About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 8 Dec 2009 - The Mysterious Deaths of Three Freemans

Francis Freeman (my g-g-granduncle) & his wife Mary Jane had six children. The oldest three were George E. (b: 1 Jan 1841), Charles W. (b: Jan 1843), and Steward E. (b: 2 Sep 1844). The oldest, George, signed up for Company F in the 10th New York (presumed Cavalry since the 10th Infantry was a Zouave unit out of New York City and the Cavalry unit was organized in Elmira and Buffalo, closer to where George lived in Jefferson County); apparently he never got to muster in. These 3 young men died as follows:

George: 11 Dec 1861

Charles: 10 Dec 1861

Steward: 13 Dec 1861

The cause of death is unknown. The family lived in the Brownville area, but the boys are all buried in Stone Mills Cemetery in Orleans, over 10 miles from the family farm, instead of one of the closer cemeteries. The stones are located in the plot also occupied by Susanna MOAK DILLENBECK and her husband Johann Baltus DILLENBECK. The Dillenbecks were the step-grandparents of the boys' father and had already died by the time the boys passed away. I suspect that the family had burial space, which is why the bodies were interred in that cemetery.

Years later, the boys' parents passed away and were buried in Dexter Cemetery (near Brownville) in the Underwood/Freeman plot (the youngest daughter, Medora, married an Underwood). Also included were 3 memorial stones to the three young men who died back in 1861. Anyone who would examine the cemeteries of the county would be surprised to find these young men buried not once, but twice. I suspect the bodies still remain under the large tree in Stone Mills Cemetery with the Dillenbeck family.


  1. Mysterious indeed! Could they have died in camp of disease? It is also odd that they have two memorials but maybe that was simply easier for the family to keep their memories alive. I have not been to either of these cemeteries, perhaps my wanderings will take me that way in the spring.

  2. Only one of the boys had signed up for the war, but it is possible he brought something home with him & shared it with his brothers. I do suspect it was an illness since they were over a 3-day period (if it had been an accident it is more likely that they would have all died on the same day). I can't find any evidence of an epidemic in the area, however. Very odd.