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Mrs. Gertrude Freeman

YOLO County Biography

YOLO County Biography

Mrs. Gertrude Freeman
The name of Mrs. Frank S. Freeman is as well known in Yolo and contiguous counties as was that of her honored husband, now passed from the scenes of his earthly activities to such reward as is vouchsafed to those who pass their years in love for their fellows and in labors useful to humanity. These pages bear an extended record of his career. Mrs. Freeman owns and occupies the beautiful home he erected on First street, Woodland, many years ago, a residence which has long been held to reflect, in its artistic environment and interior fitting, her own ideals and cultured tastes.. Major Freeman married in October, 1858. Before that date Mrs. Freeman was Miss Gertrude Swain. Her father, George Gorham Swain, died in Michigan. His widow, Ruth (Kimball) Swain, Mrs. Freeman's mother, settled at Woodland and there married Elder Martin and afterward lived near her daughter. George Gorham Swain was born in Nantucket, Mass., April" 2, 1812. When he was fourteen years of age he came to the Pacific coast by way of Cape Horn, stopped at Santa Barbara, Cal., and went on north to Alaska. He was at the time on a four years' whaling cruise. After making several memorable voyages he settled down in New York state as a landsman, and thence he went west to Michigan, locating in Calhoun county when Michigan was as yet only a territory. There he lived out the remainder of his days. He was a descendant of Mayflower pilgrims and of the best New England Revolutionary stock. Ruth Kimball, who became his wife and the mother of Mrs. Freeman, also of Puritan and Revolutionary ancestry, bore him the following children: Cornelia (Mrs. Smith), who died at Woodland in 1900; Erastus Kimball Swain, who died at Woodland in 1882; Emily, who is Mrs. Davidson of Woodland; Florence, who married C. T. Bidwell; Hannah (Mrs. John W. Freeman) of Woodland; Lillian (Mrs. McConnell) of Woodland; and Mrs. Major Freeman.

The birthplace of Mrs. Freeman was Marengo, Calhoun county, Mich. When she was fourteen years old she began to teach school, and so successful was she that she was complimented, two years later, by engagement as an instructor in the Woman's College at Lansing, Mich. Her maternal grandfather, Erastus Kimball, had come to California during the gold excitement of 1849 and had become one of the owners of the old Haywood mine on Sutter creek, and she had heard many wonderful tales of the coast regions, which had aroused in her a desire to visit the West. So, when Clark W. Crocker returned from California and married her mother's sister she sought and obtained the consent of her mother to accompany the couple to the land of the setting sun. They started on a November day - it was Thanksgiving Day - in 1856, and came by the Nicaragua route. Immediately after her arrival the young educator was employed to teach a school at Negro Hill, near Folsom City, and at once entered upon the discharge of her duties there. In March, 1857, she resigned the position and left Sacramento county for Yolo City (now Woodland), where she took charge of a school in a two-story building on the site of the Southern Pacific railroad depot. Except for a term taught in the preceding year by the Rev. J. Pendegast this was the pioneer school in the village. At times it numbered as many as sixty pupils, some of whom came from homes six miles away, either walking or on horseback - two or three on a horse. The young teacher was very popular, and when, in 1858, she became the bride of Major Freeman they were reluctant to give her up. Some of the young people whom she fondly called her "boys" and "girls," afterward became prominent, but none of them ever forgot their school days or ceased to remember their teacher with gratitude and admiration. It was her good fortune to impart information in an interesting manner, so that her pupils made rapid progress in their studies without experiencing the drudgery that, under another teacher, might have been inseparable from their acquisition of knowledge. In spite of the greater advantages of young people of today, it is doubtful if any of them learn more rapidly or enjoy studymore thoroughly than did those pioneer lads and lassies who gladly came each morning, two or three on the back of a horse, or perhaps on foot, to the little school in the new town where Gertrude Swain labored so conscientiously to prepare them for their duties politically and socially in the part that would be theirs in the development of the future great state of California.

It was in October, 1858, that Miss Swain became the wife of Major Freeman. She bore him three children, Lillian (Mrs. John Eakle of Point Richmond, Cal.) and George and Curry, both of whom are deceased. Mrs. Eakle has a daughter Gertrude, named in honor of her grandmother. In all the years of her womanhood Mrs. Freeman has been actively interested in the spread of education and the advancement of women. She was one of the founders of the Woodland library and the first president of the Woodland Library Association. She and about a score of other women established and maintained the library until they turned it, its books and its cash on hand, over to the city when the time was ripe for its perpetuation at municipal expense. She is past Matron of Yolo Chapter No. 60, O. E. S., and was in 1887 and 1888 Grand Matron of the Grand Chapter of California. As a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal Church she takes a helpful interest in the religious and charitable work of the community. As narrated in the biographical notice of her late husband, it was Mrs. Freeman who gave to the village - now city - of Woodland the appropriate name by which it is so widely known.

History Of Yolo County, California
With Biographical Sketches 
History By Tom Gregory
And Other Well Known Writers
Historic Record Company,
Los Angeles, California, 1913
Transcribed by Julie Appletoft, November 2007 Pages 179-181
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