Biography of Roy F. Freeman

Roy F. Freeman is now devoting his energies to agricultural pursuits in Mount Pleasant Township, where he has a splendidly developed property of twenty-one acres situated on section 13. He is a representative of one of the old pioneer families of the country and the name has long been prominently associated with industrial activity in Racine. It was in that city that Roy F. Freeman was born. March 21, 1886, his parents being Michael and Lillias Katherine (Porter) Freeman, who were married in Racine on the 15th of September, 1881. The father was born in Centralia, Illinois, January 14, 1860, and was a son of Stephen Freeman, who was born in Llanerchymedd, on the island of Anglesey, Wales. December 26, 1834, his parents being John and Elizabeth (Williams) Freeman, both of whom died when their son Stephen was only about a year and a half old. He lived among neighbors till he reached the age of nine, when he ran away to Liverpool, England, and made his home with John Williams, a builder and the composer of many beautiful Welsh hymns.

Stephen Freeman remained with Mr. Williams until he reached the age of eighteen and during that time served an apprenticeship to the boiler maker’s trade. He served for about a year as a boiler maker with the British fleet in the Crimean war and soon afterward sailed for the United States, landing at New York in July, 1856. He was afterward employed in the shops of the Illinois Central Railroad Company at Centralia, Illinois, and on the 4th of July, 1857, he married Elizabeth Willick, who was born in Pennsylvania, April 14. 1834, and was a daughter of Christian and Catherine Willick, who were natives of Germany and settled in Pennsylvania on immigrating to the United States. Soon after his marriage Stephen Freeman decided to engage in farming but was soon ready to return to his trade and established a boiler shop at Cairo, Illinois. In 1862 he enlisted in the United States army as a boiler maker of the Mississippi river squadron, with which he served for two years, when his health failed and he was obliged to return to the north. He afterward spent two years in the shops of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company, at Milwaukee and Watertown, and in the spring of 1867 came to Racine to engage in boiler making for John Kirkland, whose interest in the business he purchased. He afterward opened a boiler shop and this became the initial step in the establishment of the S. Freeman & Sons Manufacturing Company, which became one of the foremost business enterprises of Racine. In 1879 he admitted his son Charles to a partnership under the firm style of Stephen Freeman & Son which was changed to Stephen Freeman & Sons when Michael Freeman became a partner in 1881. Five years later the business was incorporated under the title of the S. Freeman & Sons Manufacturing Company and the father remained active in the management and control of the business to the time of his death, watching its satisfactory development which made it a profitable concern.

His son, Michael Freeman, was but seven years of age when the family came to Racine and when a lad of thirteen he began learning the molder’s trade, manifesting marked ability along that line, so that at the age of seventeen he became foreman in his father’s foundry department. As stated, he was admitted to a partnership and upon the incorporation of the business in 1886 was made secretary. Following the death of his father in 1889 he also became superintendent of the works. His inventive genius found expression in the making of a molder’s flask, upon which he secured a patent when but nineteen years of age. He has secured three patents on feed cutters and four on broadcast seeders and all of his improvements are now in general use.

Michael Freeman was married in Racine, September 15, 1881, to Lillias Katherine Porter, daughter of Lemuel C. and Esther J. (Austin) Porter, the former a native of New York and the latter of Massachusetts. The family is of English lineage and in childhood Lemuel C. Porter removed with his parents to Taunton, Massachusetts, where he married and resided until 1875. Through the four succeeding years he made his home in Aurora, Illinois, and then came to Racine, accepting the position of superintendent of the silver plating works. When the plant was burned in 1882 he went to Rockford, Illinois, where he continued the business for the same firm under the name of the Racine Silver Plate Company. In 1886, however, he and his wife returned to Taunton, Massachusetts. Their eldest daughter became the wife of Michael Freeman and, the mother of three children, Bessie, Frank and Roy. The parents are members of the Congregational church and Mr. Freeman gives his political allegiance to the Democratic Party. He has long ranked with the prominent representatives of industrial activity in Racine and his labors have contributed much to the business development of the city.

Roy F. Freeman, reared under the parental roof, attended the public schools, also Racine College and the University of Wisconsin, from which he was graduated on the completion of an agricultural course in 1906. For three years he worked in his father’s factory in Racine but it was his desire to concentrate his efforts upon farm work and he purchased twenty-one acres in Mount Pleasant Township on which he has since lived. He there follows farming according to most modern scientific methods and his labors are attended with good results.

On the 2d of December, 1908, Mr. Freeman was married to Miss Ethel Mainland, a daughter of James and Anna (Davis) Mainland, of Racine, who settled in this County at an early day. The father was of Scotch lineage, while the mother was of Welsh descent. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Freeman: Esther Jane and Margaret Anna.

The parents belong to the Congregational church, which has been the religious faith of the family through several generations. Mr. Freeman maintains an independent, political attitude, voting for the candidate whom he regards as best qualified for office. All who know him esteem him highly. He is a well read man, actuated in all that he does by the modern spirit of enterprise and progress. He has never been content to follow methods already in vogue but has sought to utilize the new ideas which scientific investigation has brought to light and his labors are at all times a manifestation of later-day progress that produces practical and substantial results.


Racine County WI,

Racine County Wisconsin History: Racine Belle City of the lakes and Racine County Wisconsin a record of settlement organization progress and achievement. SJ Clarke Pub Co. Chicago. 1916. 1216 pgs.

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