by Ida F. Winter and Elsie F. Knowles
taken from Family History of George Richard and Euphemia Jane Freeman (1990),
pp. 389-394, compiled by Glen R. Freeman
James Bert Wallinger Freeman was born 3 January 1897 to George Richard and Euphemia Jane Carter Freeman at #20 Market Place, Olney, Buckinghamshire, England. He was the youngest of seven children, five boys and two girls: Harry born 18 September 1882, Annie Elizabeth born 14 March 1844, Alf Lenard born 12 December 1886, Wilford born 10 September 1890, Ernest born 1 June 1893, Ida Carter born 26 February 1895, James Bert Wallinger born 3 January 1897.
Bert, the name chosen by his father, was the second of three names selected, and since one name could not be agreed upon, his father said, “He shall have all three names and be called Bert.”
Bert was a lovable baby and child, and was kissed much by everyone. When he could talk he let his family know he resented too much kissing by saying, “You kiss me ‘klenty,’” not able to say the “p” sound.
His family’s first home in Olney was on East Street, where his two oldest brothers and one sister were born. Some time before November 1889, the family needed a larger home. They found one on Market Place #20, just through the lot west of their current home. The front room faced the town square. Here three boys and one girl were born making seven children. This home had four rooms upstairs and for rooms downstairs; there were some unused rooms.
Bert’s father made new shoes in a long low building at the side of the house. He also sold merchandise from there; later, selling was moved to the front room which faced the square so it was easier for people to see and get to the merchandise.
This square is where all the entertainment took place for the children. Two Christmas holidays Ida and Bert were ill; one year with the measles and the next year with whooping cough. They had many holidays in England but Christmas was always the best. There they hung their stockings on the foot of the bed. Father Christmas would visit them and in the morning they would find the stockings filled with goodies of biscuits, cakes, oranges, nuts and candy and perhaps a toy near by. Their dinner consisted of Yorkshire pudding with meat and potatoes. The meat and pudding were cooked in a large oven at a special place that did it for all the people. The rest was cooked at home over a fireplace, even the plum pudding.
Bert was two years old when his parents joined the Church. As there was not Sunday School for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the children were sent to the Baptist Church for Sunday School. This church was just across the square and across a road. His parents thought the children should have some religious training. The pastor would give each child a small piece of candy if they were early. This would please the children no end.
After the family joined the Church and the missionaries were in the area within walking distance they always came to see them and stay a few days while they were tracting. In the evening they would hold meetings and sing in their home. No doubt Bert had fun with the missionaries. This went on for a few years, then the family decided they wanted to come to the United States. Bert’s mother’s youngest sister, Sarah, had joined the Church and had already immigrated tot he United States. She was living in Smithfield, Utah. May 1901, Bert’s two older brothers, Harry and Alf, left England by way of Liverpool aboard the ship Commonwealth for America with some missionaries. Harry went to Smithfield, Utah to work for his mother’s sister’s family. Alf stopped in Wellsville, Utah, to work for the brother of a missionary.
By June 1902 Bert’s folks had saved enough money to bring them to Zion. The parents and five children with their mother’s mother left from Liverpool harbor. Bert was five years old at that time. When they were all settled in their state rooms, men were on the one side and the women on the other. They went up on deck to say goodbye to England. They found Bert sitting astride the ship railing. His mother walked up quietly and picked him off so as not to scare him. She was afraid he would fall into the water or get thrown off when the ship started moving. It was a long ride for such a small lad but he came through it all right. They sailed on the same ship, Commonwealth, as the older brothers had when they left a year and one month earlier. Bert, age five, was much favored as the youngest child on the ship, but he was always obedient.
Arriving in Salt Lake City, they changed trains and were on their way to Cache Junction. During the top over at Mendon, Utah; Bert and Ida wandered out in the sunshine. They gathered June grass spears in their heavy stockings, but were rewarded with finding some pansy-like flowers and proudly took them back to their mother.
Leaving Cache Junction, they traveled by train to Smithfield, Utah. They lived with Bert’s mother’s youngest sister for a few weeks. Smithfield was their temporary home and they enjoyed places to explore. The family moved to Wellsville, but left Grandmother Carter with her daughter, Sarah, in Smithfield. In Wellsville, Bert’s father repaired shoes during the winter. In the spring he and the older brothers did seasonal farm work.
The fall of 1903, the family moved to Brigham City. They lived in a home in the First Ward on First East and a little sough of Fourth South.
In January 1904 Bert’s family moved to a small farm near the foothills north and east of Brigham. There was plenty of work to do on the hillside home and farm. The children were kept busy helping their father with the watering, pulling weeds, (some taller than they were), tending chickens (feed and water), and helping plant corn and tomato plants. They were soon picking fruit, not only to eat themselves, but to be shipped to other cities. Water for use in the home had to be carried from a spring and cistern up the hill from the house. Bert and Ida always worked together, both in pulling weeds and also picking fruit and going for water up the hill. The water from the cistern was not piped down to the house until just before Bert left home.
On one occasion Bert’s mother was so surprised and upset when he and Ida went to a children’s party and were not home until nearly 10:00 p.m. She saw them coming across Fishburn’s lucerne patch and knew they were all right.
Until Bert and Ida started school, they had always been together at work or play. They scoured the hills for sagebrush for their mother’s summer fires for cooking or looking for the cow or in search of flowers. When they went to different schools their paths did not cross very often, only at home in the evenings.
The house was small but they built an addition for the boys to sleep in and to store items.
It was over a mile to the Fourth Ward Columbia School Building, a three room building with a stove in the center of each room.
The family attended the Fourth Ward for Sunday School and the tabernacle for sacrament meetings for a period of time. Later the sacrament meetings were held in the Fourth Ward chapel. The social activities were held in the recreation hall after it was completed.
A horse and buggy were bought as soon as they could be afforded. This made it easier to get to church and to town. They were able, now, to do their own plowing and cultivating of the land. They previously had to borrow a horse to do their plowing or hire someone to do the plowing and cultivating when people were available.
One snowy afternoon while Bert and Ida were playing outside, they encouraged a small bobcat to let them pet in, thinking it was a house cat. They called to it and started toward it. It flew into Ida’s face knocking her down. Bert went for his mother; before they came back it had bit and clawed and scratched Ida’s face. As Bert and his mother approached, it ran into the barn. When the older boys and their dad came home they went in search of it and finding it in the barn, killed it.
Each spring, after the snow melted, all pitched in and helped clean the yard and the farm. The cleaning of the yard and farm was a family affair, as many hands made light work. The work included: preparing the ground for planting, pruning trees, hauling branches, clearing the dead vines from the berry patches, and planting the crops. They all seemed to have learned well how to farm by working the home farm and working for other farmers. After the planting of the crops there was the watering, weeding, cultivating, and harvesting the fruit of their labors in the fall. The fall work included preparing the food for use in the winter. Bert and Ida always worked together as they got along very well.
Bert was baptized 6 August 1905 into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Central School was ready for use. The members of the family attending this school had to walk from their hillside home to 200 South Main Street, which was quite a long walk. This school went to the sixth grade. The Whittier school was then made into the seventh and eighth grades. The high school had been built on Fourth East and Forest Street. By 1910 the Lincoln Elementary School was finished. The school district offered Bert’s father the janitorial job, which really helped the family. Bert, as well as the other members of the family who were not working, would help their dad clean the rooms after school as well as working on the farm.
Bert and his brother, Ernest, belonged to the first unofficial Scout troop organized in Brigham City in 1912. He also played basketball for the Fourth Ward and in high school as long as he was there.
Bert was a senior in high school in 1914 when he left school to join the army, along with many of his friends. He was stationed at Fort D. A. Russell, Warren, Wyoming. He became a cook at Fort Russell. While there he was hospitalized with meningitis and during his confinement in the hospital, hi friends were sent overseas. Bert was given a month’s leave from camp, which he spent at home with his folks. Following the expiration of his leave, he returned to camp. He was selected as a candidate to attend West Point but, due to the slight drainage from an ear, was unable to accept the opportunity.
While home on eave for the holidays in 1915, he was sealed to his parents along with his other brothers and sisters, on 22 December 1915, in the Salt Lake Temple. He was home again on leave in February 1918 and was ordained an elder on 11 February 1918. He also went to the temple and received his endowments before returning to camp in Wyoming. Many of the family spent the evening with him the night he boarded the train for camp. In February 1918, Bert went to see his sister, Ida, who was a nurse. She was on night duty at the hospital. The night supervisor took him up to where she was working in the maternity division fo the hospital. Ida stepped outside the division and talked with him for a few minutes. This was the last time she saw him alive.
Bert’s brother, Ernest, was discharged from the army 21 January 1919 and soon after he arrived home, Bert’s father received word that Bert was very ill with the flu and pneumonia a the camp hospital. His father asked Ernest to go and see Bert. Ernest traveled alone by train and arrived at Fort Russell shortly before Bert died of the flu on 28 March 1919. When Ernest brought Bert’s body home for the last time in a flag draped casket, he was met at the depot by his father, Alf and Ida. Bert was buried with military ceremonies at the cemetery in Brigham City. No public services were held due to the flu epidemic at the time. It was a cold sunny day. The brief services were lovely. Ida feels Bert would agree that all that was done had his approval.
Bert never married.
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1. The name Wallinger, in Bert’s name, appears in official document (military records, birth certificates, LDS church records and family records) with different spellings. The spelling, as used here, is the one used in his father’s autobiography.
2. The year of Bert’s birth is recorded on the birth certificate as 1894. The military records, LDS Church records, and the autobiography of his father show the year being 1897. The year 1897 is used here.