Transcribed By Pamela Vick
This Article Appeared In The Times
But Was Not Actually In Cal’s Column
April 27, 1950
Commerce, Texas, April 8, 1950
Macon County Times:
Enclosed find renewal for one year. Your historical articles interest one born in Macon County. Perhaps you can find room for similar notes about other old timers.
My uncle, Dr. Wiley Howell Freeman, died at Sentinel, Okla., on March 6th. His wife, Laura Seagraves Freeman, passed away on February 1st, after a fall while waiting on her invalid husband. Uncle was born on White Oak in 1855. His father, Abe, lived on the “Katie Hill” across the branch from the old County Farm or “poor house” place. His grandfather, Jimmy, lived earlier on this county farm site. The oldest remembered of the Freeman tribe was “Coon” Freeman, left behind in Washington County, Va., when others came by ox wagons through Cumberland Gap into Tennessee about 1800 or shortly after. Abe Freeman was a deacon in Antioch Baptist church and a very pious man. Passersby reported hearing his loud praying alone in the chestnut orchard about daylight as they went to mill by his place.
His children were: Mary, married John Gillenwater, children, Abe, Joe, Fleta--Louisville in the 1880’s; Hise, who was an officer in the Civil War, wife was Mary Seagraves, daughter of Louis Seagraves near Lafayette; went to Texas in 1882; surviving children, Mrs. J. A. Overton, Sulphur, Okla., and Jimmy Freeman, Tonkawe, Okla., Martha Ellen, married Harmon Celsor, on lower White Oak, surviving children being Mrs. Nora Purdue, Fountain Run; Varney Celsor, Hartsville; J. L. Celsor, Oklahoma City; Mrs. John Proffitt, Akersville; Wiley Howell, named for Dr. Wiley Howell, physicain of Lafayette, whose books on anatomy and materia medica Wiley studied before entering Vanderbilt; wife was Laura Seagraves, sister of Mary; surviving children being Mrs. Irving Freeman, Rocky, Okla.; Mrs. Lee Osbirn, Skirvin Tower, Oklahoma City; Mrs. Hack Milles, 901 N. Madison, Dallas, Tex.; Susan Belle, wife of John A. Driver who lived across White Oak Creek from White Oak church built in 1888; surviving daughter, Mrs. Dora Horn, Akersville; daughter-in-law, wife of Lester, is Mrs. Frona Profitt Howeth, Rena, Texas; grandson, John Driver, Lakeview, R. 1, Texas; Abe Eason, married Sarah Ellen Bray, writer’s mother, other children: Wick, of Guthrie, Okla.; Dewey, of Atlanta, Tex.; Mrs. Hassie Bell, 4400 Abbott, Dallas; and Nola, of Commerce, Tex.; and Joe Freeman, of Hobart, Okla.; married Matilda Tucker, surviving children being Mrs. Abbie White, Carmie and Zona whose address is Plainview, Tex.; Jim D., of Sentinel, Okla.; Katherine, of Hobart, John Odell, of Hobart, and Grace, Mary, and surnames are unknown to me.
Wiley Howell Freeman went to school to Billy Smith and Avery Harlan. He passed oral examination under Harlan and taught school at Antioch and near Franklin, Ky., before going to Vanderbilt where he and his brother-in-law graduated in medicine before coming to Roanoke, Tex., in 1882. Pioneer preachers of the “Christians” or “Reformers” (by reproach, “Campbellites”) in those days were Isaac T. Reneau, Henry Lovelady, and Eph. H. Rogers. Over in Monroe County, Ky., John Mulky started the reformation idea of “no religious authority but the Bible,” near Tompkinsville before the Campbells left the Presbyterians. Mulky’s brother was also a preaching elder, moved to Commerce, Texas, where the writer in the 1920’s spoke at his funeral and that of his wife, both close to ninety years old, and also that of his son, Judge Oliver Mulky. Oliver’s father was a soldier in the Civil War (Words omitted here in the original.) by horse from Glasgow to Scottsville, where they routed the foe from the courthouse by setting fire to straw they had for bedding there.
It was the prevailing hyper-Calvinism that drove most of the “reformers” from the “orthodox” Presbyterian, Primitive Baptist, and Episcopalian groups. The Cumberland Presbyterians illustrate a similar move as the Missionaries to adjust to freedom on the American frontier to escape state and creedal forms of religion that had prevailed in Europe, but the “reformers” left all creeds in an effort to take the Bible alone and make each congregation independent. Wiley and Hise Freeman brought Rogers and A. Alsup to Cook County, Texas, to preach about 1885. They arrived with long-tailed coats, stiff hats, and saddle bags to ride through Texas black mud on the running gear of a wagon pulled by four mules.
Sam Seagraves and Wiley Howell Freeman practiced medicine over sixty years, “Uncle Wiley” went to the Plains of west Texas in 1900, selling land for forty that cost him ten and investing in land at a dollar up. He later moved to Sentinel, Okla., having been joined by families of his two brothers, Abe and Joe, in 1900. In one year, as he wrote Macon County Times, a few years ago, he harvested 40,000 bushels of wheat on his farm in west Texas. He was always active in his profession, as a citizen, and in religious activities. He served two terms in Texas State Legislature where ha helped get support in 1896 for the one teacher’s college then in the state. So he made a small fortune in the growing West, although as a boy he had lived in poverty when at the end of the year a large part of the family earnings went to pay security debts his kind father had signed for indigent neighbors.
Among the writer’s other ancestors were the Brays who came over from Kentucky. Grandfather Richard P. “Dick” Bray operated a store on the corner of the Square across from the Faust Hotel in 1890. He then went back down on White Oak where a store and post office, called “Eason,” from Eason Howell, brother of Dr. Wiley Howell at Lafayette, were run until they moved to Galen by Johnny Hohanan, who bought out E. G. Cook.
The Drivers came from Virginia shortly after the Revolutionary War. Dinwiddie Driver was named for the Governor of Virginia under England. Grants of land were to his generation. His brother, Alvin Driver, settled down farther on the creek and was father of my grandmother, Delilah, who lived on the place after she married Dick Bray. “Diddy” Driver had a son named Alvin, his wife bring Aunt Jennie, a Tucker. “Little Alvin” was a brother of John A., Delilah, and Mrs. Anderson Bray (Susan). His wife was katie Howard, and children, Hettie, Mae, and Bert, living at Galen. Joey Driver, veteran of the Civil War, Lived above the Hutson (Brooks) corn mill and was a distant relative. Just after the war a straggler on horse rode up to the place, then occupied by John Gillenwater, who was away at the time. The man demanded entrance, but the wife and child, along with my father (A. E. Freeman, then a child); ran from room to room. He led his horse onto the porch and partly into the kitchen. He carried a gun. When they ran across to old Abe Freeman place, rode around the field and up to that house. Grandmother called her husband from the field to help. It was this man or another of similar circumstances that barely escaped with his life, for Wiley H. (“Bugler”) stood in a little shack near by with the old gun loaded and sighted on him in case he tried to use violence. He rode off never to be heard of except that he laid down fences and took a rather direct route toward Kentucky.
About thirty-odd Federal soldiers for years got their pensions through the post office at Eason where our family had a store. But more about such old timers at a later date perhaps.
William Webb Freeman,