Found on NY 392 West, en route from the Virgil Center to Owego Hill Road, is Franks Corners. The man being referred to by this marker is none other than John M. Frank, Revolutionary War Veteran. John Frank was a German immigrant who first arrived in Virgil in 1794, settling his family in 1795. This made him the 2nd settler in Virgil, only after Joseph Chaplin. John Frank was an active member of his community upon arriving in 1794 until he died in 1830. He rests at the 1st Public Cemetery in Virgil.
Backstory and Context
John M. Frank originally arrived to the ‘new world’ in 1776, he was 23 at the time. Although he was in the new world, he was not yet in the United States. He first arrived in Canada, Quebec to be precise. Unfortunately, anything that John Frank accomplished in Canada is unknown at this point, including why he may have decided to leave. However, upon settling in 1795, John Frank owned approximately 600 acres. He showed his sense of community. On his 600 acres known as ‘Franks Corners’ there were many sites including a school, a store, a blacksmith, marble work, a brick kiln, and two taverns. This was very important to the development of the town and community. Without all of these contributions, the town may not have progressed the way that it did and could have changed the entire complexion.
People may wonder why give a marker to someone to a 2nd settler of a town? Just to be clear, there was a great Native American presence, the Iroquois, on these lands prior to the Europeans settling John was much more to his community than just a settler, he truly made a difference.
There is so much that John Frank did, apart from his contributions directly to the community such as the school, store, blacksmith, taverns, etc. he also served in the Revolutionary War. To be specific, John M. Frank was apart of a brigade that was controlled by General Lee. The brigade John was apart of was known as Poor's brigade. This brigade contributed to the efforts of not only General Lee, but also George Washington. Poor's brigade, along with others, were ordered to march miles upon miles. This was due to George Washington's order to have 4,000 men engage with the British. This service is crucial in the story of John M. Frank because when he returned, he met the necessary criteria to qualify for what was known as 'bounty land', 600 acres worth. This is how he gained his land which he went on to do so many great things with.
The first permanent settlement was made by Joseph Chaplin, on lot 50. He erected a log house here in 1792, while engaged in layering out the road from Oxford to Cayuga Lake, but did not move his family until 1794. This road, about sixty miles in length, was a very great improvement and was a general thoroughfare for emigrants. John M. Frank settled on lot 43 in 1795. John Frank had previously erected a log house, twelve by. sixteen feet, for the reception of his family which consisted of his wife and six children together with his father and mother.
By: Marissa Spoto, Gavin Brown, Brent Smith, & Matt Bartley
Child, Hamilton. “History of Virgil, New York.” History of Virgil, New York, history.rays-place.com/ny/virgil-ny.htm.
Lays, Laurence K.. Hessian to Patriot: The Story of J. Michael Frank. Cortland County Historical Society