Thomas Freeman was born 13 September 1708 in Harwich, Mass., the son of Thomas and Mary (Smith) Freeman. I wrote about Thomas and Mary here. Thomas is my eighth great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.
Thomas received, as eldest son, 120 pounds, 2 shillings, 8 pence in the division of his father's estate 30 July 1718, and was to split his father’s land with his three siblings after the decease of their mother.
On 6 August 1730, Thomas Freeman and Dorothy Cole were married by Samuel Osborn at Eastham, Mass. Dorothy was born 15 May 1712 at Eastham, the daughter of Timothy and Apphia (Pepper) Cole. Their intentions were recorded Eastham 19 June 1730 and at Harwich on 20 June. Dorothy’s name is spelled in a variety of ways in records, including Dority and Doretha. I wrote about Timothy and Apphia here.
The births of Thomas and Dorothy’s children are recorded in Harwich Vital Records:
1. Thomas Freeman, born at Cape Cod, 26 April 1731, married Esther Ryder, removed to Falmouth
2. James Freeman, born Harwich 23 June 23 1734, m. Hannah King
3. Isaac Freeman, 12 February 1736/7, m. Hannah Higgins
4. Sarah Freeman, born 23 November 1739, died 23 September 1753
5. Marah Freeman, born 9 April 1742, married Jesse Rogers
6. Obed Freeman, born 27 November 1744, married Didamia Doane
7. Timothy Freeman, born 4 May 1747, married Zerviah Nickerson and Mary Deane
I descend from their son Thomas.
Dorothy was mentioned in her father Timothy Cole's 2 April 1760 will as Dorretha Freeman to receive land with her sisters.
A 1765 petition from the Praying Indians of Indian Town at South Yarmouth asked for money to pay their preacher John Ralph. It is doubtful the petition was ever put into effect because the following year smallpox again devastated the lower Cape. Thomas Freeman was their legal guardian at the time, and John Ralph was appointed Justice of the Peace for the Indians in his place. The disease left only six wigwams in Indian Town by the following year.
Thomas and Dorothy raised their family in Harwich (now South Orleans) near the Chatham line at the head of Pleasant Bay.
Thomas is referred to as yeoman in various land transactions. He also was skilled in the art of medicine and was involved with the local Native Americans (called Portanumquts in the Freeman genealogy, but I believe this should be Pawkunnakuts, another name for the Wampanoag people), serving as justice and guardian for the Christian members.
Thomas died of small pox on 19 July 1766, in Harwich (now Orleans). I have also seen his death as 19 January, which would make more sense for a March 1766 inventory, but the July date is from the transcribed Harwich Vital Records. If anyone could clarify this, I would love to hear from you! Thomas contracted the small pox from Col. Ryder’s family of Chatham where he went to give medical aid. He must have been a brave man and very committed to offering medical assistance as he knowingly had contact with such a deadly disease.
In his 1917 History of Chatham, William C. Smith wrote that Thomas' grave could still be seen in the field at South Orleans near his home. I'd imagine he was buried separate from family or with other smallpox victims. It would be interesting to find the location of his burial.
Thomas’ inventory was taken 28 March 1766 (or 1767?), but I have not seen it yet myself. It mentions his widow Dorathy, sons Thomas, Isaac and Timothy.
According to Frederick Freeman, Dorothy died in 1782, but no source is given. I don’t find her death in vital records. Freeman writes that Dorothy was a member of Mr. Bascom’s church in Orleans and she received him at her house on 26 September 1781 because she was sick. She definitely died after 1766 when she was mentioned in her late husband’s estate.
Sources Not Listed Above:
Susan E. Roser, Early Descendants of Daniel Cole of Eastham, Massachusetts, Friends of the Pilgrim Series Vol. 2, 2010
Delores Bird Carpenter, Early Encounters Native Americans and Europeans in New England, From the Papers of W. Sears Nickerson, 1994
Frederick Freeman, Freeman Genealogy in Three Parts, 1875