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
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