Franklin County, North Carolina Genealogy

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Franklin County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Franklin County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the U.S. highlighting North Carolina
Location of North Carolina in the U.S.
Founded April 14, 1778
County Seat Louisburg
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United States  Gotoarrow.png  North Carolina  Gotoarrow.png  Franklin County

County Courthouse

Franklin County was formed in 1779 and, in the same year, the town of Louisburg was surveyed by William Christmas on land which had been purchased from Patewells & Jacobina Milner for that purpose. That deed from the Milners survives today in the first volume of county deeds. The county's first commissioners were William Brickell, William Green, William Hill, John Hunt, and Osborn Jeffreys and these men were charged with many tasks, the earliest of which were to build a courthouse and a jail. The first meeting of the men was the Franklin Court of Pleas and Quarter-Sessions of 1779 and it was held at the home of Benjamin Seawell. It is unfortunate that none of the records from those earliest days of Franklin county survive.

The first county courthouse was a log building erected circa 1781 either on or very near the current county courthouse location on Main Street between Court and Nash Streets. The log courthouse was replaced with a structure of brick and stone in 1849. The 1849 courthouse was completely remodeled in 1936 and again in 1968 when it was also enlarged.

The first jail was built close to the original courthouse and during the same timeframe, but it was destroyed by fire in 1872. It was replaced with a stone building which still stands, though now abandoned, on the south side of Nash Street about one-and-a-half blocks east of Main Street. The new Franklin County Jail & Sheriff's Department Complex was built in 1994 and is located west of downtown Louisburg on T. Kemp Road.


Franklin county was formed in 1779 from the southern half of Bute County in the midst of the American Revolution and was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin who had recently negotiated an alliance and secured loan agreements with France that would eventually help to win America's independence. The abolishment of Bute County came at the urging of area resident and strong political activist, Benjamin Seawell, who introduced a bill to separate from the county which had been named after the Earl of Bute. Seawell had also been among those selected to represent the county at the Halifax Congress of April 1776. Fellow representatives of Bute at that meeting included Green Hill, William Alston, Thomas Sherrod, Thomas Eaton, Benjamin Person, Benjamin Word, and Philemon Hawkins. The act establishing the county authorized that the first court be held at the home of Benjamin Seawell and it was left to the justices to determine where subsequent courts were to be held until a courthouse could be erected - a goal that was finally met in 1781 with the construction of a log courthouse.

Louisburg, the county seat, was also chartered in 1779 and is believed to have been named for King Louis XVI of France who was a strong American ally. There is disagreement among historians as to when the town was first named, with estimates ranging from as early as 1758, though historians generally agree that the name of the town was originally spelled "Lewisburg". Once the charter had been established, 100 acres of land were purchased from Patewells & Jacobina Milner for the platting of the new county seat. The initial survey for the town was performed by William Christmas who was also responsible for the layout of Raleigh, North Carolina. Louisburg remained the only town in the county until after the Revolutionary War.

Situated in the northeastern section of the State, Franklin county is bounded by Nash, Wake, Granville, Vance, and Warren counties. The present land area is 492.02 square miles and the population has grown from roughly 7,500 at the dawn of the 19th century to 47,260 in the year 2000. The soil is fertile and, in some areas, chock-full of granite. Originally a community focused primarily on agriculture and livestock and boasting 3,367 farms covering 267,530 acres in the year 1900, today Franklin County is home to 574 farms encompassing 128,412 total acres. The county is now focused on broadening her economic base through encouragement of real estate development and much attention is now given to enticing large corporations to bring their operations to the county.

Parent County

1778--Franklin County was created 14 April 1778 from Bute County when it was divided to also create Warren County.  Bute County was abolished in 1779.
County seat: Louisburg [1]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Franklin County has had no appreciable loss of records.


Populated Places

Neighboring Counties






Local Histories






Vital Records


Societies and Libraries 

Web Sites


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).