In 2004 the abandoned St. John's African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) at Walnut and Fourth streets, was purchased and completely rehabilitated as an archive for Franklin County Court records. Scheduled for demolition, the church was built in 1891 and served an active congregation until about 1990.
Neatly archived in the 1,200 square foot AME Annex is 200 years worth of original courthouse documents, dating to the county's founding. Handwritten, these hundreds of binders record the earliest county government actions.
They were saved from the landfill after they were microfilmed and stored for years in multiple locations. Original shelving was saved along with the records and more retrieved from the Court House as additional records were microfilmed and passed on to the Historical Society. Additional shelving was purchased to accommodate the volume of binders.
This facility houses over 700 volumes of original Franklin County records including wills and estates, county commission minutes, taxes, papers and hundreds of original probate files which are gradually being microfilmed by the county, the originals than being permanently transferred to the historical society. Dozens of other miscellaneous county records are housed here as well.
The bulk of this material spans the time period between the founding of the county in 1818 up to, in some cases, the 1960s. Not all records are complete and it is recommended that you call ahead to inquire about specific availability.
These documents are utilized by researchers of local history, genealogy and sometimes current county employees. Probate records are especially valuable for genealogical purposes. The county continues to microfilm these records.
Microfilm of most records is available at the museum during the Four Rivers Genealogical Society's normal hours. Hard copies and/or digital copies are available from the microfilm.
Review of the original documents is only available by appointment by calling the museum at 636-239-0977. Please make appointments at least 24 hours in advance.