Jeremiah Franks
  Pat Balkcom 2002

     We have traced the lineage of Zela Naomi Franks back to her great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Franks.  In the 1850 Census (Alabama, Marion Co.), Jeremiah states his age as 59, and in the 1860 Census (Arkansas, Fulton Co.), he is 68.  A Marion County, AL land record states his age as 63 in 1856.  These documents would place his date of birth between 1791 and 1793.  The place of his birth is more elusive.  In both of these censuses, it is stated to be Georgia, as does the 1880 Census (Arkansas, Izard Co.) where his son Oliver states his father's birthplace also as Georgia.  However, other researchers have stated that Jeremiah was born in North Carolina (Rutherford County), and in the 1880 censuses, two of his daughters, Elizabeth and Frances, give North Carolina as the birthplace of their father.  In the 1800 Rutherford County census, there is a Peter and a Henry Franks listed on the same page as John Fisher (Jeremiah's future father-in-law).  Both of these men had males under the age of 10, so either may have been Jeremiah's father.  Rutherford County in North Carolina borders northern Georgia.  I have researched this area to see if the boundaries might have changed and if this could account for the variances in information.  It does not appear that this occurred.  However, it is possible that Jeremiah's family moved back and forth between the two areas.
        Nothing is known about Jeremiah's early life.  He married Mourning Fisher, daughter of John Fisher and Elizabeth Tubbs, when he was in his early 20's.  The Fisher family lived in Rutherford County, NC and then later moved to the Caney Forks River area of Dekalb and White Counties, TN.  This was the same pattern of migration as several of the Franks family. It is not known whether Jeremiah and Mourning were married in North Carolina or Tennessee, however, Frances, who appears to be their first child (born 22 Oct. 1815) states in the 1880 census (Texas, Caldwell Co.) that she was born in Tennessee.  Jeremiah is found in the tax records (1816-1818) and in the public records of White County in 1822, where he was described as a land conveyer. Interestingly, Jeremiah has not been found in the 1820 North Carolina, Tennessee, or Georgia censuses.  However, there are several Franks males listed in the 1820 White County census.
        White County is located in the Cumberland Mountains, midway between Nashville and Knoxville.  The Caney Fork River, where many of the Franks settled, runs along the southwestern border of the county, near the Warren and DeKalb County lines.  The earliest white settlement was by those passing through the Cumberland Gap, and was further spurred by the opening of a road between Knoxville and Nashville in 1785.  According to Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, White County was sparsely populated in 1800 and was nothing more than wilderness and forest.  The beauty of the valleys from the mountaintops lured the hardy pioneers as they crossed through the Gap.  There was only one tribe of Cherokee Indians here and as far as is now known they were friendly and peaceful and the relationship with the white settlers was a cordial one.  Much of the land in White County had been granted by the State of North Carolina to the survivors, or their assignees, of the Revolutionary War.  It may have been these land grants that brought the original Franks to the area.  White County was organized in 1806 having been partitioned from Jackson and Smith Counties.  A "Joseph Franks" is found in the first court records of White County in 1806 and in 1809, the Court states that "Joseph Franks be admitted to keep a public Ferry on the Caney Fork opposite where he the said Franks now lives, he having given bond and security as the law in such cases requires &/c."  This area became known as Franks' Ferry and was the terminus for steamboats traveling north on the Caney Fork.  It is possible that Jeremiah was the son of one of these early White County settlers.  However, the 1810 census has been lost, so it is difficult to make specific projections as to who his father might be.
         Although he owned  land in both White and Warren Counties which bordered each other, he is not found in the 1820 census of either one.  The Warren County Deed books state that Jeremiah sold 24 acres of land to Peter Bain for $200 in March of 1822.  This land was on the Caney Fork River and bounded by William English.  The deed was witnessed by Samuel Gann and Alexander McWhorter.  Again in Oct of 1824, Jeremiah sold land to Peter Bain.  This was 10 acres, also on the Caney Fork, and went for $40.  When Jeremiah actually obtained the land is not known at this time.
        From 1830 census records, it appears that Jeremiah and Mourning had 5 daughters and a son while living in Tennessee.  Of course, there may have been other children who did not survive.   Two of the daughters names are not known (one is believed to have been born between 1816-1820 and one between 1826-1830).  The other three were Frances (b. 22 Oct. 1815), Elizabeth (b. Dec. 1821). and Alva M. (b. c1825)..  Son Oliver was born in January of 1819.  Two more sons, David, b. c1830, and Lemuel, b. c1834 were born in Marion County, Alabama.  So it appears that Jeremiah and his family left Tennessee for Alabama between 1827 and 1830.  This would have been a difficult trip with six young children in a covered wagon.  It probably would have taken 2 - 3 weeks to travel the approximate 250 mile journey.  So, why did they do it?  Approximately 10,000 people lived in White County by 1830, whereas, in Marion County, Alabama there was a population of only 3500.  Alabama didn't become a state until 1817, following a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, and Marion County was established in 1818, so the less crowded conditions and the promise of  affordable land probably drew the Franks southward.  Also, there was an early wagon road, the Natchez Trace, which went in this direction and had inns established along the trail for resting, making travel somewhat easier.  It is also known that several Franks fought in the War of 1812 and went through northern Alabama on their way to the Battle of New Orleans with Andrew Jackson.  It is possible that they liked  the land that they saw and decided to move there years later.  It is not known if Jeremiah was one of the first Franks to migrate to Marion County, or whether he was following others who had gone before him.  By 1830, Jeremiah and Mourning have established themselves in the county and are living next door to Elisha Franks (noting his age, Elisha may have been Jeremiah's brother or cousin). 
        During the next twenty years the Franks clan lived in and bought land in both Marion County, AL and Itawamba County, MS.  These counties border each other and are in the northern part of the states.  Itawamba County land records indicate that Jeremiah bought 160 acres in the southeast quarter of Section 18, Township 8 South, Range 9 East, on  the 15th of September 1836 for $199.38 ($1.25 an acre) and then on the 7th of October 1840, he bought the another 160 acres in the northeast quarter for $19.94 (12 and a half cents an acre).  This land previously belonged to the Chickasaw Indians who were removed by treaties in the early 1830's.  In the 1841 state census (Itawamba County), Jeremiah is listed as head of household with 9 occupants.  He is living next door to Lemuel Franks (assume this to be his brother) and living close by are John and Jacob Franks, and Jeremiah's son Oliver.  Several other Franks (Charles, Jo., L., Bj., Arthur, Jacob, J.L., Ch.) are also found in this census as is John W. Gann, father-in-law of Oliver Franks (Jeremiah's son).
        By 1850, Jeremiah is back in Marion County.  The census listed him as 59 years old, a farmer, born in Georgia and he is living with his wife, Mourning, age 57, and four of their children - Alva M., age 25, born TN; Elizabeth, 23, born TN; David, 20, born AL, a laborer; and Lemuel, 16, born AL.  They are living in District #14, household #194.  There are 13 other Franks families, and 14 Gann families also in the county at this time.  A federal act in 1854 made land available at the reduced rate of twelve and a half cents an acre if the land was not occupied, and was to be used for personal use.  No more than 320 acres could be bought by one family.  Jeremiah took advantage of this and bought 120 acres on July 1, 1856 (east half of the South East quarter of Section 2 and the North West quarter of the South West Quarter of Section 1, in Township 12 South, Range 13 West), and another 80 acres on the 13th of September, 1859 (SE quarter of the NE quarter and the NE quarter of the SE quarter of Section 18, Township 12 South, Range 12 West.  Elijah S. Franks, the son of Elisha, also bought land at this same time, adjoining Jeremiah.  As noted earlier, Elisha may have been a brother of Jeremiah's.
      It is interesting to note that the family of John W. Gann and Mourning P. Franks are living in DeSoto County, MS by the 1850's.  Samuel Emery Rader is also living here with his first wife.  Following her death, Samuel marries Elizabeth Franks, Jeremiah's daughter.  The question arises then as to how Elizabeth met Samuel.  It is very possible that Mourning P. Franks is Jeremiah's sister and therefore, possibly introduced her niece to Samuel.  It is not long before, Lemuel, Jeremiah's son and Elizabeth's brother, moves to DeSoto County and marries Samuel's daughter, Annie (by his first marriage).  Mourning's grandson, Jeremiah Thomas Franks, later marries another daughter of Samuel's - Rebecca (also by his first marriage).  Descendants of Lemuel Franks have a notebook that states the several of the Franks, Gann, and Rader families left DeSoto County about 1860 following an outbreak of malaria.  They first went to Memphis, about 60 miles away, and bought supplies, including whiskey for the malaria, and then headed west for Arkansas.
        The migration continued westward and the families settled in Fulton County.  Jeremiah and Mourning are living with their son, Lemuel and his family in Fulton County, AR at the time of the 1860 census.  Jeremiah is listed as 68, born in Ga., and Mourning as 67, born in NC.  It appears from the land sales in Alabama as late as 1859, that they have just recently relocated.  However, Franks families are found in the neighboring County of Izard as early as 1850.  Relatives must have been prosperous here and encouraged other members to come also.  Unfortunately, we lose track of Jeremiah after 1860.  He is not found in the 1870 census and is presumed to have died during this ten year period.  His place of burial is also not known, although we imagine that it is probably in Fulton or Izard County, AR.  His son, Lemuel, died in his early 40's and is buried in Viola in Fulton County.  It is possible that Jeremiah is there also.  Some Franks families remained in Izard County at least until the 1940's.  Our direct ancestors however, moved to Texas and eventually Oklahoma as we will see in biographies that follow.

Known Children of Jeremiah Franks and Mourning Fisher:






Frances (female)

22 October 1815


Isaac Williams, about 1834

22 March 1895

Caldwell County, Texas

Hall Cemetery

Caldwell Co., TX

Unknown (female)



after 1840


Oliver (male)

January 1819


Cynthia Gann, 23 March 1838

Itawamba County, MS

about 1900



Elizabeth  (female)

Dec. 1821


Samuel Emery Rader, 11 July 1854

Senatobia, DeSoto County, MS

29 April 1903

Union Township, Fulton County, AR

Wesley Chapel Cemetery

Union, Fulton Co., AR

Alva M.  (female)

about 1825





Unknown (female)



David  (male)

about 1830

Marion County, AL

Mary Jane Baser

13 January 1863 (not proven)

Little Rock, AR


Lemuel (male)

about 1834

Marion County, AL

Martha E. Rader (Annie), 18 Oct. 1854

DeSoto County, MS


Probate, Fulton County, AR, 2 Dec. 1878

Viola Cemetery

Viola, Fulton Co., AR



                        [The link bar feature is not available in this web]