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Grand Master 1879-1880


Picture from History of Freemasonry in Rhode Island, 1895, by Henry W. Rugg.

From History of Freemasonry in Rhode Island, 1895, Page 338:

It hardly seems possible that the brother whose name is placed at the head of this page is the senior of the Grand Masters of Rhode Island now living in mortal form. He has not by any means entered the limits of old age, and he was Grand Master of Masons in Rhode Island no longer ago than 1881, yet they who held the same office before him have all passed on Jo the land of the immortals.

In writing of one who is still active in business, in public affairs, and in Freemasonry, there is perhaps less requirement for fullness of details than in the case of others who have finished their work on earth. The following facts relative to the subject of this biographical notice are gathered from several sources—in part from the Biographical Cyclopaedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island, published a few years ago.

Edward L. Freeman was born in Waterville, Maine, September 10, 1835. He was the son of Rev. Edward and Harriet E. (Colburn) Freeman. His father was a native of Mendon, Massachusetts, born in April, 1806; he was educated at Brown University, graduating in the class of 1833. Soon after his graduation he entered the ministry of the Baptist Church and removed to Waterville, Maine. He was afterwards settled over the Baptist Church at Oldtown, Maine, from which place he removed to Camden, Maine, where he resided, with the exception of one year, until his death in 1882. The mother of Edward L. was born in West Dedham, Mass., in 1815. She graduated from the High School at Medfield, and afterwards engaged in teaching French and Latin in which she was specially proficient. She died in June, 1852.

Edward was the eldest of ten children. He was personally taught by his father and thus fitted for College at an early age. He was not, however, attracted to a College course of study, and chose rather to learn the art of printing under Mr. A. W. Pearce, of Pawtucket, R. I., to whom he was apprenticed. After acquiring a good knowledge of the vocation to which he was so strongly inclined, he entered into the employ of Messrs. Hammond, Angell & Co., Providence, with whom he remained for several years, holding the position of partner in the firm during the last two years of his connection. He then sold out his interest and commenced business in Central Falls, where he succeeded in building up a large business, including all departments of printing. In 1869 he began the publication of a weekly newspaper, which he continued to edit and publish for a number of years. In 1873 he entered into partnership with John E. Goldsworthy, with whom he was associated in business, under the firm name of E. L. Freeman & Co., until 1886, when Mr. Goldsworthy retired, his interest being taken by Wm. C. Freeman, since which time the business has been conducted under the designation of E. L. Freeman & Son. In 1880 E. L. Freeman & Co. purchased the book and stationery establishment of Messrs. Valpey, Angell & Co., at 3 Westminster St., Providence, where the present firm, Messrs. E. L. Freeman & Son, is still located. The printing establishment has been maintained at Central Falls. The firm have had the Stale printing in charge for a number of years. They are the publishers of the Freemasons Repository.

Edward L. Freeman has an excellent reputation for activity, persistence, and business ability. He holds many positions of financial trust and responsibility. His interest in public affairs has caused him frequently to the discharge of official duties to which he has been called by his fellow citizens. He has been a member of the General Assembly of Rhode Island for some twenty years. During two years he was Speaker of the House of Representatives. At the time of this writing he is a member of the State Senate from the town of Lincoln. His influence as a legislator has been clearly manifested during all these years. He is a strong partisan, yet broad and generous in dealing with important questions bearing upon the honor and prosperity of the State.

He has also found time to give some attention to military affairs. In 1861 he became a member of the Union Guard of Central Falls, and was gradually promoted from the ranks to the office of Colonel, in which capacity he served until, by a new militia law enacted, the organization was broken up. He has been active and devoted to matters of public welfare, giving his aid to educational movements and the various efforts wisely put forth in behalf of morals and religion. He joined the Central Falls Congregational Church in 1855, and has since been an earnest and helpful member of that organization. For several years he has been Superintendent of the Sunday School connected with that church, rendering a painstaking and constant service in that department.

He married, November 10, 1858, Emma E. Brown, daughter of Samuel and Margaret Brown, of Central Falls. They have had seven children, five of whom, three sons and two daughters,, are still living.

The Masonic career of Bro. Freeman is as follows: He was initiated into Freemasonry May 18, Crafted June 1, and Raised June 15, 1864, in Union Lodge, No. 10, Pawtucket, R. I. November 2, 1864, he was elected Secretary of the Lodge, serving one year. November 1, 1865, he was elected Senior Deacon, serving two years. November 6, 1867, he was elected Senior Warden, and November 4, 1868, he was elected Worshipful Master, serving in that capacity for two years.

May 19, 1873, he was appointed Second District Deputy Grand Master, serving for two years. May 17, 1875, he was appointed Deputy Grand Master, holding the office by appointment for four consecutive years. He was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master May 19, 1879; was re-elected the following year, and both times with great unanimity. He declined to be a candidate for a third term.

In Capitular Masonry he has been active and honored. He was exalted a Royal Arch Mason in Pawtucket Chapter, May 17, 1865. In the Grand Chapter of Rhode Island he has held several important positions. He was Grand High Priest during the years 1885-86.

He was Knighted in Holy Sepulchre Commandery, No. 8, Pawtucket, R. I., receiving the Red Cross, November 3, and the Order of the Temple and Malta, December 1, 1865. He was acting Junior Warden from January 26 to October 2, 1866, when he was elected Senior Warden, serving as such one year. October 1, 1867, he was elected Generalissimo, serving three years, and October 4, 1870, he was elected Eminent Commander, and served in that capacity for three years.

He was appointed Grand Lecturer in the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, October 27, 1871, and held the office for eight consecutive years, when he was elected Grand Junior Warden, October, 1879, and Grand Senior Warden in October, 1880. He was elected Grand Captain General in 1886, Grand Generalissimo in 1887, Deputy Grand Commander in 1888, and Grand Commander in 1889. His administration of Grand Commandery interests covered a year of exceptional importance, including, as it did, the Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment at Washington, D. C, which was attended and its doings participated in by Grand Commander Freeman. He has also taken the Cryptic degrees and those of the Scottish Rite. The subject of this notice has been a working member of the several Masonic bodies with which he has been associated. He has never grown weary in well doing. The accuracy of his information respecting the details of the different ceremonies, and all matters of ritual, have given him a deservedly high rank among those who may be named teachers and leaders of the Craft in Rhode Island. By reason of his character and accomplishments, he has won a prominent place in the Masonic ranks and obtained many deserved tokens of the esteem in which he is held by his Brethren. He is still active and interested in all that concerns Masonic progress; and is always ready to cooperate in measures to help the Institution to an increase of prosperity and usefulness.


From New England Craftsman, Vol. II, No. 6, March 1907, Page 223:


Edward L. Freeman, one of the most prominent citizens of Rhode Island and one of its best known members of the Masonic fraternity, died after a week's illness at his home in Central Falls, Rhode Island, February 24.

Brother Edward Livingston Freeman was born at Waterville, Me., September 10, 1835. He was the son of Rev. Edward and Harriet E. (Colburn) Freeman. His father was a graduate of Brown University and became a teacher of high repute. His mother also possessed a liberal education and the son received a good preparatory training for college at home. Instead of going to college, however, he entered the printing office of A. W. Pearce of Pawtucket as an apprentice, subsequently worked in the printing office of Knowles, Anthony & Co., of Providence, and in 1864 started a small printing office of his own in Central Falls. That office was the nucleus of the business done by the present firm of E. E. Freeman & Sons. In 1869 Mr. Freeman began the publication of a weekly newspaper, which he continued to edit and publish for several years. He took a partner in 1873, and the firm was known as E. L. Freeman & Co., until 1886, when the partner retired, and William C. Freeman, a son, became a partner in the business.

In March, 1896, Mr. Freeman's second son, Joseph W., was admitted to the firm and became the general manager of the printing department. Since 1877 all the official printing of the state of Rhode Island, including the Public Laws and all reports and documents, has been done by the firm at Central Falls, In 1888 the house opened a book and stationery store in Pawtucket, and the volume of business in that and the Providence store, which had been acquired previously, increased from year to year.

Mr. Freeman had for many years been one of the most important factors in the public life of the state. For a period of 32 years he served in the General Assembly, and during that time his wide experience gave him opportunities that come to few men. His interest in the public life of the community was extended into many channels. Having a naturally charitable disposition, those who know best declare that his private charities were widespread, and that many people have felt his benefactions of which the world has no knowledge.

His legislative life began in 1868, when he was elected from the old town of Smithfield, and again in the following year. In 1870-71 he was senator from that town, and in 1871-72 he was senator from the town of Lincoln. He was representative from Lincoln 1874-7 and 1879-89, being Speaker of the House from May, 1874 to 1876. He was elected senator from the town of Lincoln in 1892, to which position he was re-elected each year until 1903. During that time he became a power in the upper branch of the legislature, and was the recognized leader of the Republican Party in that branch. He was chairman of the judiciary committee for many years, and being a fluent speaker with clear and positive ideas, his influence was great. To him moie than any other one man was due the separation of Central Falls from the town of Lincoln and the chartering of the former as a city.

In 1888 he was made the railroad commissioner, which position he held until his death. Before the militia of the state was organized he was colonel of the Union Guard, one of the oldest military organizations in the state.

Joining the Central Falls Congregational church in 1855 he has always been a prominent worku and since 1883, lacking a year of a quarter of a century, he has been the superintendent of the Sabbath school, this branch of the church being one in which he always evinced a deep interest.

In Masonic affairs he became distinguished above most members of his craft, filling nearly every important office in the Order in the state.

He joined Union Lodge, No. 10, of Pawtucket June 15, 1864, and after filling subordinate positions was in 1868 elected Worshipful Master, serving in that capacity for two years. May 19, 1873, he was appointed Second District Deputy Grand Master, serving for two years, and in 1875 he was appointed Deputy Grand Master. He was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master in 1879 and served two years. He was exalted a Royal Arch Mason in Pawtucket Chapter in 1865, and was Grand High Priest during 1885 and '86 in the Grand Chapter of Rhode Island. He joined Holy Sepulchre Commandery, No. 8, K. T., of Pawtucket in 1865, and served as #minent Commander for three years, beginning in 1870.

In the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island Mr. Freeman served in various offices and was elected Grand Commander in 1889. He was a 33d degree Mason.

On Nov. 10, 1858, Mr. Freeman married Emma E. Brown of Central Falls, by which union there have been seven children, three of whom two sous and one daughter survive, the oldest living son being Mayor Joseph W. Freeman, the present Chief Executive of Central Falls.

Rhode Island People