The Freeman Correspondence

compiled by Stephen M. Lawson

Three letters written to Iva Melvina (Freeman) Lawson in 1937, and one written to her father, Aretus Erastus Freeman, in 1941, provide a wealth of information on the Freeman family. The letters resulted from a desire to assist in research being done on the hereditary aspects of cleft lips and cleft palates. The doctor conducting the research, Dr. Earl Coe, had performed the necessary surgery to correct the cleft lip of Suanna Maye, daughter born to Iva Lawson on December 10, 1936.

The temptation to make editorial changes or additions to the letters has been resisted. However, a number of comments are in an addendum to identify persons mentioned in the narratives. Every effort has been made to retain the grammar, spelling and punctuation of the originals.

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Letter No. 1 - from Bess Adell Freeman

Texarkana Texas
Route 3. Box 248
April 22, 1937

Dear Iva,

I was glad to hear from you. I certainly would like to see your two children. Do you remember how you and I use to play. I don't guess I will ever forget.

You should see the baby, she sure is sweet. She has dark skin, blue eyes and dark hair. She weighed 8 lbs. at birth but she weighs 10 lbs now. She was born on March 19. Her name is Jo Susan, the last part pronounced Suz-ann. We certainly are proud of her.

Grandmother has gone home, and is much better.
I am afraid I cannot tell you much this time about the family tree, but I can tell you who to write to. Write to,
Mrs. Myrtle Tucker
Bostic, Route 1
North Carolina

Miss Zelma Freeman
Forest City, Route 3
North Carolina

Uncle Frank Freeman that lives in North Carolina had 2 (two) cleft lipped girls. and Uncle Joe Freeman had 1 (one) cleft lipped boy.

The full name of Aunt Bess'es first husband is Robert Allen Hayden. We do not know the maiden names of the girls that Aunt May Reids son's married. Aunt Minnie may have Aunt Mays address But we do not, but you can write to Aunt May Freeman and find out. I am sorry I cannot answer the questions but I am sure you can get lots of information from the above addresses.

I hope the baby get along alright, and will have no trouble.

Write often.
Bess Adell

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Letter No. 2 - from Zelma Freeman

Forest City. N . C. R. 2
May 27 - 1937

Dear Cousin Iva.

Will do my best to answer your questions.

Sorry your baby has cleft lip, hope she will soon be O.K. Uncle Frank died, Feb a year ago. Aunt Eva died the following Dec. Nora Maye, married, John Elnore, Hickory, N.C. James Bell, married. Laura Maye Wilson. oldest child dead. James Mirk, Rebecka Sue, has cleft lip, been operated, no roof in mouth, voice affected. Deloris, live at Spindale. N.C. Margaret Logan has cleft lip, 2 operations, no roof in mouth, voice affected, married Charles Green, Ruby, Ruth. Lewis & Martha, live in Tampa Fla. Anna Bertha, she died past Sept. with cancers, married Sidney Padgett. James Irwim, Betty Lou, Eva Jane, Rosa, Forest City. N.C. R-1. Ryburn Russell, died, in yr 1918 with "flu". Memory Hicks, didnt have cleft lip but his voice is affected, married twice. Emily Hollifield, gave birth to baby boy, died when he was 2 hrs old. married Mary Orr. Chester S.C. Dovie Eugenia, married Claud Harrill, 7 children, Claud Jr. Eunice, Frank. Joe, one of the children has cleft lip, cant give any information about this one. Avondale, N.C. Erastus Hunt, married, Sara Armstrong. Rebecka Maye, Spindale, N.C. Robert Earl died 1918 with "flu":Alda Ileen, married, Dwight Frye, Forest City, N.C. Wilbur Clower, married Virginia Chitty, Columbia S.C. Roy Franklin, Forest City, N.C. Uncle Sylvanus living Aunt Martha dead. Lula married, Carol Henson, Willie, Martha, Mattie, dont know the other names. Burlington, N. C. Noah, married Minnie Daniel, Mary, Carson, William & Ernest. Burlington, N.C. Maye, married Tyree York, oldest child dead, Virginia, Mattie, Maude, Bryan & Ruby. Chase City, Va. Tina dead, married Joe Mitchell, 8 children. Burlington, N.C. Bryan, married, have 2 children, Reidsville, N.C. Uncle Tom Watson, died suddenly, Anunt Mary died with cancers. Miller, married twice, have 7 boys dead, & 10 children living, Forest City, N.C. R-2. Ona, died with cancers, married Jake Francis. 1 dead 4 children living. Caroleen, N.C. Willie, married twice. Mattie Morgan, dead, & one child. Nannie Porter, second marriage 5 living, 1 dead. Forest City, N.C. R-2. Annie, married Jonah Padgett, 5 living 2 dead. Gastonia, N.C. Mattie Bell, dead. Lillie, married, Osborne Bland, 8 living & 1 dead, Rutherfordton, N.C. R.2. Uncle Joe & Aunt Anne Kate, living, Mary Kate, married Ernest McCou, 5 children, West Va. Frank, had cleft lip, voice not affected, married Eunice Benton, 2 children. Talbotton, Ga. Laura Joe, married Grady Freeman. Rutherfordton, N.C. Rosa, first husband & baby dead, married Marsh McKeithan Chimney Rock, N.C. Grace, married, David Shields, 1 child, Raleigh, N.C. George, married Doris Blanton, 1 child, Logan, N.C. Forney married, Hazel Ross, Logan, N.C. Martha, at home Logan, N.C. Uncle James & Aunt Bashie Goode dead, 2 children dead & 2 living, Addie, married Eva Allen, 9 living & 2 dead. Eva, married Batie Wilson, 2 living & 1 dead. Forest City, N.C. R-2. Aunt Carrie, died suddenly 4 yrs ago. Uncle Robert, died this past Dec. Maymie, married. Worth Nanney, 6 children, Rutherfordton, N.C. Edna, dead. Bessie & Livingston, single, Shelby N.C. Ora, died last July with cancers. married, Elifus Jarrett. 4 children, Shelby N.C. Ima, married Worth Womack, 6 children, Avondale, N.C. Lila, married Roy Corn, Avondale, N.C. Pauline, married, Roland Stott, Bailey, N.C. Dont know Adam Freeman & wife. For our family, I am the oldest. Alma, & myself, single. Mary Lou married Will Hudson, Hicks, Georginna, & Lucille, Logan, N.C. Craton, married Minnie Hudson. Louise, Edith, Wilbur, Eugene dead Mary Helen, Robert, & Virginia. Forest City, N.C. R-1. Clara, married, John McArthur, 1 child Mildred, Shelby, N.C. Merrill, married Marie Jackson, Spindale, N.C. Miller married, Katheren Todd. WillaDean, & James Todd, New Port News, Va. Charles married Geneva Edwards, Charles Boyce Forest City, N.C. R-2.

If I can be of any more service to you let me know, will be glad to.
Wish your Father would visit us, no one we would rather see than he.
You all come to see us. Glad to hear from you. Write again.
Love and Best Wishes, Zelma Freeman

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Letter No. 3 - from Aunt Maye Reid

1408 W. Magnolia
Fort Worth Texas
Aug 9, 1937

Dear Iva,

I should have written you several days ago, but I have so many things to do I hardly have time to think for myself. I am sorry that Suanna May had to have this trouble, but I am glad that science is able to do so much for cases like this. Suanna May has almost my full name (Anna May). I would like very much to know you and all my nieces but most of all Suanna May.

I certainly enjoyed your mother's visit with us, and I feel nearer to you all since she was here and could tell us all about you. With care I am sure your mother can fully recover from her trouble. So many people are now recovering from high blood pressure.

We are having some very extremely hot weather here in Texas, it certainly makes us long for the delightful weather you have there.

In getting your history for research work you might write Uncle Joe Freeman Logan N.C. His oldest son is cleft lipped. Uncle Frank Freeman, Forest City N.C. has 2 a girl and boy cleft lipped so it seems to run in the Freeman Family. Uncle Frank is dead and also his wife Aunt Eve died last winter about a year after Uncle Frank's death. They were a very devoted couple and reared a large interesting family. These 2 cleft lipped children are very fine people. They are married and have families of their own. Uncle Joe Freeman can give you their correct address so that you might write them.

The Freeman family came over from Virginia to N.C. with the leading families of our co. I happened to run upon a family while I was teaching in the mts of NC, who had a wagon wheel off of the wagon that our great grandfather came in together with his grandfather he was real old then.

The Freemans are English. One A. E. Freeman was an English historian.

Love to all,
Aunt Maye Reid

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Letter No. 4 - from Alma Freeman

Forest City N.C. R 2
May 16, 1941

Dear Cousin Aretus and all,

I hope you all are well and getting along fine. We are all very well. Mama has pains in her leg all the time and she does not feel much good. Papa is getting along very well. He was 80 yrs old last wed which was the 14th. He does not look as old at 80 as he did when you stayed here before you all went to Texas. I told him last night if he lived to be 100 yrs old he would be a young man to me because when I began to remember him he had long beard and now he goes clean shave. We had Mother's day last Sunday at Mt Vernon and there were lots of people that could not believe he was 80. He and mama has been married 51 yrs the 2nd of Feb and 2 wks ago he and mama stayed here one week by theirselves for the first time since they were married. They lived with Uncle Frank and Aunt Eva over one year and when they moved out papa had a hire hand with them, then Zelma was borned and Grandma and Uncle Bate Wilson lived with us for 7 yrs. Mama had to stay one day by her self after papa went up to Uncle Bates' to help him plant cotton. She thought she had lots to do. I keep some one here all the time when I am out nursing. Zelma is nursing a case in Rutherfordton now. She is so much stronger now than she was three yrs ago. I told mama she ought to think alot of her children to think some one has been with her so long. I went up to Marion in just a day or two after I received your letter and I told Zelma to ans it for me but she kept putting it off and then she left and we never did ans it. So I sit down wed night and started to writting the Freeman History off when I had time and just finished it up this evening. I left home the 15th of Jan to nurse a case and I have just been at home two week so you see I have been busy nursing. We have the Lord's Acre project in our church and I am giving 25 cts every day that I am nursing. From the 26th of last May up to the 3rd of this month I have made $59.75 for the Lord's Acre. We are building Sunday school rooms under our church. I feel like the Lord has Blessed me in my work by giving this sum. I give the 10th to the pastor and missions. I give 25 cts every Sunday in my Sunday school class which is $13.00 per yr. We had a large crowd of kin people at the church Sunday and they want us to have a Freeman reunion this Summer and we want you all to come. Nora said to have it for 3 or 4 days and put up a tent to sleep in and just have a good time. That sure would suit papa for he thinks so much of his nieces and nephews. I wish you would come back. Cousin Aretus I did not know all of your sister-in-laws and their children so you will have to get that. I did not get all of my first cousin's children names but tried to five the number in each family. I am glad that we have the History of them. If mama and papa was not here we would not be able to get it up. All of the kinfolks are all well except one of Craton boys he has had pneumonia this week but is better today. His temperature is gone but he will have to stay in bed for a few days. Well it is warm here to day. It has been right cool but I think the warm weather is coming on alright. Uncle Joe and Aunt Anna getting along very well now. Several people told mama Sunday that she was looking so good. She will be 70 the 22 of Oct. Do you remember Aunt Jane Watson that lived with Uncle Jim and Aunt Fannie Goode. She was 90 yrs old last Tuesday was a week ago. She is nearly blind now. She lives with Uncle Bate and Aunt Eva Wilson up at Uncle Jim Goode's place.

I want you to write me again for we enjoy your letters so much. Tell me about your family. Papa is just going to work 4 acres of corn and soybeans this year. He has some of his land rented to a man that lives close to us. He is not able to do so much but if we stop him from work he would get awful restless. I think it helps him to have a little work to do in the field. All the boys are away from home. Zelma and I will be here when the sale comes off after they are dead and gone if they do not out live us. All of Grandpa Freeman's grand children are married except Bessie Livingston, Roy, Zelma and me. I do not know if we will every get married. Well I will close for this time for it will take you a week to read it all.

Hoping to hear from you and saying that you will come to see us this summer.
Excuse all mistakes
With Love to all, Alma Freeman

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Identification of persons mentioned in the letters

Letter No. 1 - Bess Adell Freeman (b. August 1920) is first daughter of Joseph Sidney and Iola Bessie (Francis) Freeman. Joseph Sidney is a younger brother of Aretus Erastus Freeman, father of Iva Melvina (Freeman) Lawson (b. January 17, 1913). Jo Susan was born March 19, 1937 to Joe and Iola. Bess Adell's Grandmother is Susanna (Carpenter) Freeman (b. January 14, 1856; d. February 12, 1942). Mrs. Myrtle Tucker (married Hardin Tucker) is the daughter of Susanna Carpenter's sister Lourany and Andrew Pinkney Higgins. Miss Zelma Freeman is the daughter of Joe Sidney Freeman's Uncle Zebulon Baird Vance Freeman and Dovie Wilson. Uncle Frank (Francis Logan) and Uncle Joe (Joseph Beckner) Freeman are uncles of Joseph Sidney Freeman. Frank (b. 1863, d. 1936) married Eve Dobbins, and Joe (b. 1867, d. 1947) married Anna Kate Logan. Aunt Bess (Cora Bess) and Aunt May (Anna Maye) are sisters of Joseph Sidney. Aunt Minnie (Minnie Elsie Morey) married Joseph Sidney's brother Aretus Erastus, and is the mother of Iva. Aunt May (May Miles) Freeman is the wife of Joseph Sidney's brother Zebulon Vance. The 'baby' is Suanna Maye Lawson, daughter of Iva Melvina (Freeman) Lawson.

Letter No. 2 - Iva and the 'baby' are as above. Uncle Frank and Aunt Eva are Francis Logan and Eve (Dobbins) Freeman. 'Your Father' is father of Iva Melvina (Freeman) Lawson - Aretus Erastus Freeman, first cousin of Zelma. Zelma is the daughter of Zebulon Baird Vance Freeman (1861-1947).

Letter No. 3 - Iva and Suanna May(e) are as above. 'Your mother' is Minnie Elsie (Morey) Freeman, mother of Iva. Uncle Joe, Uncle Frank and Aunt Eve are as above. The great grandfather of Maye Reid would be John Freeman (b. 1778 in VA; m. 1804 in NC; d. 1855 in NC), and his grandfather would be the currently unknown father of Peter Freeman (b. October 3, 1739, Albemarle Parish, VA; d. before 1787, and perhaps before 1782). John Freeman did indeed remove to NC, between 1801 and 1805. With these dates, Peter's father would probably have been in his eighties at the time of the move. Aunt Maye Reid is sister of Aretus Erastus Freeman and wife of William Kirkpatrick Reid, Jr. The A. E. Freeman mentioned is Edward Augustus Freeman, and no relationship to this Freeman family has been established.

Letter No. 4 - Cousin Aretus is Aretus Erastus Freeman, father of Iva Melvina (Freeman) Lawson. Alma Freeman is sister of Zelma Freeman, and daughter of Zebulon Baird Vance Freeman, 'papa' in the letter. Mama is Dovie (Wilson) Freeman. Uncle Frank and Aunt Eva are as in prior letters. Grandma is Lucilla Margaret (Wallace) Freeman (1830-1887), wife of Wilkerson Bell Freeman (1822-1888). Uncle Bate Wilson is the husband of Eve Goode, a daughter of Barbara Bathshaba (Freeman) Goode, sister of Zebulon Baird Vance. (But this would make Bate Wilson a cousin, by marriage, not an uncle, to Alma.) Aunt Jane Watson has been identified as the sister of Aunt Fannie (Watson) Goode, second wife of Uncle Jim Goode. Uncle Joe and Aunt Anna are Joseph Beckner Freeman (1867-1947) and Anna Kate Logan. Uncle Jim and Aunt Fannie Goode are James Goode (widower of Barbara Bathshaba Freeman), and his second wife. Barbara Bathshaba died at the age of 26 (1854-1881). The relationship of the 'Craton boys' is not determined. Grandpa Freeman is Wilkerson Bell Freeman (1822-1888), and 63 of his grandchildren have been identified (most appear in these letters). Those named as unmarried: Bess and Livingston, daughter and son of Robert Gaither and Carrie (Dobbins) Freeman; Roy Franklin, son of Francis Logan and Eve (Dobbins) Freeman; and Alma and Zelma, daughters of Zebulon Baird Vance and Dovie (Wilson) Freeman.

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