This information is part of the Champaign County ILGenWeb Project. If you have reached this site by means other than The USGenWeb Project, The ILGenWeb Project, or directly, please visit the main Champaign Co, ILGenWeb site for more information regarding Champaign County, IL ancestors. Information contained here was transcribed by Celia G. Snyder. Please do not repost this information without the express written permission of Celia Snyder.

Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of James L. Freeman

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


JAMES L. FREEMAN. One of the most active and enterprising farmers of the community, a gentleman in the prime of life, and in the enjoyment of health, friends, and a fair share of this world's goods, is comfortably located on section 17, in Ogden Township, and is successfully cultivating 120 acres of fine land. He has an excellent wife and a family of blooming children, and enjoys in a marked degree the confidence and esteem of his neighbors. He has been a resident of this county over forty-six years, having been born in Homer Township, Aug. 15, 1841, and is the son of James and Rebecca (OGDEN) FREEMAN, natives of Virginia. The former, in early life, was a shoemaker by trade, but in later years abandoned the shop for the more congenial employment of farm life. He was a gentleman occupying a good position in his community, Republican in politics and a Christian in theology. He had represented his township in the Board of Supervisors for two years, and was a man whose opinions were generally respected, being formed with deliberation and adhered to with decision. The circumstances of his death were peculiarly sad, he having been instantly killed by a runaway team in 1868, while going from the timber to his home. The family were scattered, and there are now living four in this county, one in Kansas and two in Iowa. The mother of our subject, Mrs. Rebecca Freeman, was born Feb. 14, 1804, in Virginia, and her death occurred Oct. 5, 1854.

The youth and boyhood of James L. Freeman were spent under the parental roof, and he assisted his parents in the shop and on the farm until twenty years of age. Soon after the rebels fired upon Ft. Sumter he resolved to join his comrades who had enlisted in the service of the Union, and became a member of the 26th Illinois Infantry, which was assigned to the army of the Missouri. He was mustered in at Springfield, Ill., after which the boys proceeded to the southwest across the Mississippi and wintered in camp near Hannibal, Mo. His first encounter with the enemy was at New Madrid the following spring, and he afterward engaged in many of the important battles of the war, being present at the siege and capture of Corinth, Atlanta and Vicksburg, besides intermediate engagements, in all numbering fifty-seven. He experienced many hairbreadth escapes, marched many thousands of miles with his knapsack on his back, and endured with his comrades bravely and patiently the vicissitudes of a soldier's life during one of the most memorable periods in the history of this country, and in which he, with thousands of others, experienced sufferings and hardships which can better be imagined than described. The experiences of those terrible years have been celebrated in song and story, but no human tongue can give an adequate idea of the life of a Northern soldier, transplanted to a Southern soil. In 1864 they joined the army of Gen. Sherman and participated in the never-to-be-forgotten march to the sea. This helped to swell the distance to nearly 7,000 miles which was traveled by our subject and his comrades, often without sufficient food or drink. Notwithstanding all he had endured, the patriotic flame still burned in his breast, and at the expiration of his first term of enlistment young Freeman was willing to again brave the hardships which he had already passed through for the sake of victory, and re-enlisted Jan. 1, 1864. Soon afterward, however, peace dawned upon the nation, and his regiment was mustered out at Scottsboro, Ala.

On the 26th of October, 1865, our subject celebrated his return to civil life by his marriage with Miss Mary F. STEARNS, the wedding taking place in Homer, Ill. Mrs. Freeman was born in Vermilion County, this State, Sept. 4, 1846, and is the daughter of Chaney C. and Mary (LEE) STEARNS, natives respectively of Ohio and Illinois, the mother now deceased. The father resides at Homer. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. F. first located on the old home place, whence they removed to their present farm. To the household thus established there were added in due time nine bright children, who were named respectively Nora, Martha, Anzonettia, Lydia, Minnie, Ezra C., Iva, Gracie and Lewis S. Gracie, when nine moths old, was stricken with fatal illness, and yielded up her life on the 18th of June, 1866. Mr. and Mrs. Freeman became members of the Christian Church in 1858 and 1864 respectively, and our subject politically, as soon as becoming a voter, identified himself with the Republican party.

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