Historical Markers
Colonel John Franklin Historical Marker
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Colonel John Franklin

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
SR 1043, 1.2 miles SE of Athens at cemetery.

Dedication Date:
September 23, 1959

Behind the Marker

Col. John Franklin was the leader of Connecticut land claimants in northeastern Pennsylvania. Forced to relocate from his birthplace of Canaan, Connecticut, by the high cost of farmland, Franklin saw the Susquehanna River Valley as an attractive place to settle. Although William Penn's 1681 charter indicated that the region fell under the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania, Connecticut held an overlapping claim according to its 1662 "sea to sea" charter, also granted by Charles II of England.

In 1753, Connecticut investors organized a Susquehanna Land Company to settle the Wyoming Valley. To avoid any competing claims by the Iroquois, company agent John Henry Lydius secured the signatures of some of the local chiefs authorizing his colony's claim to the land. Not until 1762, however, did the first Connecticut settlers arrive in the region. Shortly after, hostilities broke out between them and the Delaware Indians. A second wave of settlers arriving in 1769 challenged the title of the Pennsylvanians who had settled there in the interim. Franklin was one of many Connecticut Yankees who insisted that, through Lydius, they had acquired the right to assert their claims. After relocated to the Wyoming Valley, he served as a captain in the 24th regiment of Connecticut militia during the markerBattle of Wyoming in July 1778.

One of several officers forced to surrender to British Rangers while their Iroquois allies burned and looted Yankee settlements in the region, Franklin was also among the first to volunteer for the markerSullivan expedition, a retaliatory campaign of 1779 in which more than 2,500 American troops destroyed Iroquois settlements in northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Suffering a severe shoulder wound at the Battle of Chemung, Franklin returned to the Wyoming Valley to lead the Yankee resistance in the second Pennamite war, which dragged on for years after the end of the American Revolution. Weakened by the ongoing hostilities and a rough winter, the Connecticut settlers were forced from the Wyoming Valley in 1784 at the "point of bayonet" by Pennamite forces under the command of Alexander Patterson. According to Franklin, more than 500 men, women and children were "compelled to march on foot eighty miles through a wilderness unsettled country to settlements along the Delaware." Franklin was eventually taken to Philadelphia, where he was imprisoned and detained fourteen months without trial.

After peace was restored to the Wyoming Valley in 1786, Franklin's title was honored by the Pennsylvania Assembly and he was elected to several terms as a member of that body. He died in Athens, Pennsylvania, on March 1, 1831.
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