Dr. Edward Jacob Freeman (b1851)
DR. EDWARD JACOB FREEMAN, who for many years was engaged in the practice of medicine in Northampton county, but is now superintending private business interests, was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, December I8, I851, his parents being Dr. George W. and Matilda (Seip) Freeman. His paternal grandparents were Jacob and Susan (Butz) Freeman. The village of Freemansburg was named’ in honor of the family. The family had its origin in England, and representatives of the name emigrated to this country in the early part of the seventeenth century, and they owned considerable land in Bethlehem and Lower Saucon township.
Dr. George W. Freeman was born in 1832. He obtained his early education in the public schools of Freemansburg and of Bethlehem, and afterward continued his studies in a private school conducted by Professor Vandeveer, at Easton, Pennsylvania, where he prepared for college. In 1849 he entered the University of Pennsylvania, but previous to this time he read medicine under the direction of Dr. C. C. Field of Easton, who was his preceptor for three years. He was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, in 1852, and then returned to Freemansburg, where he entered upon the practice of his chosen profession, being thus engaged up to the time of his death, which occurred May 16, I898. He was prominently connected with the Northampton County Medical Society. He married Matilda Seip, a daughter of Edward Seip, of Easton, and their marriage was blessed with four children, of whom Edward Jacobs is the eldest, Mary Ellen, the second, is the wife of G. W. Bachman, and they have ﬁve children: Estella, Jennie, Ralph, Laura and Roland. Walter S., who is a practicing physician of Philadelphia, married Jane Unangst, and they have four children: Eugene, Mabel, Edith and George. Emma Adelia, the youngest child of George VV. and Matilda (Seip) Freeman, died in infancy.
Dr. Edward J. Freeman, who was born in Easton, December 18, I851, attended the public schools in his early youth, and afterward became a student in the Swartz private academy at South Bethlehem. He next entered Lehigh University at Bethlehem, where he remained for a year and a half, and in the winter of 1869 he matriculated in the University of Pennsylvania as a student in the medical department, and was graduated with honors in the class of 1873. Having thus become well prepared for the responsible duties of his profession, he took up his abode in Freemansburg, and associated himself in practice with his father, being thus engaged until I877. The business relation between them was then dissolved, and Dr. Freeman of this review began practicing alone. He continued the work of ministering to the needs of suffering humanity until 1898, when he put aside the cares of the medical profession in order to give his super vision to his investments and private business interests.
Dr. Freeman is an active worker in the Re formed church and has been closely identiﬁed with its progress and development. The only secret order with which he is connected is Huldah Lodge, No. 364, Knights of Pythias. He married Miss Emily J. Knecht, a daughter of John Knecht, of Shimersville, now deceased. Her mother bore the maiden name of Eliza Reigel, and by her marriage had four children, namely: 1. Arabella, who married Dr. J. J. Detweiler, by whom she has six children—Elizabeth, William, Fred. Albert, John and Edith. 2. Emily. the wife of Dr. E. J. Freeman. 3. Howard, who married Laura Walters, and has two children—Laura and John. 4. Anna, who completes the Knecht family. To Dr. and Mrs. Freeman have been born four children, but‘Anna Elizabeth is the only one now living, the others having died in infancy.
Dr Edward Jacob Freeman ( December I8, I851) - Married - Emily J Knecht (daughter of John Knecht and Eliza Reigel ... married February 2, 1841, )
4 children, but 3 died in infancy - only Anna Elizabeth (Freeman) lived
Man of Great Enterprise.
The Knecht family of Northampton county descends from John Jacob Knecht, who sailed from Rotterdam in September, 1734, and later settled in Williams town ship, Northampton county. The line of descent to Howard R. Knecht, of Shimersville, is through Jonathan George Knecht, son of the founder, his son John, his son John (2), father of Howard R. Knecht.
In 1841, John Knecht settled in Shimersville, Pennsylvania, where he became prominent in business and was one of the substantial men of his day, succeeded in 1890 by his son, Howard R. Knecht, who is now (1914) the leading business man of the town. The records of father and , son cover a period of seventy-three years During this entire period the chief industry of the town has been the mills now operated by Howard R. Knecht, under the name of John Knecht's Son.
John (2) Knecht was born in Williams township, Northampton county, August 5, 1814, died February 22, 1891. He was left fatherless when ten years of age, his uncle Aaron Knecht supplying a father's care and training him in habits of thrift and industry—traits that ever characterized his later life. He was educated in a public school held in the spring house near Black Horse Tavern, on the Delaware, two and a half miles below Easton. He grew up on his uncle's farm, later learning the carpenter's trade, which he followed until twenty-one years of age. He then went south, engaging in railroad construction on the line between Raleigh and Gaston, North Carolina, re turning to Williams township in 1830 and was there married in 1841. Soon after that event he took possession of the old grist mill at Shimersville, built in 1735 by Nathan Irish. Then as now, this mill was the milling center for a large district, the old records showing that in 1743 the Moravians at Bethlehem petitioned the court to open a road from that town ttotthet Saucon mill, which was done. The old mill had passed through several hands before coming to John Knecht in 1842. Mr. Irish sold it to John Cruikshank, of Philadelphia; John Currie, his son-in-law, was the next owner, he selling mill, stone house and all land connected therewith, to John Shimer, who in 1816 erected a new mill close by the old one. Samuel Leidigh became the next owner, and Benjamin Reigel the next, he purchasing the property in 1836, selling it in 1842 to his son-in-law, John Knecht, who operated it until 1890, when the mill management was turned over entirely to his son, Howard R. Knecht, its present owner. In addition to his large milling business, and the management of the large estate he had acquired. John Knecht was interested with his longtime personal friend, Judge Asa Packer, the projector and builder of the Lehigh Valley railroad. He was in hearty sympathy with Mr. Packer in his plans, rendering him important assistance in many ways, and after the completion of the road was a director for many years. He not only favored, encouraged and assisted in the construction, but as a director added strength to the management of those early years of railroads. He pos sessed not only the friendship but the esteem and confidence of Mr. Packer, and which he always retained. With keen business foresight, Mr. Knecht saw the great benefit the Valley might realize from the building of the railroad, and after its completion he inaugurated the movement that resulted in the formation of the Bethelehem Iron Company. The latter was formed in association with Augustus Wolle, Charles W. Rauch, Charles B. Daniel and other capitalists, John Knecht being a director of the company from its inception in 1859 until his death in 1891. He was also connected with other prominent companies, including the Northampton Iron Company, which he organized in 1872, and of which he was president. This company built a large furnace near Freemansburg, later operated by the Bethlehem Iron Company. He was also a director of the Easton National Bank, and held many offices of trust, serving as executor, administrator or trustee of many large estates. He was very generous, and by advice and material assistance started many a man on the road to prosperity. He was a Democrat but would never consent to accept public office, declining even a congressional nomination. He was a faithful member of the Reformed church and in every relation in life was true, honorable and up. right.
John Knecht married, February 2, 1841, Eliza E., daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Riegel. She survived her husband less than six months, dying July 4, 1891. On February 20 of that year Mr. and Mrs. Knecht celebrated their fiftieth anniversary of their wedding. A pleasant and unusual feature of the occasion was the presence of the groomsman and bridesmaid of fifty years earlier. The guests were numerous, many of the officials of the Lehigh Valley railroad and of the Bethlehem Iron Company honoring their old business associate by their presence, as did many of his oldtime Easton, Bethlehem and country friends. Twenty days later the death of John Knecht occurred, followed in six months by that of the widow. Children: Arabella, married Dr. J. J. Detweiler, of Easton; Emily, married Dr. E. J. Freeman, of Freemansburg; Annie; Howard R., of whom further; Sarah, married Dr. R. H. Sheppard, of Phillipsburg, New Jersey; John and Benjamin, the latter dying in infancy.
Howard R. Knecht was born at Shimersville, September 4, 1856. He was educated in the public schools and at Nazareth Hall, graduating from the latter with the class of 1876. He at once be came his father's assistant and on attain ing his majority was admitted a partner in the milling business. The old stone mill built in 1816 has been rebuilt, enlarged and otherwise improved, and is about on the site of the original Nathan Irish mill built in 1735. In 1885 it was completely modernized and converted into a roller mill, and is one of the noted flouring mills of Pennsylvania, its pro ducts on sale in all principal Eastern Pennsylvania cities and in other large cities in the east. In 1890 John Knecht turned over to his son the entire management of the plant, and in his will bequeathed the grist mill, saw mill, stone house (the family residence), tenant houses, large tracts of land and other property, Howard R. Knecht has ever since retained management of the flouring mill, which is a very important and prosperous industry, and has been active in many of the business enterprises that distinguish Northampton county. He is a director of the Easton National Bank and in business affairs has displayed the same energy and ability that distinguished the career of his honored father. He is most genial and courteous in manner, has a host of warm friends, and holds a high position in his community. He is a Democrat in politics and influential in local party affairs. He is a member of the Reformed church of Freemansburg, and a trustee of Allentown College for Women. He was a juror in the famous Lincoln National Bank case, tried before Judge Butler in Philadelphia in 1890, wherein the cashier and another were accused of defrauding the bank of some $80,000.
A trait of Mr. Knecht's character is his interest in men of his time, and his methodical methods of preserving all cur rent notices of men of his day. When a lad of fourteen years he began making newspaper clippings of men and events, and this practice has followed all through life, the clippings being preserved by a systematic manner of arrangement. He is a veritable encyclopedia of information of this character, ari one appealed to for information when all other sources fail.
Mr. Knecht married, September 1882, Laurenti, daughter of Dr. B. C. Walter, of Farmersville. Children: Florence Anna and John Walter, two others dying in infancy. The family residence is at Shimersville, the family seat since the marriage of Mr. Knecht's parents in 1841.