I was born 29 June 1859 in the town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England. My father’s name was Richard Freeman; my mother’s name was Charlotte Emma Goss Freeman. I had the following brother’s and sisters:
John...born 22 March 1861
Thomas Charles...born 14 August 1862
William Henry...born 26 August 1863
Samuel....born 17 December 1864
Harriet Ann....born 12 July 1866
Richard Henry....born 8 May 1869
All of them were born in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.
My parents were very poor as my father had very bad health so that he could not follow his trade as a shoemaker on account of poor eyesight. Therefore he was not able to earn very good wages, and at times they had a hard struggle to provide for their family of seven children. (Actually, only 2 of the children made it to adulthood.) On account of this condition I, being the eldest child in the family, did not get any education, only what I received at six weeks of night school after I was in my teens, which did not amount to very much. I started work soon after I was 7 years old.
I was raised in the Church of England faith, to which my mother belonged. My father did not go to any place of worship. I did not know why until after I was married. I learned that when he was a young man his father sent him to Liverpool to live with his uncle and learn the shoemaking trade. My grandfather felt that this would be a good opportunity for Father. This uncle and his wife were Latter-day Saints, and my father investigated their religion, became convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel as taught by the Latter-day Saints and joined the Church 31 May 1857.
After living in Liverpool about a year, Father was taken sick and had to return home. His mother died when he was a baby, so he did not get the best of care. After being home some time, he was married to my mother, Charlotte Emma Goss, the daughter of Enoch and Charlotte Stanley Marshall Goss, at Olney in the year 1858.
At the time I was born, Father refused his consent to me being christened, but after a time my mother’s folks persuaded him to change his mind about having his children christened, so the third boy was taken to the church and christened and as I was with them they had me christened at the same time. I was then three years old and can remember this event quite well. (Note: George Richard said he was baptized the same time as the 3rd child. Ida’s history says he was baptized the same time as Samuel, who was the 5th child. When we checked the records, George Richard is listed on page 96, line 763, just one line below his brother Samuel, and both were christened 12 March 1865. He would have been about six years old at that time, which better explains his memory of it.) My father did not go with us and my uncle was my godfather. My father did not attend church, only when a funeral service was being held, and this was something I could not understand during my earlier years, because he was a very religious man and very particular about observing the Sabbath. He would stay at home and read his Bible and another book, which I afterwards found out was the “Voice of Warning”. People used to visit him and talk with him about religion, which at that time I did not understand as I was only 8 or 9 years old.
As I grew to manhood, I courted a young lady by the name of Euphemia Jane Carter, the daughter of Henry Carter and Elizabeth Green Carter, who lived at Blisworth, Northamptonshire, England, and we were married at Blisworth 26 December 1881 in the Baptist chapel there.
A few days after the wedding, Jane and I took a journey to London. We saw many new and wonderful things. We enjoyed the beautiful Crystal Palace, a showplace of London, where Lottie Stratton, a cousin of mine, played the violin in the orchestra. The Crystal Palace later burned to the ground and was never rebuilt. Lottie Stratton, a hunchback, daughter of Thomas and Rosetta Goss Stratton, was a sister of Richard’s wife, Charlotte. They had moved to London so Lottie could advance in her music. She had two brothers, Fred and Harry.
Our first home was on East Street near the house where I was born and where my parents still lived. Here the first 3 of our children were born, Harry, Annie Elizabeth, and Alf Lenard (my desired spelling). Alf had Lenard turned into Leonard on his birth certificate, and that is the way he spelled it.
We have been blessed with 7 children, 5 sons and 2 daughters, of whom we are justly proud. Their names are as follows:
Harry...born 18 September 1882
Annie Elizabeth....born 14 March 1884
Alf Lenard....born 12 December 1886
Wilford....born 10 September 1890
Ernest...born 1 June 1893
Ida....born 26 February 1895
James Bert Wallinger...born 3 January 1897
We raised our children in the Baptist church, as I had been investigating the various churches and thought that was the one I liked.
About the year 1887 my father received a letter from some Latter-day Saints who lived in a town called Northampton, asking if they might visit him on Easter Monday. This happened in the following remarkable manner: A man who formerly lived in Olney, a chimney sweep by trade, had moved to Northampton, and one day as he was working, the lady of the house spoke to him about the gospel. He said, “I knew a man who used to talk like that.” and so she inquired for his address and wrote to my father. Father was overjoyed at receiving this letter because he had tried to find the Latter-day Saints for upwards of 30 years, and during this time, he had been isolated, as it were, from his Church and had nobody to sympathize with him in his beliefs. At that time his family did not take any interest in what he thought so much of.
These Saints and 2 elders called
on Father on Easter Monday 1887, and they had a very enjoyable visit together.
I then lived about half a block from my father’s home, and as it was a
holiday, I went to see my parents and made the acquaintance of their visitors.
My father asked me to take them to Cowper’s Oak, which was about 2 miles
from where we lived...a most beautiful walk in the springtime through fields
and small forests, and all noted Americans would go and visit that oak
tree. It was the tree where the poet wrote many of his wonderful
poems--an old oak which would hold a table and chairs for quite a few people
and was away from all noise, being surrounded by a forest 72 miles long
which we called “The Chase”. Cowper became very discouraged at one
time during his lifetime and tried to drown himself. He was prevented
and later wrote that wonderful song, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way, His
Wonders to Perform.”
I told Father that I did not want to be seen with those people as we had to go through the main street, but I finally consented and we set off--I keeping as far away from them as possible while walking through the streets. When we got out of the town, I became more sociable, and when we arrived at the oak, we sang that song mentioned above, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way, His Wonders to Perform.” After resting for a while, we started back on our homeward trip, and when we were about a mile from home, one of the elders looked down upon the place where I lived and said, “There is some of the blood of Israel in that place, and they will be gathered to the valleys of the mountains.” Little did I think at that time that I would join the Church, much less come to the mountains to dwell, as I was not very much impressed with them. I used to go and listen to them sometimes. Father joined the Church again and was rebaptized 14 May 1887 by Elder Kelly.
Some little time after my father had rejoined the Church, he was taken very sick, and the doctor said he could not live but a few days as one lung was gone and the other was affected. Mother sent for me and asked me to send for the elders, which I did. One elder came and administered to Father alone, and he soon got well and lived 10 years after that time and enjoyed better health than he had ever done previously.
After that time the elders used to visit Father, and we would go and hear them talk and sing. Father asked me if I would allow the elders to stay at my home when they came next time, as they had work to do if they could get a place to stay. I consented to let them stay at our place, and they used to hold meetings from time to time. All this time my father was alone in his faith, as my mother had not joined the Church yet, and as we did not take any interest in his religion, he did not get any sympathy from us.
Some time later my mother was called to go and visit her sister in Northampton which was about 11 miles away. This sister was very sick. The elders visited her, and Mother attended their meetings and joined the Church while she was there. We joined the Church the same night she did, 27 November 1889, and neither of us knew that the other had joined until she came home. Father was overjoyed when he knew we were going to join, and when Mother came home and told him she had joined the Church, his joy knew no bounds. We used to hold our little meetings each Sunday, and the elders visited us sometimes. When my wife’s sister came to stay with us, she joined the Church, together with her mother and sister, so you see what can be accomplished by small beginnings. When we joined the Church, however, we did not have the least idea of going to Zion.
My father died 16 November 1898, and my mother died 14 November 1900.
In the spring of 1901, we sent our two oldest boys, Harry and Alf Lenard, out to Utah, as one of the elders knew a man who needed a boy, and my wife’s sister’s husband wanted a boy to help him, so we decided to let them go. This was quite a trial for us, as at that time we had no idea when we would get out or when we would see them again, but as that wonderful song says, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”. He surely did in our case as the way was opened in a most wonderful manner, and we came out 5 June 1902--just one year and one month after the boys left us, as we arrived at Smithfield, Utah, 18 June, where my wife’s sister lived.
During our stay in Smithfield, which was only of 6 weeks duration, an elder from Wellsville with whom we were acquainted in England, came to see us. He told me that we could do well in Wellsville, as they needed a shoe repairer there. We moved to Wellsville, and the people treated us very well. I had quite a little work to do, but did not like it very much, a s I had been used to new work. I had an acre of land there.
During the summer of 1903 we took a trip to Brigham City. We borrowed a horse and buggy and drove through the canyon, the road being very narrow in some places. I had to drive on the side to let a wagon pass, and in coming onto the road the top of the buggy swerved over and caught the wagon and ripped the top of the buggy off.
When we arrived in Brigham City, we saw the first elder we met in England. At that time he was president of the Box Elder Stake. He told me his son wanted a man to work for him, and also a girl to run a machine, which our oldest daughter understood, as she had been used to running such a machine in England. So I made arrangements to move from Wellsville to Brigham City.
Some people I knew in England offered me a horse and light wagon to bring my chickens over in, and I hired a man with a team and wagon to haul my potatoes and onions, as I raised quite a lot of them. When we were about half-way through the mountains, one of the wheels of the borrowed wagon broke, so I had to leave my chickens in the canyon all night and get a man to bring them in the next day.
I experienced much disappointment after my removal to Brigham City, as the man I had arranged to work for did not keep his promise. He did not give my daughter so much as a day’s work, and only gave me such work as he and his other man would not do, so that I could not make a decent living for my family.
When we had lived there about 3 months, a man named Wooding came and offered me a small farm if I could pay him a small sum down and the balance in monthly payments. I took my oldest boy and we went to see the farm and agreed to buy it. We moved there 1 January 1904. It was quite a lonesome place; our nearest neighbor being about 6 blocks away from us, but we soon got used to it.
I had no implements to work the land with and had to get someone to plough it and fixed the place up the best I could. I bought an old horse and light wagon and had to learn to plough and milk a cow, which was quite a hard task for me at my age, never having done work of that nature up until that time. However, through the blessing of the Lord, we managed to get along fine.
We used to have terrible snow storms in that part of the country. During the 2nd winter we lived there a party was being given for the children in the meetinghouse, about a mile and a half from our farm. I started off with the children and got part of the way when we found ourselves stuck in the snow. A brother came along and brought help, so we finally arrived there all right. The children had about 2 miles to go to school, and I used to make a path with my snow plough for them, which would soon fill in, and then I would have to go and meet them when they came home. It was most beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall, but the winters were very severe.
About 1910 a new schoolhouse was built, and as I was looking after a small farm adjoining ours for some people, they asked me if I would like to get a job as janitor. I got the job and it helped us out fine, and from then on everything has gone well for us. We built a home in town that fall on 2nd North and 2nd East where we lived until 1920 when we sold that house to Ernest and Ruby, and we built a new brick house on 3rd East where we lived until July 1925, having lived in Brigham City about 22 years. We had very many experiences there, good and otherwise, which we can look back upon with wonder and surprise.
When the terrible World War broke out, 2 of our boys joined the army and we lost the youngest with the ‘flu in March 1919, the first one that we had been called to part with.
We moved to Salt Lake City in July 1925 and have lived there and worked in the Temple since that at time.
Stories of George Richard Freeman told by his daughter, Ida F. Winter
One day Father came in so happy and said, “We are going to Zion.” When mother asked where the money was coming from, he said he had sold the house. Father was still paying for our home, but the neighbor who owned the dry goods store next door wanted to enlarge his store and asked Father to sell to him. The store owner was already using some part of a building Father owned to store his surplus furniture and other commodities. That announcement would have taken my breath, so I am sure Mother was completely unnerved for a time.
With a family of four, Father wanted a picture taken of Harry, Annie, Alf and 8 month old baby Wilford. Alf, a very active boy just would not be still or cooperate in any way. Mother looks exasperated and Alf half suspicious in the picture. To get his attention the man taking the picture said, “You be very quiet and look at this little hole and see a little bird come out.” At last the picture was taken.
Vaccination was quite new while George and Jane lived on East Street. Harry and Annie were vaccinated arm to arm method. They both had very bad arms and were quite ill. Annie had three large vaccination scars on her arm. Father was quite upset. When Alf was vaccinated Mother moistened her handkerchief with saliva and wiped his arm clean. Father and Mother did not want another bad arm and sickness. In spite of knowing his mother(Charlotte Emma Goss) nearly lost her life from smallpox and her face completely scar covered from the disease, Father declared he would not have another child vaccinated. When it was time for the next child, Wilford, to be vaccinated, Father refused to have it done. The authorities insisted, but the answer was no, and he refused to pay the fine. The authorities entered the house, took furniture and other items out to the square to be sold to pay the fine. No one would buy any of the articles. Everyone was against vaccination or the suffering caused by vaccination. The articles were returned to the house, and the matter ended by giving people a choice, to be vaccinated or not. None of we other children were vaccinated.
Father and Mother, desiring to be baptized, asked Elder George Jarvis to baptize them. He, knowing of the persecution give the Saints, had them wait until midnight: then with the help of the children’s high chair, they climbed over the rear wall and walked across the fields to the Ouse River about one mile away. Elder Jarvis walked into the cold river with his stick and felt around for a deep hole and baptized my parents. To make things more unpleasant there was a inch of snow on the ground. They all walked back to the house in their wet clothes, happy and with an inner warmth and glow. They were not seen and did not have any unpleasant results such as colds or illness from their cold walk.
Some time before the baptism the enlarging family needed more room. A home was found at No. 20 Market Place on the town square. The elders helped move the family to their new home. At that time the house had a thatched roof; later a slate roof replaced the thatch.
Four more children were added
to the family here. They were Wilford, Ernest, Ida and Bert.
Bert was given 3 names because no one could decide which name should be
chosen. Finally Father said, “He shall have all three names and be
Now the family had more room than needed. Father brought his parents (Richard and Charlotte Freeman) to live in the house. They had their own rooms, one room downstairs and one upstairs. For the rest of their lives they had no worries about food or shelter. Grandfather was always helpful, doing what he could each day to help Mother or Father; then he would return to their rooms. Grandmother we saw little of. She was worn out physically and did her daily duties a little at a time. Her feet gave her much trouble in waking, so she was almost a semi-invalid. She was a slender woman, medium height, patient, quiet, sweet and long-suffering. She had known hardship and hard work all her life.
The entrance to the yard and house was through a door, or entry, from the square and next to the neighboring shop. Another door entered a front room directly from the square at the north side of the room. The yard extended from the square through to East Street, closed off at East Street by 6 foot wooden gates with spikes on top. First came the house; then a long low building (Father’s shoe shop), above the shop was a large room used by the town band (band room) then a small brick place and little yard for a few chickens and a pet rooster. (The rooster was finally killed and roasted for dinner. No one seemed to care for dinner so the bird was taken to Ann Gammon, the woman who helped Mother with the laundry or washing, and was much appreciated by her.) Beyond the chickens, there was a brick shed or rooms, rented to someone who used them for a horse and trap (carriage).
Across the walk from the kitchen door and against the wall and back of the neighboring shop was the washhouse (laundry room); a pump was outside. In the washhouse was the “copper”, a very large copper lined bowl with a lid, bricked into the corner about waist high with a place for a fire underneath. In the copper water was heated for washing and transferred to tubs for hand scrubbing or sheets, clothes, etc. Then they were boiled in the copper.
A rock wall separated us from our neighbors. In the spring, the wall was nearly covered with sweet smelling wall flowers. There was a narrow garden strip for our kidney beans (scarlet runner) and clothes lines. Father had a garden plot, or allotment, about 1/4 mile away where he grew our vegetables. Father enjoyed fishing in the Ouse River a mile away, but never ate the fish, instead, these he gave away. If the river and meadows were frozen over during the wintertime, Father and the boys enjoyed skating. They wore wooden skates with metal runners in those days.
The shoe shop was a busy place. Father and one man, sometimes two, worked every day but Sunday. The boys helped deliver the shoes to the factory for finishing or to the station (depot) for shipment to Northampton. I loved to watch Father with his awl and driver make holes in the shoe soles and then put the tacks in, rhythmic in motion. Some years later a group of townsmen asked Father to have a coop shop in his front room. The room connected to the house by a door. It was most convenient with a door opening directly from the square. He sold the available grocery items of that day: sugar, flour, salt, vinegar, biscuits, sweets, rice, raisins, currants, jams, oranges from Spain and Africa, marmalade, bacon, potatoes, etc. Wilford was the usual one to deliver groceries on Saturday. Harry delivered telegrams after school hours. After finishing school, Harry worked at “Hind and Mann” shoe factory. Alf worked at another factory. Annie at age 14 worked at Cowley’s shoe factory running a stitching machine. Everyone was busy. Children worked as soon as they were out of school at 14 years of age (it is now 16 years), sometimes before.
Father was always busy, especially during the spring and summer season. The garden was attended to in the evening, and he often went fishing in the early morning.
As a boy, George Richard had many lean years. Before he was 8 years old, he started work to help his parents provide for the family. He was good with figures and could have been very good with schooling. As a lad he sang in the boys’ choir in the Church of England. He played Rugby football with the town team and other sports with his friends.