I have found some will abstracts in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and Caldwell County, Kentucky for some of my Freeman family who owned slaves. The Freeman’s are from my Dad’s side of the family through his father’s mother. I will be writing about them and stating their relationships to me from the oldest will to the newest will. Just a brief little history about my Freeman family follows. My oldest known Freeman ancestor was James Freeman who was born about 1710 and died sometime before 1767 possibly in Bertie County, North Carolina. James was my 7th great-grandfather and I have yet to find his wife’s name. I believe he was the father of the following five sons: John Freeman, 1734, Aaron Freeman, 1736, Michael Freeman, 1738, Allen Freeman, 1740, and David Freeman, 1742. The years listed for these five boys are approximations of their possible birth years. John was married to an Ann Freeman who was probably a cousin; Allen was married to a Tabitha and then a Barbara; I don’t have any wives names for Aaron or Michael, and David was my 6th great-grandfather.
The Freeman’s in Mecklenburg County were all members of the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church just like the Bigham’s I wrote about last time, and quite a few of them are buried there at the adjoining cemetery as well. I have often wondered if they like the Bigham’s might have come as a group with some Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from Ireland and help to start up this church.
This church is still in existence today and the following little history I found on their website located at: http://www.steelecreekpres.org/ “Steele Creek Presbyterian Church was organized in 1760 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2010. The first Sanctuary was a small log cabin located in what is the present-day cemetery. It is the second oldest church in Mecklenburg County and was the largest rural Presbyterian Church in the country during the mid-twentieth century. Five houses of worship have served the congregation, and the present Sanctuary was dedicated on April 17, 1889. It is built of bricks handmade from materials in the surrounding area. Both the Sanctuary and Cemetery are recognized as Historical Landmarks. There are over 3,000 members, friends, and family resting in the Cemetery. Included are a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, four Generals, numerous Revolutionary and Civil War patriots, more than twenty-five ministers, and the parents of Rev. Billy Graham.” The following is a picture of the church and cemetery, taken from their website.
The following pictures were at www.findagrave.com and you can see how old some of the tombstones are. There are 70 Freeman burials listed in the Steele Creek Cemetery on FindaGrave.
Allen Freeman, 1740-1807
Now on with the wills starting with, Allen Freeman, born about 1740 in Bertie County, North Carolina and died before April 1807 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He was my 6th great-granduncle and was the probable son of James Freeman. I know Allen Freeman was married at least twice, first to Tabitha and then to Barbara, but I still don’t know what their maiden names were or their marriage dates yet. I will just need to keep digging. He had at least seven children with Tabitha and four children with Barbara. The records on www.findagrave.com say he is buried at Steele Creek Cemetery, but apparently in an unmarked grave.
Allen Freeman wrote his will on January 24, 1807 and it was brought to probate in the Court Term of April 1807. That means he would have died sometime between January 24th and April of 1807. He mentions his wife Barbara Freeman, his sons: Gideon Freeman, William Freeman, Allen Freeman and Charles Freeman and his daughters: Nancy Wagstaff, Sarah Freeman and Susannah Garmon who are the children of his first wife. He states that the children of my present wife are daughters: Jemima Freeman and Peggy Freeman and son: Isham Freeman. Witnesses were: Charles T. Alexander and Jeremiah Cloutz.
From the inventory and guardianship records in Mecklenburg County, there is one other child that is not listed in the following abstract, who was named John Freeman. He needed a guardian so that means he would have been under 14 years of age normally. The will abstract also says “the residue is to be divided among my 12 legatees”, but only 11 were listed. I need to try and find the original will so I can read it myself and see if all of the children are listed and maybe John was just left off for some reason.
The following people received slaves in Allen Freeman’s will, his wife, Barbara Freeman was to receive the negro named Grace; son, Charles Freeman to receive the negro named Wood; daughter, Jemima Freeman to receive the negro girl named Matty; son, Isham Freeman the negro named Joe; and daughter, Peggy Freeman the negro named Charlotte. What other slaves if any he may have had, must have already been given to his other children or sold, before he wrote his will. I did however, find Allen Freeman’s estate inventory and there are other slaves listed and they were: negro Emanuel, negro Betty and negro Jenny. Emanuel was worth $468 so he must have been a field slave, Betty was worth $181 and Jenny was worth $172, but it looks like they were being sold and not gifted to any of his children.
The following is the will abstract I found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts and then just the one page from the inventory that mentions the three slaves who were not given to any of his children.
David Freeman, 1742-1808
David Freeman, was born in 1742 and died April 27, 1808 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He was my 6th great-grandfather and was the probable son of James Freeman. He is buried at the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery, just like his older brother Allen Freeman, but fortunately for me David has a tombstone, which picture I found at www.findagrave.com. Also David’s wife my 6th great-grandmother, Mary Frizzell Freeman, 1743-1779, also has a tombstone at Steele Creek.
David Freeman was married twice, first to Mary Frizzell, and second to Jane Barnett, 1745-1809, who was the widow of David Hayes, when she married David Freeman. David and Mary had at least nine known children and I don’t believe David and Jane had any children together or if they did, they did not live very long. The nine children of David and Mary were the following: James Freeman, ca. 1764-after July 1808; Sarah Margaret Freeman, 1766-1836, married James B. Bigham III (my 5th great-grandparents); Anne Jane Freeman, ca. 1768-after 1860, married William Berryhill; Reuben Freeman, ca. 1770-1846, married Nancy (maiden name unknown); Jemima Freeman, ca. 1772-after July 1808, married David Stephenson who sometimes went by the surname of Stinson as well; Michael Freeman, ca, 1774-after July 1808; John B. Freeman, ca. 1776-before June 1806, married Amelia (maiden name unknown); David Freeman, Jr., 1778-1802, married Jane Hayes; and Hugh Freeman, ca. 1779-after 1820, married Lucy Murray.
The following is the will abstract I found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts for David Freeman, he is giving a lot of land away, but no mention of any slaves. I just wanted to show people that not everyone with property in the south had slaves.
Michael Freeman, 1764-1842
Michael Freeman, was born March 22, 1764 in Bertie County, North Carolina and died February 9, 1842 in Caldwell County, Kentucky. He was the son of John Freeman and his wife Ann Freeman and the grandson of James Freeman. Michael was my first cousin seven generations removed from our common ancestor who was James Freeman.
I have yet to find Michael’s wife’s name, but he had at least seven known children, namely: Polly Freeman, ca. 1785-before December 1840, married Peter Fite; Jannett B. Freeman, ca. 1787-before December 1840, married a Mr. Wood; Peninah Freeman, 1789-1835, married Andrew Dunn; Matilda Freeman, ca. 1791-after 1840, married John Mercer; Eliza B. Freeman, ca. 1795-1862/1863, married a cousin, John Madison Bigham; David Bennett Freeman, ca. 1797-before 1840, married Pelina Kuykendall; and Michael Washington Freeman, 1801-1864, married Tabitha Cash.
Michael's, will was written December 3, 1840 and was recorded March 21, 1842, in Caldwell County, Kentucky. He mentions the following family members, but does not mention a wife so whoever she was, she had died before he wrote his will. His daughter, Polly Fite, deceased, left land in Carroll County, Mississippi of 163 acres on Hayses Creek; daughter, Jannett B. Wood was left the following slaves: Sylas and Charlotte and land on Eddy Creek; daughter, Penninah Dunn, deceased, heirs (her youngest child is Ararat); daughter, Matilda Mercer to receive slaves: Jenny and her children, also Martha Ann and Mary; daughter, Eliza B. Bigham to receive slaves: Friday and Luisa; son, Michael Washington Freeman land on Eddy Creek and slaves: Jackson and Hellen and all mills, because he paid a debt to the estate of Andrew Dunn, deceased; grandson, Michael Freeman Wood; grandson, John Freeman Fite; Grandson, William Freeman and Grandson, James Freeman; executors: son, M. W. Freeman and John Mercer
The following is the will abstract I found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Caldwell County, Kentucky Will Abstracts.
The following is a picture of Michael’s tombstone located at the Hopewell Cemetery in Lyon County, Kentucky which is an adjoining county to Caldwell County on the southwest side.