Franklin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Chambersburg
Organized: September 9, 1784
Parent County(s): Cumberland[1]
Neighboring Counties
Juniata  • Cumberland  • Adams  • Fulton  • Huntingdon  • Washington (MD)  • Perry  • Frederick (MD)
See County Maps
Franklin County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Franklin County PA Map.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named in honor of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. The county is located in the south-central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Franklin County Courthouse
157 Lincoln Way East
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Phone: 717-261-3848 Fax: 717-261-3854
Clerk of Courts/Orphan's Court: 717-261-3805
Prothonotary: 717-261-3858
Register & Recorder: 717-261-3872
Franklin County Website

County Clerk has birth and death records 1894-1906, marriage records from 1885, divorce records from 1884, probate and land records from 1785[3]

Franklin County, Pennsylvania 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[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1894 1885 1894 1784 1785 1785 1790
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

1864 Fire burned the courthouse in 1864.

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Pennsylvania county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Pennsylvania County Boundary Maps" (1673-1878) may be viewed at the website.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

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:[7]

Census-designated places

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

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

Indentured Servants

  • Immigrant Servants Database hosted by Price Genealogy - Includes indentured/imported servants and transported convicts who served labor terms in Colonial York County, Pennsylvania.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Franklin County, Pennsylvania online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information


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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 15,662
1800 19,638 25.4%
1810 23,083 17.5%
1820 31,892 38.2%
1830 35,037 9.9%
1840 37,793 7.9%
1850 39,904 5.6%
1860 42,126 5.6%
1870 45,365 7.7%
1880 49,855 9.9%
1890 51,433 3.2%
1900 54,902 6.7%
1910 59,775 8.9%
1920 62,275 4.2%
1930 65,010 4.4%
1940 69,378 6.7%
1950 75,927 9.4%
1960 88,172 16.1%
1970 100,833 14.4%
1980 113,629 12.7%
1990 121,082 6.6%
2000 129,308 6.8%
2010 149,618 15.7%
Source: "".

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. For members, they may contain: age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage date and maiden name; death/burial date. For general information about Pennsylvania denominations, see Pennsylvania Church Records.

Franklin county, pennsylvania churches.png

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational

Contains church records of:
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Chambersburg: Falling Spring Presbyterian Church; First United Methodist Church; Holy Trinity Episcopal Church; St. John's United Church of Christ; St. Paul Methodist Church
  • Concord: United Methodist Church
  • Fayetteville: Calvary United Methodist Church
  • Greencastle: United Brethren in Christ
  • Mercersburg: United Brethren in Christ
  • Middleburg: Emanuel's Evangelical United Brethren Church
  • Middletown: Presbyterian Church
  • Pleasant Hill: Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Waynesboro: Faith United Methodist Church
  • York: United Brethren in Christ
  • York Springs: United Brethren in Christ

The oldest Roman Catholic congregations are located in the city of Chambersburg.[8]

  • "100 Years of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese 1843 -1943," Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 1. FHL Book 974.8 B2wg. Chronology, map, county-by-county information.

Church of the Brethren
Church Genealogy Records, Church of the Brethren Network

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
After the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sydney Rigdon attempted to establish his branch of the Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1845 a group from Pittsburgh traveled to Franklin County and purchased property in Antrim Township. The group, for various reasons, never took hold and by 1847 disbanded.

Ward and Branch Records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • Blue Ridge Dest
  • Fairview (Waynesboro)

Germans settled Franklin County,with one of the earliest settlers being Matthias George. Itinerant ministers performed necessary rites in the area.[9]

Evangelical Lutheran Church, Waynesboro

Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sylan (Little Cove)

  • 1834-1875 Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sylan (Little Cove), Baptism Index 1834-1875 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch. Batch C503991
  • 1834-1906 Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, 1834-1906 at Ancestry ($).

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pleasant Hall

Second Evangelical Lutheran Church, Chambersburg

The Presbyterians are very numerous in the county and were the earliest denomination in the county.[11]

Falling Spring Presbyterian Church was organized, at a Scotch-Irish settlement in what is now Franklin County, in 1738.[12]

Robert Kennedy Memorial Presbyterian Church, Welsh Run

Upper West Conococheague Presbyterian Church, Mercersburg

Welsh Run Presbyterian Church

  • Jim Houpt Indexing Project This site contains indices to Military, Presbyterian Church, Cemetery, and other records in Franklin County.

Salem Reformed Church, Washington Township

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

For information about records kept in the Orphan's court, Prothonotary Court, Court of Common Pleas, and other courts in counties of Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Court Records Wiki page.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

For online resources, passenger lists, and specific groups coming to Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration.

  • Immigrant Servants Database hosted by Price Genealogy - Includes indentured/imported servants and transported convicts who served labor terms in Colonial York County, Pennsylvania.

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

For groups that came, see People section of the Pennsylvania Emigration page.

African American[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

The Orphan's Court ensures the best interests of those not capable of handling their own affairs: minors, incapacitated persons, decedents' estates, and more.[14]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a specific location and reveal family relationships. Records include: deeds, abstracts, indexes, mortgages, leases, grants, sheriff sales, land patents, maps and more. For more information, see Pennsylvania Land and Property.

Land records in Franklin County began in 1784. These records are filed with the Register and Recorder office in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Online Land Indexes and Records

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Fulton CountyHuntingdon CountyJuniata CountyPerry CountyCumberland CountyAdams CountyFrederick CountyWashington CountyPA FRANKLIN.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

French and Indian War
Reverend John Elder, pastor of Derry and Paxtang churches, recruited Scotch-Irish rangers from his congregation in what is now Franklin County (then Cumberland County). Known as the Paxton Rangers or Paxton Boys, they provided security for white settlements between the Blue Mountains and the Susquehanna River. They are remembered for playing a prominent role in Pontiac's War.[15]

Revolutionary War
Men from what is now Franklin County (then Cumberland County) served in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment.[16]

Civil War

An interesting study, called the Valley of the Shadow Project, has collected military and private papers detailing the experience of the Civil War in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Augusta (VA).

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Naturalization records can contain information about immigration and nativity. Prior to 1906, it is rare to find the town of origin in naturalization records. For more information, see Pennsylvania Naturalization

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers may contain obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings. Newspapers are often found in local or university libraries, historical or genealogical societies, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published. See Pennsylvania Newspapers for more information.

Newspapers of Franklin County

Online Newspapers

To learn if there are newspapers online for a specific town or city in Pennsylvania, see and search for the town or the name of a newspaper.

The Digital Archives of the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library contains full photos of local newspapers searchable by key words and article titles (try births, obituaries, hospital admissions, discharges, etc.) as well as date.

  • Record Herald, 1918-2009
  • Village Record 1851-1900
  • Waynesboro Record 1901-1921 (now known as the Waynesboro Record Herald)

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Obituaries are generally found in local newspapers where the person died or where family members lived. Local libraries or societies may have indexes or other sources.

Online Obituary Abstracts

Obituary Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Cell, Robert F. and Franklin Repository (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), The Franklin Repository; Chambersburg, Pennsyvlania:Newspaper Abstracted and Indexed for Franklin County Names (Edinburg, Texas:R.F. Cell, 1992, 1995; Chambersburg, Pennsylvania:Franklin County Historical Society-Kittochtinny) FHL film 1059479 items 5-7; book 974.844/C1 B38c An index in each volume. Contains draft lists, jurors, military lists, unclaimed letters, death and marriage notices, probate information, etc.
  • Cell, Robert F. and Mercersburg Journal (Mercersburg, Pennsylvania), Mercersburg Journal; Mercersburg, Pennsylvania; 1857-1874 (Edinburg, Texas:R.F. Cell, 1996) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 974.844/M1 B3c

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Franklin County are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates; appointments of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills; inheritance tax appeals, and various petitions and motions.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

  • 1798 Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 at Ancestry ($).

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital records are handled by the County Orphans' Court. Between the years 1852-1855 Pennsylvania made a failed attempt to record birth, marriage and death events at the county level. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. For the most complete set of records, contact the County Orphans' Court.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For more information, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

  • 1726-1930 Pennsylvania, Births and Christenings, 1709-1950 index. Not complete for all years. This collection is an index for the years 1726 to 1930. It is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.
  • 1894-1906 Register of Births FHL films 323948–323949
    Births from 1894 -1906 have been microfilmed. They are available at the Pennsylvania State Archives and through local family history centers.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Pennsylvania marriages were created by county officials. Contact Franklin County Courthouse

Death[edit | edit source]

Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For indexes and records, 1906 and later, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary, Franklin County Courthouse.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Greene County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

  • National Archives at Philadelphia
    14700 Townsend Road
    Philadelphia, PA 19154-1096
    Phone: 215-305-2044
    Fax: 215-305-2052

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

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 Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

  • Franklin County Historical Society
    175 East King Street
    Chambersburg, PA 17201
    Phone: 717-264-1667
  • Franklin County Pennsylvania Genealogy Group

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • Franklin County USGenWeb Project This site has several maps, cemetery records, name indexes, local and family histories and other information for Franklin County online.
  • FamilyHart Online Database This is an online family database of over 843,000 linked records. There are many Franklin County families in this database. The database is updated online quarterly.
  • Franklin County PA Genealogy
  • 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), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/12/2017
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002) Franklin County, Pennsylvania, p.590
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Franklin County, Pennsylvania," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Pennsylvania, accessed 21 January 2020.
  8. "History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania" WorldCat 181018735; FHL film 1000556 item 3
  9. "History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania" WorldCat 181018735; FHL film 1000556 item 3
  10. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  11. "History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania" WorldCat 181018735; FHL film 1000556 item 3
  12. Wayland F. Dunaway, The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1944), 59-64. Free digital version at PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf at Penn State.
  13. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  14. The Philadelphia Courts at Common Pleas accessed 10 July 2012
  15. Wayland F. Dunaway, The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1944), 150-154. Free digital version at PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf at Penn State.
  16. John B.B. Trussell and Charles C. Dallas, The Pennsylvania Line; Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776-1783 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977). Digital version at Family History Archive.