Frankford’s rich history is right at home

frankford fred stevens albert franklin barbara franklin horse racing

Fred Stevens, left, historian for Salem United Methodist Church in Selbyville, and town of Frankford historian Albert Franklin check out the area’s horse racing history on display in the Franklin home.

FRANKFORD — Once upon a time many moons ago back in the 20th century Frankford was hopping.

The town bustled with the poultry industry, feed mill operations, commerce, banking and the railroad.

“This used to be a booming town,” said longtime resident Barbara Franklin. “When we were younger we had restaurants, hotels and we had grocery stores. You could get a loaf of bread here. Now you’ve got to go to Selbyville or Dagsboro.”

frankford more wall stuff

While the town may not have the vibrant pulse it once did, town history is very much alive.

In the Franklin home on Green Street is a mini-museum. It’s known as the Frankford Room. It used to be a bedroom.

“I moved the bed right up in the attic,” said Ms. Franklin.

Her husband, lifelong Frankford resident Albert Franklin, has spent the last 25 years or so collecting, bartering, buying and negotiating for anything and everything Frankford.

“I bought a lot at sales, yard sales. And a friend of mine from Selbyville, Mike West, we trade stuff. If he gets Frankford stuff, he gets it to me. I do that with Selbyville stuff,” said Mr. Franklin. “I imagine I have the most stuff of Frankford.”

Mr. Franklin, a 79-year-old Seaford DuPont retiree, was bitten by the collector’s bug when his father, longtime barber Charles Franklin, got out of the business after 70 years of haircuts and shaves. His father started barbering at age 16.

“My father had a couple of things. When he quit barbering they gave them to me. I just started collecting. One thing led to another,” he said.

The vast memorabilia inventory features hats, license plates, calendars, ledgers, feed scoops from Burton G. Cannon, fire and police department memorabilia, a document from Gov. Townsend, a stock certificate from Diamond Tray & Basket Company, bank bags from the First National Bank of Frankford, Sussex Trust and Wilmington Trust, a report card, sales slips from various stores, Locust Dairy milk bottles, badges, knives, pennants and cups.

The list goes on and on.

frankford clipping and more

Walls are filled with framed photos and newspaper clippings. Some highlight Frankford’s championship sports teams as well as local harness racing in southern Delaware.

Some treasures have deep sentimental value.

Family photos include Mr. Franklin’s grandfather, Joseph Franklin, Frankford’s first town cop.

There is a collage featuring Mrs. Franklin’s class ring and her other notable collectibles from Clayton School. Ms. Franklin graduated in 1954; Ms. Franklin in 1956.

“We both went 12 years there,” said Ms. Franklin. “They didn’t have kindergarten.”

Memorabilia from his father’s barber shop includes the price for services: 20 cents for a haircut; 10 cents for a shave.

“And he put on there, ‘both for a quarter,’” said Mr. Franklin.

His collection includes a checker board stand built by his father.

Another keepsake has a missing link. It’s a Civil War discharge, dated 1880, for Thomas L. Wilgus. Frankford, Delaware, Company F, 4th Delaware Infantry Volunteers.

“We can’t find out who it is,” Ms. Franklin said.

Artifacts showcase Frankford’s worldwide place in poultry processing.

“Allied Poultry Processors; the world’s largest poultry processors,” said Mr. Franklin. “And Eagle (Poultry) was the largest too.”

There’s a sales slip from H.M. Ruark Garage in 1922.

“He worked on a car for two and a half hours. The bill, $1.50, paid by Boyd Hancock. Sixty cents an hour,” said Mr. Franklin.

A school tax bill receipt from 1896: C. Emerson Lynch, $3.36, PAID.

frankford sweatshirt its where my story began

Barbara Franklin and Albert Franklin’s residence in Frankford is home to a vast collection of Frankford memorabilia and history.

Mr. Franklin isn’t afraid to dig deep into his pockets for town history. He shelled out $120 at a yard sale for a William R. Taylor yardstick. Mr. Taylor was a local blacksmith.

“I knew there was only two of them,” said Mr. Franklin. “I don’t know who has the other one.”

There’s a framed copy of the Pledge of Allegiance, minus the words “Under God.” That dates it prior to Flag Day, June 14, when a bill adding “Under God” was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower.

A recent addition adds another piece to the puzzle of the origin of town’s name, which remains somewhat an undocumented mystery.

An artifact believed to be many decades old penned by a Lizzie Robinson states that Frankford was named “after a family of Franks down at the crossing just above the bridge. There was a ford there. It was called Franks Ford.”

As the story goes, a resident said the name “Frankford” was given by a stranger who stopped there and “was very inquisitive” and asked many questions. “So frankly, this town ought to be named Frankford,” Ms. Robinson’s letter reads.

Mr. Franklin welcomes “tours” and he has taken his exhibit on the road for presentations at the Marvel Museum in Georgetown and in Bethany.

Words on a blue sweatshirt tell his story: Frankford, Delaware … It’s Where My Story Began.”

NOTE: To set up a “tour,” Mr. Franklin can be reached at 732-6702.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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