Franklin County, Massachusetts Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Guide to Franklin County, Massachusetts ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Greenfield[1]
Organized: December 2, 1811[2]
Parent County(s): Hampshire
Neighboring Counties
Bennington (VT)  • Berkshire  • Cheshire (NH)  • Hampshire  • Windham (VT)  • Worcester
See County Maps
Massachusetts, Franklin County Courthouse.png
Location Map

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Franklin County was long settled by the time it was set off as its own county in 1811. Early settlers made their way into the region first along the Connecticut River. It was a crossroads for migrations from eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and the gateway to Vermont and New Hampshire's river valley settlements. The county has always been sparsely settled. Franklin's county government was abolished on 1 July 1997, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.[3]

The county was named for Benjamin Franklin. It is located in the northwestern area of the state.[4]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Franklin County Courthouse
43 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01301
Phone: 413-775-7400
Franklin County Website

Franklin County, Massachusetts Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[5]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
at town creation at town creation at town creation 1811 1787 1812 1779
* Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1841. General compliance year unknown. See also Town Records

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

MassachusettsNew HampshireVermontFranklin CountyHampshire CountyWorcester CountyBerkshire CountyBennington CountyWindham CountyCheshire CountyMonroeRoweHeathColrainLeydenBernardstonNorthfieldWarwickOrangeNew SalemShutesburyLeverettSunderlandWhatelyConwayAshfieldHawleyCharlemontBucklandShelburneGreenfieldGillErvingWendellMontagueDeerfieldStamfordReadsboroWhitinghamHalifaxGuilfordVernonHinsdaleWinchesterRichmondTroyFitzwilliamRoyalstonAtholPetershamHardwickWareBelchertownPelhamAmherstGranbySouth HadleyHadleyHatfieldWilliamsburgGoshenChesterfieldWorthingtonMiddlefieldPeruCummingtonPlainfieldWindsorSavoyFloridaChesterHuntingtonWesthamptonNorthampton
Modern town and city borders in Franklin County, Massachusetts.

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[8]

Census-designated places

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[9] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
2 Dec. 1811 Franklin County set off from the northern third of Hampshire County. [Mass. Acts, 1811, Ch. 61, p. 467]
7 Feb. 1816 Small loss when part of Orange annexed to Athol, Worcester Co. [Mass. Acts, 1816, Ch. 62, p. 71]
28 Jan 1822 Loss when part of New Salem was combined with Pelham, Hampshire Co., to create the new town of Prescott, Hampshire Co. [now extinct]. [Mass. Acts, 1822, Ch. 34, Sec. 1, p. 614]
21 Feb. 1822 Gained when part of Rowe was combined with the Gore in Berkshire Co. to create the new town of Monroe in Franklin Co. [Mass. Acts, 1822, Ch. 93, Sec. 1, p. 707]
5 Feb. 1830
16 Mar. 1837
Small loss when part of New Salem annexed to Athol, Worcester Co. [Mass. Acts, 1830, ch. 33, p. 300 and 1837, Ch. 80, Sec. 1, p. 70]
2 Apr. 1838 Gain when part of the territory known as Zoar in Berkshire Co. was annexed to Charlemont and Rowe [Mass. Acts 1838, Ch. 56, Sec. 1, p. 344 and Ch. 57, Sec. 1, p. 345]
2 Feb. 1849 Border between Whately and Williamsburg, Hampshire Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1849, Ch. 3, p. 198]
27 Apr. 1911 Border between New Salem and Prescott, Worcester Co. [now extinct], redefined - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1911, Ch. 340, Sec. 1, p. 310]
28 Apr. 1938 Large gain when Quabbin Reservoir created and "drowned" four towns. New Salem annexed parts of Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott, all in Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1827, Ch. 321, Sec. 1, p. 384; 1938, ch. 240, Sec. 1, p. 188]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Franklin County, Massachusetts online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)


List of Cemeteries in the County
See Massachusetts Cemeteries for more information.


Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1820 29,268
1830 29,501 0.8%
1840 28,812 −2.3%
1850 30,870 7.1%
1860 31,434 1.8%
1870 32,635 3.8%
1880 36,001 10.3%
1890 38,610 7.2%
1900 41,209 6.7%
1910 43,600 5.8%
1920 49,361 13.2%
1930 49,612 0.5%
1940 49,453 −0.3%
1950 52,747 6.7%
1960 54,864 4.0%
1970 59,210 7.9%
1980 64,317 8.6%
1990 70,092 9.0%
2000 71,535 2.1%
2010 71,372 −0.2%
Source: "".

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

The court system can appear to be complex. The system was reorganized in 1686/1692, 1859, and 1978. Described below are the most commonly used records for history and genealogy, but realize that this list is incomplete. For more detailed information regarding court structure, see Understanding the Massachusetts Court System.

Older records are held by:
Supreme Judicial Court Archives
(administration - records stored in several off-site facilities and the Mass. Archives)
16th Floor, Highrise Court House
3 Pemberton Square
Boston MA 02109
Phone 617-557-1082

Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace
This court was active from 1812 to 1827. The court heard criminal cases and had authority over county affairs that included levying taxes, reviewing town bylaws, highways, licensed liquor, regulated jails, supervised the administration of the poor laws, and appointed some county officials.
There are no records microfilmed. The original records are either in the county courthouse or at the Judicial Archives. Their location has not been researched.

Inferior Court of Common Pleas
This court was active from 1812 to 1859. The court heard all civil cases over 40s unless a case involved freehold or was appealed from a justice of the peace.

Online Court Indexes and Records

Superior Court
The Quarterly Court of General Sessions was merged into the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in 1827, and that court was reorganized in 1859 to created the Superior Court as the new lower (i.e. trial) court. It covers both criminal and civil matters.

Online Court Indexes and Records

Records at Massachusetts Archives

  • Superior Court, Divorce Record Books, 1888-1933

Supreme Judicial Court
The Supreme Judicial Court was established by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 that combined the former Governor and Council with the Superior Court of Judicature creating the highest state court. This court hears appeals, writ of error, capital offenses, and crimes against the public good. That included divorces until that action was moved to the lower court in 1887.

Online Court Indexes and Records

Records at Massachusetts Archives

  • Supreme Judicial Court: Index, 1816-1888; Docket books, 1816-1888; Record books, 1816-1889 (inc. divorce)

Justice of the Peace
Online Court Indexes and Records

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land transfers, commonly called deeds, are recorded on the county level in Massachusetts. Not all deeds were recorded as is common practice today. The earliest transactions were charters or grants from the English Crown. Once local government was established, the colony would grant land to settlers directly or to towns to dole out. Some towns first start out as proprietorship and records were recorded there. Once towns were established, deeds were recorded on the county level.

Franklin District Registry of Deeds
30 Olive Street - Suite 2
Greenfield MA 01301
Phone 413-772-0239

Online Land Indexes and Records

Orignal Records at New England Historic Genealogical Society:

  • Deeds, v. 1-485, 1787-1902, index, 1787-1889, 1890-1899 (Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986) to v. 431; Note: v. 223 (1859) missing

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Works written on the county include:

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Bennington CountyWindham CountyCheshire CountyWorcester CountyHampshire CountyBerkshire CountyMA FRANKLIN.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Naturalization records were created on a variety of governmental levels from the Federal down to the city at the same time. The county records for all levels are outlines below. For more information, see the Massachusetts state page for more on naturalization.

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records - Covering Multiple Courts

Federal Naturalization Records for Franklin County

Record Dates Original Records Online Indexes Online Records
Court of Common Pleas 1839-1859 NARA M1299 - National Archives - Waltham
District Court
Eastern Franklin
1899-1906 NARA M1299 - National Archives - Waltham
District Court 1898 NARA M1299 - National Archives - Waltham
Supreme Judicial Court
1858-1872 NARA M1299 - National Archives - Waltham
Superior Court
1859-1896 NARA M1299 - National Archives - Waltham

Franklin County Naturalization Records

Record Dates Original Records Online Indexes Online Records
Superior Court 1900-1991 Judicial Archives
Superior Court 1811-1945 Judicial Archives
District Court
1891-1906 District Courthouse
District Court
1899-1906 District courthouse n/a

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate and Family Court is organized on a county level in Massachusetts since the creation of the counties. The main records genealogists seek are testate (wills), intestate (administrations), guardianships, and divorces (since 1922), though there are many more that are valuable to any researcher, too. See a further discussion of the topic in general on the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide.

Franklin Probate and Family Court
PO Box 590
425 Main Street
Greenfield MA 01302
Phone 413-774-7011

Online Probate Indexes and Records

Original Records on Microfilm:

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Town Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

It is easiest to start with the state vital records indexes (listed below) for births, marriages, and deaths since 1841. Massachusetts was the first to require a consistent recording of these events statewide. Original vital records (starting as early as 1639) are found with the clerk of the town or city where the event occurred. See the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide and Massachusetts Vital Records pages for more details.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

For state-wide and regional facilities, see Massachusetts Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Franklin County. For state-wide library facilities, see Massachusetts Archives and Libraries.

Franklin County MO Historical Societies CountyOffice.orgWebsite

For information on additional archives and repositories, see

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Franklin County. For state-wide genealogical and historical societies, see Massachusetts Societies.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • FamilySearch Catalog – The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection.  Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Massachusetts. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Massachusetts Historical Boundary Changes by John H Long; online by Newberry Library
  3. Abolished County Governments - Secretary of State, Acts of 1996, Ch. 151, Sect. 567.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Franklin, County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Massachusetts
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Franklin County, Massachusetts . Page 329-331 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 322-323.
  6. Massachusetts Historical Boundary Changes by John H Long; online by Newberry Library
  7. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Massachusetts. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Franklin County, Massachusetts," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Massachusetts, accessed 10 March 2020.
  9. Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries by John H Long; online by Newberry Library