So Somebodyisfromhere.com, as a conversational travel writer, always keeps his eyes out. Weird names are intriguing to him (to an extent). For example, we’ve all heard of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (what’s with that name?). At one point, he considered, and he still might, write about towns with the same name as beer (see: Corona, Ca).
Another oddity is the town named after a full name. Apparently, the last name isn’t enough. Luckily, all the towns named after George Washington didn’t take this approach. Somebodyisfromhere.com supposes the most common example is Jim Thorpe (what’s with that name?).
Recently, Somebodyisfromhere.com came across Ben Franklin, Texas so he decided to look it up. Somebodyisfromhere.com is from the Philadelphia area so he sees his share of Franklin around town. He seems to be a good guy to name a town after what with being a founding father and all that. Texas is a weird choice, though but why not, right?
Wrong. Wiki describes the town of Ben Franklin with the following: “The settlement was located on Benjamin Simmon’s land grant and named for his son, Benjamin Franklin Simmons. The Simmons family, along with the Bidwells and Hogues arrived in the area in 1835 and were among the first settlers.”
Pretty wild in itself. Kinda cool to be so ahead of the time, that you get to name your own town. Hell, Somebodyisfromhere.com would take his own street. On a dead end. But wait, there’s more! The town appears to get more mysterious in a western kind of way.
“In 1895 the Texas-Midland Railroad built through Cooper, the county seat, and drew much of the traffic from Ben Franklin. By 1904 the population had decreased to 343. In 1912 only two businesses remained. Records for 1918 indicated two segregated schools. The town had 300 people and no businesses in 1925.
“However, by 1929 it had had a slight revival with 500 residents and a bank. By 1936 the railway through town had become part of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe system, and the town had seven businesses, a school, three churches, and a population of 300. In 1945 rapidly declining Ben Franklin had 250 residents and seven businesses.
“In 1964 Ben Franklin had a water tank, two churches, two cemeteries, one business, the post office, and 150 inhabitants. Six years later there was a Ben Franklin Community Center. The only business in 1976 was Fremman’s Grocery. In 1990 the community had seventy-five residents.”
Well that was certainly a roller coaster. A quick observation, though. The town has two cemeteries and as of the last census only had 75 residents. It’s certainly encouraging when a town has more grave plots than people.