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Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009

Franklin, Wisconsin RFD

Looking at a Local Community

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­Franklinis a good example of the transformation of large stretches of the American landscape from rural to suburban in the second half of the last century. As recently as the 1950s, Franklin's children were educated in one-room schoolhouses and a single town constable patrolled the roads. Worried about being annexed by Milwaukee, the residents applied to the state of Wisconsin for city status. Undaunted by their under population, which fell below legal standards for incorporation, they counted the prisoners at the House of Correction as Franklin residents.

Local author Doug Schmidt recounts the story in Franklin, the latest book on the Milwaukee area in the Arcadia Images of America series, but doesn't explore why the farmers of Franklin were determined to remain outside Milwaukee's city limits. In any event, Schmidt shows how in recent decades the community's rural character was paved over by suburban development. Tuckaway Country Club moved to Franklin and expensive subdivisions followed. The book's many photographs are a reminder that within living memory, portions of MilwaukeeCounty resembled Mayberry RFD more than the big city.