The first Loyalist came in 1784 and a large number settled in Kitley Township in the years 1784 to 1830. They laboured hard to build up this community.
Kitley was surveyed in 1797 and thrown open to settlers. Among the first to arrive was Loyalist Major William Read who had originally secured Crown land in New Brunswick after the American Revolutionary War, then moved westward to Kitley. He was granted 400 acres in Kitley including 200 acres on the 8th concession near the present site of Frankville. This was his home and he became one of the leaders of the new community.
Though he was past 60, Major Read organized a band of 60 volunteers for service in the War of 1812 and trained them himself. Three of his sons fought in the war. Major Read died in 1828 aged 79. His remains lie in an abandoned cemetery on his old homestead. At the time of his death, Kitley numbered 575 souls.
Several Livingston families also settled here and the 1800 census of Kitley lists David, Daniel, Duncan and Abraham Livingston. Duncan Livingston built a grist mill on his homestead a mile east of Frankville.
Another pioneer was Levi Soper, owner of the land on which now stands the village of Frankville. Ben Wilson bought the Soper land in 1826 and sold it 11 years later to John Brennan.
As a result of these changes in ownership the community bore several different names in its early history. It was known as Wilson’s Corners, Brennan’s Corners Brandenburg and Brennanville. In 1852 when a post office was established the name Frankville was adopted.
Historians are at a loss to explain why the post office chose “Frankville”. No pioneer by the name “Frank” appears in the early records.
Levi Soper was a character from Vermont who was reputed to have reached Kitley in 1800 with only a cow as his possession. He teamed the cow with a neighbour’s horse to clear both his farm and that of his neighbour. He settled on Lot 21 of the 9th Concession of Kitley. The southern section of Frankville covers part of the north half of the Soper farm. In 1826 he sold his farm to Ben Wilson, who already held Lot 21 in the 8th Concession. Wilson thus owned all the land on which the village was built. After selling out to Wilson, Soper moved west to the Read of Leeds and Lansdowne where be founded the community of Soperton.
Levi’s cousin. Timothy, settled east of Frankville about 1805 and became an agent for the settlers, bringing in supplies and taking their grain to grist mills for milling.
The first grist mill near Frankville was established about 1802 by Duncan Livingston on a creek a mile east of Frankville. Here grain for miles around was ground into flour. Duncan operated the mill for about 15 ears before selling out to Timothy Soper.
Later, the grist mill was converted to a sawmill and much of the lumber used in construction in this area during the 19th Century was produced here. A second sawmill stood on the West side of Highway 29 the site in the 1980’s was occupied by the construction buildings of the Brundige Construction Company.
The original Livingstone mill was located on a small tributary of Irish Lake, a mile east of Frankville and the pioneer who built it accomplished a marvel of engineering.
“Water was dammed by a long high stone wall” says author Glenn Lockwood in his book “Kitley 1795-1975”, “forming a miniature mill pond at least 10 feet deep. The dam wall was 12 feet high, solidly constructed of stone, 100 feet long. It was located between two high banks of the creek bed.”
Unlike other mills of the period, Livingstone’s plant did not operate by either plume of water or waterfall, but instead the creek water was allowed to flow gently down an incline of stone to rotate a mill wheel lying horizontal to the creek bed. The water rotated the wheel to which were attached spindles and gears which operated the saws in the mill. The main saw was vertical, later replaced by a more modern horizontal blade.
The mill ran until around 1880. The plant then fell into disuse and around 1940 a stone crusher was brought to the site to crush the stone retrieved from the old dam and walls. Now only a few crumbling remains of Livingston Dam can be seen at the site.
Many of the new settlers were discharged soldiers from the War of 1812. Each private received a grant of 100 acres, each officer received 200 acres. These grants were increased in 1816 to 200 acres for sergeants, 1000 acres for a major and 1,200 acres for a Lieutenant Colonel.
The government provided tools and necessities for these new settlers. Where the Loyalists often received no more than an axe and a hoe, the ex-soldiers were given several different types of axes, spades, shovels, handsaws, crosscut saws and building tools.
In the 1820’s, Irish, English and Scottish settlers flooded into Kitley, helped by free passage over the Atlantic guaranteed by the government and an offer of 100 acres of free land per family.
In 1846, Frankville boasted 50 residents, a store, two taverns, a saddler and a blacksmith. Three years later 100 persons lived there and another 150 resided at Chamberlain’s Corners (Toledo) two miles to the north.
The village continued to grow and in 1858, a business directory showed three shoemakers, two innkeepers, two traders, a tanner, a grocer, a wagon maker, the clerk of the division court and a postmaster William Smith.
Construction of the Victoria Macadamized Road in the 1850’s spurred development. The road, once called the Perth Road, later became Highway 29.
Hiram McCrae, born in 1807 in Montague township, son of a United Empire Loyalist from Albany, NY settled in Frankville in 1837 and 21 years later became reeve of Kitley, serving in that post for 32 years. He was named a magistrate in 1853 and later became clerk of the court of the seventh division of Leeds and Grenville.
In 1861 Frankville had four hotels running plus a private tavern. There were two stores, a tannery, paint shop, harness shop, blacksmith and a variety store.
Ten years later, the population stood at 200, catered to by three hotels, four blacksmiths, three harness makers, three shoemakers, two tanners, two carriage makers, two milliners, three stores and a host of other businesses.
Ben Stewart, one of the carriage makers forged ahead with the development of what he called the “Sarven Wheel” for buggies. It was a sturdy but stylish wheel intended for fancy carriages and proved to be in great demand. His factory, long since gone, flourished on the east side of Highway 29.
A brickyard was established in 1870 by blacksmith William Dowsley but he ran out of a good supply of clay by 1879 and returned to his blacksmith’s forge.
At that time about 300 persons lived in the village. But the population fell off during the 1890’s and by 1920 was down around 200.
The brick rectory that serves the church was once a hotel. Frankville once boasted five hotels and was a thriving community with three general stores.
The Frankville Cheese Factory was established by Tom Livingston about 1860. Joseph Jones and Abraham Robb took over the factory in the 1880’s and branched out to produce butter and whey. Business dropped off in the 1920’s and the factory was closed. In the 1980’s the building still stood and had been turned into an apartment block, still facing Hwy 29.
Kitley’s first chapel was Providence Church, which is preserved at Upper Canada Village as an example of the Houses of Worship available to the early pioneers of Leeds and Grenville. Providence Church was opened on February 1, 1834 and served the Toledo-Jasper area for over 100 years before being closed. It is unique in that the pews appear as they did 150 years ago, plain wooden benches without backs. A simple lectern without frills served the rector. Providence was built by the Methodists of early Kitley.
St. Thomas Anglican Church
Built in 1858, the venerable St, Thomas’ Anglican church stood two years empty because no resident clergyman was available to conduct services in the building.
The brick rectory that serves the church was once a hotel. Frankville once boasted five hotels and was a thriving community with three general stores.
Rev. Thomas Bedford-Jones, a young Irish clergyman who arrived in Canada in 1862, in his memoirs told of the unique situation of the church. The church had been built by Frankville Anglicans who “begged” the money all over the countryside to erect the house of worship by public subscription. He found the church still in debt to the tune of $1000.
Bedford-Jones had been appointed as a missionary to the township of Kitley and became the first resident pastor of St Thomas’
He wrote: “The church was opened by me on Advent Sunday, 1862. In 1863 and 1864 in the springtime when the state of the roads made it difficult for the congregation to turn out I had to go on begging expeditions to Kingston and Toronto on behalf of this dreadful debt, which at last was reduced to about $225. Then an appeal was made to parishioners who were chiefly farmers and for the most part with mortgages on their land. To make an earnest effort to wipe off the debt, I induced nine leading men to join me in subscribing $10. each. The balance I proposed to make up by the amount of butter deliberately given to me for one month all over the parish, with its three congregations. The amount calculated at three pounds per family per week from each family, together with our $100. was estimated to pay off all the legitimate claims. The idea took hold of the people and the money was all brought in before the first day of the New Year 1865 and the debt was paid.”
The congregation of St. Thomas’ went without butter for one month in order to raise funds to pay off the church debt.
Early records of Anglican congregations in Frankville are lost to antiquity, but it is believed that services were held in private homes, with travelling ministers officiating.
The church was built of stone with a tall spire at the front. It proved to be a sturdy structure, although its steeple disappeared in a fierce windstorm in 1950. A new pyramid shaped dome, crowned with a new cross, was placed on the tower by local contractor Ernest Montgomery.
Frankville’s United Church began life as an Episcopal Methodist institution in 1878. It replaced a small wooden church built by Wesleyan Methodists in 1857. The congregation disbanded in 1968 and joined St. Andrews’. The building was sold to the Pentecostal Assembly of Canada.
The main grocery store in this village, once housed the medical practice of two pioneer doctors. Dr. William F. Bourns born in 1861 near Addison , began his practice here in 1891 and served the community for 35 years. He joined Dr. Mort Dixon, a native of the village I a practice which occupied offices upstairs over the store.
Dr. Dison’s father George A. Dixon had operated the store for many years. In 1900 the two doctors bought the old Edger Hotel with the intention of turning it into a hospital. But before the conversion could take place, the old hotel caught fire and burned to the ground. When the site had been cleared, Dr. Bourns erected his own home there. The hospital scheme died in the fire. Both doctors died shortly after.
Levi Soper owned a homestead three miles to the east of Fankville. A school was built on part of this property. The school stands on the 9th Concession, but the road running past the school building is Morrison Road, Kitley 8th line. The school fence runs between the two concessions..
The origins of the original Soper School have been lost in the sands of time. It was probably a log cabin school and existed on the site as early as 1820. This original one room school was known as Otterman’s School, from the Otterman family living nearby. Later when Soper deeded the land over to the School Section board it became Soper School.
A stone building supplanted the original log school and it served the community until it was destroyed by fire in 1912. The present stone building was erected on the site in the same year. George Brundige was the contractor when the school was rebuilt. The building was constructed of square cut stone locally quarried The inside was finished with a white plaster. A raised platform was installed for the teacher. (SS # 13, Kitley)
Among the first settlers around the old school site were the Morrisons, Wilkins, Pryces, Sopers, Wrights, Reynolds, Barringstons, Davises, Mulvaughs, Steacys, Hewitts, Hantons, Brundiges, Merciers. Later the Cooks and O’Gradys moved in.
Louise Mulvaugh was a teacher there prior to 1900. In the 1900’s teachers included Miss. Cocklin (1908), Miss. Greeves; Kenneth Blanchard, Miss. Clow, Misses Nellie and Rose Judge and Fred Leacock who later became a doctor and was killed in a car accident. First salaries paid to teachers ran from $200. to $300. per year. Average attendance was 25-30 pupils but when the school closed in the 1960’s attendance was down to 12.
Located on Hwy 29 going into Frankville was Brundige Construction a large construction company that was involved in the rebuilding of many roads and houses in the area.
Excerpts from “Leeds Grenville: their first two hundred years”
by Ruth McKenzie pub. 1967
The Livingstones also settled on the seventh and eighth concessions.The names Daniel, David, Duncan and Abraham all appear on the Kitley census of 1800. Duncan Livingstone built a grist mill which he operated for about fifteen years. His farm was on the eighth concession, a mile east of the present village of Frankville.
This village is situated on Lot 21, Concessions 8 and 9, Kitley. The original owner of the lot on the ninth concession was Levi Soper, and part of the village stood on the north end of his farm. The lot on the eighth concession was granted to Benjamine Wilson in 1830. Four years previously he had obtained the north half of the Soper property. The village of Frankville was then on Wison property. Wilson sold the land in 1837 to John Brennan.
These changes of ownership help to explain why the village of Fankville has had so many different names. In early records of the Counties Council, it is referred to variously as Brennan’s Corners, Wilson’s Corners, Brandenburgh, Brennanville and Frankville. Finally in 1852 when the ost office was established there, it was called Frankville, the name that had been used more persistently than any other over the years. Where the Frank comes from, no one seems to know.
Among the early cheese factories was one in Frankville established by M.K.Everts and Isaac Cooledge in 1866. (this differs from the information found in old issues of the recorder and times as written above)
Excerpts from the “History of Leeds and Grenville from 1749 to 1879”
by Thad. W.H.Leavitt pub 1879
James Hunt is the son of Absalom who married Maria Warren. James was born in 1850; he earned the carriage making business from his father, which he has conducted with success in Frankville and Toledo. Mr. Hunt married in 1872, Margaret the daughter of Richard Johnston, Elizabethtown. A few years since he purchased the residence of the late Captain Brennan; it being destroyed by fire, he erected an elegant brick structure for hotel purposes. He also carries on the carriage business in Frankville. (History of Leeds and Grenville from 1749 to 1879 by Thad. W.H. Leavitt pub. 1879)
The Connor Family & Samuel Connor – William Connor came from the County of Caven, Ireland in the year 1821, and settled on the 8th Concession of Kitley, from which place he removed to the farm he now occupies, near the Village of Frankville. He married, about the year 1830, Ellen Horton, by whom he had the following children: Robert, residing in Brockville; Samuel; William who died in 1850; Margaret married Alexander Morrison; Philip died in 1877; Ann married Robert Jelly; and Thomas.
Samuel Connor was born in 1837, on the old homestead. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to Wellington Lewis, to learn the trade of shoemaker. Aftre a service of three ears he removed to Frankville; then visited the Western States, but returned to Frankville, where he opened a shoe shop in connection with a tannery and continued the same about twelve years. In 1870, he built a large hotel engaging also in the manufacture of cheese. Disposing of his hotel n 1876, he purchased the Robinson House, which he refitted in the most substantial manner for the accommodation of old friends.
In 1864, Mr. Connor married Charlotte Burnett, of Elizabethtown; and in 1868, he was appointed Township Clerk, a position which he yet fills. (History of Leeds and Grenville from 1749 to 1879 by Thad. W.H. Leavitt pub. 1879)
Mr. Coad was born April 13, 1842 in the Township of Kitley. He redeived a good education at Public School, and for some years engaged as a teacher. Subsequently he entered into the mercantile business with his brother at Toledo.
In 1874, he purchased the general store in Frankville, at that time conducted by Messrs. C. and R. Richards, and since that date has carried on a large and constantly increasing business. Mr. Coad for served for several years as Secretary of the Agriculture Society of North Leeds and Grenville. He has been twice elected a member of the Municipal Council, and is especially qualified to discharge public business. In 1873, Mr. Coad married Maggie, daughter of Thomas Connor. The Dominion Telegraph Office and the Post Office at Frankville are under Mr. Coad’s supervision.
is a paperback book written by Edna B. Chant and was published in 1998. Edna Chant was a reported with the “Athens Reporter” for 23 years and she is the author of four books.
Her book, which is made up of news clippings from various sources, from which we have taken excerpts, gives us a glimpse into life in our area for over a hundred year period ending with stories from 1975.
While her book covers many areas of Leeds and Grenville we have only focused on the area within Elizabethtown-Kitley Township.
The first post office at Wilson’s Corners was opened on January 5, 1841
Mrs. John Loucks of Frankville was a leap year baby. She was the former Annetta Richards and was born near Frankville on Feb. 29, 1868 and lived to be 101 years of age. In that time she only celebrated 24 birthdays. She married John Loucks on her birthday, Feb, 29, 1888. Before her marriage she was a school teacher and since that time the couple farmed at Frankville. Mrs. Loucks drove a rig from Frankville to the Brockville Market weekly, with fresh eggs, homemade butter, vegetables and maple syrup. She well remembered how she dreaded to meet an automobile as the horses never got used to them and would rear in fright. One of her fondest memories was how they enjoyed their battery radio, as it was a pleasure on long winter evenings. She was a real hockey fan, Boston being her favourite team. After the death of her husband, she lived with her only son George, who died Feb 13, 1966. Her last years were spent with her grandson and his wife Jim and Doreen Loucks in Brockville. Annetta Loucks died on Dec 14, 1869.
The Village of Frankville was incorporated in 1896. For 77 years only seven By-Laws were passed. On April 10, 1973 the police village passed out of existence and all assets were turned over to the Township of Kitley.
Raney Loucks of Frankville was killed on November 19, 1897 when he was thrown from a wagon. He had gone to Brockville to meet his son James who was returning home on train from the west and they were almost home when his team of horses ran away, and he was thrown to the road, landing on his head, dying instantly.
Mr and Mrs. James Rae of Frankville lived to observe their 70th wedding anniversary. They had enjoyed a happy and useful life, and became known as the grand old couple of Kitley. They were married Dec. 29, 1899 in Dally, Ayrshire, Scotland where they lived for their first 29 years of their life and where Mr. Rae was a blacksmith by trade. They came to Canada in 1928 and he opened a blacksmith shop in Frankville which business he carried on for many years. In 1961 he retired and they moved to a new bungalow. They raised four children James Jr., Jessie, Marion and Jean, Mr. Rae died on Jan. 1, 1970 aged 95 years, and Mrs. Rae died on Feb 14, 1972 aged 96 years.
On Feb 4, 1903, the barns of Wesley Soper at Frankville were struck by lightning in a most unusual winter electric storm When Mr. Soper rushed to the barn to rescue the cattle he found all 21 dead in their stalls. He lost 30 pigs in the fire as well as all his machinery. He carried $500. of insurance.
A well known Frankville woman, Mrs. Richard Hanton, was drowned in the St. Lawrence River in Brockville on May 2, 1903. She had been a patient in hospital but was much improved and went for a walk each day. On this day she did not return for lunch, and a search was made for her In the meantime, her body was found floating by two young boys who told the police.
On July 3, 1905, George Oliver of Frankville drowned in Saskatchewan
On July 12, 1906 fire destroyed all the barns of John Reynolds at Frankville. It was started by a young boy playing with matches. As nearly all the men of the area had gone to the Orange Walk it was hard to get help. The men and women who came had a hard time to save the house.
On September 5, 1906 Norman Godrich, aged 40, died after suffering a bad fall at the Frankville Cheese Factory. He was taken to hospital in an unconscious condition but died in a short time. As far as we know he had no relatives. He had worked at the factory some time and was well thought of.
The barns on the Henry Johnston farm at Frankville were burned in August 1908. The owner lives in Saskatchewan but the farm is rented to William Curtis. When Mr. Curtis went to the barn in the morning he found a tramp sleeping in the hay mow. He ordered him off the place. The tramp was very angry and he said he would make it hot for him. Mr. Curtis went to the factory and when he was going back home he saw smoke coming from the barn. The fire spread rapidly and all the season’s crops were lost as well as seven pigs.
Two serious fires in Frankville caused a lot of excitement on November 6, 1916; the large barn of Watson Davis was burned. It must have been arson as the fire broke out in three locations at once, A calf was burned, but the cows were saved. Al the hay and grain was lost, also some tools and a wagon. On November 7 the barn of James Smith was burned and many places threatened. Richard’s store was scorched, and also William Ennis’ barn. Men of the village worked all night to save them. W. Richards thought his store was going and he had a heart attack and nearly died.
On October 11, 1935 hydro power was turned on at Frankville.
Irene Mott was killed July 5, 1938 by a farmhand at Frankville.
Willard Wing, age 3 drowned in a water tank at Frankville in 1942
An Athens man Arthur Reed, 42, was fatally injured on July 11, 1957 while at work at the Brundige Construction Co., in Frankville. He was welding a tar tank when it exploded hurling his body into the air and blowing the roof off of the shop. He was rushed by ambulance to Kingston General Hospital but only lived a short time.
On August 31, 1958 a twister assed over Frankville causing a lot of destruction in just a few seconds. A garage owned by James Dawson was lifted from its foundations and carried 30 feet. Dawson’s car in te garage didn’t have a scratch. Trees went down like ten pins all over the village smashing several cars under their weight. A shed owned by Gerald Mercier was rolled over three times and came down again right side up. Roofs were carried away on the farms of Donald Davis and Byron Derbyshire.
On December 31, 1967, the home of Mrs. Ethel Neddo of Frankville was burned. Everything was lost, including all the clothing of her son George and two boarders Terry Reed and George Ouderkik.
A small house near Frankville was burned on April 29, 1969, occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Morris and their three children. Mr. Morris had gone to work at 6 am and shortly after an explosion occurred in the kitchen, The family escaped in their night attire.