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History of Frankfort

Brothers John, William and Nicholas Pence from Warren County, Ohio settled on the land on which Frankfort now stands in 1829.

In 1830, the brothers donated 60 acres to the county commissioners, a donation which led to the establishment of the county seat at that site rather than in Jefferson, a community which also had been vying for the honor.

The new town was named Frankfort at the brothers’ request, in honor of their German great-grandparents’ home of Frankfurt am Main in Germany.

The Town of Frankfort was laid off on the 60-acre tract by County Agent William Douglass and the plat was filed on June 8, 1830. The original plat consisted of 64 lots in eight blocks surrounding a public square where the courthouse now stands. The County Board paid contractors Allen & Michael $20 to erect the first courthouse, a 1 ½-story temporary structure made of logs hewn from trees that grew on the square and surrounding streets.

Its replacement was built by contractor John Elder in 1837–1838 for $12,000 and operated for 45 years. In 1881, Indianapolis architect George W. Bunting designed the third courthouse, a 165-foot structure built of Indiana limestone by contractors Farman & Pearce for approximately $200,000. Its cornerstone was laid September 2, 1882.

The “Gem City” Name

Frankfort is called the Gem City for its brightness in the new electric light era. It was said you could see Frankfort shine from miles away on the prairie due to the new electric lights and its location.

Famous Residents

  • Marvin I. Henderson, Sr.: railroad mogul
  • Lt. Cmdr. Adrian Marks: pilot of the plane that located sailors after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in July, 1945
  • Everett Case: coached boys’ high school basketball team to state championships in 1925, 1929, 1936, and 1939
  • Will Geer: best known as Grandpa Zeb on The Waltons
  • Kyle Cook: from the bands Matchbox Twenty and The New Left
  • Charles Aidman: film and television actor who has appeared in The Twilight Zone , The Wild Wild West and Pork Chop Hill
  • John Stonebraker: NFL player with the Green Bay Packers
  • Anthony Caruso: film and television actor (usually played villans)

Miscellaneous Facts

  • Frankfort population: 16,422
  • Industrial Park employs more than 3,500 people; created in the 1950’s under Mayor Ken Powers
  • City/County Airport with 5,000-foot runway
  • served by two rail lines Norfolk Southern and CSX
  • home to the very first Wal-Mart in Indiana
  • Frankfort Public Library nationally recognized as one of the top five libraries in the country

Major Highways

  • Interstate 65
  • U.S. Route 52
  • U.S. Route 421
  • Indiana State Road 28
  • Indiana State Road 29
  • Indiana State Road 38
  • Indiana State Road 39
  • Indiana State Road 75
  • Indiana State Road 26