Cover: Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties
1891 Portrait and Biographical Record:
Capt. John Andrew Freeland


CAPT. JOHN ANDREW FREELAND. To be descended from an honorable ancestry and to trace one's lineage from men and women of past generations who lived noble lives and served their country and their God is a just subject for pride and self-congratulation. And such a record is his whose name appears at the head of this paragraph.

Capt. Freeland, who resides upon section 17, Marrowbone Township, Moultrie County, is the son of the late John J. Freeland, who was born in Orange County, N.C., upon New Year's day, 1798. John Freeland, the father of John J., was born in the same county in 1762, and his father, James (the great-grandfather of our subject) first saw the light within twenty miles of Londonderry, Ireland, in 1730. The father of this ancestor, whose name is unknown, is said to be one of the Huguenot refugees who fled from Pickardy, France, and settled near Londonderry, Ireland. The persecutions of those days sent out from their native homes hundreds of valuable citizens whose worth was not appreciated by the Government under which they lived, but those lives in foreign lands proved the seed-corn from which sprang religious and political liberty.

James Freeland, the great-grandfather of our subject, came about the year 1725 from Ireland and settled on the Schuylkill River, in Germantown, which was afterward the site of a notable conflict and is now probably the most elegant suburb of Philadelphia. After the Revolutionary War he removed to North Carolina where his son, James, made a matrimonial alliance with Sally, daughter of Gov. Dinwiddie, who was Governor of Virginia under the British Crown. The great-grandfather of our subject took a very active part in all important movements and was one of the prominent men of that day. His last days were spent in Alamance County, N.C., where he died at the age of eighty-five.

John Freeland, the grandfather of our subject, was born, as before stated, in 1762, and was Deputy Sheriff at an early age under his father, and like him was an active and prominent man. He passed the last years of his honorable career upon his plantation in Orange County, N.C., where he, like his father, reached the advanced age of eighty-five years. He was an independent soldier in the Revolutionary War and carried on "bushwhacking" against the British.

John J. Freeland, the father of our subject, resided in North Carolina and was the proprietor of a plantation and numerous slaves and was also engaged in the mercantile business. The Governor of the State appointed him Judge of the County Court, besides which he held other important positions. He was prominently identified with the Masonic order and for many years was Master of the lodge and attained the Thirty-second degree of Masonry. In his religious life he carried out the principles of his Huguenot ancestry.

The new West attracted the attention of John J. Freeland and he emigrated hither and settled at Freeland's Point which was named for his brother James. It was in 1856 that he came to this State with his wife and the younger members of the family and here he engaged in farming and passed the remainder of his days, dying in July, 1877, at Freeland Point, Marrowbone Township.

The mother of our subject, whose maiden name was Mary Craige, was born in Orange County, N.C., June 6, 1801, her parents being Col. David and Retty (Burroughs) Craige, who were natives of the same county where they spent all their days. Eleven children were born to John J. and Mary Freeland. These five sons and six daughters are Charles J. who is a physician at Rogers, Ark.; Betty, is the wife of Dr. S. D. Schoolfield of Macomb, Miss.; Catherine, a resident of Moultrie County; Caroline, who was the wife of J. B. Knight, and died in Marrowbone Township about the year 1875; Francis M., died in infancy; Capt. William J. of whom we will speak more at length; Mary, is the wife of Rev. Clark Loudoun of Pierre, S. Dak.; Thomas J., of Dalton City, whose biographical sketch will be found elsewhere in this volume; Sarah J., who resides in Moultrie County; Capt. John Andrew and Emma T., who is the wife of James A. Roney, a grain-dealer of Decatur, Ill.

Capt. William J. Freeland, the brother of our subject, was an officer in the Confederate army where he played an important part, as he commanded the provost guards of Whitney's division of the army, and at the request of Gen. Whiting, the right wing of the Union Army at the first battle of Bull Run was attacked by him and captured the battery known as Old Betsey. He was mortally wounded and captured at Fair Oaks and dying at Fortress Monroe, was buried there with Masonic honors. Before the breaking out of the war he was filling the position of General Superintendent of the North Carolina Central Railroad.

John Andrew, who was next to the youngest in this large family, was born in Orange County, N.C., October 31, 1839, and his early life was spent there until he came to Moultrie County, Ill., with his father in 1856. He was living at home when the war broke out and at once enlisted under the Union flag, May 1, 1861, being one of the first volunteers in Moultrie County. He became a member of Company E, Twenty-first Illinois Regiment which was afterward known as Grant's Regiment and to whom was given the honor in 1891 of unveiling the magnificent equestrian statue of that hero which has been erected in Lincoln Park, Chicago. The young man was mustered into the United States service at Springfield, Ill., June 28, 1861, receiving the commission of Second Lieutenant. He served in that capacity until November 20th of the same year when he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and received further promotion February 17, 1863, when he was given the commission of Captain. This position he held until July 5, 1864, when he was honorably discharged and mustered out of service at Chattanooga, Tenn.

Our young hero was in the battle of Frederickstown, Mo., which was the first Union victory during the Civil War and remembers being an eye witness to the death of the rebel Gen. Lowe, who was instantly killed in that engagement. For several weeks he was engaged with others in driving the rebel General, Jeff Thompson, known as the "Swamp Fox," across the White River into Arkansas. He took part in the siege of Corinth and saw the smoke of battle at Perryville. Knob Gap, Stone River, Liberty Gap and Chickamauga. For seventeen days and nights he was under fire on Johnston's retreat from Kingston to Marietta, Ga.

After being mustered out of the service Capt. Freeland returned to the peaceful engagement of agriculture, devoting himself assiduously to farming and dealing in stock. Previous to the breaking out of the war he had been married in Moultrie County, his wedding day being February 5, 1861, and his bride Miss Elvira Roney, a native of this county, who bore to him two children Alice, who died when about five years old and William, who was snatched from the arms of his parents when a babe of five months. The mother of these children passed to the other world April 30, 1866.

Our subject was again married in Moultrie County, July 4, 1867, to Miss Lyda J. Langton. who was born in Lewiston, Pa., August 13. 1845. They have had eight children: William C., John H., Joseph L., Ella B., May, Maude, Harry L. and Homer. May died when she was fourteen months old. The family resided in Marrowbone Township until 1874, when they removed to Sullivan and here the Captain undertook the study of law, being with Eden & Clark for two years and being admitted to the bar in Kansas in 1877. In the spring of that year he removed to Kinsley, Edwards County, Kan., and practiced law there for two years, during which time he was elected County Judge for one term and in 1879 returned to Illinois and again made his home in Marrowbone Township, since which time he has paid his almost undivided attention to farming and raising fine horses and cattle.

Upon his fine farm of two hundred and sixty acres Capt. Freeland has made valuable improvements and within his hospitable home he and his lovely and intelligent companion are ever ready to extend gracious welcome to every friend who seeks their door. One who visits this household can but feel that he is the guest of a true gentleman and a genuine gentlewoman and those who know the public-spirited course which the Captain always pursues in regard to affairs of public import, are assured that he is a disinterested citizen of his county. He is prominently identified with the Washington Alexander Post, No. 176, G.A.R. and has repeatedly been Commander of the post and has been President of the Regimental Association of Grant's old regiment. He is a Royal Arch Mason and in politics is a Republican and formerly took an active part in political affairs.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1891 - p. 360/361

Transcription copyright 2003/2007, Moultrie County ILGenWeb/USGenWeb