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Remembering Dr. Freeman

John Horner

His name was Horatio Putman Freeman, but everyone called him "Doc". He was born in the state of Mississippi on February 8, 1881, the son of John W. and Charlotte (Reid) Freeman. He left there at age 16, attended Loyola University in Chicago and graduated from the Bennett Medical College which was affiliated with Loyola. He practiced medicine briefly in the Chicago area at that time. He was pressed into service in WW I, serving as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Corps in the United States and France. In 1920, he married the former Madeline Fraley(d. December 15, 1970) of Emmitsburg and began a medical practice there. One of his early baby deliveries was that of the writer's sister, Mildred, born on November 7, 1920. "Doc" Freeman was primarily a rural doctor and after many years as a General Practitioner in the Emmitsburg area, he labored for the State of Maryland conducting eye examinations in Cumberland, Md., and later in Baltimore.

A daughter, Charlotte, unmarried, (b. December 1, 1920, d. 1987) is interred in Mt. View Cemetery, Emmitsburg. A son, Horatio P. Freemen, Jr (b. March 17, 1922 ), is still living in Silver Spring, Md. A daughter, Ruth, unmarried (b. July 1, 1922)who worked for many years for the State of Maryland, retiring in the 1980's, still lives in Baltimore.

A tall mustachioed man, very distinguished looking, very professional, but quite friendly, "Doc" passed away quietly in the Fairland Nursing Home, Silver Springs, Md., on April 13, 1972, after an illness of about a month. Funeral services were from the Wilson Funeral Home, Emmitsburg, with the Rev. Dr. Walter D. Smith (father of Pat Freeman Jr.'s wife) officiating, and he was laid to rest in the Mt. View Cemetery. He was a member of the Emmitsburg Methodist Church. Three grandchildren (Ann Elizabeth Freeman Frye, Carol Ann Freeman Rosen and Richard Smith Free-man) continue the family legacy.

When my older sister, Mildred, was born in 1920, our parents had another Doctor, but he died suddenly and they had to get "Doc" Freeman. We don't know how they knew about him. Our parents always credited "Doc" with saving the life of my older brother, Ted, born in 1924. They said the Doctor came every day for a while and always gave him a teaspoon of whiskey. When I was born, apparently I did not arrive on the day I was supposed to, as the Doctor was in Frederick. He said afterwards that he made it to our house in record time, whatever that was, considering all the dirt roads he had to travel at the time.

Also, when I was born, the younger of my two older sisters, Margaret, was so anxious to show me off that she attempted to pick me up to show me to my mother. The midwife assisting snapped, "No!", and chased her out of the room. My sister had a lifelong hatred of that woman because of her abrupt and mean-spirited ways.

My older sister, Mildred, recalled that when she was 5 and was to be vaccinated, both our parents took her. She was wearing a long sleeved dress which they couldn't pull up far enough on her arm to be vaccinated at the usual place near the shoulder, so she was vaccinated near the elbow.

After "Doc" delivered all four of us, our parents changed to a Doctor in Gettysburg for reasons unknown to us. Perhaps it was more convenient to take us to Gettysburg.

"Doc" Freeman's office was located at 113 E. Main St., north side of the first block, (now brick porch with steps on either side) and his living quarters were beside his office.

Fran Biddle (a long time resident of the Emmitsburg area), in an interview, gave us some important information. Fran Biddle (nee Stinson) was born in an apartment above the Annan-Horner Bank (now the VFW) on the square in Emmitsburg. Her grandparents (James Maurice Kerrigan and Margaret Dolores Isabella Kerrigan) lived several houses toward the square from the Freeman house. Going in the direction of the Square, there was the Freeman house, then Crismers, then Burkett's, an alley and then the Kerrigans. Joe Kerrigan, Ward Kerrigan's son, lived diagonally across the street from the Freemans. The Freeman house was once owned by Thomas Radford, who was the son of a Revolutionary War casualty (killed at the Battle of Brandywine). Fran remembered that Doc Freeman used to take some boys (son, Pat, Joe and Bill Kerrigan, Junie Rider and others) on camping trips along the Monocacy River. They would fashion a trot line across the stream with multiple hooks (illegal, of course) and then Doc would get them all up at 2 AM to check the catch-sometimes catfish two feet long. Doc was an avid firerman and regularly went of fishing trips to Ocean City, Md. Pat was playing at home one time with a loaded gun when the firearm accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through the wall and lodging in the brick wall of the house next door. His mother was very upset!

His obituary as it appeared in The Gettysburg Times-April, 1972:


Dr. Horatio Putnam Freeman,91, Emmitsburg, died at 3:30 this morning at the Fairland Nursing Home, Silver Spring, Md. He had been ill about a month.

His wife, the former Madeline Frailey, died December 15, 1970.

A son of the late John W. and Charlotte (Reid) Freeman, he was a native of Mississippi.

A veteran of World Was I, he served as a First Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps in the U. S. and Europe.

He practiced medicine in Emmitsburg for many years.

He was a member of the Emmitsburg Methodist Church.

Surviving are three children: Horatio P. Freeman, Jr., Silver Spring, Md.; Miss Charlotte May Freeman, Emmitsburg, and Miss Ruth M. Freeman, Baltimore, Md. Also surviving are three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock from the Wilson Funeral Home, Emmitsburg with, Rev. Dr. Ralph D. Smith, officiating. Interment will be in Mountainview Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home in Emmitsburg Friday evening.

Read other articles by John Horner