The Kansans and Whence They Came – Freeman Research
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Source Citation:
Richard Wilson, "", The Kansans and Whence They Came, Internet: (accessed ), < >.

1. Joseph Freeman

Where and when was Joseph Freeman of Adams County, Pennsylvania born

Go to <Query 2><Query 3><Query 4>

What did Joseph or Susan say?

Joseph Freeman was the father of Samuel E. Freeman and seven other children. The only known document that was created during Joseph's lifetime and shows his birthplace was the census of 1850. This lists his birthplace as New Jersey and his age as 74, making his birth year either 1775 or 1776. His wife, Susan Kesselring, was listed as being born in Maryland and 50 years of age. It is pretty well documented that her parents lived in Frederick County, Maryland, at the time of her birth in 1800, which means her entries are accurate. Hopefully, since the person who gave Susan's details was correct, he or she was equally aware of Joseph's background. I assume it was either Joseph or Susan who provided the information, however, they did have adult and teenage children at home at the time.

What did Joseph's children say?

I am always amazed at how little the children seemed to know about their parents. I used to envisage mothers and fathers long ago, talking late into the evening about their childhoods, their parents, their grandparents, and other past events partly because their families were very important to them and partly because there wasn't that much else to do in the evenings. I now believe that is largely a fantasy. I have seen many death certificates where the adult child who gave the personal information didn't even know their mother's maiden name, and rarely can they name both of their grandparents correctly. Compared to that, it should be no surprise that the children are often wrong about their parents' birthplaces on census records. They seem to assume that the parents had always lived in the place where they raised their family. If genealogy teaches you anything, it is that the lives of American pioneers seldom began where they ended.

With low expectations, I looked at the census records of the children of Joseph and Susan. Six of their eight children lived at least until the census of 1880. This was the first census that asked where each person's parents were born. Again, you never know who in the household gave the answers, but almost all of the answers regarding both parents were Pennsylvania. We are pretty sure this is incorrect for Susan which casts doubt on their knowledge of their father's true birthplace as well. There were only a couple exceptions to the Pennsylvania responses. In 1880, Joseph Jr. said that his father was born in Ohio. This is unlikely since the first settlers didn't arrive in Ohio until 1788. In 1900, this was changed to Pennsylvania. The most interesting answers came from their daughter, Lydia Ann (Freeman) Weigle, in 1900. Her mother was listed as born in Maryland, and her father in New Jersey. If it weren't for Joseph Jr.'s Ohio answer, I would be tempted to say that if someone is going to vary from the easy assumption of Pennsylvania, especially not for just one but for both parents, they might actually know what they are talking about. In 1880, they were both listed as Pennsylvania, but it could easily be that her husband provided the answers in 1880, and she answered in 1900.


There are many family trees that show Joseph's birthplace and date as Nottingham, England in 1783. A researcher who has done a lot of original research on the Freeman and Kesselring lines told me that her father commissioned a genealogist in the 1960's to do research on the family. This is the place and date shown for Joseph Freeman, and this is where so many other researchers have picked up the "fact". However, there is no documentation of the original sources of the information. I can't say whether this is right or wrong. I would suggest though that if their father had in fact been born overseas, Joseph's children would have been aware of that bit of significant information. First, if he had emigrated after about the age of seven, he would have had a British accent. In addition, they would have tired of hearing about all the superior traditions of the motherland. If Joseph had emigrated at an age younger than that, at some point he still probably would mentioned that his parents brought him over on a sailing ship. It is far more noteworthy than a move from nearby New Jersey.

Another researcher has suggested to me that Nottingham could actually be the one in New Jersey, or perhaps less likely, the one in Chester County, Pennsylvania. DNA testing has shown her ex-husband to be related to Freemans in New Jersey and somehow related to Joseph Freeman as well. Nottingham, New Jersey, is now only a neighborhood within Mercerville, Mercer County, New Jersey, which is just across the border with Pennsylvania. During the time that Joseph could have lived there, it was in Burlington County very near the border with Hunterdon County. There are many other English place names in the vicinity including Essex and Somerset Counties which are adjacent to Mercer County, and Middlesex County which is further away. The 1960's genealogist could have unearthed something still unknown to the rest of us that said Nottingham and made the leap that it was the one in England.

Where was Joseph?

It would be very helpful to find Joseph's whereabouts during his younger adult years. A newspaper listed a letter waiting for him at the post office in 1810, however, he wasn't enumerated here during the census of the same year. At the age of around 34, he would usually have been the head of his own household by then. Since he was not known to have ever married until about 1818, he very well could have remained with his parents, moved in with other family members, or been a farmhand for unrelated people. If Joseph was in fact born in the adjacent state of New Jersey, the most likely places for him to have been before showing up in Adams County would surely be New Jersey, elsewhere in Pennsylvania, or possibly Maryland.

Joseph Freeman Selected Documents

Census Records

Samuel E. Freeman

1880, father born PA.
(can't find on 1900 census)

Joseph Freeman, Jr.

1880, father born OH.
1900, father born PA.

Eliza Freeman

(can't find 1880 census)
1900, father born PA.
1910, father born PA.

Lydia Ann (Freeman) Weigle

1880, father born PA.
1900, father born NJ, mother born MD. [mother is correct]

William F. Freeman

1880, father born PA.
1900, father born PA.

Mary F. (Freeman) Cassatt

1880, father born PA.
1900, father born PA.
1910, father born PA.

2. David Freeman

Was Joseph Freeman related to David Freeman, his next door neighbor in Hunterstown, Pennsylvania

Go to <Query 1><Query 3><Query 4>

Relatives or Just Neighbors?

David Freeman is first found in 1798 when he was living in Mt. Pleasant Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania. It was part of York County prior to 1800. He remained here until purchasing six adjoining lots on Baltimore Street in the town of Hunterstown in the same county 6 Apr 1809. This road was soon after renamed Littlestown Road, and is now Granite Station Road. These lots were town lots numbered 112-117, but no map or plat has been found that shows the locations of the numbered lots. Each lot had a street frontage of 65' and a depth of 217'. The 1810 census shows only he, his wife, and one non-white person of an unknown gender or age living in his household. In 1820, there was the same in his household, however, the non-white person was listed as a male under 14 years of age. He would have been a toddler in 1810, if it is the same non-white person. There was also a non-naturalized foreigner in his household which could have been any of the three living there, even David. For several years after moving to Hunterstown, his home was used as the polling place for the eighth district which was Straban Township. David must have purchased more lots at some time. A notice published in the newspaper 13 Mar 1822 announced an upcoming sheriff's sale of eight of his lots in town. This meant they were being sold to pay debts. Five of these were those already mentioned with the exception of number 116. Another notice published 9 Sep 1822 shows that he applied for bankruptcy protection. Another notice on 30 Mar 1825 shows that he had applied for protection again. In 1835, he was listed as a defendant on the trial docket for the January term. David died intestate, or without a will, on 1 Aug 1842. According to probate records, he "left no issue nor widow", and there are no other potential heirs mentioned in the records. His wife whose name is unknown had died in 1840. He still had four remaining town lots which were all sold to pay his debts. One of these was lot 116. It was described as adjoining Joseph Freeman, which means Joseph had purchased either 115 or 117, or both, probably during the sheriff's sale in 1822. Another was lot 106 which was described as adjoining Joseph Freeman and Henry Myers, the executor of David's probate. Joseph and his son, Samuel Freeman purchased both of these lots. Inexplicably, Joseph's name does not appear on the grantees index in this county for these lots or any other, even though these two are documented in the Orphan's Court (probate) records.

At this point, I now know far more about David Freeman than I do about my ancestor Joseph Freeman. From at least 1820 through 1842, David Freeman and Joseph Freeman were next door neighbors in Hunterstown. It seems that two strangers with the same surname living next to each other would be a rare occurrence, particularly when they were the only Freemans in the entire county at the time. When all known sources are considered, Joseph was born between 1776-1783. When David's census records and death notice are considered together, he was born between 1761-1766. This makes it very unlikely that David is Joseph's father. On the other hand, David is an excellent candidate for an older brother, a cousin, or even an uncle of Joseph. When they purchased David's land, maybe they wanted to keep his land in the family. Maybe they just saw a good opportunity to acquire more property next to their own.

David Freeman Selected Documents

Census Records

1800, Mt. Pleasant Township, Adams County, PA, p.504.

David Freeman household: ---1----1-.
1 male 26-44 (b.1756-1774) David.
1 female 26-44 (b.1756-1774) David's wife.

1810, Straban Township, Adams County, PA, p.94.

David Freeman household: ----1----11.
1 male 45 and older (b.bef. 1765) David.
1 female 45 and older (b.bef. 1765) David's wife.
1 free non-white person in household. unknown.

1820, Hunterstown, Adams County, PA, p.90.

Joseph Freeman household: 1---1--11-----1.
1 male 0-10 (b.1810-1820) Samuel.
1 male 45 and older (b.bef.1775) Joseph.
1 female 16-26 (b.1794-1804) Susan.
1 female 26-45 (b.1775-1794) unknown.
1 person engaged in manufacturing.

David Freeman household: -----1----1-1--------------1.
1 male 45 and older (b.bef. 1775) David.
1 female 45 and older (b.bef. 1775) David's wife.
1 free non-white male (b.1806-1820) unknown.
1 non-naturalized foreigner.
1 person engaged in agriculture.

1830, Straban Township, Adams County, PA, p.55/107.

David Freeman household:
1 male 60-69 (b.1761-1770) David.
1 female 70-79 (b.1751-1760) David's wife.

Joseph Freeman household:
1 male 5-9 (b.1821-1825) Joseph Jr.
1 male 10-14 (b.1826-1830) Samuel.
1 male 40-49 (b.1781-1790) Joseph.
1 female 0-4 (b.1826-1830) Lydia Ann.
1 female 5-9 (b.1821-1825) Catherine or Eliza.
1 female 30-39 (b.1791-1800) Susan.

1840, Straban Township, Adams County, PA, p.49B/96.

David Freeman household:
1 male 70-79 (b.1761-1770) David.
1 female 80-89 (b.1751-1760) David's wife.

Joseph Fourmen [Freeman] household:
2 male 5-9 (b.1831-1835) George & William.
1 male 15-19 (b.1821-1825) Joseph Jr.
1 male 20-29 (b.1811-1820) Samuel.
1 male 60-69 (b.1771-1780) Joseph.
1 female 0-4 (b.1836-1840) Mary.
1 female 5-9 (b.1831-1835) Lydia Ann.
1 female 10-14 (b.1826-1830) Eliza.
1 female 15-19 (b.1821-1825) Catherine.
1 female 40-49 (b.1791-1800) Susan.

1850, Hunterstown, Straban Township, Adams County, PA, p.326A.

Joseph Freeman, age 74, male, no occupation, $800 real estate, born New Jersey.
Susan Freeman, age 50, female, born Maryland.
Catherine Freeman, age 21, female, born Pennsylvania.
Lydia A. Freeman, age 17, female, born Pennsylvania.
George Freeman, age 15, male, born Pennsylvania.
Mary F. Freeman, age 11, female, born Pennsylvania, attended school.

3. Samuel Freeman

Is Samuel E. Freeman of Adams County, Pennsylvania, and Dickinson County, Kansas, part of the same family as the first postmaster of Portland, Maine

Go to <Query 1><Query 2><Query 4>

Newspaper Article

Samuel Freeman claimed to be named after a direct ancestor who was a well known postmaster of Portland, Maine. His claim is known solely from the following brief newspaper article:

Abilene Reflector, Abilene, Kansas.

weekly edition, 2 Jul 1891, p.5.

Late Maine papers tell of the death of Chas. Freeman Bryant whose name recalls the fact that he was a grandson of Samuel Freeman, the first postmaster of Portland. Mr. Freeman's original commission signed by Ben Franklin is in the library of Col. C. H. Barker, of this city. Sam Freeman, a well known farmer of Northeast Dickinson [county] is a direct descendent of the gentleman for whom he is named.

But Is it True?

Although the article doesn't mention it, Mr. Bryant died 16 Jun 1891 at the age of 78, making his birth c.1813. His notable grandfather was known for being more than just a postmaster. Samuel Freeman held virtually every public office imaginable in his hometown, many simultaneously. He was also active in politics, being a representative for Maine in the Provincial Congress of 1775, 1776, and 1778. He was born 15 Jun 1743 in Falmouth (now Portland), Cumberland County, Maine, and he died in Portland 18 Jun 1831. The well known farmer in this article was Samuel E. Freeman who was born 24 Dec 1819 in Hunterstown, Adams County, Pennsylvania.

For the younger Samuel's claim of being a direct descendant of the elder Samuel to be accurate, he would have to be his grandson. This would also make him a first cousin of the Mr. Bryant who recently died. Younger Samuel's father, Joseph Freeman, was born c.1776, most likely in New Jersey. Therefore, the postmaster Samuel could conceivably be his father. However, the first and biggest problem is that seemingly thorough online genealogies of Samuel Freeman, the postmaster, do not include Joseph Freeman or Samuel E. Freeman among his descendants. Furthermore, the elder Samuel first married on 3 Nov 1777, presumably after Joseph was born. He married a second time in 1786. Even if Joseph's estimated birth date isn't quite right, both wives were bearing children on a regular basis, leaving no gap for an unaccounted for Joseph to fit in. In addition, Joseph would have been born in Maine, not New Jersey, since Samuel resided there his entire life. So if Samuel E. Freeman, the farmer, is not a direct descendant of Samuel, the postmaster, is there any truth to the article at all? Perhaps.

Without some connection to the area, the death of the grandson of a man who had been locally famous in his day in Portland, Maine, should not have been a significant event for readers in Abilene, Kansas. Presumably, the family connection must have been reported to the Abilene newspaper editor by the farmer himself or by a member of his family prior to publication. How and why would this have occurred? Did the editor ask Samuel if he was related to this man just because they had the same fairly common name? That would have been a lucky shot in the dark. Had Samuel told the editor previously? If so, why? Did Samuel bring the whole issue to the attention of the editor in the first place? It just doesn't seem plausible that the editor somehow heard of Mr. Bryant's death, then randomly asked Samuel if he was related to his grandfather, and the answer just happened to be yes.

If Samuel believed this to be true, there must have been a reason for it. Conversely, if it wasn't true, why in the world would he think it is? Since it would have been very recent family history and obviously incorrect, it is doubtful that he was told by his elders that this specific Samuel Freeman was his grandfather. However, it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where he was given at least two pieces of disjointed information, and Samuel made the erroneous connections himself. First is that he was named after an ancestor named Samuel Freeman. That would have been fairly typical anyway. Second is that he was related to Freemans in Maine or that his family had come from Maine. Otherwise, I cannot fathom any reason why he would have assumed a connection to a man with a reasonably common surname so far away from his hometown in Pennsylvania, unless he was, with all due respect, a blowhard. There are probably many more cases of vague stories like this that are completely false than there are that are completely true. On the other hand, many of these family stories do contain a mangled truth, and it is often the timeline that gets jumbled. It is doubtful that Samuel was aware of the precise age of the postmaster referenced in the newspaper, and therefore, he wouldn't have known that he was the appropriate age to be his grandfather. There is perhaps another possibility. Both Samuel Freemans could descend from an even earlier Samuel Freeman. If there is assumed to be any truth to this claim at all, this prospect seems to be the most plausible.

Lots and Lots of Samuels

According to the book, "Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine", published in 1909 and edited by George Little who had impecable history and genealogy credentials, there are several Samuels to choose from. Samuel the postmaster, had an uncle, a grandfather, greatgrandfather, and great-greatgrandfather named Samuel Freeman. The first arrived from England in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1630. There could be hundreds of descendants between him and Samuel E. almost two hundred years later, and it is not hard to imagine that one of them moved the short distance to New Jersey. Since researchers seem to have been at a brick wall regarding Joseph Freeman and his origins for decades, it is surely worth giving Samuel E. Freeman the benefit of a doubt and looking into the possibility.

4. Middle Names

Are these middle names the surnames of Freeman ancestors

Go to <Query 1><Query 2><Query 3>

Important Clues?

Joseph Freeman and Susanna Kesselring had many descendants who were given surnames as a middle name. I would say it was done more often than usual. Some of these surnames obviously have come from admired historical or religious figures of the time. Some may have come from close friends or respected families in their vicinity who may or may not have been related. Some will surely have come from the families of the spouses of the Freeman descendants. However, assuming that Joseph was aware of his ancestry and passed some of it along to his children, it is hoped that at least a few of these names come from his own ancestors. Of course, maybe he did not.

Joseph's wife, Susanna Kesselring, was of German and Alsatian ancestry. Therefore any non-German surnames of their children probably did not come from her side of their family. On the other hand, any German surnames might have come for her side, but it is also quite possible that Joseph had some German ancestry of his own. Maria Thoman, the wife of their eldest son, Samuel E. Freeman, was also of German ancestry. Therefore, any non-German surnames of their children probably did not come from her side of their family either. Amelia Moul, the wife of another son, William F. Freeman, has a background that may be entirely of German ancestry. Her mother was Susanna's sister. However, her father's family had been in America for generations and could be mixed. Finally, Mary J. Ramby, the wife of another son, Joseph Freeman, Jr., had a mother with a Germanic surname but her father's surname is not. Otherwise little is known of her ancestry, so any of the middle names of their children could have come from either side of their family.

Overall, it seems that further research should focus on middle names that came from non-German surnames and cannot be explained as coming from another source. German surnames cannot be completely discounted, but they are more likely than not to lead in the wrong direction. Many examples follow.

Descendants of Joseph Freeman, and Susanna Kesselring:

There are other examples in later generations as well. However, after multiple generations, there are too many possible sources for the names to be useful. From this list, the names that are more difficult to disqualify and deserve further research are: Galbreath, McLellan, Watson, Riplier, Ellsworth, Wilkinson, McCoy, Hay, Hemperly, and perhaps Franklin because it was used three different times.