Bramwell Pioneer John Freeman & Family

( Wife: Isabella "Belle" Rutter Bilbie Freeman - Sons : Charles Wesley, Sr. , George and Daughter, Kate F. Freeman Blanton)

( Grandsons: Charles Wesley "Sonny" Freeman, Jr. & William Randslph Freeman )


COAL BARON PIONEER
JOHN FREEMAN

Historian Martha Jane Becker has written:

John Freeman was born in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, England in 1822. After coming to America he engaged in coal mining at Trenton, Pennsylvania. Leaving Pennsylvania hefirst came Fayette County, West Virginia. He was involved iron mining at around Clifton Forge until 1883. Around that time he started work in the Flat-Top coal fields in Mercer and McDowell counties. John Freeman died in 1892.

Following his death the Caswell Creek Coal & Coke Company was managed by his son, W. G. Freeman. The Caswell Creek mines were the third mines to open up mining coal in the Flat-Top coal fields. Their first shipment of coal made in August, 1884, by Jenkin Jones and John Freeman. This continued until 1889. At that time the Caswell Creek Coal & Coke Company was organized and incorporated under the laws of West Virginia. Jenkin Jones was made president and general manager. John Freeman became secretary and treasurer. John's son, Charles Wesley Freeman was made vice-president. The company leased approximately 1400 acres from the Flat-Top Land Association. On this land they built over 200 coke ovens. The company emloyed over 300 men.

John Freeman married Isabella "Belle" Bilbie of Treverton, Pennsylvania in 1863. She was the widow of John Bilbie. "Belle" was born in July, 1830 in Gateshead, England. She had three husbands and outlived them all. Isabella Rutter Freeman's first husband was James Ellwood. He died around 1851-1852. Isabell then married Joseph Bilbie. He died around 1862-63. Isabella then married John Freeman and they moved from Treverton, PA to Bramwell,WV. She was the mother of at least ten children. One husband, one son-in-law and two sons became millionaires; John Freeman, Jenkin Jones, George and Wesley Freeman. All these individuals are well known as Bramwell pioneers.

Isabella "Belle" Freeman:   

BIRTH: 1831 -  England.

DEATH: 7 Jun 1899 (aged 6768) -  Freeman, Mercer County, West Virginia.

BURIAL: Oak Hill Cemetery -  Freeman, Mercer County, West Virginia.

John Freeman's son, Charles Wesley Freeman, Sr. (June 9, 1873 - Jan. 8, 1930) was also a coal operator, for the Pocahontas Fuel Company, of which he became a director and was also associated with the Caswell Creek Coal and Coke Company. Charles W. Freeman acquired his early education in the common schools of Simmons and Bramwell, took a business course at Dunmore College at Staunton, Virginia. Charles Freeman married Martha Francis Wheeler in 1909 at Lynchburg, VA. They had four children: Martha Wheeler, Charles Wesley, Jr., Margaret Ann and May Lewellen. Charles Wesley "Sunny" Freeman, Jr., 87, passed away Friday, May 5, 2000, at Lewis Gale Medical Center in Roanoke. He was born Dec. 10, 1912, at Bramwell, the eldest child of Charles Wesley "Wes" Freeman, Sr. and Martha Frances Wheeler Freeman of Bramwell. He completed his elementary education in Bramwell public schools, and went on to do undergraduate work at Davidson Coliege in Davidson, N.C. He graduated from VPI in Blacksburg having majored in civil engineering, and he joined the engineering department of the original Pocahontas Coal Company at Pocahontas.

CHARKES WESLEY FREEMAN, SR. DEATH CERTIFICATE - JAN. 8, 1930:

The History of West Virginia, Old and New Published 1923,The American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago and New York, Volume III, pg. 396 features:

CHARLES WESLEY FREEMAN, SR., of Bramwell, a retired coil operator, whose former extensive interests are represented in the Pocahontas Fuel Company, of which he is a director, has been associated with every phase of the coal industry in Southern West Virginia, both on the business and the technical side. Mr. Freeman was born at Trevorton, Pennsylvania, June 9, 1873, son of John and Isabel (Rutter) Freeman. His parents were born in England and were brought when young to Pennsylvania, where their people became coal miners.

John Freeman was born at Clay Cross, England, as a young man worked in the mines near Trevorton, Pennsyl- vania, and on moving to West Virginia was for a number of years superintendent of mines for the Fire Creek Coal Company in Fayette County. In 1883 he moved into the Pocahontas District of Mercer County and located at Sim- mons, where in the latter part of 1883 or the early part of 1884 he made the first shipments of Pocahontas coal from this section. He was active in the operation known at the Freeman & Jones Operation, but later became merged with the Caswell Creek Coal and Coke Company and finally be- came part of the properties of the Pocahontas Fuel Com- pany. Charles Wesley Freeman acquired his early education in the common schools of Simmons and Bramwell, took a business course at

Dunmore College at Staunton, Virginia, and com- pleted his business education with special training in book- keeping, general office work and auditing in Packards' Business School of New York City. He then returned to Simmons and entered the mines under his father, acquiring experience in all the various departments of coal oper- ation, from actual mining to the handling and executive work of mine foreman, superintendent and general manager. He was one of the leading operators of that section for a number of years. When the Caswell Creek Coal & Coke Company was sold to the Pocahontas Fuel Company, Mr. Freeman accepted as his share of the proceeds stock in the Pocahontas Company, and for a number of years has been one of the directors of this great corporation. Since then he has acquired other coal properties in Kentucky, including the Elkhorn Seam Company at Yager.

In 1909 Mr. Freeman married Martha Francis Wheeler (1884 - 1965) in Lynchburg, VA.. Their children: (19101940), 19122000), CHARLES WESLEY FREEMAN, JR. (BHS CLASS 1930) , Margaret Ann Freeman Austin (1915 - 1954)., BHS Class 1931 MARGARET ANN FREEMAN AUSTIN (BHS CLASS 1931) and 19272013), BHS Class 1945. WILLIAM RANDALPH FREEMAN (BHS CLASS 1945), (1923 -1970) ROLAND ECHOLS FREEMAN, BHS CLASS 1941

Mr. Freeman and family are members of the Episeopal Church. He is a Royal Arch and Knight Templar Mason and Shriner, a life member of the Elks, and belongs to the Bluefield Country Club, the Shenandoah Club of Roanoke, Virginia, the Falls Mills Hunting and Fishing Club of Bluefield, and is a charter member of the new Mercer County Country Cub. His favorite diversion is golf.

Charles Wesley Freeman and wife, Martha Francis Freeman built the well known  Historic Freeman House in Bramwell, WV. The house that Charles Wesley Freeman built was known to be the largest house in Bramwell in 1909.  The house has been remodeled many times over the years and remains as a residence in Bramwell to this day.

John Freeman's son, William George Freeman was born in 1870. As indicated, George is also featured on another page. William George Freeman served as secretary and treasurer of the Caswell Creek Coal And Coke Company. He married a daughter of Hiram Beals, of Pennsylvania, and they had a family of four sons. He and his family were members the local Methodist Church that later became the Baptist Church in the Oak Hill Cemetery. His father, John Freeman and wife are buried there.

George Freeman was the brother of Charles Wesley Freeman, another Bramwell pioneer.* William George Freeman and wife, Sarah Annie Beals Freeman built a Fine House for his family in St. Petersburg, PA. 

* John Freeman's great grandson and the grandson of George Freeman verified this information on George Freeman in July 2007.

John Freeman's daughter was Kate F. Freeman Blanton (1868-1938). Kate married Sidney M. Blanton. Sidney died in 1968.

Kate Freeman Blanton (Find-A-Grave) :
BIRTH: 23 Mar 1868
Trevorton, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA
DEATH: 3 Sep 1938 (aged 70)
Freeman, Mercer County, West Virginia, USA
BURIAL: FreemanMercer CountyWest Virginia

John Freeman's grandson, 19122000), CHARLES WESLEY "SUNNY"FREEMAN, JR. (BHS CLASS 1930) , Charles Wesley "Sunny" Freeman, Jr., 87, passed away Friday, May 5, 2000, at Lewis Gale Medical Center in Roanoke, VA. He was born Dec. 10, 1912, at Bramwell, the eldest child of Charles Wesley "Wes" Freeman, Sr. and Martha Frances Wheeler Freeman of Bramwell. He completed his elementary education in Bramwell public schools, and went on to do undergraduate work at Davidson Coliege in Davidson, N.C. He graduated from VPI in Blacksburg having majored in civil engineering, and he joined the engineering department of the original Pocahontas Coal Company at Pocahontas. He subsequently served in the engineering department of Island Creek Coal Company in Red Jacket, and later joined Michael Baker Engineering in Charleston where he lived until he retired.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Margaret Llewellyn Bishop Freeman in 1956, and by sisters Martha Wheeler Freeman Ogle in 1940, Margaret Ann Freeman Austin in 1954, May Lleweliyn Freeman in 1992, and a brother, Roland Ecbols Freeman in 1970.

He is survived by a brother, William Randolph Freeman of Princeton; his second wife, Virginia Catherine Whitt Freeman of the home in Salem, Va., and his daughter, Patricia Ann Freeman Hudson of Bluefield. He is remembered as one of the earliest private aircraft pilots in the area, and kept a single engine, hi wing craft at the old Bluefield Airport, which was located near the present Bowen Field.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Lotz Funeral Home in Salem. A service will be held at the funeral home at noon Monday with burial to follow at 3 p.m. at Monte Vista Park Cemetery on the Old Bluefield Princeton Road.

Posted: 5/8/2000 in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

MARTHA WHEELER FREEMAN - WIFE OF CHARLES WESLEY "SUNNY" FREEMAN


Funeral services for Mrs. Martha Wheeler Freeman,80, of Bramwell will be conducted Friday, August 6, 1965 at 11 a.m. at Cravens Funeral Home Chapel in Bluewell with Rev Gran Zaebst officiating. Burial will follow in Monte Vista Cemetery.
Pallbearers: Londo Gross, Ed Pasley, Don Anello, Donnie Murphy, C.C. Lance, and William Becker.Born in Pamlin, Va., she was a daughter of the late William Baker Wheeler and Camilla Blanche Ford Wheeler.

Her husband Charles Wesley Freeman, a prominent area coal operator, preceded her in death in 1930.Survivors include three sons: Charles Freeman, Jr. of Charleston, Roland E. Freeman of Bramwell, William R. Freeman of Bluefield; one daughter, May Llewellyn Freeman of Arlington, Va.; one sister, Mrs. John D. Hewitt, Jr. of Bramwell; five grandchildren; Judy, Beverley, Patty, Randy and Rita; six great-grandchildren.


She was a member of the Bluefield Episcopal Church.Friends may call at the funeral home.The family requests that flowers be omitted.Published Thursday, August 5, 1965 in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Marriage Date: 30 Jun 1909
Marriage Place: Lynchburg, Virginia

Another of John Freeman's grandsons was William Randalph Freeman and youngest son of John Freeman's son, Charles Wesley Freeman.

PRINCETON, WV — WILLIAM RANDALPH FREEMAN ( BHS CLASS 1945 ), 85 years old, of Princeton died Sunday, April 7, 2013 at Princeton Community Hospital. Born September 9, 1927 in Bramwell he was the youngest son of the late Charles Wesley Freemen and Martha Wheeler Freeman. WILLIAM RANDALPH FREEMAN - (FIND-A-GRAVE)

He was a 1945 graduate of Bramwell High School and a graduate of Concord College. William was a retired salesman for AFLAC Insurance and was a U.S. Army veteran serving in World War II. He was a member of the Calvary Chapel Church in Princeton.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one son, Randy Freeman. Survivors include three nieces, Patricia Freeman Hudson of Bluefield, Judy Austin Vien and Beverly Austin Tuck both of Henderson, Nev. In keeping with William's wishes his body has been cremated.

A memorial service will be conducted at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, April 20, 2013 at the George W. Seaver Chapel of Seaver Funeral Home in Princeton with Pastor Christopher Vanover officiating. Entombment will be at Resthaven Park Cemetery Mausoleum.

John Freeman Family Members ( FIND-A-GRAVE ) : Spouse :

Children :

ISABELLA FREEMAN MEMORIAL BRIDGE

The Isabella Freeman Memorial Bridge was built across the Bluestone River at Freeman, West Virginia in 1991. This modern structure honors Isabella and John Freeman for whom the community of Freeman was named. This bridge replaced the orignal Route 52 ( Freeman Bridge ) that was built some 90 years ago. The old bridge was removed in the 1990s with the completion of this present modern bridge. Note that the Pinnacle Rock is visible in the photograph background. A view of John Freeman's grave marker located at the Freeman Cemetery in Freeman is shown below.

Isabella's husband, John Freeman was one of the pioneers of the Flat-Top Coal Fields and head of the original firm of Freeman and Jones. He was born in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, England on October 29, 1822 and came to the United States around 1850. He was a true pioneer in the southern West Virginia coal fields. As his gravemarker below shows he died at the age of 69 on October 14, 1892, leaving behind a legendary name. His and Isabella's grave sites resides in the historic Freeman Oak Hill Cemetery that is located next to the Riverside Baptist Church (formerly known as the Bluestone Baptist Church) in Freeman, WV.

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 49:

(By: Senator Chafin)

Requesting the Division of Highways name bridge number 28-52-3.55, located in Mercer County, the "Isabella Freeman Memorial Bridge". Whereas, Isabella Freeman was born July 11, 1830, in England; and Whereas, Isabella Freeman came to Mercer County with her husband John, who was the owner of Caswell Creek Coal & Coal Company, a forerunner of Pocahontas Fuel Corporation; and Whereas, Isabella and John Freeman built a home on the property located at the end of the existing Route 52 bridge, where they lived for many years and are buried in the cemetery within site of the bridge; and Whereas, It is fitting, to honor the memory of Isabella Freeman, who represents the strong women of the pioneer coal mining days who helped husbands achieve success for themselves and the great Pocahontas coalfield, by naming bridge number 28-52-3.55, located in Mercer County, the "Isabella Freeman Memorial Bridge"; therefore, be it Resolved by the West Virginia Legislature: That the Legislature hereby requests the Division of Highways name bridge number28-52-3.55, located in Mercer County, the "Isabella Freeman Memorial Bridge"; and, be it Further Resolved, That the Division of Highways is hereby requested to have made and be placed signs identifying the bridge as the "Isabella Freeman Memorial Bridge"; and, be it Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the Senate is hereby directed to forward a copy of this resolution to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and the family of Isabella Freeman.

 

Bluefield Daily Telegraph April 13, 1899:

ISABELLA FREEMAN: Mrs. Isabella Freeman, relict of the late John Freeman of Caswell Creek Coal and Coke Company, died at her home at Simmons at 11:45 pm. Tuesday night and will be buried at Simmons on Friday afternoon at 2. p m. Mrs. Freeman was born in England but spent the greater part of her life in this country.

Her husband, John Freeman was one of the pioneers of the Pocahontas Coal Field. He was the first president of the Caswell Creek Company. Mrs. Freeman left the following children: John Bilby, a son by a former marriage; Mrs. Jenkin Jones; Mrs. Chas. Scott; Mrs. Samuel Toy; Mrs. S. M. Blanton; Mrs. George Dikinson; and three sons George, Wesley and Rolin Freeman. She was a lady highly esteem and beloved, and her death is a source of general regret both in the section in which she lived and in this city (Bluefield).

Mrs. Isabella Freeman was buried next to her husband, John Freeman's grave in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Freeman, WV.

.John Freeman Tombstone, Oak Hill Cemetery, Freeman, WV

JOHN FREEMAN - FIND- A- GRAVE

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