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Walter Abram Freed


Walter A. Freed

Walter Abram Freed was born on Oct. 22, 1884 in Vanderbilt, Fayette County, PA, the youngest of five children of Christian Stoner and Esther (Barnhouse) Freed.

He was socially active in young manhood. On Valentine's Day 1906, said the Connellsville Weekly Courier, he "was among those who were at Dawson Monday evening and took in the Valentine ball given by the Rambler Club..."

Walter was married three times. His first wife, Jennie Martin (1886-1913), was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Martin of Vanderbilt, Fayette County. His parents held a dinner in honor of the newlyweds.

Jennie "resided at Vanderbilt for a number of years," said the Connellsville Weekly Courier, "and was widely known in that vicinity."

They were the parents of an only son, Christian Stoner Freed II.

Tragically, suffering from appendicitis, shortly after childbirth, Jennie underwent surgery at the South Side Private Hospital, and did not recover. She died at age 27 on Aug. 6, 1913, leaving behind her husband and son.

His second wife, Leona Colbert (1897-1938), was the daughter of Isaac J. and Ida (Shaffer/Pratt) Colbert.

The offspring born to the second union were James W. Freed, Herbert "Eugene" Freed, Mildred J. Hrezo and Helen Prevette.

Leona "was born in the Tri-Town community where she spent her entire life," said the Connellsville Daily Courier. "She had a pleasant disposition and was an active member of her church and the Faithful Friends Class." 

Walter was a carpenter early in his career, and later became a lumber and building supplies contractor. Circa January 1929, he and his business partner took over ownership of the Union Building & Lumber Company located on South Arch Street near the Yough Brewery. He also served as secretary of the Christian Church in Vanderbilt. When the federal census was taken in 1920, Walter, Leona and Christian resided together in Dunbar Township, near Connellsville, Fayette County. 

The 1930 census shows the family remaining in Vanderbilt, Dunbar Township. Walter's sister Sara lived under their roof at that time.

In August 1932, Leona and her husband's sisters in law Bertha Means and Sara Freed accompanied Walter's elderly, widowed father to the Minerd Reunion, held at Lake Forest Park near Scottdale, Westmoreland County. Writing in the Huntingdon (PA) Daily News, their cousin Laura Jane (Minerd) Williams reported: "Everyone seemed to enjoy the fine fellowship that existed among all the reunionists and the innumerable baskets that provided dinner and supper for the party were bottomless."

Despite the grip of the Great Depression, the Freeds enjoyed a 16-day driving trip to Florida in January 1937. Among their stops were Miami and Sarasota, as well as in High Point, NC.

Grief again visited the family when Leona developed a brain tumor in the summer of 1938. She died at the age of 42 on Oct. 17, 1938, while a patient in St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh. her remains were laid to rest at Dickerson Run Union Cemetery.


The Orange Box, a 1930s tourist attraction in Winter Haven, FL


The federal census enumeration of 1940 shows Walter and the children in Dunbar Township. Walter earned a living as proprietor of a lumber yard, with son Christian assisting in the work.

Walter remarried again for the third time to Harriet Glen Reddy ( ? -1952). She brought two adult children to the union, Ellen (Reddy) Wrote and Harriet (Reddy) Beck. Their address was Johnson Avenue, Uniontown.

For 15 years, Harriet was employed as head of the women's clothing department of the Montgomery Ward Company store in Uniontown.

The couple relocated to Winter Haven, FL, circa 1944, where he "was engaged in the builders' supplies business in which also shared two of his sons," said the Courier. "He had been engaged similarly in Connellsville and Vanderbilt, while living in those communities." 

Walter's unmarried sister, Sara, also lived in Winter Haven at the time.

Tragedy struck in June 1952 when Walter and Harriet were killed in an automobile accident en route to a hospital in Winter Haven. They had been in Miami to attend the national Shriner convention, and were only a mile from home when the accident occurred. "The automobile was practically demolished and the two occupants were badly crushed,"  reported the Courier.


~ Son Christian Stoner Freed II ~ 

Son Christian Stoner Freed II (1913-1986) was born in 1913. He was but a baby when his mother died.

Circa 1930, when the federal census was taken, and he was age 17, he lived with his father and step-mother in Dunbar Township, Fayette County.

He married (?). They resided in Connellsville.

The Freeds bore one known son, William Eugene Freed.

The couple divorced. She married again to Paul E. Truxel and remained in Connellsville.

Christian owned and operated the Freed and Dorazio Insurance Agency in Uniontown. He relocated to Cumberland, Allegany County, MD and lived on Cardinal Drive in Wing Ridge Acres. He married again to Virginia Evelyn Kirkwood (1919-1972), daughter of Hugh B. and Alice (Workman) Kirkwood of Smithfield, Fayette County, PA.

They produced two daughters -- Barbara L. Fordyce and Linda Williams.

Virginia was a longtime member of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church of Smithfield. She was employed in Cumberland, MD as a registered nurse at Memorial Hospital. She also was a member of the Order of Eastern Star.

Circa 1965, Christian is known to have attended the 35th year reunion of his class at Dunbar Township High School. Their address in those later years was on Cardinal Drive in Cumberland.

Sadly, with her health in decline, Virginia was admitted to St. Clair Memorial Hospital in Pittsburgh. There, at the age of 53, she passed into eternity on May 14, 1972. Rev. Cecil S. Smart officiated at the funeral service.

Christian died on April 5, 1986, possibly in Pittsburgh. His remains were placed into eternal repose beside Virginia's in Hillcrest Burial Park. A death notice was printed in the Pittsburgh Press, which said he was survived by 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Son William Eugene Freed ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). He graduated from Purdue University and became employed by Cummins Diesel Company of Columbus, IN. On Aug. 31, 1953, he was united in marriage with his college sweetheart Diane Wensing (Feb. 1, 1932-1995), daughter of Patrick John and Pauline (Sheeser) Wensing of 129 East Church Place in Connellsville, Fayette County, PA. The nuptials were held in Connellsville's Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, led by Rev. Henry Geibel. Diane was pictured in a story about the wedding in the Connellsville Daily Courier. Diane held a degree in sociology and psychology from Purdue. The offspring born to this union were Gavin Todd Freed, Lisé Maddox, Derek Freed, Deidre Eldridge and Kieran Freed. The newlyweds first resided in Columbus, remaining for more than 20 years. They were in Elizabethtown in 1976 and in Chicago in 1986 when William named in the Pittsburgh Press obituary of his father. In about 1989, they relocated to West Lafayette, where William owned and operated Twinhawk Tractor Equipment. Sadly, Diane died at the age of 63 at Home Hospital in Lafayette on June 20, 1995. Her obituary was printed in the Columbus Republic, and burial took place in Tippecanoe Memory Gardens. William was still living circa 2017.

  • Grandson Gavin Freed (1958-2017) was born on Aug. 21, 1958 in Columbus, IN. He received a bachelor of science in biology degree in 1980 from The Citadel military college. He went on to earn his masters degree in electrical engineering in 1986 from Purdue University. On Oct. 20, 1984, he was united in matrimony with Marisue Buthman ( ? - ? ), daughter of Jane Buthman. They produced a family of children -- William "Billy" Freed, Jason Freed and Evan Freed. Gavin became employed by E.I. DuPont in Brevard, NC in 1986 and was there for three years. He then went to work for his father's business, Twinhawk Tractor and Equipment in West Lafayette, IN. In 1998, he was hired by Wabash National in West Lafayette and then in 2001 joined Caterpillar, staying for two years until a transfer to Caterpillar Global Petroleum in Houston. Sadly, at the age of 58, Gavin died in Cypress, TX on March 15, 2017.
  • Granddaughter Lisé Freed ( ? - ? ) received her degree from Purdue University in 1976. On July 31, 1976, she was joined in wedlock with Thomas Michael "Mike" Maddox ( ? - ? ), son of Charles Thomas Maddox of Otterbein, Tippecanoe County, IN. Their wedding was an outdoor affair at her parents' home, with Rev. Dr. Joseph Emerson officiating. Reported the Columbus (IN) Republic, the bride "wore a chiffon gown styled with a 3-tiered skirt. The fitted sleeveless bodice had a ddeep V-neckline and chiffon cape styled with stand-up collar and V-shaped inseret of corded lace. The bride wore a short blusher veil of illusion secured by a chiffon-covered derby hat with beaded lace trim." Michael also obtained a degree from Purdue and went to work for the family business, Maddox Farms. Their home in 1995 was in Otterbein.
  • Grandson Derek Freed was in Atlanta in 1995. He married Michelle (?).
  • Granddaughter Deidre Freed wedded Glenn Eldridge ( ? - ? ), son of Howard and Betty Eldridge. The couple resided in Cambridge City, IN in 1995 and in Brownsburg, IN in 2017. They are officials with the private Glenn and Deidre Eldridge Foundation of Avon, IN.
  • Grandson Kieran Freed

Daughter Barbara L. Freed (1941-2017) was born on Oct. 2, 1941 in Uniontown, Fayette County. She married Vernon L. Fordyce ( ? - ? ), and their union endured for 55 years. Two sons were born to this marriage, Vernon Christian Fordyce and Mark Alan Fordyce. The Fordyces resided in Cleveland, OH and later relocated to Baldwin Borough in Pittsburgh. Barbara in June 1963 obtained a degree in nursing, with honors, from the Metropolitan General Hospital School of Nursing in Cleveland. She became a licensed registered nurse in Pennsylvania and, for three decades, was employed at Jeffersion Regional Medical Center. She retired in 2000. In her free time, she liked to work with her hands and to fashion crafts, and relaxed at the beach, especially those where she could rest under palm trees. At the age of 75, Barbara was swept away by the Angel of Death on Jan. 22, 2017. Her obituary was printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

  • Grandson Vernon Christian "Chris" Fordyce (1961-2016) was born on Dec. 28, 1961 in Pittsburgh. He wedded Phyllis (Martin) Greiner ( ? - ? ). She brought two children to the union, Kimberly Regal and Justin Greiner. He also was the father of Ashley Fordyce and Jessica Fordyce. He resided in adulthood in Belle Vernon, Fayette County and earned a living with Local 5 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. In his free time he liked to hunt and ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Later in life, they moved to in or around Washington County, PA. Sadly, on Feb. 2, 2016, he died at the age of 54. The Washington Observer-Reporter printed an obituary.
  • Grandson Mark Alan Fordyce ( ? - ? ) married Angela. They dwelled in 2016 in McMurray, Washington County, PA

Daughter Linda Ann Freed ( ? - ? ) received a bachelor of science degree in education in 1965 from Indiana State College, later known as Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In June 1965, she wedded Frank Williams ( ? - ? ), son of Franklin and Luella (Martin) Williams of the Pittsburgh suburb of Brentwood. Frank earned a biology degree from Washington and Jefferson College in 1963, and at the time of marriage was employed by Hendryx and Associates in Pittsburgh. In announcing the engagement, Linda was pictured in the Uniontown Morning Herald. They dwelled in South Park Township in 1986.


Winter Haven, Florida and its many small lakes



James Freed

~ Son James William Freed ~

Son James William Freed (1920-1997) was born on May 29, 1921 in Vanderbilt, Fayette County.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He enlisted on March 24, 1944 and was trained at the Great Lakes U.S. Naval Training Station in Illinois and at Camp Bradford in Norfolk, VA. From July 1944 to the end of his service, he served aboard a tank landing ship, the USS LST 781. He was honorably discharged at Sampson, NY on Jan. 7, 1946.

James wedded Betty Jane King (May 19, 1920-1991), a native of Pennsylvania.

The couple initially dwelled near Alverton, Westmoreland County and bore three known children, Elaine Freed, James Walter Freed and Kathy Lynn Pollock. Grief cascaded over the family at the stillbirth of their first child, at Frick Memorial Hospital in Mount Pleasant, on March 31, 1945. The baby's tender remains were lowered into eternal sleep in Alverton Cemetery.

When the opportunity arose, he purchased from the estate his grandfather Christian Freed's gold-handled walking stick and kept it for years as a cherished keepsake.


Holding his granddad's walking stick

He relocated in 1949 to Winter Haven, Polk County, FL. There, he was self-employed as a carpenter.

Circa 1950, James' address in Winter Haven was 134 Bates Avenue Southeast.

The Freeds belonged to the First Christian Church. James was a master of the local Masons lodge and Winter Haven Shrine. He also was a life member of the Frierson-Nichols Post of the American Legion. He inherited the walking stick of his grandfather, Christian Stoner Freed.

Toward the end, he was admitted to The Meadows of Garden Grove and died there at age 77 on June 3, 1977. Interment of the remains was in Winter Haven. An obituary appeared in the Tampa Tribune.

Betty Jane outlived her husband by 14 years. She joined him in death, at the age of 70, on Feb. 25, 1991.

Son James Walter Freed (1946-1983) was born on Aug. 21, 1946. Evidence shows that he was married at least five times. In May 1966, he wedded Martha Louise Marritt ( ? - ? ) in Seminole County, FL. His second marriage was on April 9, 1971 to Alice June Sidell ( ? - ? ). Then on Sept. 8, 1972, in nuptials held in Polk County, James married a third time to Sandra Stone ( ? - ? ). His fourth marriage was to Kathryn Marlene Moore ( ? - ? ) on Sept. 28, 1974. Records show that the fifth marriage was to Sharon Ware ( ? - ? ) in Polk County on New Year's Day 1978. James lived in Harbor Drive in Winter Haven. He died at the age of 36 on June 23, 1983. He rests for all time in Winter Haven's Lakeside Memorial Park.

Daughter Kathy Lynn Freed ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). At the age of 21, on June 4, 1977, in Polk County, FL, she was joined in marital union with 20-year-old Harold Eugene Pollock Jr. ( ? - ? ). She was in Winter Haven in 1997.


~ Son Herbert "Eugene" Freed ~

Son Herbert "Eugene" Freed (1924-1995) was born in about 1924 in Vanderbilt, Fayette County.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

He married Dolores ( ? - ? ).

Their children were Richard Freed and Carol Jean Freed.

Circa 1953, the Freeds made a home in Winter Haven. In July that year, they visited relatives in Connellsville, "their first return visit in six years," reported the Connellsville Daily Courier.

They relocated in 1965 to Central Florida and settled in Altamonte Springs. Their address in the 1990s was Whippoorwill Drive.

Eugene earned a living as a manager for Scotty's. He belonged to the local Masons lodge.

At the age of 72, Richard succumbed to death on Aug. 22, 1995. An obituary in the Orlando Sentinel said he was survived by five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Son Richard Freed lived in Cape Coral, FL in 1995.

Daughter Carol Jean Freed married (?) Daughtry. Her home in 1995 was in Deltona, FL.


~ Daughter Mildred Jane (Freed) Hrezo ~


Mildred Hrezo

Daughter Mildred Jane Freed (1926-2018) was born on Feb. 6, 1926 in Vanderbilt, Fayette County.

She wedded Stephen Michael "Steve" Hrezo Sr. (Aug. 12, 1923-1994), son of Andrew and Julia (Scambora) Hrezo of Footedale, Fayette County.

The Hrezos bore six offspring -- Stephen Michael Hrezo II, Stephanie Anne McClane, Rebecca Susan Hall, Deborah Jeanne "Debbie" Sanders Grogan, Julia Lee Branch and Richard James Hrezo.

The couple put down roots in Winter Haven, moving there in 1947. Mildred was licensed as a registered nurse in Florida and was employed at Winter Haven Hospital circa 1948.

Upon becoming a mother, Mildred ended her nursing career but became active with St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church. She was a talented organist and often played in church services. She also volunteered her time in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and in worthy causes in the community. At one time she was elected president of the Winter Haven Hospital Auxiliary.

Said the Lakeland Ledger, Mildred "was a firm but loving mother, quick to laugh, and her beautiful smile sustained her family until the end. She loved roller coasters, travel, and music, and a photo of her in her late 80's on a sled at Mt. Lassen, California confirms her adventurous spirit. She was a woman of great faith, and her example of selfless devotion as organist at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Winter Haven is evidenced in the countless Sundays, weddings, and funerals in which her music brought a harmonious spirituality to each service whether happy or sad. Although it has been several years since she has been able to attend, her devotion to the parish of St. Joseph's never faltered."

In his capacity as owner of Hrezo Insurance Agency, Stephen  was named in the Orlando Sentinel in 1961, commenting on the City of Winter Haven's plans to install mandatory fire protection outside of city limits. In the mid-1960s, he served as vice president of the Winter Haven Association of Insurance Agents.

Stephen in 1973 founded CB Communications, Inc., an electric equipment company in Winter Haven. He also enjoyed fishing with Mildred's brothers and in 1957 made news in the Fort Myers News-Press when the group landed 21 kings while on an outing aboard the Sea Beagle from San Carlos Marina.

The family was plunged into mourning with Stephen died in Winter Haven on July 1, 1994.

In April 2007, Mildred and her son Stephen were the victims of arson which destroyed a vehicle and damaging the foundation of their home.

Mildred died in Winter Haven at the age of 92 on Oct. 11, 2018. A funeral mass was sung in the family church, with burial of the remains in Lakeside Memorial Park.

Son Stephen Michael Hrezo II (1962-2018) was born on Nov. 26, 1962 in Winter Haven. At the age of 28, on May 18, 1991, he married Amy Gail Lindsay ( ? - ? ). The couple did not reproduce and may have divorced. He took over ownership of Hrezo Insurance Agency from his father. He was a member of the Winter Haven Sertoma Club, an organization of service organizations. He served as Sertoma's Southeast Regional Director and promoted its Camp Endeavor which provided opportunities for children with hearing and speech disabilities. In sports, he rooted for the Cleveland Indians, which held its spring training camps at nearby Chain of Lakes Park. Stephen was found guilty of possession of drugs and paraphernalia in the late 1990s. Sadly, at the age of 55, he died on Feb. 24, 2018. A funeral mass was sung at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, with burial at Lakeside Memorial Park. An obituary was published in the Lakeland Ledger.

Daughter Stephanie Anne Hrezo ( ? - ? ) - As with her mother, Stephanie became a registered nurse in Florida. She was employed in 1977 with Lakeland General Hospital. On Dec. 17, 1982, she wedded Thomas Kindred McClane.

Daughter Rebecca Susan "Becky" Hrezo ( ? - ? ) - On June 25, 1976, she is believed to have been joined in marriage with David Gordon Hall.

Daughter Deborah Jeanne "Debbie" Hrezo ( ? - ? ) - On Feb. 6, 1981, she was united in matrimony with Bruce Alan Sanders. Later, on Jan. 10, 1992, she married William Jeffrey Grogan.

Daughter Julia Lee Hrezo ( ? - ? ) - On March 30, 1996, in nuptials held in Polk County, she was joined in wedlock with Michael Adam Branch. In time, she married again to (?) Cason.

Son Richard James Hrezo (1956- ? ) was born in about 1956. He received a degree from the University of South Florida. On Nov. 25, 1978, at the age of 22, he married 22-year-old Teresa Ann "Terry" Connelly, daughter of Flora Connelly of Winter Haven. She too was a graduate of USF. News of their engagement was printed in the Orlando Sentinel. He served as a captain in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. He retired with honors in 2005, receiving the Meritorious Service Award.


~ Daughter Helen Elizabeth (Freed) Prevatte Shelton ~ 

Daughter Helen Elizabeth Freed (1931-2009) was born on Aug. 7, 1931 in Connellsville, Fayette County.

She moved to Winter Haven in 1944 with her father and step-mother. 

On Dec. 16, 1950, when she was 19 years of age, she wed 23-year-old Ernest Ivey Prevatte Sr. (1927- ? ), son of Mr. and Mrs. K.D. Prevatte of Stedman, NC, and often misspelled "Prevette" and "Pravatt." Rev. E.E. Miller led the ceremony at the First Christian Church of Winter Haven.

Their first home together was at 532 H.S.E. Winter Haven. They belonged to the Willow Oak Assembly of God in Lakeland.

Children born to this marriage were Ernest Ivey Prevatte Jr. and Carolyn R. Prevatte.

Ernest earned a living as a part-time bartender in Lakeland in 1957. He was arrested in August 1957 for investigation in the death of a teenage Lake Wales woman who had been a passenger in his automobile but was run over by two vehicles along the Bartow-Lake Wales Road.

Helen married again to (?) Shelton. They were the parents of Elizabeth Anne Shelton.

Helen maintained a home in Winter Haven for the balance of her life.

At the age of 77, Helen died of heart failure on July 23, 2009. Following funeral service in the family church, her remains were placed into eternal sleep in Rolling Hills Cemetery. The Lakeland Ledger printed an obituary.

Son Ernest Ivey Prevatte (1951-2012) was born on Sept. 5, 1951. He was a 1972 graduate of Santa Fe Junior College and attended the University of Florida College of Arts and Sciences. Circa 1973, he made a living in Gainesville as an apartment manager. On Oct. 20, 1973, at the age of 22, he wedded Debra Darlene Hammock, daughter of T.E. Hammock of Winter Haven. The nuptials were held at the First Presbyterian Church of Auburn dale. News of their engagement was published in the Orlando Sentinel. At the time, she was a Polk Community College graduate and had studied at Florida Southern University. Then in 1983, at the age of 55, Ernest was joined in marriage with his second wife, 39-year-old Josephine Guarino of Cocoa, Brevard County. In time, Ernest joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Persian Gulf and Iraq Wars. He was in Antioch, CA in 2009. Death carried him into eternity on March 6, 2012. He reposes in honored rest in Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego.

Daughter Carolyn R. Prevatte resided in Arkoma, OK.

Daughter Elizabeth Anne Shelton made a home in 2009 in Lakeland.


Copyright 2001-2002, 2008, 2011 Mark A. Miner