Columbus Reed Freeman

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Columbus Reed Freeman

Birthplace: Jackson, Breathitt, Kentucky, USA
Death: Died in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
Place of Burial: Safford, Graham, Arizona, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Freeman and Nancy Beal Freeman
Husband of Lydia Clementine Freeman
Father of Malcolm Samuel Freeman; John Levi Freeman; Lydia Clementine Dowdle; Emma E. Freeman; Columbus Freeman and 3 others
Brother of Adeline Cassandrea Freeman; Elizabeth Caroline Hall; Nancy Ann Freeman; William Hamblin Freeman; Martisha Freeman and 5 others

Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About Columbus Reed Freeman

Columbus R. Freeman (1838-1907) - Biographical Sketch

A native of rural Kentucky (or Missouri per the 1880 census records), Columbus Reed Freeman moved to western Illinois before traveling with the Mormons to frontier Utah. He was an American frontiersman and early pioneer to southern Utah.

Freeman was born in 1838 in Jackson, Breathitt County, Kentucky, the son of John J. Freeman (1804-1871) and Nancy Beal Smoot (1807-1891). However, census records indicate that Columbus was born in Missouri, and there is a Family Data Collection record from which states that Columbus was actually born in Johnson, Concord County, Missouri on June 27, 1838. His father’s forebears were from southern England and immigrated to Jamestown, Virginia. Generations later they moved to Kentucky. His mother was in the Smoot clan, some of whom later rose to positions of some prominence among the Mormons.

Freeman's parents joined the Mormons and moved to western Illinois in the early 1840s. As a child, Freeman experienced the "Mormon War" in western Illinois and the forced expulsions of the Mormons. Eventually, the Freeman family joined the Mormon migration to frontier Utah.

In the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Jefferson, Andrew County, Missouri, Columbus is 10 years old and living with his parents, John, 45, (a farmer), Nancy B., 42, and his older brother, John W., 13, and 3 younger sisters, Margaret, 9, Jemima, 7, and Martha J., 3. In this census record it states John, Nancy, and John W. were all born in Kentucky, but that Columbus was born in Missouri, Margaret in Illinois, and the 2 youngest daughters were also born in Missouri. The family must have been in Missouri in 1838 when Columbus was born, and then went to be with the rest of the church in Nauvoo in 1841 when Margaret was born. Then they must have gone back to Missouri for some reason in 1843 when Jemima and Martha were born. After Martha was born in 1847, it wasn't long before they traveled to Utah with the rest of the Mormon Pioneers.

By 1857, Freeman was 19 and living in southern Utah. He is listed in June 1857 muster list but for unknown reasons, not in the October 1857 list. According to the muster roll, he was a private in a platoon in Company C of Parowan. No one else from Parowan is known to have be involved in the massacre so why was Freeman identified? In Massacre at Mountain Meadows, Walker, Turley and Leonard opine that since Freeman's parents and siblings were living with the other Southerners in the new settlement of Washington in Washington County, he may have been living in Washington and was recruited from there to march to Mountain Meadows. He was among the young men ordered to muster to Mountain Meadows.

According to John D. Lee's account in Mormonism Unveiled, Freeman attended the fateful military council at Mountain Meadows on the evening of Thursday, September 10, just before the final massacre the following day. However, the youthful private could not have played a significant role in the deliberations of the council. His exact role at the time of the final massacre is not unknown, although he could have been among the contingent of militiamen who accompanied the emigrant men from their camp on their northbound march just before the massacre commenced.

In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Parowan, Iron County, Utah Territory, Columbus is 20 years old, living with his parents, John 55, and Nancy, 51, and younger sisters, Jemima, 15 and Martha J., 12. John's father is listed as a farmer, whose real estate is valued at $400 and his personal estate as $750.00.

Sometime later in 1860, Columbus Reed Freeman marries Lydia Clementine West (1840-1912). He had left southern Utah for Corn Creek in Millard County. Columbus and Lydia have eight children. In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Kanosh, Millard County, Utah Territory, Columbus is 32, Lydia is 27, and their 4 children are: Malcolm S., 6, John L., 5, Lydia C., 3, and Emma E., 1 year old. Columbus is listed as a farmer, and the value of his real estate is $250 and his personal estate is $250. In this census it shows he was born in Missouri and Lydia in Kentucky, and all 4 of their children in Utah.

In the 1880 census, the family is still living in Kanosh, and also lists Freeman as being born in Missouri. He is 41 years old and employed as a laborer, and his wife Lydia, born in Kentucky, 39 years old, is keeping house, with their children, Malcolm L., 16, John C., 15, Lydia C., 14, Columbus R., 8, Margaret B., 6, William N., 4, and Orilla M., 2 years old. In this census, the record states both of Freeman's parents were born in Kentucky, and both of Lydia's parents were born in Tennessee.

By the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, the family has moved to Graham County, Arizona Territory, and Columbus is 61 years old, Lydia is 60, and living with them are their two youngest children, William, 24, and Orilla, 22. They have been married for 40 years. Next door is their son, Malcolm, 37, and his children, Samuel M., 11, William I., 9 and Lillian, 6. Malcolm is listed as a widower.

Next door is Malcolm's brother, John, 35, with his wife, Lydia, 32, and their children, Emma L., 13, Mildred, 4, and triplets, Beulah, Blanche and Bertha, 1 year old, all three having been born in November, 1898. John and Lydia have been married 14 years, had 8 children, 5 of whom are still living. Columbus and his 3 sons are all listed as either farmers or farm laborers. They own their farm free of a mortgage. Seven years later Columbus passes away. At the time of his death on April 15, 1907 he may have been visiting or living in Los Angeles, California, however, he was buried in the Safford City Cemetery in Safford, Graham County, Arizona.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, for Graham County, Arizona, Lydia is listed as a widow, and is 70 years old, living with her son William, 31. Lydia is listed as a farmer and William as a farm hand. Next door is William's older brother, John, and his wife Lydia, and their children, Mildred, 14, the triplets, Beulah, Blanche, and Bertha, 11, and two more daughters have been born, Norine, 7, and Beth who is 9 months old. John is also still working as a farmer. Two years later Lydia Clementine West Freeman passes away on January 24, 1912, in Safford, Arizona and is buried there with her husband.

References: Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1848;; Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; Lee Trial transcripts; Walker, et al, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, Appendix C; 1850, 1870, 1880 and 1900 U.S. Census.

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Columbus Reed Freeman's Timeline

June 27, 1838
Jackson, Breathitt, Kentucky, USA
June 8, 1863
Age 24
Millard, UT, USA
March 27, 1865
Age 26
Safford, AZ, USA
February 27, 1867
Age 28
Kanosh, Millard County, Utah Territory, United States
August 1869
Age 31
Millard, UT, USA
July 1872
Age 34
Millard, UT, USA
Age 35
February 1876
Age 37
Millard, UT, USA
June 1887
Age 48
April 25, 1907
Age 68
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA