Franklin County, Massachusetts
Genealogy and Facts

Franklin County

Franklin County was founded on June 24, 1811 from Hampshire County. The county was named for Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), early American scientist, diplomat, and politician.

Currently the Franklin County Seat is situated in Greenfield and the county government was abolished on July 1, 1997

Places adjacent to Franklin County are Windham County, Vermont (north), Cheshire County, New Hampshire (northeast), Worcester County (east), Hampshire County (south), Berkshire County (west).

Cities and towns situated in Franklin County are made up of Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Millers Falls, Monroe, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Rowe, Shelburne Falls, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, Sunderland, Turners Falls, Warwick, Wendell and Whately.

Franklin County vital records can be found at the Massachusetts Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Massachusetts for current fees and application process. Vital Records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide collection began in 1841. There is a fee for each copy requested. Records for events that occurred from 1841-1910 are available at the State Archives.

You can search online for Franklin County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or can download an application for Massachusetts Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate Applications to mail.

Franklin County does have Federal Census Schedules to guide in looking into your family tree. Federal government Population Schedules are available for 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

Franklin Co. Mortality Schedules can be obtained for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Franklin Co. Industry and Agriculture Schedules can be found for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Franklin Co. Union Veterans Schedules can be found for 1890. One can find free online and printable census forms that can help with your research.

Franklin County Society and Family History Resources

A list of Franklin County Historical  and Genealogical Societies, Forums, Message Boards, Libraries, Archives.

  • Massachusetts Genealogy Community (plus.google.com)
  • Massachusetts State Genealogy Network (facebook.com)
  • Ashfield Historical Society, 457 Main Street, Ashfield, MA 01330; (413) 628-0001; Ten rooms of Ashfield memorabilia. The main exhibition hall is a re-creation of a general store, circa 1850. Exhibits include more than 23,000 glass plate negatives taken between 1882 and 1907 by the well-known Howes brothers of Ashfield. There are also exhibits of early Ashfield industries, 19th century period rooms, children's room, military display and memorabilia of famous Ashfield residents. A barn houses many relics of early rural life.
  • Bernardston Historical Society, Powers Institute, Church Street, Bernardston, MA 01337; 413-648-9600; The building once housed Powers Institute, which was founded in 1857 and includes memorabilia from the school. The collection also includes farm and household tools, textiles and a Lumen Nelson collection of small animals and birds.
  • Buckland Historical Society, 32 Upper Street, Buckland, MA 01338; 413-625-6619, 413-625-9763; Displays include early kitchen furniture, tools and photographs of local school groups.
  • Charlemont Historical Society, Town Hall, second floor, Main Street, Charlemont, MA 01339; 413-339-4947; Collection includes early household items, schoolbooks, desks, horse treadmill, microfilm of David Malcolm's publications "Hilltown Neighbors, " country store articles, records of the town, its churches and Deerfield Valley Agricultural Society.
  • Colrain Historical Society, Main Street, Colrain, MA 01340; 413-624-3710; Collection illustrates a variety of life-styles from the many villages making up the town of Colrain. Also featured are books and papers on Colrain history.
  • Conway Historical Society, Main Street, Conway, MA 01341;phone: 413-369-4224; Features a notable collection of items from Conway's cutlery and tool factories, woolen mills and shoe factories.
  • Erving House Museum, located in the old fire station, Route 2, Erving, MA 01344; 978-544-6339 or 978-544-3705; The exhibits reflect the development of Erving as a major industrial town, large collection of photographs and scrapbooks in four rooms. There is an 1890-1900 kitchen, living room and parlor that reflects the life-style of the period.
  • Gill Historical Society, located in the former Riverside School, Route 2, Gill, MA 01376; 413-863-2505; Consisting of two rooms, it features many reminders of the town's history, including photographs, ice cutting implements, farm implements, and old newspapers.
  • Historical Society of Greenfield, 43 Church St, Greenfield, MA 01301-2954; Phone (413) 774-3663
  • Heath Historical Society, P.O. Box 698, Heath, MA 01346; 413-337-4980; Located in two buildings in the center of town: the old townhouse and the old schoolhouse. The exhibits represent a broad range of Heath's past.
  • Leverett Historical Society, Moore's Corner Schoolhouse, North Leverett Rd., Leverett, MA 01054; 413-367-2800, 413-548-9082; The first floor features a schoolhouse exhibit. There are also artifacts from the former mills and shops, and scrapbooks and photos from the childhood days of newspaper columnist Ruby Hemenway.
  • Swift River Valley Historical Society, 40 Elm Street, New Salem, MA 01355; 978-544-6882; Photographs and memorabilia offer a look at the history of the four towns that were flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir, as well as portions of New Salem that were lost. Displays include a fire truck, circa 1920, from the town of Dana and the New Salem guide post from the 1850s. The buildings housing the exhibits are historical structures.
  • Northfield Historical Society, 13 Pine Street, PO Box 131, Northfield, MA 01360; 413-498-4338; Displays three centuries of toys, art, textiles and other items owned by Northfield families.
  • Orange Historical Society, 41 North Main Street, Orange, MA 01364; 978-544-6286; Housed in a Victorian home and is furnished in that period. Included are a special children's room, military room and alumni room. Barn exhibits include a fire pumper, steam automobile (circa 1904) made in Orange by the Grout brothers and other industrial items.
  • Rowe Historical Society and Kemp-McCarthy Memorial Museum , 282 Zoar Road, Rowe, MA 01367; Phone: 413-339-4238; There eight rooms of artifacts and memorabilia of Rowe from over 300 friends of the town. The collection includes Rowe's last horse-drawn hearse.
  • Shelburne Historical Society, P.O. Box 86, 33 Severance Street Shelburne Falls, MA 01370; (413) 625-6150; Collection dates from 1700's to present. There is also a library with a number of New England Genealogical volumes.
  • Warwick Historical Society, 6 Athol Road, Warwick, MA 01378; 978-544-3461, 978-544-3628; Collection includes picture albums, furniture, relics from local industries such as glass and boot factories, a "scythe tree" with a fascinating story, the diary or a Warwick minister from the 1700s and a pump log used in the early 1880s.
  • Whately Historical Society, P.O. Box 7, 218 Chestnut Plain Road, Whately, MA 01093; The exhibits include memorabilia and crockery made by Whately residents in the 1800's.
  • Franklin County, Massachusetts Message Boards (boards.ancestry.com) read and post messages about your ancestors in Franklin County
  • Franklin County, Massachusetts Genealogy Forum (genforum.genealogy.com) read and post messages with other genealogy researchers for Franklin County
  • USGenWeb Archives for Franklin County (usgwarchives.net)

Franklin County Courthouse and Government Records


Franklin County Courthouse

Genealogist often overlook the great importance of Franklin County court, probate, and land records as a useful resource of ancestry and genealogy details. Hidden away in Massachusetts courthouses and archives just about everywhere are the aspirations and frustrations of many Massachusetts inhabitants. The odds are great that your chosen ancestors have left a detailed document of at least quite a few facets of their lives in the Franklin County court records. Even if your ancestors is not referred to in a Court case, take into account all of the other methods which often can have lead to her or him appearing in court records.

The following information and facts shows whatever birth, marriage, death, property, probate, and legal records will be in Franklin County. The dates indicated below could be the first recognized records data for this particular county.

Remember to get in touch with the clerk's dept to verify hours, mailing address, fees and other facts prior to visiting or asking for information because of many times changing contact details. The Department Offices DO NOT DO RESEARCH. The data files are readily available to interested parties, barring confidential issues. A lot of staff will aid persons in finding the resources, however it is up to the individual to perform the basic research. For Town Records contact the Town Clerk (Helpful Telephone Listings for your City/Town Hall)
  • Franklin County Courthouse (all departments listed below are located here, unless otherwise noted)
    • Address: 425 Main St., Greenfield, MA 01302
  • Franklin County Register of Deeds is the place where all transactions of a Real Property nature are recorded so that the public is made aware of their existence. Deeds, mortgages, tax liens, water liens, declaration of homestead and many other kinds of documents regarding the title and ownership of real estate are noted permanently in official records. Earlier deeds for land now in Franklin County are at Springfield (see Hampden County). Abstracts of these deeds recorded at the Springfield registry from 1663—1786 are at Greenfield. Deeds for 1787-present are in Greenfield; between 1787—1812 they were recorded at the Deerfield registry, which was transferred to Greenfield in 1812. Probates before 1812 for towns now in Franklin County are at Northampton (see Hampshire County).
    • Phone: 413-772-0239
    • Land Records: 1787
  • Franklin County Clerk of Probate Court has many responsibilities which include the administration of estates, probate of wills, and the appointment of guardians, have been under the jurisdiction of the courts since the 1630s. County courts and later, county judges of probate, were responsible for these functions until 1783, when the probate courts were established. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the probate and family courts were given jurisdiction over adoptions, divorces, name changes, and domestic relations. Probates before 1812 for towns now in Franklin County are at Northampton (Hampshire County)
    • Phone: (413) 774-7011 or (413) 774-7012
    • Probate Records: 1812 
  • Franklin County Clerk of Courts has jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, and equity cases.
    • Phone: (413) 774-5535 x248
    • Court Records: 1812 
  • Franklin County Town Clerks has copies of vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and death records). Clerks respond to inquiries regarding vital records, since most have indexes available. They also have tax lists that may still be available at the town office. Earlier taxes for the towns exist as well.
  • Massachusetts Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Massachusetts for current fees and application process. Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. Vital Records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide collection began in 1841.

Franklin County Links

The following are links to Family history and genealogy, Records and Resources relevant to Franklin County. A lot of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Business oriented Sites, Personal Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some call for a cost. This is just a collection which has been compiled or submitted. I do not recommend or promote one genealogy site above another. Feel free to present your own preferred Franklin County genealogy or family history associated sites.

Franklin Co. MA Books, Newspapers & Publications

Franklin Co. MA Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Franklin Co. MA Court, Probate Land and Tax Records

Franklin Co. MA Census Records

Franklin Co. MA Cemeteries & Graveyards

Franklin Co. MA Church & Bible Records

Franklin Co. MA Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

Franklin Co. MA General and History Websites

Franklin Co. MA Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

Franklin Co. MA Military Records

Franklin Co. MA Schools & Directories

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