John M. Freeman

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Question: What happened to John M. Freeman after he served in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?

Answer: John Merrick Freeman was born November 20, 1823, in Chatham, Middlesex County, Connecticut to Israel and Deborah Freeman. His father died when he was six years of age. When nine years old he left his home, and went to live with William and Eunice Effingwell and their family. About 1835, the family moved to New York.

Records seem to indicate that the Effingwell family became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about 1839/40 and moved to Pike County, Illinois, and then to Montrose, Lee County, Iowa, across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Illinois. John was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 13, 1839.

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John became a member of the 31st Quorum of Seventies. John was endowed in the Nauvoo Temple on January 23, 1846, and his foster parents were also endowed in the Temple at that time. William and Eunice had three children while living in Montrose (1841-1845). After being persecuted out of the Nauvoo area in the spring of 1846, John and his foster family made their way to Winter Quarters, Nebraska.

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In April 1847, at Winter Quarters, John was asked to serve in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He was in the 1st Ten led by Wilford Woodruff. John’s foster family went to Utah in June of 1847 in the Daniel Spencer/Perrigrine Sessions Company. The father, William Effingwell, was a Captain of Ten in that Company. William traveled with his wife, Eunice, and their seven children.

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Church membership records indicate that three years after his arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, John may have gone to Carson Valley, Nevada, and died there in 1850. However, it appears that this is incorrect, as in the spring of 1849, John went with his foster family on to Sacramento, California. He remained in Sacramento about three months, engaged in contracting and building. He then tried mining on the north fork of the American River for a few months, and then engaged in the hotel and lumbering business in Greenwood, El Dorado County, until 1851. From there he went to Sonoma County, and purchased a ranch of two hundred and thirty-seven acres, about five miles northwest of Petaluma.

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In 1853 there is a marriage record for a John Merrick Freeman and Eliza Susan Harvey in California. His name is John “Merrick” Freeman in the records of California. (John’s middle name of “Monroe” may have just been incorrect on the Church records.)

John and Eliza had five children, and Eliza had a daughter from a previous marriage. Eliza died in 1866. In 1870, John married Eliza Jennie Hoskinson, who had four children from her previous marriage. They never had any children together. In September 1883, John made a will listing his wife, five children, and his step daughter.

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John died on July 27, 1890, in Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, at age 66. He was buried in the Two Rock Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Two Rock, Sonoma County, California.

Source: “Biographies of the Original 1847 Pioneer Company,” Church News, Updated, 14 October 2009; California Wills and Probate Records, 1850-1953, Ancestry.com; California Registers; California Census Records; Published History Of Sonoma County, Biographical Sketch, Alley, Bowen & Co. 1880, San Francisco, California; FindAGrave.com