The original town of Franklin, founded in 1816, was located on the north bank of the Missouri River and was the seat of Howard County. It was about two miles southwest of present day New Franklin. The town was named for Benjamin Franklin.
By 1820, ranked second to St. Louis (in Missouri Territory) in population, Franklin had more than 225 buildings. In the fall of 1823, other counties were formed out of Howard's original boundaries and in 1825, the county seat was moved to Fayette. The first newspaper west of St. Louis, "The Missouri Intelligencer," was printed here in 1819 and the seat of the U.S. Land office opened in 1818. The Boonslick Trail brought settlers to this westernmost settlement and in 1821, William Becknell opened up the Santa Fe Trail, a trade route, from Franklin to the southwest.
Before the devastating Missouri river floods of 1826 and 1828, the town's population was estimated from 1,500 to 1,700. The town was relocated to higher ground in 1828 and renamed New Franklin. Franklin was the early boyhood home of western scout, Kit Carson, four governors, two Supreme Court Justices, Missouri's first Senator and artist George Caleb [Bingham].
New Franklin, 1828
New Franklin was laid out by James Alcorn, a Revolutionary War soldier in 1828 as the original town of Franklin washed into the river. Two hundred forty acres were purchased for the sum of $1,500 by the New Franklin Town Company and lots were sold for rebuilding. Many of the houses were moved from Franklin to New Franklin.
In 1893, the arrival of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad to New Franklin brought a measure of growth and economic success for the next ninety years. In 1986, the MKT Railroad was bought by Union Pacific Railroad and service to the town was abandoned.
Franklin (Junction) is located to the immediate southwest of New Franklin city limits. The southwestern limits of New Franklin grew very rapidly in the early 1900s, due to the railroad's switching yards and depot location on this section of tracks. This location was widely referred to as Franklin Junction or Junction City because of the railroad center.
Many businesses were attracted to the railroad junction, including hotels, restaurants, grocers, shops and banks. Many new homes were built in close proximity to the railroad yards. In 1912, the Howard County Court granted Franklin Junction (Junction City) a charter creating the present day village now known as Franklin.