Biography - Freeman King

FREEMAN KING is a fine old veteran of the Civil war and, while he passed the greater portion of his life time as an agriculturist, he has been a guard at one of the important stations of the Chester prison for the past four years. He is all but a native of Illinois, having been brought to this commonwealth from Somerset county, Pennsylvania, in April, 1841. His birth occurred on the 13th of September, 1840, and his life was spent in the pure air of the country about Murphysboro until his addition to the prison service at Chester in 1907.

Mr. King's father was Charles King, who died in Jackson county, Illinois, in August, 1842, at the early age of twenty-eight years. He was likewise a native of the old Keystone state of the Union, was of Pennsylvania German stock, and was married in Somerset county, Pennsylvania, to Miss Mary A. Whipkey, also of German descent. Freeman King was the only child of his parents to reach years of maturity, and after his father's death his mother married Peter Bowlby. Of the children born to the latter union those surviving are: Winfield Scott, .of Jackson county, Illinois; Emma I., wife of Benjamin Harris, a farmer near Murphysboro, Illinois; and Peter Grant, of Oklahoma. Mrs. Bowlby passed away in 1866, after seeing her children reach ages of personal responsibility and her oldest son acquit himself with honor and distinction as a volunteer soldier in the preservation of the Union during the Civil war.

Under the invigorating discipline of the old homestead farm Freeman King was reared to maturity and his early educational training consisted of such advantages as were afforded in the subscription schools of the period and locality. When he had reached his majority and was thinking seriously of assuming his station in life as a citizen the rumblings of a national war were to be heard. The politicians of the south had brought about the secession of states and the result was the call for volunteer soldiers issued by President Lincoln. Freeman King immediately gave evidence of his loyalty to the cause of the Union by enlisting as a soldier in Company K, Eighteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, at Anna, Illinois, and was soon in the field upon the mission of enforcing peace. His captain was D. H. Brush and his colonel M. K. Lawler, of Shawneetown, and the regiment formed a part of the Sixteenth Army Corps, once commanded by General John A. Logan, with whom Mr. King was on "fishing" terms of intimacy. The command entered active service at Fort Henry, then helped capture Fort Donelson and proceeded thence to Shiloh. After the latter engagement the Eighteenth Illinois returned to Jackson, Tennessee, where it received orders from the war department and was placed in the Mississippi Ram fleet, subsequently termed the "Marine Brigade." Mr. King participated in all the activities of his regiment, and the little fleet to which he belonged was standing by when the Federal fleet attacked Vicksburg. Mr. King had enlisted as a private but received his honorable discharge from service, at Springfield Illinois, in June, 18j64, as a sergeant. He had spent some three years in the service of his country and at the end of that time was ready to assume the responsibilities of civil life. He turned his attention to farming on the old parental estate, two miles distant from Murphysboro. Illinois, and there continued to live and prosper until 1907, when he entered the service of the state prison at Chester. He holds the position of guard at one of the important stations of the prison and, while he is now somewhat advanced in years, his military experience and splendid constitution make him well able to cope with the responsibilities devolving upon him.

In politics Mr. King has ever been allied as a stalwart in the ranks of the Republican party and for sixteen years he was a member of the Jackson county central Republican committee. He was elected a member of the boards of supervisors of two different townships of the county and served in that capacity for several years. He was also a delegate to a number of important county and' congressional conventions and so had a voice in the selection of candidates for public office. In a fraternal way he is -a Master Mason and an Odd Fellow. He retains a deep and sincere interest in his old comrades in arms and signifies the same by membership in Murphysboro Post, No. 132, of the Grand Army of the Republic, being past commander of his post. He is a man of sterling integrity and worth and no citizen of this Action of the state is more highly honored and esteemed than he.

Mr. King has been twice married, his first union having been to Miss Catherine Butcher, who bore him two sons, Charles W. and E. Edward, both farmers near Oraville, Illinois. Mrs. King was summoned to the life eternal, and in 1879 Mr. King wedded Mrs. Rebecca Reno, who has also passed away. Two daughters were born to the latter union, namely, Lizzie, who is the wife of Harry Creath, a farmer in Jackson county, this state; and Ella, now Mrs. Joe Bastian, of the vicinity of Oraville, where her husband is a farmer.

Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 942-943.

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