Franklin became a city Friday, Dec. 22

Published 9:38 am Friday, December 16, 2011

by Clyde Parker

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local history buff Clyde Parker. The series commemorates the 50th anniversary of Franklin becoming an independent city.

Dec. 16, 1961


Franklin Mayor Dr. Darden W. Jones announced today that Franklin will officially become a city on Friday, Dec. 22.

On that date, Town Attorney J. Edward Moyler Jr. will travel to Suffolk and deliver the official petition for city status to Circuit Court Judge John K. Hutton, who is expected to sign an order declaring Franklin a city. The Council will meet that afternoon and hear City Manager Harold Atkinson read the order of transition.

Franklin schools will continue to operate in conjunction with the county schools until July 1, which is the end of the school year. County Superintendent of Schools B.T. Watkins noted the arrangement has the county’s approval.

The City/County Negotiating Committee is working out details for the changeover, including ownership of school buildings, attendance at Franklin schools by non-resident students and settlement of county debt.

Next on the agenda will be the adoption of the city charter. Attorneys are working on the document.

In January, the proposed charter will be advertised for a public hearing and after approval by the Franklin City Council, the document will be forwarded to the General Assembly for approval.

Judge Hutton is expected to appoint a city commissioner of revenue during the next few months. Franklin Edwards, a resident of Franklin and present Southampton County Commissioner of Revenue, is a possible choice.



Singing carols around the Christmas tree at Franklin Town Park has become a tradition on Christmas Eve. This year’s sponsor is the Franklin Music Club.

Activities will start at 7:30 p.m. Rector R.E. Davis of Emmanuel Episcopal Church will be the speaker. Mrs. James F. Briggs Jr., president of the Franklin Music Club, will sing a solo.

Bob Phillips will lead the singing, and Mrs. A. R. Butler Jr. will play the organ. Program Chairwoman Ruth Petty invites the public.



Joshua Pretlow Darden Jr., 58, a Southampton County native and a Franklin High School graduate, has been named Norfolk’s First Citizen of 1961 by the Cosmopolitan Club.

Darden, a former mayor of Norfolk and president of Colonial Chevrolet Corp. since 1930, is the son of the late Colgate Whitehead Darden, a Franklin farmer and banker.

Pretlow Darden’s brother, former Gov. Colgate Whitehead Darden Jr., also from Southampton County and a graduate of Franklin High School, was a previous winner of Norfolk’s First Citizen Award.

Pretlow Darden was elected to the Norfolk City Council in 1946 after two years in the Navy during World War II. He and two others on the council promised businesslike government, free from political influence. Their efforts did much to revitalize Norfolk.



Last Tuesday, in a special election, William V. Rawlings of Capron was elected state senator representing the 5th Senatorial District. Rawlings finished with 4,461 votes.

His opponent, Suffolk investment counselor Stephen D. Carnes Jr., received 2,670 votes.

Rawlings will serve the two years remaining on the unexpired term of Lt. Gov.-elect Mills E. Godwin Jr.

The 5th Senatorial District includes Southampton, Isle of Wight and Nansemond counties, and the cities of Franklin and Suffolk.



On Monday, in an unusual hearing in the county courthouse, a group of landowners agreed to donate right-of-way land for the proposed road connecting Franklin with Hercules Powder Co.

The landowners spoke their piece and turned the tide in favor of giving the land subject to certain conditions such as fencing and crossings to connect their land across the new road.

The portion of the road from Newsoms to the Hercules plant has been completed. Surveying and construction of the road from Boykins to Newsoms will be next.

When the entire road is completed, it will more directly connect Boykins, Newsoms, Sunbeam, Handsom and Hercules to Franklin. The road will be designated as State Route 671. “Maybe, in the future, the property along this roadway will increase in value,” Beale said.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of Southampton Historical Society. He can be reached at 757-647-8212 or