THE FREEMAN RIDDLE
Linda Brooks Banwarth, 344 Foot Hills Rd., Higganum, CT 06441
In researching my family lines, the following story on my Freeman ancestors came together.
There are, however, few facts to substantiate my theories on this line and I would appreciate any
insight into the story that readers might add or surmise.
Thomas H. Freeman, born circa 1815, married Malinda Lowe and resided in
Tennessee, until he migrated to Macon County, North Carolina, around the year 1856. Malinda
appears to be the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca Lowe, who lived on the next
farm in the 1840
census. Thomas may be the son of an Alcy Freeman who also lived nearby but disappears
Land records for Macon County, North Carolina, indicate that he obtained a land grant for
120 acres in that county when the land was acquired by North Carolina in a treaty with the
Cherokee Indians. Thomas paid the grand sum of $11.53 for his 120 acres. In addition, Thomas
apparently purchased land from his neighbor, John DeHart. Thomas and Malinda settled
their family of six sons and one daughter on this land. In July of 1859, another son, George
Freeman, was born to the couple. Mysteriously, during that same month, Thomas and
and a seventeen year old son, William, died. Their tombstones may be found at the
Cemetery with simply the month and year of their deaths.
I have gone over any number of possibilities on how and why these deaths occurred, but none
really seemed to "hang together" very well. If they died of a disease, why weren't the newborn
infant or other smaller children affected? Could Indians have killed them, perhaps discontented
over the take-over of their land? I have found no records to indicate such and the Cherokees
were generally a peaceful people and seemed to get along well with most of the landowners of
that area. Then, in going over land records published in an issue of Bone Rattler (Vol. 3,
No. 2), the magazine published by the Swain County NC Genealogical Society, I found a
reference to land deeded to Thomas H. Freeman by John DeHart. A son of
Thomas H. and
Malinda, Thomas Nathaniel Freeman, wanted to sell this particular piece of property to
Development Properties in the 1890's but had no deed. Therefore, he had to testify to the
authorities that the deed, which was never recorded or probated, was "destroyed in a fire." It is
my current theory that the parents, Thomas and Malinda, and their son, William, may have died in
a house fire.
This family was destined for more tragedy within the next few years. Son John L.
married John DeHart's daughter, Malinda. Two years later, Malinda gave birth to
a son, James
Andrew Freeman. Two months later, while her young husband was home on leave from the
Confederate Army, Malinda died. In December of 1863, John was killed in battle (Missionary
Ridge, Tennessee). Malinda's parents, John and Jane DeHart, raised their young
Another son, James Alcy, also died in the services of the Confederate Army at Atlanta
of 1862. Baby George, three years old, and his sister, Eliza, aged nine, both died
in September of
1862, very likely of disease or epidemic. In approximately a four year span, seven members of
this family of ten would die, along with a daughter-in-law. Only three sons would survive to live
into old age. In a time and period when tragic losses were an everyday occurrence, this family
seems to have had more than its fair share.
The Freeman sons who survived were:
Samuel J. Freeman, married Martha Ammons and died
Thomas Nathaniel, married Lusinda Jones and died in 1915
and, lastly, my ancestor,
Robert Henderson Freeman, who married Mary Jane Smiley and died in 1936.
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