Franklinville History

 

 

   The village of Franklinville began life as a little settlement situated on Reed’s Branch, a part of the headwaters of the Maurice River and Scotland Run, twenty miles southeast of Woodbury.  It consisted of a hotel at the Stagecoach Stop, a sawmill, three general stores, two churches, and several dwellings surrounded by good agricultural country.  It was originally named “Little Ease” after an injured worker was brought into the hotel from the sawmill and when asked how he could be comforted; He replied “a little ease”.

 

   In the late 1700’s one of the nearest ocean resorts to the first capital of our nation, Philadelphia, was Cape May.  This area was very popular, drawing aristocrats from many of the original colonies.  It was an 85-mile coach ride from Philadelphia on what is known today as Delsea Drive, which stretches from the Delaware River to the sea.  Back then this journey wasn’t generally accomplished in one day.  Along this route from Philadelphia the coach would usually stop in Woodbury, Carpenter’s Landing, Glassboro, Little Ease, Malaga, Millville, Port Elizabeth, Dennis Creek, Goshen, Fishing Creek and Cold Springs before arriving in Cape May.  These stops provided travelers with nourishment, overnight accommodations and a change of horses.

 

  With general stores and churches built within the vicinity of the coach stops these areas became a focal point for those settlers living and farming in the areas.  These clusters of buildings evolved into villages.  Myers Wilson laid out the village of “Little Ease” and the name was eventually changed to Franklinville.  The origin of this name is uncertain; however, many believe Benjamin Franklin’s influence in the area, as a result of his trips to Cape May, may have been instrumental in naming the village.

 

  On January 27, 1820, a 15-mile long, 6 ˝-mile wide collection of small villages encompassing 72,000-acres, previously part of Woolwich and Greenwich Townships in the County of Gloucester, were incorporated into a new municipality – the Township of Franklin.  At that time Glassboro, Clayton, Newfield and Elk were a part of this tract.  The first town meeting was held at George Cake’s Tavern.   The present site of that first meeting is now the lounge of the Franklinville Inn.

 

  With the formation of other townships and communities, the Township of Franklin was reduced to 31,388 acres by 1883.  Until recently a large portion of the township was covered with a forest of pine.  The population of Franklin Township, as given by the ninth decennial census of the United States, compiled in 1870 was 2,188.

 

  To be continued . . . .