Historical Sketch of Franklin, MA
Source at bottom of page.



Historical Sketches
Franklin County
Hampden County
Hampshire County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Worcester County

New York


History at
Rays Place

Also see [ Railway
Officials in America


FRANKLIN was set off from Wrentham, in 1737. as a distinct parish, and incorporated as a town by the name of Franklin* in 1778. A church was organized here in 1738, and Rev. Elias Haven was ordained pastor the same year. He died of the consump tion. in 1754. About six years after the death of Mr. Haven, Rev. Caleb Barnum took the, pastoral charge, in which office he continued about eight years, when, difficulties increasing, he resigned. When the Revolutionary war commenced, he was appointed chaplain in the western army, and died in the camp, in 1776. Rev. Nathaniel Emmons, D. D., succeeded Mr. Barnum, and was ordained in 1773, and continued pastor for fisty four years. He was succeeded in the ministry by Rev. E. Smalley, who was ordained here in 1829.

The above is a southern view of the residence of the venerable Nathaniel Emmons, D. D. This house was built by Mr. Haven, the first minister of this town. It stands about half a mile south of the Congregational church. The first meeting-house stood about 20 rods north of the present church. At the time Dr. Emmons was ordained, there was a forest within 20 rods of the church. His ordination took place in the open air; he stood in a kind of valley, and the people stood on the elevated ground above him. In allusion to this circumstance, he pleasantly remarked that he was ordained under his people, not over them. Dr. Emmons was born at East Haddarn, Con., in 1745, and is now in his 94th year. He is entirely of the old school in his dress, &c., even to the shoebuckles, and three-cornered hat. One of his numerous visiters mentions that he called on Dr. Emmons in 1838, and, instead of finding him broken down by age, found him quite cheerful and pleasant in conversation. The study of Dr. Emmons is on the lower floor in the south western corner room, which he has occupied for this purpose for more than sixty years. So closely has he confined himself to this room, that it is said he is quite a stranger to the other parts of his house. Says Mr. Smalley in his centennia1 sermon, preached in 1838, Few clergymen of any age or country have lived so long as he; few have written so much; and few have lived to such purpose...... In the unpretending form of sermons, he has embodied so much truth, settled so many principles, and cleared up so many difficulties, that not a few have already acknowledged themselves greatly indebted to him, and are prepared to unite with others in pronouncing him a public benefactor..... Probably no clergyman unconnected with a theological seminary has guided the studies of so many young men in theology as Dr. Emmons."

The manufacture of straw bonnets is an important branch of business in this town. In 1837, there were 93,173 straw bonnets manufactured, the value of which was $160,186. There were also in the limits of the town 5 cotton mills; cotton spindles, 1,968; cotton goods manufactured, 323,000 yards. valued at $31,140; males employed, 17; females, 31. Population, 1,696. Distance, 17 miles from Dedham, 18 from Providence, R. I., and 27 from Boston.

The following account is abridged from a communication in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, by Dr. Mann. It rests upon the authority of tradition, but appears to be well authenticated.

"A man by the name of Rocket, in searching for a stray horse, discovered a train of 42 Indians, about sunset. From their appearance he suspected they intended to attack the settlement at Wrentham the next morning, after the men had dispersed to their work; he therefore followed them, secretly, till they halted for the night, when he hastily returned to the settlement and gave notice to the inhabitants. A consultation was held, at which it was agreed to attack the Indians early the next morning. A company of 13, under the command of Captain Ware, was hastily collected from Wrentham and the vicinity; who, having secured the women and children and the infirm in the garrison, set out for the Indian encampment, where they arrived just be fore day light and were posted within a short distance, with orders to reserve their fire till the enemy began to decamp.

"Between day light and sunrise the Indians suddenly rose from their resting places, when, upon a signal given, a general discharge was made, which threw them into the utmost consternation. Some, in their contusion, while attempting to escape, leaped down a precipice of rocks from 10 to 20 feet in height; some of the fugitives were overtaken and slain. Two of them, who were closely pursued, attempted to conceal themselves in Mill Brook, where they were found and killed. It is related that one Woodcock discharged his long musket, called, in those days, a buccaneer, at a fugitive Indian, at the distance of 80 rods, and broke his thigh bone, and then killed him.

"The number of Indians killed was from 20 to 24; and not one of the whites. The place where this bold adventure occurred is in that part of the ancient Wrentham which is now Franklin. The large rock where the Indians were encapmed is to this day called Indian Rock. The time is not certainly ascertained; but it was, without much doubt, in the spring or summer of 1676, when the Indian forces were dispersed in parties throughout the country."

* “The name was selected in honor of Benjamin Franklin, LL. D. While Dr. Franklin was in France, a friend of his in Boston wrote to him that a town in the vicinity of Boston had chosen his name by which to be known in the world, and he presumed, as they had no bell with which to summon the people to meeting on the Sabbath, a present of such an instrument from him would be very acceptable, especially as they were about erecting a new meeting house. The doctor wrote, in reply, that he presumed the people in Franklin were more fond of sense than of sound; and accordingly presented them with a handsome donation of books for the use of the parish.” — Smalley's Centennial Sermon.

Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
Geographical Descriptions.
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.


All pages copyright 2009. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy