The log Relic Hall is a fine example of Depression Era rustic architecture. Completed in 1937, it also represent a successful early effort to preserve and interpret community history. The building was designed in 1935 by architect Chris Gunderson to evoke the region's pioneer past. Constructing the Relic Hall was a cooperative effort. It was built on land deeded to the State of Idaho by the Pioneer Association using timber provided by the U.S. Forest Service. The Franklin Relic Hall is a landmark in the community and a tribute to Franklin's earliest settlers.

The building was constructed of timber cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC). The CCC, a federal relief program of the 1930's provided work and vocational training for unemployed single men. The CCC built roads, bridges, and buildings and completed forestry projects on public lands. 

Franklin resident Elliot Butterworth was the force behind the preservation of relics in the community. Butterworth emigrated from England at the age of 16 and lived in Franklin from 1869 to 1912 where he operated a general store. During that time he collected and assembled more than a thousand items of memorabilia related to Franklin's pioneer past, which he donated to the town of Franklin. His passion for history led to his founding of the Franklin Pioneer Associated in 1910. 


Location:  South side of Main Street between Highway 91 and 100 East:  Franklin Historic District

Plaque Text:

The original monument is unreadable, but a new stone with plaque has been installed (stone pictured). The original stone read:

In honor of first school house built in Idaho 1860. 184 feet South 32 feet West. Erected August 1927 by Daughters of Utah Pioneers

The new stone plaque reads:

The first school taught in the new colony was in the home of Hannah Comish, who was the teacher. This was the first white school taught in the State of Idaho. Her hoe was located on the east side of the fort where she taught about 20 pupils with three month's term for the first year.

Additional Information:

Late in the fall of 1860, logs were cut and hauled from Deep Creek Canyon to build a school house that was completed in late spring, 1861. The new school building consisted of a single large room with a dirt floor and large fireplace in the east end. The fireplace was made of soft white sandstone and provided the only source of heat for the log structure with its sod roof. The building faced west with the door on the end and a single window on each side with a small window ear the door. The door of the little building was made of split logs and the little 8x10 inch panes of glass for the windows were brought from Salt Lake City. The student benches were made from pine slabs, flat side up, with legs of maple and birch.

This school house also served as a meeting house and amusement hall. Each Saturday, the straw was removed from the dirt floor and replaced with fresh straw so it would be clean for Sunday. Whenever it rained, the children were excused until the storm was over as the roof was not waterproof. When the school opened in the fall of 1861, G. Alvin Davy was the teacher. He had about 70 pupils in attendance. Some of the slates and pencils used in the school came from the slate rock found in the mountains east of Franklin. In the first school there was just one reader for each class and one speller for the entire school, so the students would take turns. Tuition was paid to the teacher with any kind of produce or cloth, molasses or meat. In 1863-64, William Woodward taught school and received $40 a month, collecting his pay from each pupil, which would have been about 40 cents each. 

Location:  Franklin Historic District, next to 128 East Main

The city hall is a vital part of the community. The tiny building erected in 1904 as the Franklin City Hall and Jail soon became, as one citizen stated, "the birthing place for new ideas and laws."

Until the hall was built, meeting were held in the tithing hall. Discussions for the new jail began in October of 1900, but it wasn't until 1904 that bids were taken and the contract was awarded to Worley and Nelson of Logan, Utah. Final cost of the building was $826.

The meeting of August 31, 1905 was one of the more important meetings held in the building. It was during that meeting that the council agreed to build a water system, using four-inch pipe with two inch laterals, at a cost of $7,193.63.

In 1985, renovations were in progress for preservation of both the building and the records of a town being brought to life.

​                                                                                                                      -Information from a Preston Citizen article by Jean Carter, December 1985.

Location:  Franklin Historic District, between Highway 91 and 100 East

In 1872, Lorenzo Hill Hatch built this elegant store house on Main Street across from the city square. It is a rare Idaho example of the Greek Revival style of architecture popular in Utah during the 1870's. It's rectangular proportions, symmetrical doors and windows, and heavy cornice lines with return eaves are characteristic of Greek Revival architecture brought to Utah by Mormons from upstate New York. When it was built, the Hatch house was the largest house in town. Travelers from Utah, including Brigham Young, often stayed here. The brick room on the rear was added around 1905 when the house was remodeled and plumbing installed. The house was occupied by Bishop Hatch's descendants until the 1940's. In 1979, it was acquired by the Idaho State Historical Society. [It has since been remodeled and turned into an Interpretive Center.]

Lorenzo Hill Hatch was Franklin's temporal and spiritual leader from 1863-1875, serving as the town's second Mormon Bishop and first Mayor. H was also the first Mormon legislature in Idaho. Born in Vermont in 1826, Hatch later moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, before settling in Lehi, Utah, in 1851. Like many early prominent men in the church, he married plural wives and fathered twelve sons and twelve daughters. In 1863, at the request of Church President Brigham Young, Hatch settled with his large family in Franklin to serve as Bishop.


Location:  Highway 91, one block north of the Pioneer Historic Byway signs on the south side of Franklin

Sign Text:

Samuel Cowley was born in Franklin, Idaho on July 23, 1899 to parents Matthias F. Cowley and Luella Parkinson. He was the fifth son in a family of nine sons and six daughters. The Cowleys lived here until Sam was six years old when the family relocated to Preston. 

Sam attended George Washington Law School and then spent five years with the FBI. He advanced quickly within the ranks and was soon promoted to inspector. Cowley's reputation brought him to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover who selected him to hunt down the notorious mobster, John Dillinger. Cowley tracked him down and Dillinger was killed by FBI agents as he was exiting a theater in Chicago. Director Hoover then assigned Cowley to bring Public Enemy #1 - "Baby Face Nelson". It took Sam six months to corner Nelson. On November 27, 1934 along a county road in Barrington, Illinois, a shootout ended in the death of Baby Face Nelson. Unfortunately, Sam Cowley and another FBI agent were also killed in the gunfight. Sam Cowley always got his man-even at the cost of his own life. J. Edgar Hoover said many times that Sam Cowley was "the Bravest Man He Ever Knew". 

Additional Info:

A wide search for Giller [Lester Gillis, aka "Baby Face Nelson"] was underway when word was received in the FBI's Chicago office that he and his associates were spotted driving in Wisconsin. When two agents located Gillis, his wife Helen, and his companion John Paul Chase in a car near Barrington, Illinois, a gun battle ensued. The agents crippled the criminals' car, which was abandoned after a short pursuit. Then Inspector Cowley and Special Agent Hollis encountered the criminals and began to exit their car. Chase and Gillis opened fire. Both men were shot. Cowley was armed with a submachine gun and Hollis had a shotgun. Nelson, although repeatedly shot by Cowley and Hollis, walked across the road and shot both agents with his submachine gun. Hollis was nearly cut in half, but Cowley survived long enough to identify Nelson and his companions to Purvis. Nelson later died that evening. His body was found the next day, wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a ditch. Chase was later apprehended, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.

                                                                                                                                                                     -FBI website and Wikipedia





Located:  In front of Franklin Mercantile, Franklin Historic District

Franklin is Idaho's oldest town. Settled in 1860 by Mormon pioneers who traveled to the vicinity of the confluence of Worm Creek and Muddy River by year's end, 61 Latter-day Saints (LDS) families were there. The LDS laid out a fort-style village, and later built log cabins. On April 19 they met to allot the farmable land near the village. Ten-acre lots, located outside the fort, had been surveyed and were randomly awarded. The settlers planted oats, barley, and wheat, and dug irrigation ditches. In early June, Brigham Young visited the village and named it Franklin after Franklin D. Richards, a Mormon apostle. He also renamed Muddy River the Cub River because it flowed into the Bear River. 

In the typical Mormon community pattern, settlers laid out wide streets. Lots were large enough to accommodate a garden, barn, and outbuildings. Space was reserved for a central town square which today is the Franklin City Park. These early pioneers believed they were still in Utah. It was not until 1872 that an official boundary survey established the Idaho-Utah border a mile south of Franklin. 

The settlement was established in response to Brigham Young's dream of a Mormon empire in the West. During this period, scores of families were sent out of Salt Lake City in all directions to establish communities and settle the country. In 1862, President Lincoln sent Captain Patrick Connor and his California Volunteers to the Salt Lake Valley to ensure a U.S. military presence in this region. His assignment was two-fold: to let Brigham Young know that this was United States territory and would remain as such; and to protect the Oregon-California Trail emigrants from Indian attacks.

Location:  Franklin Historic District between Highway 91 and 100 East on Main Street

In 1874, Bishop L.H. Hatch built a mansion that has been preserved as a fine example of pioneer Idaho architecture.

Idaho's only railroad, serving Montana's thriving mining camps, reached here that year-a time of depression between gold rushes, where Franklin was Idaho's largest city. Two years later, rail construction resumed, and freighters moved on. But Hatch's elegant house remains as a reminder of a bygone era.


Location:  Franklin Historic District between Highway 91 and 100 East

The small stone house was built by John and Ann Doney to house their family of ten children. The Doneys, originally from England, journeyed west as part of a handcart train to Utah. Arriving in 1860, they were among the settlers who established Franklin. The Doneys built this modest home, typical of early Franklin and Cache Valley dwellings, using locally quarried stone. Many of Franklin's early buildings were constructed using the same local stone, laid by skilled stone masons, many whom had emigrated from England. Originally located half a mile to the south, the Doney house was moved to this site, which is owned by the Idaho State Historical Society, in 2002. 



Franklin was settled April 14, 1860, by Mormon pioneers. The free local museum exhibits a large collection of tools and relics of pioneer days.

The founding of Franklin was part of a well-organized plan of Mormon expansion. Church authorities sent the colonists under Thomas Smart from Provo, Utah. Men of many trades were included in order to make the community self-sufficient. From 1874-77, Franklin was the busy terminus of the Utah Northern Railroad, where freight for the Montana mines was loaded for the long wagon haul north.

Located at 131 East Main, Franklin Historic District, the Franklin Relic Hall is open Memorial Day through Labor Day


Location:  Franklin Historic District, Main Street between Highway 91 and 100 East

This building is an example of the stone craftsmanship of the Mormon pioneers of Southeastern Idaho. Built in 1868 of local stone cut with a rough, or rusticated finish, the building demonstrates the gradual change in the late 19th century from Greek Revival to Italianate architecture for commercial and institutional buildings of Southeastern Idaho. Italianate influence is shown in the shape of the building's false front, while the Greek Revival style can be seen in the building's simple form, low roof, and transom light above the door.

The building was first the home of the Franklin Cooperative store, established in 1868. The next year, the Franklin Co-operative Mercantile Institution (FCMI) was established. The Mormon co-operative movement was an attempt to maintain good prices and markets for local products as well as insure that profits would be shared more equally among the residents of the community.

Local stores, like the FCMI, received supplies from regional centers that purchased goods from the Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) located in the Salt Lake City. In Franklin, the local store leadership included Lorenzo Hill Hatch, president; John Doney, Sr., vice president; William Woodward, William T. Wright, and Charles Fox, directors.

In 1923, the Idaho Pioneer Association purchased the FCMI building to use as a relic hall or museum, to display artifacts related to the settlement of Franklin. It was used in 1937 when the new Relic Hall was built next door. 

In the 1880's, the FCMI store was discontinued. Franklin resident Elliot Butterworth, a long time Franklin resident, operated Butterworth Hardware in the building until Butterworth organized the Pioneer Association to promote and preserve local history.



Franklin Area


Location:  One block north of traffic light; west side of road at the corner of Parkinson road and Highway 91

Plaque Text:


Franklin, the first Anglo-Saxon settlement in Idaho, was settled in 1860 by a group of Mormon pioneer families from Utah. The fort in which they first lived was erected for protection against Indians, men standing guard outside at night for the safety of their families, livestock, and possessions. The northwest corner of the old fort was situated 50 feet southwest from here. During the summer of 1860 homes were erected outside the fort and within the enclosure a school house was built.

                                                                                                                                             -Ellen Wright Camp, Franklin County, Idaho

Additional Information:

In the early spring of 1860, five companies left Utah and came to Franklin to make new homes. President Brigham Young had advised them to settle on the "Muddy", now known as Cub River. This area was then thought to be a part of Utah, but when it was determined that they were one mile north of the Utah line, the new area became the first settlement in Idaho.

Their first homes were in wagon boxes places on the ground while the running gears were used for hauling logs from the canyons. Cooking that first summer was done over the campfires. The wagon homes were grouped together as protection from the Indians. The houses erected during that first summer were built with round logs. The roofs were made of dirt, as were the floors. An adobe or rock fireplace was in one end of each cabin. All were built along the sides of a rectangle with the fronts all facing the inside.