JAMES PERRY FREELAND
All of the vicissitudes which made pioneer life in Kansas memorable were experienced by James Perry Freeland, who has lived in Washington township, Brown county, Kansas, since 1859, and has aided and watched with jealous interest the wonderful development of his county and state. Perhaps no one has devoted himself more industriously and intelligently to the business of general farming and stock raising than has Mr. Freeland, whose success has been marked at every stage of his career, and those who wondered in pioneer days whether he was really making a living viewed his rapid strides in the direction of wealth with supreme satisfaction. "Jim" Freehand has always been popular with his neighbors. In the early days when they needed neighborly encouragement and attentions he could be depended upon, and when he grew prosperous and was able to help more liberally any need of assistance had only to be announced and it was supplied by him. In addition to his original pre-emption, his present homestead, Mr. Freehand owns three quarter-sections of land and also seventy acres. Upon different tracts he is locating his children as they decide to leave the parental roof.
Some details of the busy, useful and eventful life of Mr. Freehand must of necessity be included in this volume. He was born in Mannington, Marion county, West Virginia, June 2, 1832. His father, Thomas Freehand, was born in the same county in 1800 and died in 1844. The Freelands entered the state of Virginia at a very early day. Elijah Freehand, the paternal grandfather of our subject, was born near Harpers Ferry, now West Virginia soil, and was descended from ante-Revolutionary French stock. Thomas Freeland married Margaret Pritchard, who was born in France. Their children were: Amy, who is dead; Rebecca, who lives in West Virginia and is the wife of Nehemiah Glover; James P.; Hannah and May, both dead; William, of West Virginia; John, of Marion, Ohio; and Thomas, of West Virginia. Jane, wife of William Roby, a half-sister of those mentioned, lives in Marion county, West Virginia.
James P. Freeland never attended a free school. The subscription school furnished him with all the knowledge he ever acquired from the old schoolmaster of the day school. He paid his board and what other expenses were necessary to attend a night school, when well along in his teens, and with this scant equipment he sallied forth to battle with the world and was successful. After his fourteenth year he learned stone cutting and found employment at bridge building and for a number of years that was his business. He came West by way of the Missouri river from St. Louis. Reaching Buchanan county, Missouri, he gave the only dollar he possessed to a local lodge of Good Templars to become a member of the order: He lived in Missouri from 1856 until the spring of 1859, and while there was married to Miss United States America Beltcher, a native of Clay county, Missouri, who has borne him children named as follows: Jasper P. (dead); John T.; Mary (dead), who married Oliver Gechter; James (dead) ; James W., one of the prominent young farmers of Brown county; and Matthew Freehand.
March 12, 1859, soon after his marriage, Mr. Freehand settled on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 27, on a piece of wild and somewhat rough government property. He managed to eke out an existence, meeting the requirements for obtaining title to his pre-emption, upon which he lived until the end of the Civil war, when he purchased and moved onto his present home. His first residence was a 14x12 log hut, with a five and a half-foot "overhead," which served the family as sitting room, bed room, kitchen and parlor until the general era of prosperity following the war permitted the erection of a modern residence five years later.
Mr. Freehand is a Republican and has been twice elected county commissioner, first in 1884 and again in 1887. He was instrumental in securing and purchasing the first iron bridges for the county and in replacing the stoves in the county court house with the more modern and efficient furnace. He has always been a warm friend of public schools and has been thirty-two years on the school board in his district. He hired the first teacher in the district and the last one to date and made the first report of the district on the tax levy for school purposes. He is a Mason and a Knight of Pythias.