Franklin, Mass. First Congregational Church

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Franklin, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1737-1877, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Against the backdrop of the First Great Awakening, twenty-four members from the Second Precinct of Wrentham split from the First Church and signed the covenant which became the founding document for the Second Church of Wrentham, also known as the West Parish Church, in 1738. Not long after, the call went out to Rev. Elias Haven to become the first pastor of the new church. He accepted and was ordained on November 8, 1738. The first meeting house was constructed in the summer of 1739. It was a simple structure which included no pews except for the two which had been constructed at the expense of the pew owners. By 1772 the church's membership had outgrown the first meeting house and the search for a new location was begun. However, disagreements within the church community, and difficulty with the town, long delayed the purchase of new land and construction.

In 1778, the West Precinct of Wrentham separated from Wrentham and was incorporated as Franklin in honor of Benjamin Franklin. It had been hoped that Benjamin Franklin would donate a bell for a church steeple, but instead he donated 116 books which became part of the Franklin Public Library's initial collection. At the same time as the town of Franklin was incorporated, the West Parish Church of Wrentham was renamed the First Congregational Church of Franklin. Construction on the second meeting house did not begin until 1787 and was completed in 1789. In 1806 a belfry was constructed and the first bell was installed. In 1827, a formal Sunday School was founded and attached to the church. Due to the growth of the town of Franklin after the Civil War, a third meeting house was found necessary and construction completed on it in 1872. The fourth and final church building was constructed in 1895. Throughout the nineteenth-century, the church actively participated in benevolent societies and several members of the church participated in both foreign and home mission societies.

Franklin was not spared from the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 and during the storm the church building for the First Baptist Church of Franklin, established in 1868, was destroyed. The First Congregational Church invited the Baptists to use their building for worship. In 1941, the two congregations reformed together to form the Franklin Federated Church, which continues to serve the Franklin community today.

The digital collections below document the early administrative history of the First Congregational Church in Franklin, including records which were begun when the church was still known as the Second Church in Wrentham. Included within the materials are two sequential volumes of church books, which contain meeting minutes, committee reports, society records, baptismal records, membership records, church disciplinary cases, and correspondence. There is also a separate volume containing marriages and necrologies from 1773-1827.

To learn more about this collection, visit the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Church records, 1737-1781

Records included here document the church's covenant and meeting minutes. Also included are records of correspondence, baptisms, and membership.

A full transcription of this volume is available.

Church records, 1781-1887

These records document the minutes of church meetings, correspondence, and religious societies. The records also include lists of baptisms, membership admissions and dismissions, censures, marriages, and deaths.

Marriages and deaths, 1773-1827

This volume contains records of marriages as recorded by Rev. Emmons. Also included are two pages of death records.


Related Materials

Wrentham, Mass. Second Church, 1767