Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin is a city in, and the county seat of, Williamson County, Tennessee, United States.[5] About 21 miles (34 km) south of Nashville, it is one of the principal cities of the Nashville metropolitan area and Middle Tennessee. As of 2018, its estimated population was 80,914, and it is the seventh-largest city in Tennessee.[1]

Franklin, Tennessee
Historic Downtown Franklin
Location within Williamson County and Tennessee
Coordinates: 35°55′45″N 86°51′27″W
CountryUnited States
  MayorKen Moore
  City AdministratorEric Stuckey
  Total41.45 sq mi (107.35 km2)
  Land41.23 sq mi (106.79 km2)
  Water0.22 sq mi (0.56 km2)
643 ft (196 m)
  Density1,899/sq mi (733.4/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
37064, 37065, 37067, 37068, 37069[2]
Area code615
FIPS code47-27740[3]
GNIS ID1284816[4]

The city developed on both sides of the Harpeth River, a tributary of the Cumberland River. In the 19th century, much of the area economy (especially the cultivation of tobacco and hemp) depended on enslaved labor. After Reconstruction, racial violence increased in this area, when whites worked to ensure dominance. As the county seat, Franklin was the site of several lynchings of African-American men in this period. Franklin was a trading and judicial center for Williamson County, which was primarily rural in land use into the late 20th century, with an economy based on traditional commodity crops and purebred livestock.

Since 1980, the northern part of the county has been developed for residential and related businesses, in addition to modern service industries. The population has increased rapidly, with growth stimulated by that of the Nashville metropolitan area. Despite recent growth and development, Franklin is noted for its many historic buildings and neighborhoods, which are protected by city ordinances.[6]

Since 2017, its two historic plantations have begun to provide extended tours including the antebellum history of enslaved workers at those sites. In 2018, as a result of multi-racial leadership, the city installed the first of five historic plaques in the courthouse square as part of the "Fuller Story", the first acknowledgement of the 220-year history of African Americans in the city. In 2019 a memorial statue of a soldier of the United States Colored Troops will be installed to join the Confederate memorial statue in the square.


18th century

The European-American community of Franklin was founded October 26, 1799, by Abram Maury, Jr. (1766–1825). Later a state senator, he is buried with his family in Founders Pointe. Maury named the town after national founding father Benjamin Franklin.[7][8]

Ewen Cameron built a log house, the first by a European-American in new settlement. Cameron was an immigrant, born February 23, 1768, in Bogallan, Ferintosh, Scotland. He immigrated to Virginia in 1785 and traveled into Tennessee along with other migrants after the American Revolutionary War. They displaced the indigenous tribes that had historically occupied this region. Cameron died on February 28, 1846, after living 48 years in the same house. He and his second wife, Mary, were buried in the old City Cemetery. Some of his descendants continue to live in Franklin.

19th century

This area is part of Middle Tennessee, and white planters prospered in the antebellum years, with cultivation of tobacco and hemp as commodity crops, and raising of purebred livestock. Many migrants came from central Kentucky, where they had raised these crops and livestock. Through the antebellum years, white farmers depended on numerous enslaved African Americans as workers.

During the Civil War, Tennessee was occupied by Union troops from 1862. Franklin was the site of a major battle in the Franklin–Nashville Campaign. The Second Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864, resulting in almost 10,000 casualties (killed, wounded, captured, and missing). Forty-four buildings were temporarily converted to use as field hospitals. The Carter, Carnton, and the Lotz[9] plantation houses from this era are still standing and are among the city's numerous examples of historic architecture.

After the war, there was considerable violence in this area as whites attempted to dominate the majority-black population of freedmen and assert white supremacy.[10] In 1866 the Ku Klux Klan, a secret organization of insurgent white Confederate veterans, was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee. Soon it had chapters in many towns, including Franklin, as well as chapters in other Southern states.

After Tennessee authorized African Americans to vote in February 1867, well before the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, most freedmen and formerly free people of color joined the Republican Party. White Democrats struggled to suppress their voting. For instance, on July 6, 1867, a political rally of Union League black Republicans in Franklin was disrupted by Conservatives, who were mostly white but included some blacks. Later that evening, what became known as the "Franklin Riot" broke out. Black Union League men were ambushed by whites at the town square and returned fire. An estimated 25 to 39 men were wounded, most of them black. One white man was killed outright, and at least three black people died of wounds soon after the confrontation.[11][12][10]

On August 15, 1868, in Franklin, Samuel Bierfield became the first Jewish man to be lynched in the United States. He was fatally shot by a large group of masked men believed to be KKK members. They attacked him for treating blacks equally to whites in his store. Bowman, a black man who worked for Bierfield and was with him at his store, was fatally wounded in the attack and soon died.[13]

After the Reconstruction era, white violence continued against African Americans, rising toward the turn of the century in what has been called the nadir of race relations. Five African Americans were lynched in Williamson County from 1877 to 1950, most during the decades around the turn of the century, a time of high social tensions and legal racial oppression in the South.[14] Some of these murders took place in Franklin, when men were taken from the courthouse or county jail before trial.

For example, on August 10, 1888, Amos Miller, a 23-year-old African American, was lynched before his trial. He was forcibly taken from the courtroom by a white mob and hanged from the railings of the balcony of the Williamson County Courthouse.[15] On April 30, 1891, Jim Taylor, another African-American man, was lynched on Murfreesboro Road in Franklin.

20th century to present

Population growth slowed noticeably from 1910 to 1940 (see table in Demographic section), as many African Americans left the area in the Great Migration to northern industrial cities for jobs and to escape Jim Crow conditions.

Since the late 20th century, however, Franklin has rapidly developed as a residential and business suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, which has been a catalyst of regional economic growth. Franklin's population has increased more than fivefold since 1980, when its population was 12,407. In 2010, the city had a population of 62,487.[16] As of 2017 Census estimates, it is the state's seventh-largest city. In 2017, the City of Franklin was ranked the 8th fastest-growing city in the nation by the U.S. Census Bureau, increasing 4.9 percent between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017.[17]

Many of its residents commute to businesses in Nashville, which is 20 miles away. The regional economy has also expanded, with considerable growth in businesses and jobs in Franklin and Williamson County.

The city's enhancement and preservation of its historic assets has helped attract new residents and tourists. This work in the historic preservation movement was catalyzed by passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. City residents have worked to identify and preserve its most significant historic assets. Five historic districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are many individual buildings.

In the early 21st century, leaders of historic preservation and city churches have worked to recognize the lives and contributions of African Americans to Franklin and the area. Since the 2015 Charleston church shooting in South Carolina and the 2017 Charlottesville car attack at a protest in Virginia, four local leaders developed a proposal for the "Fuller Story" as a project of Franklin public history. This is a series of historical plaques to be placed at the courthouse square to enlarge the history represented there. For instance, the square is known by many as the site of a former slave market in the antebellum years, when slavery was central to Middle Tennessee society, but there has been no official acknowledgement of this past.

A Confederate memorial was installed in the early 20th century by conservative whites, who have largely controlled the local memorialization of the American Civil War. As part of the "Fuller Story," a statue of a soldier of the United States Colored Troops, to mark the contributions of African Americans in ending the war, reuniting the Union, and gaining their emancipation and franchise, is to be erected in 2019 in front of the old courthouse. This project was approved by the mayor and city council. In 2018 the first of the historic plaques was installed; these will mark the history of slavery, the Reconstruction era and Jim Crow, and civil rights.[18]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.4 square miles (107.3 km2), of which 41.2 square miles (106.8 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km2), or 0.52%, are covered by water.[16]


Historical population
Est. 201880,914[1]29.5%

Since the late 20th century, the city has grown rapidly in population, attracting many businesses. As of the census[3] of 2010, 62,487 people (Williamson County's population was 193,595), 16,128 households, and 11,225 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,393.3 people per square mile (538.0/km2). The 17,296 housing units averaged 575.9 per square mile (222.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.53% White, 10.35% African American, 4.84% Latino, 1.61% Asian, 0.24% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.17% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races.

Of the 16,128 households, 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.4% were not families; 25.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.09. In the city, the population was distributed as 27.9% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 38.1% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 7.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $75,871, and for a family was $91,931. Males had a median income of $66,622 versus $43,193 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $36,445. About 5.0% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over. Less than 5.0% of the eligible workforce was unemployed.[20]


Franklin has benefited from its proximity to Nashville, whose growth has been a catalyst for this county seat. The city is home to major health-care related businesses such as HealthSpring, Clarcor, Community Health Systems, Healthways, Home Instead Senior Care, MedSolutions Inc, and Renal Advantage Inc. In addition,, the Provident Music Group, World Christian Broadcasting, and gas utility Atmos Energy's Kentucky/Mid-States division's North American headquarters are in Franklin. Automakers Nissan[21] and Mitsubishi Motors[22] also have their North American corporate headquarters in Franklin.

Planned development includes the construction in Dover Center of the North American headquarters of the Chinese manufacturer Triangle Tyre Company.[23]

Cool Springs is a business district that has developed within the City of Franklin since the early 1990s. As of 2009, it was home to several Fortune 500 headquarters, many in the healthcare industry. [24] In 2016, CKE Restaurants announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters to Cool Springs.[25]

Top employers

According to the City's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[26] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Community Health Systems 3,255
2 Nissan North America 1,850
3 Williamson Medical Center 1,609
4 Optum 1,600
5 Mars Petcare US 1,000
6 Ford Motor Credit 860
7 Verizon Wireless 763
8 Lee Company 646
9 Vanderbilt University Medical Center 580
10 Evicore Healthcare 519


The city is run by a mayor, elected at-large in the city, and a board of eight aldermen. Four of the latter are elected from single-member districts of roughly equal population, and four are elected at-large. This type of voting structure results in a board that is dominated by the majority of voters, as half the aldermen and the mayor must be elected by majority voting. All electoral offices are for four-year terms, with the ward alderman elected in one cycle, and the mayor and at-large aldermen elected two years later. The city's policies and procedures are decided by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Resolutions, municipal ordinances, and the municipal code are carried out by the city's various departments. These are: Administration, Building and Neighborhood Services, Engineering, Finance, Fire, Human Resources, Information Technology, Law, Planning and Sustainability, Parks, Police, Sanitation and Environmental Services, Streets, and Water Management. These 14 departments are overseen by the City Administrator, a professional manager hired by the Board of Aldermen.[27]


Public schools

The city is served by the Williamson County School District and the Franklin Special School District.[28]

Private schools

Local private schools include Battle Ground Academy, Benton Hall School, the Classical Academy of Franklin, Franklin Christian Academy, Grace Christian Academy, Heritage Covenant School, Montessori School of Franklin, New Hope Academy, St. Matthews Catholic School, and Willow Hall Academy.[29]

Higher education

In addition, such major institutions as Vanderbilt University and Fisk University, a historically black university, are located in nearby Nashville. They each include a full range of professional and graduate programs in addition to undergraduate colleges.


Pinkerton Park is a 34-acre (14 ha) municipal park in Franklin. Fort Granger is north of the park, and may be reached by a trail.[31]


Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival

Pilgrimage is a music festival put together by Kevin Griffin, who lives and works as a musician in Franklin. Premiering in 2015, it draws nationally prominent acts from a variety of genres. Pilgrimage is held in late September and takes place at The Park at Harlinsdale. In addition to musical acts, it features children's activities, food, and a marketplace showcasing local crafts.[32]

Main Street Festival

Franklin's Main Street Festival involves artisans, four stages, two carnivals, and two food courts installed in the historic Franklin Square and Downtown District. Arts and crafts booths run from First to Fifth Avenue.[33]


Pumpkinfest is an annual fundraiser for the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, held on the Saturday before Halloween. The holiday theme is carried through activities including music, children's amusements, local artisans, and food.[34]

Dickens of a Christmas

Dickens of a Christmas is celebrated every second week in December, attracting approximately 50,000 visitors yearly. It takes place in Historic Downtown Franklin. Costumed volunteers masquerade as figures from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Music and dancing are a big part of the festival, and local school and church musical groups often perform. Victorian cuisine is served to visitors, and an arts and crafts bazaar features prominently in Public Square.[35]

Notable people

  • ABC's television show Nashville (2012) filmed many concert show segments at the Franklin Theatre.[46]
  • Performer Justin Bieber filmed the video for his song "Mistletoe" in Downtown Franklin.[47]

Sister cities

Franklin is an active participant in the Sister Cities program. Sister Cities of Franklin & Williamson County[48] was founded as an outgrowth of Leadership Franklin in March 2002. The City of Franklin has relationships with the following municipalities:

See also


  1. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (PEPANNRES): Tennessee Incorporated Places". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  2. "USPS – ZIP Code Lookup". United States Postal Service. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  3. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  6. How Franklin has preserved history for 50 years (USA Today)
  7. Miller, Larry L. (2001). Tennessee place-names. Indiana University Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-253-33984-3.
  8. Simpson, John A. (2003). Edith D. Pope and Her Nashville Friends: Guards of the Lost Cause in the Confederate Veteran. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. p. 2. ISBN 9781572332119. OCLC 428118511.
  9. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  10. "A Riot in Tennessee", New York Times, 8 July 1867; accessed 18 May 2018
  11. "Riot at Franklin, Tennessee", Memphis Daily Appeal, 9 July 1867; accessed 18 May 2018
  12. "Conservative Conciliation/The Ballot to be Controlled by the Bullet", Nashville Daily Press and Times, July 1867; accessed 18 May 2018
  13. "Midnight in Tennessee", Paul Berger,, December 12, 2014
  14. Lynching in America/Summary by County (3rd edition), p. 9, Equal Justice Initiative, 2017, Montgomery, Alabama
  15. Berger, Paul (December 20, 2014). "Midnight in Tennessee – The Untold Story of the First Jewish Lynching in America". Haaretz. Retrieved May 15, 2018. In 1888, Amos Miller, a black man accused of raping a white woman, was dragged from court in Franklin and hung from the courthouse railings.
  16. "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001), Franklin city, Tennessee". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  17. "United States Census Bureau". United States Census Bureau-Quick Facts. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  18. West, Emily R. (17 January 2019). "National tragedies inspired group to tell history of slavery, civil rights in Franklin". The Tennessean. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  19. "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  20. Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder – Results". Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  21. Nissan to Move U.S. Headquarters to Tennessee (NY Times)
  22. Mitsubishi North America to move headquarters to Nashville area (The Tennessean)
  23. "Triangle Tyre Will Open North American Headquarters in Tennessee". Modern Tire Dealer. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  24. "CNN Fortune 500". CNN. CNN. 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  25. Ward, Getahn (5 March 2016). "Hardee's parent moving HQ to Nashville area". The Tennessean. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  26. "City of Franklin, TN : Government". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  27. "What's The Franklin Special School District Anyway?". Tate Real Estate. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  28. "Williamson County Private Schools – Williamson, Inc". Williamson, Inc. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  29. "Columbia State Breaks Ground on Williamson Campus". Columbia State. Columbia State Community College. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  30. Anonymous. "Pinkerton Park". City of Franklin, TN. City of Franklin. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  31. Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival
  32. Main Street Festival 2014, | Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, TN; Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  33. Pumpkinfest | Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County TN Archived 2010-12-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  34. Dickens of a Christmas | Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County TN Retrieved on 2014-11-2.
  37. Halberg, Morgan (August 23, 2017). "See Inside Miley Cyrus' New 33-Acre Tennessee Farm". The New York Observer. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  40. Thanki, Juli (November 6, 2017). "'Everlasting Love' singer Robert Knight dead at 72". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  41. Buie, Jordan (December 8, 2016). "Andrew Puzder: 5 things about Trump's labor secretary pick". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  42. Lind, J.R. (June 15, 2011). "Home builder sues Cal Turner for $5M: Developer Seeks Payment on Palatial Home". The Nashville Post. Nashville, Tennessee. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  43. Montgomery, James (September 30, 2009). "PARAMORE'S HAYLEY WILLIAMS GIVES US A TOUR OF HER CRIB". MTV. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  44. Ammenheuser, David (November 2, 2016). "Cubs World Series hero Ben Zobrist is Franklin resident". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  45. "ABC's 'Nashville' takes over Franklin Theatre". Franklin Home Page. 2014-07-23. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  46. "Justin Bieber shoots video in downtown Franklin". Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  47. Sister Cities of Franklin & Williamson County
  48. "Sister Cities of Franklin". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
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