This past Christmas, I received an envelope of photographs from my aunt. Included was a photograph of my 2nd great-grandparents, George and Mattie Ann (Freeman) Wildrick on their wedding day. Mattie was the mother of my great-grandfather, Freeman Wildrick, and she’s ultimately what made me so interested in learning more about my Freeman ancestors. To have named her son Freeman made me curious to learn more. Obviously, she had much pride in her surname to have given it to her son.
Mattie Ann was born 4 November 1870 to William and Rhoda (Edwards) Freeman. At the time of her birth they lived in Conway, Taylor County, Iowa together with William’s parents, Micajah and Margaret (Christy) Freeman. She was the first daughter born to William and Rhoda, following her two elder brothers: William Elmer, b. 1868; Oliver Morton, b. 1869. After Mattie were born: Oscar Lossen, b. 1874; and Walter, b. 1878. And three sisters followed: Mary, Lyda and Cora.
The early 1880s were hard years for the family. In 1881, Mattie’s grandmother, Margaret Freeman passed away on June 15th at the age of 57. Seven weeks later, on July 30th, Mattie’s mother passed away. Rhoda was only 36.
I’m curious to learn more of their deaths. For both women to pass in such a short amount of time, leads me to believe that the family was most likely ill with one form of disease or another.
A year later on 6 July 1882, Mattie’s grandfather, Micajah Freeman passed away at the age of 67. Together with his wife Margaret, and Mattie’s mother Rhoda, they lie in a family plot sharing one tombstone.
But the family did not stay in Taylor County for long. On 1 January 1885, Mattie’s father, William, took a second wife, Losia Belle Jamison. They soon moved away from Iowa and headed south toward Missouri. It was there that Mattie’s stepmother gave birth to three more children: Claude Melvin, b. 1887; Bertha, b. 1890; and Losia.
Unlike many of her peers, Mattie did not marry until she was about 27. She taught school for a number of years, as well as was believed to have homesteaded a plot of land with help from her brothers. She met her husband George Wildrick, who was living in Clinton, Missouri just before the turn of the century and they were wed in 1897. They moved from Missouri to Kansas and while they lived there, Mattie gave birth to a baby girl they named Rhoda in 1899 and a son named Charles Oscar in 1900.
George’s parents, John Wesley and Minnie Wildrick also left Missouri and went west, settling in Furnas County, Nebraska. George and Mattie followed. And in 1902, Mattie gave birth to second son that she gave her surname to: Freeman. He was followed by another daughter named Velma in 1907.
Whether it was the draw of cheap land or wanderlust, George moved his family from Nebraska to Oklahoma in December of 1910. But tragedy soon struck the family once more.
Mattie fell ill, believed to have had pneumonia. On 8 January 1911, Mattie passed away at the age of 40. She was buried in Big Cabin, Oklahoma.
But she has one of the prettiest tombstones I’ve seen to date.