John W. Free was a respected and representative citizen of Indiana township for many years and when death called
him in 1906 his demise was deeply regretted by many friends as well as by his immediate family. He was born in
Ross county, Ohio, September 16, 1829, and was therefore about seventy seven years of age when called to his final
rest. His parents, Frederick and Susan (Mark) Free, were also natives of the Buckeye state, where they lived until
1853 and then started westward by wagon with Marion county as their destination. By the slow stages of that method
of travel they proceeded until they at length reached Iowa and took up their abode upon a farm in this part of
the state. For one year their home was a log cabin and at the end of that time they built a frame house, which
they occupied until they were called to their final rest. In their family were five children but all have now passed
John W. Free spent the days of his boyhood and youth in his native state and was a young man of about twenty four
years when the family came to Iowa. In the fall of 1860 he was married in this county to Miss Mary Walker, who
was also a native of Ross county, Ohio, her parents being John and Juda (Benson) Walker, who were likewise natives
of Ohio and were of Scotch descent. In the fall of 1850 they removed westward to this county, taking up their abode
upon a farm, and for five years they lived in a log house. At the end of that time the father had won a substantial
measure of prosperity, so that he was enabled to erect good buildings. Other improvements were added to the farm
and the land was brought under a high state of cultivation, so that the place became one of the attractive and
valuable farming properties of the county. Both Mr. and Mrs. Walker continued to reside upon that place until called
to their final rest. In their family were five children, of whom three are living.
After their marriage Mr. Free began the cultivation of the farm upon which he and his wife resided almost five
decades. His work was soon manifest in highly cultivated fields which were yielding good harvests. As science and
investigation brought changes in methods of farming he eagerly embraced these and purchased the latest improved
machinery in order to facilitate the work of the fields. He was energetic and determined and as the result of his
labors gained a handsome competence. Those who knew him recognized in him sterling traits of character and thus
it was that his death was the occasion of deep and widespread regret when in two he was called from this life.
In politics he had always been a stanch republican but not an office seeker.
Mrs. Free survives and is the owner of an excellent farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Indiana township and
also of a fine residence in Attica, which she now occupies. She is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal
church, widely known as an earnest Christian woman. For many years she has been numbered among the pioneer settlers
of the county and a witness of its many changes. The logs that were used in building the first courthouse of Marion
county were cut from the farm which she now owns. She can relate many interesting incidents of the early days and
her reminiscences constitute a delightful tale, giving a vivid picture of conditions which existed a half century
ago, of the methods of life at that time and of the hospitality and good will which was everywhere prevalent among
the early settlers.
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Marion County, IA
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