EDWARD G. FREEMAN
For forty-six years Mr. Freeman has been a resident of California, and is now one of the highly respected businessmen of Jackson, Amador County. “Earn thy reward, the gods give naught to sloth,” said the sage Epicharmus; and the truth of the admonition has been verified in human affairs in all the ages which have rolled their course since his day. The subject of whose life history we now direct attention has, by ceaseless toil and endeavor, attained a marked success in business affairs; has gained the respect and confidence of men, and is recognized as one of the distinctively representative citizens of Amador County.
A native of New York City, he was born on the 28th of February, 1830, and is of English lineage. His father, Samuel J. Freeman, was born in London and married Miss Ann Gunn, a native of Birmingham, England, by whom he had two children born in England. One died before the emigration of the family to America, but Esther came with her parents to the new world in 1830. The family located at New York, whence they removed to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and afterward to New Haven, where the father made a permanent location. He died in the forty-ninth year of his age, leaving four children, three of whom are now living: Eliza, the wife of L. S. Burwell, of Palo Alto, California; Emily, now the wife of J. G. McCallum, of Los Angeles; and Edward Gunn, our subject. The father was a trunk manufacturer by occupation, and was a man of sterling worth, honorable in business and reliable in all life’s relations. His wife long survived him and died at the home of her son in Jackson when eighty-six years of age. Both were members of the Baptist Church and were people of the highest respectability.
Edward G. Freeman was their third child and now the eldest survivor of the family. He was reared and educated in New Haven, Connecticut, and there learned the trade of harness and saddle maker. In February, 1852, he took passage on the Race Hound, a sailing vessel bound for San Francisco, carrying three hundred on board. When rounding Cape Horn they encountered a severe storm, in which the masts and rigging of the vessel were torn away, and for a time it seemed that all on board must perish; but at length the gallant ship weathered the gale and after considerable delay reached the harbor at San Francisco in safety in the month of July. In company with John Veith, Dan McCarty, and C. L. Parish, the last named now a resident of Oakland, Mr. Freeman went to Sacramento and thence by team to what is now Volcano, in Amador County. The four young men began prospecting on the forks of the Mokelumne River, and great excitement was caused when Mr. Freeman found a nice little nugget of gold worth a dollar and a quarter. The men took claims, which they operated for a time and then floated down the river to another mining claim. Mr. Freeman met with only moderate success in his mining ventures, and therefore decided to engage in business in Jackson.
In October, 1854, he opened a little harness shop on Main Street, just opposite the present site of his large variety store. He began business on a small scale, his store room being only fourteen by eighteen feet; but with his characteristic energy he commenced the manufacture of saddle and harness, and his excellent workmanship soon secured to him a liberal patronage. Prices were high in those days, a single saddle bringing from twenty-five to fifty dollars, while a heavy set of harness was worth fifty dollars. Mr. Freeman gave close attention to his business, and as a result of his steady application and honorable methods he met with well earned success. He is still dealing in harness, but is also at the present time the proprietor of a large variety store which he carries on with the aid of his sons. In 1862 he erected a good brick store building in which his business is now located, and he also has a commodious residence on one of the beautiful hills of Jackson, fronting on Court Street.
In 1861 Mr. Freeman was married to Miss Georgia Anna Fritz, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and they had two sons, E. A. and C. W., both born in Jackson. The former is now a lawyer of his native city and the latter is connected with his father in business. Mrs. Freeman died in 1869, and on the 14th of February, 1875, Mr. Freeman was again married, his second union being with Mattie Trowbridge, a native of California and the widow of Edward Trowbridge. Her father, William Gilliland, was a native of New York and in 1850 came to California, bringing with him his wife and three daughters. These are Mrs. James Taylor; Caroline, the wife of Henry Bishop, who was a prominent early settler of Stockton; and Miss Helen, now deceased. Mrs. Freeman had two children by her former marriage: Lillie, now the wife of E. A. Freeman, her husband’s eldest son; and Edna, the wife of T. H. Peek, a resident of Jackson. Two children have been born of the second marriage to our subject, Charles and Pearl, the former now in his father’s store and the latter in school.
For many years Mrs. Freeman has been a valued member of the Methodist Church. Mr. Freeman belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and has passed all the chairs in both branches of the latter organization and has frequently been a representative to the grand lodge. In politics he is a Republican, but has never been an aspirant for office, preferring to devote his time and energies to his business, in which he has met with creditable success. He has truly won the proud American title of self-made man, for he entered upon his business career without capital. Energy and indomitable perseverance have been the stepping stones on which he has risen to a position of affluence. He is one of California’s worthy and reliable citizens, and since early pioneer days he has labored for the welfare of the state, proving especially active in the upbuilding of the northern section. He is highly esteemed for his integrity in all the walks of life and well deserves representation in this volume.
Since the writing of this sketch the death angel has visited this household and claimed as his prey the life of our subject, his demise having occurred June 9, 1900, after a long drawn-out siege of suffering from tuberculosis. In his death the family has lost a kind and tender father and husband and the County of Amador one of its most representative and highly esteemed citizens. The past three years Mr. Freeman traveled considerably for his health, visiting in New York and friends at his old home in Connecticut, but relief was only temporary. Since his death his business has undergone but slight change, being incorporated under the name of E. G. Freeman Company, his widow, daughter Pearl and two sons, C. W. and C. H., being the principal stockholders.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.