W. J. Freed, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of W. J. Freed


In the eightieth year of his age, W. J. Freed makes his home in Ames and for more than fifty-six years he has been a resident of Story county, so that he is today numbered among its honored pioneers. He was long associated with agricultural interests but some years ago put aside business cares and is now living retired in the enjoyment of well earned rest. He was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, September 19, 1831. His parents, Samuel and Nancy (Jones) Freed, were both natives of Pennsylvania, where the mother spent her entire life, while the father always lived in that state with the exception of his last two years, which were passed in Michigan. He was a blacksmith by trade and an excellent mechanic. He served a seven years' apprenticeship and then followed the trade throughout his entire life. His family numbered eleven sons and two daughters, all of whom reached mature years with the exception of three, while four of the sons and one daughter are yet living. After losing his first wife the father married again and had two daughters by that union.

W. J. Freed remained with his parents until eighteen years of age and during his youthful days worked in his father's blacksmith shop and also at farm labor for others. In 1849 he left the Keystone state and went to Porter county, Indiana, where he joined his older brother, Paul, residing there until 1854. He was married in 1852 and then began farming on his own account, but after two years removed to Story county, Iowa, where he has since lived, becoming one of the pioneer settlers here. He remained upon the farm until September, 1892, when he removed to Ames and retired to private life but sold his farm only five years ago. He was the owner of two hundred and forty acres of rich and productive land, adjoining the corporation limits of Ontario, a town four miles west of Ames. On coming to this county he entered a quarter section from the government but after cultivating it for a time sold that property and purchased the two hundred and forty acre tract, which was in a better location and had timber upon it. There he carried on general farming and stock-raising and he also bought and shipped stock to Chicago for twenty years, that constituting an important branch of his business. When he began shipping State Center was the nearest railroad point and he had to drive his stock to that place in order to make shipments. He was the first stock buyer in the county and in his business affairs he always displayed sound judgment, keen discrimination and unfaltering enterprise.

While Mr. Freed successfully conducted business affairs for many years he did not concentrate his energies upon individual interests to the exclusion of all else. He has ever been mindful of his duties of citizenship and in many ways has promoted public progress. On one occasion he spent two days and one night in soliciting subscriptions in Story and Boone counties for the location of the Iowa State Agricultural College. Five counties were working very hard to secure the school, but the untiring efforts of Mr. Freed and others resulted in having the college located at Ames. One man gave thirty acres of a stone quarry and Mr. Freed opened this up and quarried the rock for the foundation for the first buildings of the college erected here. He also raised and dressed a pig which his wife roasted for the free dinner which was held on the 4th of July, 1859, to celebrate the establishment of the college, the entire countryside being invited to attend the feast.

In his political views Mr. Freed has always been a republican and an earnest worker in the party ranks. He served for fourteen years as justice of the peace and for two terms as county supervisor. While filling that position the county board located the county farm and built the first house thereon. When Mr. Freed came to Iowa the city of Ames had not been founded and there was no railroad in the locality. Goods were hauled from Keokuk and after the railroad was built to Iowa City Mr. Freed hauled goods from that point to Boonesboro, about two hundred miles, with ox teams. When he was living in Indiana he helped get out timber for the construction of the Michigan Southern, the first railroad into Chicago. He has always been on the side of progress and improvement, and his influence has been a progressive element in the general development of the community.

On the 12th of September, 1852, Mr. Freed was united in marriage to Miss Catharine D. White, who was born in Wayne county, Ohio, June 5, 1833, and went to Indiana with her parents, James and Marjorie (Dougherty) White. Mr. and Mrs. Freed were married in Indiana and unto them were born eight children: Valeria A., the wife of Clate Foster, of South Dakota; Mary Jane, the wife of Harvey Boughman, of Ames; Alice G., the wife of Mark Prine, of Nebraska; Arthur D., a farmer of Kelley, Iowa; Anna, the wife of William Prine, of Clinton, Iowa; Nancy Elizabeth, the wife of Joseph Goldberger, of Mapleton, Iowa; Flora C., the wife of Charles Antes, of South Dakota; and Kittie B., who is a graduate of the Iowa State College and is now librarian of the public library of Ames. The daughter Alice was for three years a student in the Iowa State College. Four of the daughters have been school-teachers and all of the children are members of the Christian church.

For forty years Mr. and Mrs. Freed have held membership in the Christian church of Ames and for thirty-seven years he has been one of its elders. He has ever taken active and helpful part in the church work, doing all in his power to promote its growth and extend its influence. His political allegiance has been given to the republican party since 1856, when he supported John C. Fremont. The family residence is at No. 514 Fifth street and in addition to this Mr. Freed owns four other dwellings in Ames. He has always enjoyed good health and has been an active man. He and his family were one of a party of five families that came here together, but Mr. and Mrs. Freed are now the only representatives of the older generation now living. They have always enjoyed the warm regard, good will and confidence of those who know them and they are today among the most esteemed and venerable citizens of the county. They have witnessed many changes here, for at the time of their arrival Story county was largely an unimproved and unsettled district. They have seen towns and villages spring up, farms entered and improved and the work of general progress carried steadily forward.

Source: Payne, W. O. 1911. History of Story County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement. Volume II. Chicago, Illinois: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. 507 p.
Page(s) in Source: 230-232

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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