State of Franklin
In August 1784 delegates of three western North Carolina counties, Washington, Sullivan, and Greene (all now in Tennessee), declared their Independence from North Carolina because of perceived neglect, and misuse by North Carolina’s legislature. By May 1785 they had petitioned to be admitted to the United States as the new State of Franklin. The Franklin statehood request was denied.
In March 1786 the Franklin legislature created four new counties: Wayne (old), Spencer, Caswell, and Sevier (all in present-day Tennessee). In a later session Blount County was also created by Franklin before its statehood effort collapsed in 1789. Until 1792 the lands of Alleghany, Ashe,and Watauga counties, now in North Carolina, were part of Washington County, and were also considered part of the abortive, short-lived State of Franklin.
However, in 1789 North Carolina ratified the Constitution, was admitted the union, and ceded her westernmost counties to the United States. The United States used them to create the Southwest Territory. The five new counties erected by the Franklin government were not recognized by North Carolina, the Southwest Territory, or by Tennessee. Three of the five counties were renamed at the time they were reconstituted. No mention was made of their Franklin predecessor county governments. In 1786 North Carolina created Hawkins County as a parallel to Franklin's Spencer County, so Spencer is now known as Hawkins County. In 1792 North Carolina annexed the land of Alleghany, Ashe, and Watauga counties back from the Southwest Territory, and the Southwest Territory created Jefferson County out of land that was once part of Franklin's Caswell County. The Southwest Territory reconstituted Sevier County in 1794, and Blount County in 1795, but Blount's borders were significantly redrawn. And in 1796 the new State of Tennessee erected the new Carter County out of land once part of Wayne (old) County.
In 1796 the land of all these counties (except Alleghany/Ashe/Watauga) became part of the new State of Tennessee.
Since then, in 1797 Cocke County was created from the southeast part of Jefferson (former Greene/Caswell) County. Johnson County was formed out of northeast Carter (former Wayne (old)) County land in 1836. In 1870 the southern part of Hamblen County was formed from Jefferson (former Caswell) land and the rest from parts of Hawkins (former Spencer), and Grainger County. Unicoi County was created from the southwest part of Washington County in 1875.
- Foster, Dave. Franklin: The Stillborn State and the Sevier/Tipton Political Feud. Johnson City, Tenn.: Overmountain Press, 2003. [FHL Book 976.8 H2fd].
Records of the State of Franklin are now found at [repository?].
Professional genealogist Arlene Eakle's Tennessee Genealogy Blog discusses many sources and strategies for tracing early frontiersmen in what is now Tennessee:
- 17 Mar 1775: Treaty of Sycamore Shoals-a Pivotal Event in Our Genealogy Past
- Close Personal Ties ...up close and personal [select bibliography of Tennessee frontier histories]
- Diaries and Journals and Letters... [and what they tell us about pioneer Tennessee settlers]
- Ma'am, You Need a Goat... [discusses Eakle's personal Master List of Tennessee Record Sources, 1750-1815]
- Military Men on the Tennessee Frontier
- Reconstructing the 1790 Census of Tennessee
- Tennessee Had Two Military Districts [1780s]
- Territory Southwest of the River Ohio [excellent bibliography of pre-1790 Tennessee sources]
- We stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before: A Census Substitute, 1787-1791
- “State of Franklin” in North Carolina History Project at http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/99/entry (accessed 27 June 2010).
- “State of Franklin” in The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture at http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=F061 (accessed 27 June 2010).
- Iamvered (Wikipedia User), The Eight Counties of the State of Franklin, circa 1786 at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:8FranklinCounties.png (accessed 27 June 2010).
- Robert M. McBride, "Lost Counties of Tennessee," East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications 38 (1966): 4 (footnote 3)
- Arthur L. Fletcher, Ashe County: A History (Jefferson, N.C.: Ashe County Research Assoc., 1963), 33-34.
- McBride, 6.
- Alice Eichholz, ed. Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 637-39.