Jonathan W. Freeman
Jonathan W. Freeman

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

JONATHAN W. FREEMAN is a lineal descendant of Edmund Freeman, who came from England; was at Saugus, alias Lynn, in 1635, and presented to the colony twenty corslets, or pieces of plate-armor. This armor he had brought with him under an impression that in possible conflicts with the Indians it might be effective. It was said of him "that he came over as agent of men of the first respectability in England." He was admitted freeman at Plymouth, Jan. 2, 1637, and with nine associates obtained leave of the colonial government to commence the first English town on the cape. The grant is indicated by the record, "Plymouth, April 3, 1637."

Col. Edmund Freeman, of the seventh generation from the emigrant, is found at Hanover, N. H., as the first settler, in 1765; was first known as "Captain" - afterwards as "Colonel" - Freeman. He commanded a company in the Revolutionary war, and was at the surrender of Burgoyne. His brother, Hon. Jonathan Freeman, was grandfather of the subject of this narrative, and war born March 21, 1745. He was forty years treasurer of Dartmouth College, and occupied a leading place in all public affairs. He was representative in the United States Congress 1797 to 1801; was also of the House, Senate, and Council of New Hampshire, and enjoyed through life an enviable reputation in the State of his adoption. He died Aug. 20, 1808.

His wife, Sarah Huntington, born in Norwich, Dec. 15, 1748, survived him thirty-eight years, and died Sept. 8, 1846, she being nearly ninety-eight years old. She was an intelligent and devotedly pious woman. An incident is related in a biographical sketch of this interesting Christian, written for the Boston Recorder, characteristic of her piety. A clergyman who visited her two or three years prior to her death, on kneeling to offer prayer, "requested her in her infirmity to remain seated in her chair, but she arose, and placed herself upon her knees at the age of ninety-five, uttering these memorable words, 'It never yet hurt me to kneel in prayer.'"

Jonathan Freeman, father of J. W. Freeman, was born May 28, 1777, and, besides filling important offices, was justice of the peace and quorum in New Hampshire for more than forty years. His first wife, Mary Whitehouse, of Pembroke, whom he married Nov. 8, 1803, died Dec. 23, 1829, aged forty-five. He married, second, Elizabeth Digby Belcher Oliver, daughter of a former rector of the church in Salem, Mass., May 1, 1833. She died April 8, 1852. Mr. Freeman died July 27, 1858, highly esteemed and much lamented.

Jonathan W. Freeman is eldest son of Jonathan and Mary (Whitehouse) Freeman, and was born in Hanover, N. H., March 7, 1806. In 1830 her married Sarah A., daughter of Hon. James C. March, of Rochester, N. H. His wife died Feb. 15, 1877, leaving six children, viz., Maj. Charles Freeman, a graduate of Williams College and of Cambridge Law School; Mrs. Walter P. Tillman; George, a lumber merchant of Troy; Mary, John W., and Fred H.

Mr. Freeman has been extensively engaged in manufacturing and mercantile business at Great Falls, N. H., and Glen's Falls and Troy, N. Y. He was one of the originators of the Union National Bank of Troy, and director for many years. He was one of the incorporators of the Union Trust Company of New York, and is vice-president of the Marshall Infirmary. His life has been one of great activity, almost wholly given to business operations, and his far-seeing and correct judgment has won for him in his business relations rank among the first who carve out their own fortune.

In middle life he took quite an active part in the great political questions of the day. Affiliating with the Whig party, he became a staunch Republican. For some years he was a member of the "Republican State Central Committee," and was a delegate to the Chicago Convention that nominated the late Abraham Lincoln for President of the United States.

During the late Rebellion he freely gave his time and money and did much to render assistance to the needy families of soldiers. In the erection of churches and support of church and school interests he has always been known as a liberal giver, and a staunch supporter of all that tends to elevate society.

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