William F. Freeman, deceased, was for nerly forty years one of the influential and prominent citizens of Stockton, San Joaquin county, and in his death, on June 18, 1897, the community lost a man of honor, integrity, solidity of character, and an ornament to city, county and state. He was one of th fast decreasing number who were the first to rush to the gold fields in the days of '49, and his name will always be written among those men who were the real founders of the great commonwealth of California.

He came around the Horn on the famous ship Edward Everett, well known among the vessels of her time. He was a painter by trade, and from San Francisco he went to Benicia, where he was employed by the government as a painter for some time. He afterwards had unusually good success in the gold fields of the state, and made a good stake in that business. From that he engaged in the cattle industry, and in this too he met with prosperity for several years. In 1861 he came to San Joaquin county, and from that time until his decease was a permanent resident of Stockton. He maintained a livery business in the city for some time, and then for many years engaged in dealing, shipping and importing jacks and jennets. He was a pioneer in this industry, and by importing thoroughbreds from Kentucky, he both improved standards throughout the state and also was very successful on his own account.

Mr. Freeman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, August 29, 1830, being a son of Charles and Sophronia (Gage) Freeman, both of whom were natives of England. He was reared in his native city and remained there until he set out for his long journey to California, at which time he was eighteen years old. He had received a good education, and was known throughout life as a man of fine intelligence, and was well informed on all general topics. He read much, and made himself familiar with affairs outside of his sphere of observation. Having resided for so many years in Stockton, he was naturally called upon in the direction of public affairs, and for two terms served as a member of the city council. He was a Republican in politics, but often exercised his independent views in voting for public officials. He was a member of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers.

April 15, 1862, Mr. Freeman married Miss Martha Drake, who was born in Flint, Michigan, where she taught school for several years, and from that town, in 1860, she corssed the plains by way of Salt Lake to Stockton, California, where she was engaged as a teacher in the grammar school until her marriage to Mr. Freeman. She is a lady of varied intellectual attainments, and the qualities of her heart and affection are nowhat inferior to those of her mind. She was a daughter of Dr. Elijah and Sallie (Webster) Drake, both natives of New York state. Dr. Drake was a pioneer physician of Flint, Michigan, and for many years an influential citizen and professional man there. He was descended from one of two brothers Drake, who came to America at an early day, his direct progenitor settling in New York state and the other locating in New Jersey. Mrs. Freeman now resides on her ranch of two hundred and twenty-five acres, located on the Waterloo road, seven miles northeast of Stockton, where she is passing her days in useful activity and enjoyment of her home and those about her.

Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Freeman: Arthur P. is in San Joaquin county; Frona is the wife of Graham Rice, who resides in New York city; Laura is the wife of Fred J. Eastman, of San Joaquin county; and Maurice A. is a resident of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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