Hobbs grocery and filling station, H.G. Hobbs; Thomas Greenhouse, Emil Thomas; Harper’s repair shop, lawn mower sharpening, etc., Leslie Harper; Sprague Auto Body shop, Melvin Sprague and son, George; Whitten’s Auto service, Edward Whitten; Maddy’s Dry Goods and General store, Roy Davis; Leo McClain’s Cigar store; Tailor, Jess L. Lane; Frankton Cleaners, Robert Hughes; Waymire Electric company, Robert Waymire and Inez Beauty Shop, Mrs. Inez Free North of Frankton Ernest Braddick operates a gravel pit.
  • The Churches
    Religion came to the community that is now Frankton almost 20 years before the village itself became a village according to law. Like the religious pioneers of virtually every American community, those who pioneered God’s word in and about what is now Frankton did so in private homes, barns and even under shade trees until there was a sufficient solidification of interest and determination to justify the construction of houses of worship. Crude as the little churches were in those days, they served their purpose until they became a part of Frankton’s history as the years passed and as new edifices were built and rebuilt before today’s church system became a reality. Methodism was the first denomination to be organized in Frankton. The first Methodist church was born in 1836. A little more than a year later the Christian denomination came into being. Both this serve Frankton and a third, Pilgrim Holiness, has been added, this church having been established July 5, 1908.
  • Methodist Church
    It was in the Reuben Kelley home in the summer of 1936 that the first small band of Methodists began to worship. Among the first ministers were Revs. Hezekiah Smith and J.F. Stiles. History credits this church with being the first church organization in all of Pipe Creek township, including Elwood. Only last year First Methodist church of Elwood marked its centennial, which means that it was organized in 1848, twelve years after the Frankton church. It was not until 1876 that the first church building was constructed and by 1880 the membership had grown to 125. Meanwhile in 1869, the first Sunday school was organized and by 1880 the Sunday school enrollment reached 100. J.H. Daugherty served as the first superintend.
  • Summer Movies
    So far Frankton has no movie theater, but the citizenry is given free movie shows during the summer months by virtue of a fund that is maintained by the community’s businessmen. The shows are given, each Friday night at the “triangle,” a plot of land owned by the corporation.
  • The Cemetery
    Frankton is proud, and it has reason to be, of its Knights of Pythias-Odd Fellows cemetery, which is situated at the southern edge of the community. Here is more than just a cemetery. Here is another lesson of what can be done when two organizations get together, pool their resources and produce something worthwhile for the community. It was back around 1920 when the memberships of the Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows, under the sponsorship of Knights of Pythias, got together and decided to sponsor a burial lot for Franktonians. The United Brethren church had recently burned and the ruins stood upon almost an acre of ground on the south side. The two lodges met on common ground and decided to buy the acre and also three additional acres from the John Sharp estate.
  • Beautiful Burial Plot
    So it was that the K of P-Odd Fellows cemetery was established. Today it is one of the most beautiful burial grounds in this part of Indiana. Situated on a highland, the cemetery is financially sound and in the hands of a cemetery board that has demonstrated through the years that it can operate the cemetery on a paying basis.
  • Formerly Had Newspaper
    Until 1933 Frankton had its own weekly newspaper. It was back in 1901 when G.O. Ellison and Elmer Smith established the Frankton Critic. Due to the illness of Mr. Smith in 1920 publication was temporarily suspended and the following year the paper was taken over by Archer Jackley, who operated it for around a year when it was sold to Oscar Austill of Elwood. Meanwhile, the paper had become the Frankton Times and still later the Frankton Press by which name it was known when publication was suspended. Today’s Frankton Press is purely a print shop engaged in printing several publications for firms in Elwood and Anderson. Owned by V.P. Cramer and L.L. Meridith, both of Frankton, the establishment has been operated and managed since September, 1932 by Lester “Pete” Meridith, who is assisted by Mrs. Meridith and James R. Felix. A union shop, the Frankton Press of today prints the Lampmaker, a CIO publication of Guide Lamp; the Delco Sparks; the Veterans Voice, state organ of the American Veterans committee; the Labor Journal, a county CIO publication, and the Theatre Prevue, a publication of the Elwood theaters. The Press also publishes a few trade papers for concerns with a 40 to 50 mile radius.
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