The Works Progress Administration

Biography of Martin Stucker Freer

Martin Stucker Freer was a native Californian, born in Barryessa, Santa Clara County, October 1, 1854, his father being William H. Freer, the pioneer, whose history is given at length elsewhere in this volume. Reared on the home farm for the first twenty-one years of his life, Martin S. was educated in the public schools of his home community.

He came to El Monte in October 1875, driving stock through to the farm, which his father had bought here in 1869. Here he remained with his father until he was twenty-eight years old, when he became dependent upon his own resources. He first entered into partnership with George Dobyns, renting and farming a part of the Baldwin Ranch for one year, then the Rowland Ranch of Puente for three years, when Mr. Freer went to Tehachapi, Kern County. Here he engaged in the raising of grain, horses and mules on a ranch, later purchasing a ranch, where, except for a few years in Oakland, he devoted his energies to general ranching until in 1907. In this year, he rented a portion of his land and sold the remainder and came to El Monte. Here he purchased thirty-five acres near town, setting it to walnuts, and otherwise improving the property. Later he sold a half of this tract, retaining what constitutes the present home about two miles north of El Monte. Mr. Freer remained active in the promotion of his ranch work for many years, however in 1925, his health and advancing years necessitated his retirement. His health continued to decline from that time, death finally claiming him on October 31, 1936. Politically Mr. Freer was originally a Democrat, but in later years transferred his support to the Republican Party.

In Oakland, December 19, 1892, Mr. Freer was united in marriage with Mrs. Elvira Louisa (Moody) Wilkinson, a native of Moore County, N.C., and a daughter of W.H. Moody. Her father was also a native of North Carolina and served in a regiment of that State in the Civil War, as a major. He removed to Tennessee and thence to Arkansas, and in about 1869, brought his family overland to California, settling at El Monte and engaged as a building contractor.

No children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Freer, however, by her first marriage Mrs. Freer, (or Mrs. Wilkinson, as her name was at that time) was the mother of three children, namely: Lester, who resides in Sacramento; Lewis, now deceased; and Geneva (Mrs. Metler) of El Monte.

Mrs. Freer was taken by death in 1914, following which the daughter Mrs. Geneva Metler, made her home with her stepfather. A few years later, owing to the failing health of her stepfather, Mrs. Metler was appointed his guardian and acted as administratrix of the estate. She continues at this time (1937) to reside in the old home some three miles north of El Monte.

Source: C. D. Mayon, F. Brow, L. Stoddard, and C. Mudd; El Monte from the Pioneer Days. WPA Project No. N-5740, 1936. In record 19-187072. (California Historical Landmark No. 765: El Monte). On file at the SCCIC, CSU Fullerton.

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