Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


What the modern methods of undertaking have come to mean to society, desirous as men and women always are for the best that can be obtained, and anxious as people of sentiment ever will be for the most consoling and appropriate provision for the last rites of respect to the dead, may be seen from the operations, in accordance with scientific precepts and the most approved taste, of James E. Freeman, the well known undertaker of Monterey. He was born September 16, 1872, in Placer county, California, on a ranch where his parents, John C. and Catherine (Croke) Freeman then lived. His father was a master machinist, long in the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, having charge of certain responsible departments in the shops. He also had a ranch of several hundred acres near Rocklin, Placer county, and there made his home and reared his family. Hence the children attended the grammar schools of Rocklin; and when the family moved to Berkeley, they availed themselves of the advantages of the higher schools. A brother opened and conducted a large furniture and undertaking place at Rocklin, but the removal of the railroad shops, and with them so many people, made it necessary for him to seek a new location.

It happened-very fortunately, in this case-that James Freeman was prominently active in the Native Sons of the Golden West, and that in time he became a delegate to several state conventions, one of which was held in Monterey. Having seen the historic old town, he determined, if possible, to make his home here. In 1908 therefore he returned and purchased Mr. Oliver's undertaking business and ever since he has regularly added to its equipment, and increased his stock of all that is necessary, as he is far away from the usual source of supplies. He has a dignified chapel in which funeral services may be held and he owns two motor-hearses. With his careful personal attention to the desires of each and every patron, he finds it relatively easy to give satisfaction of the kind that evokes grateful appreciation. In his difficult, delicate and decidedly responsible work, Mr. Freeman is ably assisted by his wife, who is also a licensed undertaker.

Mrs. Freeman was Miss Esther M. Fletcher before her marriage, and she is a daughter of the pioneer, Levi Fletcher, who first settled in California in 1857. Seven years later he returned east, where he remained until 1888, but the irresistible lure of California drew him back here, in 1888, about the time of the great "boom" in southern California, and he became interested in development of the granite quarries near Rocklin. Mrs. Freeman belongs to the Eastern Star, and she is a past matron and charter member of the Hebe Roseville chapter. She also belongs to the Cypress Lodge of the Rebekahs, the ladies auxiliary of the I. 0. O. F., of Pacific Grove, and she is an ex-president of the Monterey Civic Club, and also of the ladies of the Sherman Circle, Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Robert Wainwright Auxiliary of the Veterans of the Spanish-American War of Monterey. Mr. Freeman is a charter member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, having first belonged to Rocklin Parlor, from which he was transferred to the Parlor at Monterey, and he is a Knight of Columbus, a Forester, a Moose and an Eagle. He belongs to various patriotic bodies and is second to none in participating in any good work for the general uplift of the community and for the advancement of the best interests of all Monterey county.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.