Franklin County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Franklin. You will find help with town histories, vital records, deeds and land records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries.

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named for Benjamin Franklin. It is located in the northwestern area of the state.[1]

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

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
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.

Brief History[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]

Historical Data[edit | edit source]

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[4] 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]

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

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

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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:[5]

Census-designated places

County Histories[edit | edit source]

Works written on the county include:

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Resources[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

In Massachusetts, the original vital records (of births, marriages, and deaths) have been created and maintained by the town or city in which the event occurred. In very early colonial times, copies of these records were submitted to the county, but that practice died out long before this county was established. There were marriage intentions commonly recorded in the bride's home town and additional recordings maybe found in the groom's home town and their current residence.

Massachusetts was the first state to bring a unified state-level recording of these events (but not marriage intentions) in 1841 (Boston excluded until 1850). The associated records of divorce and adoption are handled by the courts. The state has maintained a state-wide index to divorces since 1952, but adoption records will require more researching to discover.

It is easiest to start with the state vital records for events since 1841, though realize the original record is with the town or city. More details can be found on the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.

Online Vital Records

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

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Cemetery[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
MAGenWeb Archives WorldCat Billion Graves
Tombstone Project FamilySearch Places
Billion Graves
See Massachusetts Cemeteries for more information.

Census[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

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Land 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

Original records

Records are available at the Registry. Their records ONLINE are:

  • Recorded Land [i.e. deeds], 1951-present.
    Note: Index back to 1951, but records online back only to 1958. Record images back to 1787 can be found under "Search Criteria" by selecting "Unindexed Property Search," but you need to know the volume and page. Records before 1812 are copies from the Hampshire County records.
  • Recorded Plans, 1800-present.
  • Registered Land [i.e. land court], 1900-present.
  • Registered Land Plans, 1899-present.
Original records on microfilm

Original records online

  • Deeds, v. 1-485, 1787-1902, index, 1787-1889, 1890-1899 (Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986), at FamilySearch, browsable but not indexed.
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Town Records[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

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

Newspapers[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

The original records are either at the courthouse or at the Judicial Archives in Boston. Their location has not been researched.

Online Probate Index
Original records on microfilm
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Other 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

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Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace[edit | edit source]

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.

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Inferior Court of Common Pleas[edit | edit source]

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.

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Superior Court[edit | edit source]

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.

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Supreme Judicial Court[edit | edit source]

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.

Justice of the Peace[edit | edit source]

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Naturalization Records[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.

Federal Naturalization Records for Franklin County

No federal records as yet digitized at NARA.

Franklin County Naturalization Records

Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
Superior Court 1812-1976 Judicial Archives Index at courthouse Records, 1907-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR
Petitions, 1907-1945, FHL film 2195582 (1st of 11)
Declarations, 1906-1945, FHL films 2195580-2195581
Index, 1811-1991, FHL film 1769521-1769526, 1769527
District Court
n/a District courthouse Indexed Records, 1891-1906, and Index, 1891-1906, FHL films 1765478-1765479
District Court
n/a District courthouse n/a Final declarations, 1899-1906, FHL film 1769564
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Maps[edit | edit source]

There are so many published maps of interest to genealogists and historians that this list will not be recreated here. The focus is with resources you can access online and in the Family History Library.

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Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

Franklin County Massachusetts History and Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Franklin County Massachusetts Libraries and Genealogy Societies[edit | edit source]

For information on additional archives and repositories, see

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

Franklin County Massachusetts Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Franklin, County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Massachusetts
  2. 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.
  3. Abolished County Governments - Secretary of State, Acts of 1996, Ch. 151, Sect. 567.
  4. Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Franklin County, Massachusetts," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Massachusetts, accessed 10 March 2020.