The goal is to identify Lizzie Williams, the wife of Wallace Ephraim Freeman; born around 1857 in Portage County, Wisconsin; died 28 Mar 1927 in Hanford, Kings, California. My research plan began with preliminary analysis of the subject. Two generations earlier, Margaret Elizabeth Freeman (1924-2005) had made the family tree of hobby of hers in the late 1980s. It is to her credit that her correspondences to cousins had provided some important clues about Lizzie Williams with photographs and other family relics. Three key documents are analyzed to carry out the research plan:

  • Genealogy Information Worksheet, entry for Wallace E Freeman, 1990, information compiled by Margaret Elizabeth Freeman, manuscript held in author’s possession, (hereafter cited as “Margaret E Freeman Research Papers”).
  • Marriage Certificate of Wallace E. Freeman and Marie Elizabeth Williams, [Certificate no. unknown], 5 February 1890, Spokane Falls, Spokane County, Washington, photocopy in Possession of Author.
  • Photograph of Wallace E Freeman & Elizabeth Marie Williams, taken by J.B. Cawthon (Spokane Falls, Spokane County, Washington), circa 1890. Photographs were compiled and photocopied by Margrette Elizabeth Freeman and are now in possession of the author.

II.       Document and Evidence Analysis

The reproductions are photocopies collages onto one page, so they obviously belonged to a single individuals collection. I am fortunate to have a reproduction of the marriage photo she took when she married Wallace Freeman at Spokane Falls, Spokane County, Washington. At the time, she was almost 15 years younger than Wallace and the age difference is considerable even in a faded reproduction.

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Fig 1. Marriage Photo of Wallace & Lizzie Freeman

My grandmother not only pursued correspondence with relatives, but also sought out genealogical records. The next big clue comes from the Marriage Certificate for Wallace and Lizzie. They were married 5 Feb 1890 in Spokane Falls, Spokane, Washington.[1] Curiously, the clerk wrote her name as “Maria Elizabeth Williams”, when Maria tends to be her middle name. At the bottom of the record, another name variation emerges when Lizzie signed her name as “M. Lizzie Williams”. Nicknames made the search for an ancestor more challenging and forces researchers to be careful in searching for an individual.

Wallce&Lizzie Marriage Certificate

Fig 2. Marriage Certificate of Wallace & Lizzie, 5 Feb 1890, Spokane, Washington


I begin my hunt for Wallace and Lizzie starting with the cornerstones of U.S genealogical evidence, the census and vital records. In 1890, Washington State remained one of the last outposts of the frontier. What drew them there exactly is unknown, but they were most likely neighbors. In both families, multiple generations stuck together. Wallace Freeman was known to have left his home of Dayton, Waupaca County, Wisconsin for Osborne County, Kansas in about 1878, farming aside his father and brothers, and then subsequently traveled west to Washington.[2] Wallace’s father, Azro Daniel Freeman is enumerated in the 1890 United States Federal Census Veterans Schedule as living in Yarwood, Lincoln County, Washington. He served as a volunteer for the state of Wisconsin in the Civil War.[3] Since the 1890 schedule it only survives for veterans, I worked my way searching through the next couple of decades. Researching the US Gen Web site for Lincoln County and Spokane County, Washington, I found Wallace and Lizzie’s entry in an online transcription of the 1892 Lincoln County, Washington Census . According to the entry, Lizzie was 20 years old and born in Illinois.[4] For the first time, I had a suggested birth state for Lizzie, but exhaustive searches of Illinois Vital Records proved no find. The 1892 Local Census lists in the household their first born son, 1 year old Jessie Lee.[5] The birth registration for Lizzie’s third son, James Wallace Freeman (20 Feb 1896) recorded in Yakima, Washington, lists Lizzie as 24 years old and from Illinois, thus consistent with the previous source.[6] The family of Wallace and Lizzie has not yet surfaced in the 1900 US Federal Census and Wallace Freeman does not reappear until 1910. He is living in Lemoore, Kings County, California with three children and he is listed as divorced.[7] After some sleuthing and a surge of emails, I learned their divorce record was housed in the Superior Court of Lincoln County, Washington. Within weeks, I had in my hands a large packet of court documents and the genealogical clues begin to unfold.

On fourth of November, 1908, Lizzie Freeman as she identified herself under the oath of the Lincoln County Superior Court, filed her intent divorce from Wallace [named in documents W.E.] Freeman. In her deposition of the same day, Lizzie testified that they were married a year prior to the marriage certificate, 5 Feb 1889 and in 1897, Wallace had “without any right or reason…deserted and abandoned the above named plaintiff.”[8] Lizzie Freeman had hired Martin & Nelson of Davenport Washington as attorneys.[9] Wallace having moved to California defaulted on 9 Feb 1909 by never returning to Washington to appear in court.[10] The affidavit on the following page reveals a new cast member in the search of Lizzie, a man from Kings County, California named James S. Williams, who in his affidavit has brought the summons to Wallace Freeman living in Fresno County, California.[11] The affidavit and the fact that he shares surnames with Lizzie means that James needs to be investigated.

On April 13 1909, Lizzie gives further testimony. She was and had been a resident of Lincoln County, Washington for more than one year. Again, the marriage date is stated as 5 Feb 1889, not 1890. This testimony happens to be more descriptive and Lizzie talks about how Wallace left Lizzie in 1897 in the province of British Columbia and took all three kids with him to live in California. For a mother, the grievances must have been great, which is why on top of complete separation from Wallace, she requested some kind of financial reimbursement since he failed to “provide any of the necessaries of life, or with anything at all.”[12] That same day in the courthouse, the divorce process was complete and from this point on ward, our elusive Lizzie disappears for a great while.

A photograph of Wallace Freeman taken with his three children increases the significance of the Canadian province British Columbia. The maker is “Carpenter & Co., Rossland, B.C.” I wanted to know now if Wallace had ever lived in Canada before moving to California. The town of Rossland, Province of British Columbia was a booming mining town at the time this picture was taken since gold was first found there in 1890.[13] I begin to wonder if Wallace had sought out Rossland to become a gold hunter. To see if the Freemans had come across the boarder, I searched the 1901 Canada Census for any Freemans living in Rossland, Province of British Columbia. Wallace was not there, but an Elizabeth Freeman born 12 Feb 1875 in the United States with a son John Freeman born 9 Jul 1893 are there. At this point, the match remains tentative.[14] Wallace appears to be a man of little fortune, if he is to abandon the financial responsibility of his wife and it is probable that he came to Rossland to strike gold, but this claim is at this point postulation.

Wallace Freeman & Children

Photo of Wallace Freeman & 3 Children, taken in Rossland, British Columbia

When I first encountered the individuals who were believed to be the parents of Lizzie Williams, I only knew them by their face and not their name. Photographs of Lizzie’s parents, named as “Grandpa and Grandma Williams” were taken in the mid-late 1920s at a place called Riverdale. A photograph of Wallace Freeman has him standing in front of his house, also at Riverdale. Records document Wallace as a resident of California from about 1906 to his death, 28 Mar 1927 in Hanford, Kings, California, so we knew that they are in Riverdale, California.[15] Two communities in California named Riverdale exist; one in Fresno County and the other in Mendocino. Knowing that the Williams and Freeman kin settled in Fresno and the surrounding counties of Kings and Madera, I leant towards the idea that the Riverdale we are concerned with belongs to bordering Fresno County, California. The dating of the photograph is based on the fact that one photograph exists of Lizzie’s parents taken with a grandchild named Evelyn Freeman, daughter of Jessie Lee Freeman. She was born 30 Oct 1923 and she is still in infancy, so it can be said accurately these pictures were taken around 1924-1925.

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Fig 3-4. Grandpa and Grandma Williams in Riverdale, Fresno, California

Curiously, Lizzie does not appear to be among family in California in this small collection of photographs. Perhaps this was symbolic of Lizzie’s estrangement from her kin because of Wallace. But knowing that mother’s very much desire to be close to their children, it would be possible that one day she would end up living in California. Thanks to my blog and my previous posts about Lizzie Then an email sent to me July 31, 2011 from a California cousin named Neal Freeman, confirmed my suspicion. Neal was a grandson of Jessie Lee Freeman and had heard stories about Lizzie, whom they called “Honey”.[17] Neal confirmed that she was a resident of Madera, California and I begin my search for Lizzie. There was a great possibility she remarried, considering she divorce Wallace at the age of about 37 and no longer had any support. A search for California death records on Ancestry.com using the first name of Elizabeth or Lizzie produced one possible match. An entry for Elizabeth Thomas who died 27 Jan 1951 in Madera was listed in the database. According to the entry she was born 12 Feb 1872 in Illinois, her maiden name was Williams and her mother’s maiden was erroneously indexed as Dabonbaugh, a misspelling of Daughenbaugh. I had not heard of this surname, which prompted background research. The states which people with the surname Daughenbaugh were most common in are Pennsylvania and Illinois.[18]

It was now time to move to the next step and learn more about Lizzie’s early life in Illinois. According to her presumed birth date, the earliest census that could be searched is the 1880 US Federal Census. I begin to search the 1880 US Census with this information and have four strong matches.

Match 1:  Elizabeth Williams, 8 years, born in Illinois, living in Mckansboro, Hamilton, Illinois in the household of John Williams, born 1840 Ohio and Emma Williams born 1845 England

Match 2: Elizabeth M Williams, 8 years, born in IL, living in Bedford, Wayne, Illinois in the household of John N Williams born 1838 Kentucky and Annie A Williams born 1845 in Pennsylvania

Considering that Lizzie had also identified herself as Maria Elizabeth Williams, as in the case of her marriage certificate to ex-husband Wallace Freeman, children who are named Maria Elizabeth Williams should be considered matches too.

Match 3: Maria E Williams 9 years, born in IL, living in Harristown, Macon, Illinois in the household of James H Pearson, born 1839 in Illinois and Martha A (Williams) Pearson born 1851 in Indiana

Match 4: Maria E Williams, 5 years, born in IL, living in Hunter, Edgar, Illinois in the household of Daniel H Williams, born 1840 in Illinois and Clara (White) Williams born 1843 in Illinois

[1] Marriage Certificate of Wallace E. Freeman and Marie Elizabeth Williams, 5 February 1890, Spokane Falls, Spokane County, Washington, Copy in Possession of Author.

[2] Wallace E Freeman, certificate no. 8057, 27 March 1878, Kansas, U.S. General Land Office.Wallace bought land in SE Township S29 T9 R14; Wallace E Freeman, 1880 United States Federal Census, Victor, Osborne County, Kansas, Roll T9_392, Family History Film No. 1254932, Page 319_4000, Enumeration District 214, Image 0356, Family No. 185; Accessed online at Ancestry.com (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com The Generations Network, Inc., 2000)

[3] 1890 US Veterans Schedule, Yarwood District, Lincoln Co., Washington, Roll 108, ED 40, page 1. The 1890 Veterans Schedule recorded not only the soldiers’ regimental information, but also any injury he received from the war. For John W Williams, his disability is listed as “cattamah in head”.[3] The word cattamah does not appear to exist in the English language, so further research is needed as to what this term means.

[4] Womach & Barcewski, comp., 1892 Lincoln County, Washington State Census, Lizzie Freeman entry, online, http://wagenweb.org/lincoln/censuslist.html.

[5] Womach & Barcewski, comp., 1892 Lincoln County, Washington State Census, Jessie Lee Freeman entry, online, http://wagenweb.org/lincoln/censuslist.html.

[6] James Wallace Freeman entry (20 Feb 1896), Yakima County Auditor, Birth Returns 1891-1907 Yakima County Auditor, Birth Returns 1891-1907, Accession Number CE339-2-27, Washington State Digital Archives.

[7] 1910 United States Federal Census, Lenmoore, Kings County, California, roll 79, Enumeration District 180, page 7A; Accessed online at Ancestry.com (Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com The Generations Network, Inc., 2000)

[8] Summons and Complaint of Lizzie Freeman, 4 Nov 1908, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court File No. 4997, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln; photocopy in possession of author

[9] Summons and Complaint of Lizzie Freeman, 4 Nov 1908, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court File No. 4997, document 2, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln; photocopy in possession of author

[10] Order of Default, 9 Feb 1909, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court File No. 4997, document 6, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln; photocopy in possession of author.

[11] Affidavit of James S. Williams, 16 Nov 1908, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court File No. 4997, document 7, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln; photocopy in possession of author.

[12] Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, 13 Apr 1909, in divorce papers of Lizzie Freeman vs. W.E. Freeman, Court File No. 4997, document 11, Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of Lincoln; photocopy in possession of author.

[13] “Rossland – A Brief History,” Rossland Museum and Discovery Center, Rossland, Province of British Columbia, Canada’ http://www.rosslandmuseum.ca/rossland-a-brief-history/; accessed 16 Feb 2015.

[14] Data Entry for Elizibeth Freeman, 1901 Canada Census, automatedgenealogy.com. Includes an online extract of Elizibeth’s census enumeration from Kootenay (West/Ouest) Rossland (Riding/Division), Yale & Carbioo, British Columbia, district 5, sub district h-5, Archives Microfilm T-6340; http://automatedgenealogy.com/census/DisplayHousehold.jsp?sdid=5080&household=99.

[15] Wallace E Freeman, certificate no. 1583, (dated 31 March 1927, died 28 March 1927), California State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, privately held in Fletcher Family Archives. Wallace according to his California state death certificate recorded 31 Mar 1927 that he lived in Lake Laton, Fresno County, California for 22 years, placing his move there around 1905.

[16] Email Correspondence, Neal Freeman to Author, 31 Jul 2011. Saved electronically on gmail.com.

[17] Ancestry.com


Dec 3 2008 – WA State Census

8 Jan 2010 – Research Brick Wall: 2nd Great-Grandmother Lizzie Williams

29 Jul 2010 – Divorce Record


Jake Fletcher, “Elizabeth Williams Freeman (A Summarization of Facts Known Thus Far),” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 8 Apr 2015. https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/identifying-my-2nd-great-grandmother-lizzie-williams/

Copyright (c) 2015 Jake Fletcher. All materials protected under the laws of copyright. Do not copy or reproduce without the author’s permission.