On the night of September 19, 1898, John Franklin assassinated his mother-in-law, Mrs. William Bowles, by shooting her through her bedroom window with a double-barrel shotgun. An extensive search of the county and surrounding ones were made, and a large reward was offered by the Governor. It was not until the Monday night of November 21, 1898, Franklin voluntarily surrendered himself to Mr. Fountain Cox near Glasgow Junction (present-day Park City), while Mr. Cox was feeding his livestock.
Franklin stated he never left the county since the shooting, and had been sleeping in barns and haystacks, obtaining food from relatives. Mr. Cox brought Franklin to Glasgow on Tuesday morning, and placed him in the jail to await trial. Franklin was very reticent, and refused point blank to discuss the murder. On the Monday evening that he surrendered to Mr. Cox, the grand jury indicted Franklin for willful murder, and his trial was set for the next Tuesday. He was brought before Judge Jones on Tuesday morning to prepare his defense, and employed lawyers to conduct his case.
Since John Franklin had been lodged in the jail, rumors of mobs in the county have been on every hand. On that Thursday, two days after he was incarcerated, at noon, Bob Brown, slayer of his father-in-law, Mr. Alonzo McClellan, was brought back from Bowling Green, where he was taken for safe-keeping. As soon as it was known he was in jail here, indications of a mob could be seen everywhere.
Shortly after one o’clock on Thursday night, the rapid striking of many hooves on frozen ground told of the approach of would be lynchers. They were finally seen coming down upper Depot Street. When the men reached the jail they were met by Sheriff Barlow, Marshal Collins, and Jailer Carter, who each remonstrated with the men, telling them they were sworn to protect Franklin and Brown, and would do it if it cost them their lives. Sheriff Barlow further warned the men he had many guards inside the jail who wouldn’t hesitate to resist to the death any attempts made to force entry, and the result would be nothing but disastrous to those who attempted it.
The lynchers were evidently impressed with Sheriff Barlow’s words, and after hurried consultation, they quietly departed. The coolness shown by Sheriff Barlow, Marshal Collins, and Jailer Carter in standing off the mob, is commendable. Barren county has never had a braver or more courageous set of officers.
When John Franklin was arraigned before Judge Jones that Thursday morning after his capture, his case was continued until December 12. The courthouse was filled to capacity with people anxious to see justice meted out to the murderer. He was kept under heavy guard the whole time.
The counsel for the defense filed an affidavit alleging that, owing to the short time they were given to familiarize themselves with the case and prepare for the defense, they could not do their client justice, and prayed the court to continue the case until March term. It was further claimed by Franklin’s counsel that there were extenuating circumstances leading up to the murder which would in a measure mitigate the heinousness of the crime before the jury, and which they were not then prepared to prove.