by Wilford Freeman
taken from Family History of George Richard and Euphemia Jane Freeman (1990),
pp. 8-14, compiled by Glen R. Freeman
Richard Freeman was born 17 April 1835 in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England. He was the youngest of three children who were born to Samuel Freeman and Elizabeth Ann Wallinger. Richard’s mother died when he was two and one-half years old so he did not remember her, and he seems not to have had the best of care after his mother died. He was a little more than four years old when his father married for the second time. Martha Smith became his stepmother 27 June 1841. She died 14 July 1847 when her baby was only nineteen months old. Richard was without a mother again. This time he was eleven years old so he was able to take care of himself pretty well. What happened to him from then until he was twenty-one years old, we do not know, except that his father married for the third time; just when has not been found, but for the second time Richard had a stepmother. As near as Wilford was able to find out, Richard’s new stepmother was Elizabeth Lett. William Lett, whom Wilford was told was Elizabeth’s younger brother, used to visit Grandfather quite frequently and considered himself some kind of relative of Richard’s. we saw him on a number of different visits to Grandfather. He seemed to be almost the same age and wore a graying beard about as long as Grandfather’s.
When Richard was bout twenty-one years old his father sent him to live with his uncle, Josiah Covington, a boot and shoe manufacturer in Liverpool so that he could become an apprentice to his uncle and learn the shoe trade. Samuel thought this would be a good opportunity for his son, Richard. A year later Richard was sent home quite ill. He seemed to have contracted tuberculosis. Due to his ill health, Richard was unable to do much work, so several years after his marriage, his wife went to Samuel, her father-in-law, and asked for some help. She did that against her husband’s wishes, and her own, but she could not see her children hungry and do nothing to get some food for them. At that time Samuel owned the store that later was given to the youngest son, Thomas. A tin of biscuits was given for the children but when the tin was opened, the biscuits were moldy and could not be used. The mother, Charlotte, swore she would never ask Samuel for any more help and never did, though they were always poor and often did not have enough to eat.
Richard received “more” while he was in Liverpool than either he or his father had thought of, as we shall see. We believe that if Samuel Freeman had known that Richard would come in contact with the elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and become a member of that Church, he would not have sent his son to Liverpool. Wilford said that he had every reason to believe that after Richard returned to Olney and had recovered some from his illness, he told his father of his conversion and tried to convert him. However, if he did try, he did not succeed as Samuel did not join the LDS Church and from then on he did not have much to do with Richard.
Soon after Richard’s arrival in Liverpool he found that his uncle and aunt were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Richard was asked to investigate the doctrines of the Church for himself and converse with the elders about them. Richard was of a religious nature and doubtless was anxious to find out the truth for himself. After making a careful investigation, Richard decided that the doctrines of the Church were true and asked that he be baptized and become a member of the new Church – at least it was new to him. The records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Liverpool at that time show that Richard Freeman, born 17 April 1836 (see Kay and Marilyn note 1) in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, was baptized a member of the Church 31 May 1857 by Elder Covington and confirmed the same day by Elder Turnbule or Turnbull (see Kay and Marilyn note 2). Wilford felt sure that it was Josiah Covington who baptized Richard, although the record does not give Elder Covington’s name. The Liverpool record also states that Richard Freeman returned to Olney, Buckinghamshire, in 1858.
So far as Wilford was concerned, the Lord had something to do with Richard’s trip to Liverpool. Had he not gone there he likely would never have joined the Church, at least in mortality, and it is doubtful that our parents and others would have heard of the gospel, or the Lord would have had to use some other means for it. However, as the poet Cowper says in his famous poem, “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
On 10 Oct 1858 Richard married Charlotte Emma Goss, the daughter of Enoch and Charlotte Stanley Marshall Goss, and to this union seven children were born. The name and birth date of each is a follows:
|George Richard Freeman
Thomas Charles Freeman
William Henry Freeman
Harriet Ann Freeman
Richard Henry Freeman
|born 29 June 1859
born 22 March 1861
born 14 August 1862
born 26 August 1863
born 17 December 1864
born 12 July 1866
born 8 May 1869
All were born in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.
Richard was engaged in shoe work, but had much trouble with his eyesight. One day while working, his awl slipped and stuck his nose, resulting in a disfigurement of which he was always very sensitive. He would never has his photo taken. (The only photo we have of him was taken as he lay on his bed after he passed away.) George, his son, would have a picture of his father.
Father said that because of illness and poor eyesight, his father was unable to continue at the shoemaking trade and because of this, all of his folks were very poor and they had a hard time providing for their family. Because of these conditions, and also because he could not find any LDS people in or around Olney nor hear anything about where they might be found. Richard was lonely and discouraged. For thirty years he was unable to make any contact with the Church and the people he loved. He did not attend services in any of the churches of Olney except to attend some funeral services in the Episcopal Church of Saint Peter’s and Saint Paul’s, the Church of England. He refused to have his first child, George Richard, christened because he was still looking for his Mormon churches, but when the third child was born (Thomas Charles) his wife’s folks finally persuaded him to allow Thomas to be christened. Later when Samuel was taken to be baptized, George Richard was taken along, he was also christened at that time on 12 March 1865 (see Kay and Marilyn note 3).
One thing Richard did to get a little cash and help provide for his family was to operate a stall (we would call it a concession) at fairs and other holiday celebrations in Olney and also in the surrounding towns and villages. Cherry Fair, one of the largest and most festive of the celebrations was held in Olney on or near Father’s birthday, 29 June. Flash George’s round horses (merry-go-round) and swishbacks (something like a roller coaster only much smaller) with about a dozen stalls (concessions) came to Olney and located on the market place. Grandfather set up a stall and joined them and as they went to other towns he went with them. At Grandfather’s stall or concession a gun was used to shoot darts at a target and the winners were given various sizes of hard candy called “rock candy.” The pieces of candy varied in shape as well as size. Some were square chunks; some were round like various sized marbles; others were straight sticks; and still others were shaped like canes. Some were of a plain color; others were striped. The score of the winner determined the size, shape, or color of the prize given to him or her.
Grandfather made his own candy and this insured a greater profit. He formed it into the different shapes and sizes that he desired while the candy was still quite hot. To make the striped candy he poured the hot liquid candy from the iron pot in which he cooked it onto a large smooth stone (slate). It spread all over the surface of the stone which was about thirty inches quare. It did not stick to the surface of the stone because the surface had been covered with a thin layer of butter before the candy was poured on it. As soon as the candy was all poured out, grandfather put the flavoring material on it and folded the partly cooled candy over and over with a knife. He then took a part of it and pulled it over a large hook until it was white. This white candy was pulled into rather thin stripes and put on the brown candy and portioned evenly over the surface. This striped lump of candy was then formed into the various sizes and shapes he desired.
Richard spent many years, and walked many miles to all the nearby towns, looking for members of the Mormon church, without success. He went to no other church but stayed home and read his Bible. By a strange course of events he was finally rejoined to his church in the year 1887. A friend, a chimney sweep, went to Northampton twelve miles away to work. While cleaning the chimney in the house of Richard Holton, Richard’s wife, Ellen, talked religion to him, he said, “I have a friend who talks like that.” (Ellen and her husband were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) She asked about the friend and very soon sent a letter to Richard asking if a group of Saints and missionaries would be welcome to visit him on a certain date near Easter. An answer to the letter was sent immediately asking them to come as he had been waiting thirty years for that news. Two elders and the Holtons came from, Northampton to visit Richard on Easter Monday 1887. What a joyful time it was to talk to someone of things close to his heart, and they had a time of rejoicing together. As soon as he was able to overcome a bad habit, he was re-baptized 14 May 1887 by Elder Charles Kelly, a missionary, who later became the president of the Box Elder Stake of Zion. Grandfather was now very happy. Almost a new life had begun for him. The elders came to see him quite regularly and he could communicate with them whenever necessary. His great desire now was to have his wife and children also join the Church.
Soon after this, Grandfather became gravely ill. The doctor said he could not live more than a few days because one lung was entirely gone and the other was also affected. At Grandfather’s request, Father sent word of Grandfather’s serious illness to the elders in Northampton and asked them to come and administer to him. One of the elders walked from Northampton to Olney, a distance of twelve miles, to administer to him. He promised the stricken Richard that he would recover from his illness and live for still a few years and that his last days would be his best days. These promises were all fulfilled. He did recover and lived for ten years more and enjoyed better health than he had ever had before that time.
Richard’s eldest son, George, was very good to his parents. As soon as he could find work he left school so that he could earn a little money. As a result, his education was very limited. In later years, as soon as he had a home large enough, he took his parents into his home and kept them for the remainder of their lives. So for the last eight years of Richard’s life he and Grandmother lived in Father’s home. They were given the use of one room on the ground floor and a bedroom upstairs. Our home had four rooms on the ground floor and four bedrooms upstairs and some unused rooms also. Grandfather Richard was very good to help Mother with the children. He used to say, and Mother wondered about the statement, “I love to see my family come and I love to see them go.” He was very strict and required obedience, but he was very kind too.
Father related that before Grandfather joined the LDS church he was a very heavy smoker. He smoked a pipe for a number of years. However, as soon as he joined the Church he threw his pipe and tobacco away and never used tobacco again. He had quite a battle with himself in order to overcome the habit of smoking. Many, many times he paced the floor at night unable to sleep because of the craving for a smoke. It was a long, hard fight, but he persevered. This shows that he was a man of faith, courage, and determination, and that he was sincere and honest in making the covenants he had made when he was baptized into the Church. He had made covenants with the Lord and he kept them.
Wilford remembered Grandfather Freeman quite well; he went for a number of short walks with him. Three or four times he went with his grandfather to a small garden plot where he grew the vegetables for his home. He used either a garden fork or a spade or both to dig the soil in the spring to prepare it for planting. He grew carrots, potatoes, turnips, peas, onions, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other vegetables. He was a good gardener and was busy weeding and caring for the growing plants several times each week. Irrigating is not necessary in England. There is plenty of rainfall to grow good crops as a rule. The plot of ground was about forty feet wide and sixty or seventy feet long, not very large but large enough if properly cared for, to produce a lot of good food. Most families who were able, rented a small plot of ground for a garden. Some of the plots were larger than described and some were smaller. Land owners divided large areas into garden plots and rented them. The plots were divided one from the other by narrow, grass covered paths. Some of the vegetables he raised he sold to get a little cash and Mother said that he always gave a good heaping measure to his customers. Richards at one time had the co-op store, but he was so generous he could not make it pay. He heaped the potatoes on the measure until they would roll off and the same generosity was used with all commodities. Wilford remembered some of the round measuring vessels that were used then. Vegetables and some other things were sold by the quart, or th peck, small amounts compared to the amounts we buy today.
Of Richard’s seven children only two, George Richard and Thomas Charles, lived to adulthood. Thomas Charles married Annie Knight 23 October 1886. They were the parents of six children: May, Frank, Fred, Maud, Rose, and Rhoda. Uncle Thomas Charles passed away 7 July 1907 following an operation, leaving George Richard the only survivor of the family.
From all that we have been able to find out, Richard Freeman was a good Latter-day Saint. He died 16 November 1898 at the age of sixty-three. He was buried in Olney, Buckinghamshire.
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Wilford tells this little story regarding his grandfather that happened when he was not more than seven years old. As already told, Grandfather raised vegetables on a small plot of ground. He was very proud of them. One morning when he was down looking at them to see how things were getting along, he noticed that someone had been there and had left the tops of some carrots and some turnips. So he decided that he would come down the next morning and see if he could find out who it was. The next morning he took me by the hand and we went down toward the gardens. Just as we reached the gate into the gardens, he saw three little boys down near his plot of ground. He opened the gate and took me inside and left me and told me to wait there until he came back. He went down on a brisk walk until he got about halfway to his plot of ground. Then these three boys saw him and off they went down through the field and through a hole in the hedge and into a field that was laid for mowing, which means that it had been left and no one was supposed to go there so that the grass could grow tall and could be cut for hay.
Well, he went on the fun after them and, of course, they couldn’t travel very fast in the tall grass, being little boys – the oldest of them was a little over seven years old – so he soon caught up with the two youngest and took off his leather belt and laid them over his knee and began to chastise them until he felt that they had sufficient. Then he left them and went after the other boy, but he found that he had left the tall grass and gone back into the garden patch as was too far for him to catch. But he knew who it was, and so he came up to me and we went on our way home.
It happened that it was two of his grandsons, my cousins, so he knew just where to find the other one. We went home and went into the back part of our lot and he opened the gig gates that were there and put me inside and closed them and said, “Now wait until I come back.” I didn’t knot what happened until a little while afterwards. I was told that he went to my uncle’s place and found the other boy, the third boy, hiding behind the pump. So he pulled him out and laid him across his knee and after he had taken his felt off, he belabored him until he figured he had enough punishment. Then he left him crying and came over into the gates and took me home again. His visit there was a howling success – those three boys really set it up. I was an interested spectator to most of it and was told about the final episode later. There was a little humor in this. I am sure Grandfather couldn’t see it, but I could. He had very little humor in his life – mostly frustration – but I thought this little incident would illustrate several things that happened often in that area.
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Kay and Marilyn Freeman NOTE 1:
In the Salt Lake Genealogical Library, in the Register of Baptisms in the Parish of Olney from 1813 to 1851, film 0919243, page 120, line 960, Richard Freeman’s “born date” is listed as 17 April 1835. It is in the same block as his baptism date of 30 June 1837. Return To History
Kay and Marilyn Freeman NOTE 2:
In the Salt Lake Genealogical Library in the LDS church membership card index 415447 (alphabetical) it shows Richard Freeman was baptized by Elder Covington 31 May 1857 and was confirmed the same day by Elder G. Turnbull. Return To History
Kay and Marilyn Freeman NOTE 3:
In the Salt Lake Genealogical Library, Baptisms in the Parish of Olney film 0919243, book 12, from 1851 to 1884, George Richard is listed on line 763, one line below his brother Samuel, who is listed on line 762. They are both listed as being baptized 12 March 1865. We note that all of Richard’s children were in that Register, except John. Return To History