|Charles Miller Beckwith||-----------|||1825-1892|
|||||||1882-1943|||||Mary Eleanor Harper|
Memories of Grandma Miller by Chris Beckwith
I knew my grandparents on my father’s side as “Grandma Miller” and “Grandpa Glen”. Grandma was born Eleanor Louise Freeman, August 3, 1904. She had three husbands; her first husband, Otto Beckwith, was my father’s father. They were divorced in 1935. She married Charles Osbeck in 1936, and divorced him in 1941. She then married Glen Miller and that’s how she got the name “Grandma Miller”.
When I was growing up, I loved to spend as much time as possible with them. Sometimes I would get weekends at their house, and in the summers growing up would live with them for a month or two.
Their houses were always very interesting; full of old clocks and antiques, fascinating pictures, lots of books and magazenes, ceramics, momentos from the past, fine furnature, and the food and sweets and drinks like nothing I experienced with my parents. There was always something going on in Grandma Millers house, some new project, some new idea, always lots of discussion and laughter about something. She was an energetic, unconventional and smart woman who loved to spoil her grandchildren with laughter, gifts and fun, but, she could also be crazy and angry and unpredictable. While her grandchildren adored her, my father had mixed feelings and would frequently mention that he grew up alone without parents or family.
Eleanor Freeman's Ancestry
I’ve traced Grandma Miller’s family back to the 1860 Census. A young family is living in Chauncey, Ohio, William Freeman, 23, wife Christina Freeman, 20 and a young son, Charles, 1 year old. Williams profession is listed as “boatman”; he was born in New Jersey, Christina and Charles were born in Ohio. They own real estate valued at $175 with personal property valued at $50.
In 1870, the family is still living in Chauncey. They value of their real estate has gone up to $300 and the personal property $180, so they are doing well for the 1870’s. William Freeman is 33, with a job listed as “canal boatman”; Christina is 30. They now have five children, with firstborn Charles now 11 years old.
In 1880, some tragedy has occured because Christy is now listed as a widow, aged 38, born in Ohio, father born in Ohio. Charles is now 21 and working as a “miller”. The younger boys, age 12, 16 and 20 are all out of school and working. There are now three girls in the family, ages 10, 7 and 5. The family of eight people are on hard times.
Sometime between 1880 and 1882, Charles married Eleanor Harper, and they had their first child Roy on January 6, 1882. Grandma Miller believed the marriage date of her grandparents to be December 13, so it was probably in 1880, just after the Census was taken. Eleanor and Charles L. Freeman, had five children, the last child, Louis, when Eleanor Harper Freeman was 42. Louis was born in 1904, the same year as Eleanor Louise.
The 1890 Ohio census was destroyed by fire, so there is no way to trace what happened in the next ten years. In the 1910 census, Christina Freeman is 68 and still supported by her two unmarried sons,Edward and Martin.
Charles and Eleanor Freeman’s first son, Roy married Myrtle Margaret Forbes and had two children, Eleanor Louise, born in 1904 and Charles Francis, born 1905. Eleanor was named after Roy’s mother, and Charles after Roy’s father.
The three “cousins”, Eleanor, Louis and Charles were always together and were very close. Young Charles died at age 16 and my Grandma mourned her beloved brother’s young death her entire life. She named her son, my father, after her brother Charles and her grandfather Charles.
Eleanor’s mother, Myrtle Margaret died in January, 1908 of spinal meningitis when her children were just 3 ½ and 2. In 1909, Roy, 27, quickly re-married Cora “Bird”, 17, and soon after had Catherine in 1910. We don’t know what happened to Bird, but, in 1924 he marries his third wife, Le Verta, and they will have a son, Roy Jr, in 1924. Roy Freeman was a very strong aggressive man who claims his company built half of the highways in Ohio and was probably not easy to live with.
Louis was technically Eleanor’s uncle, but since they were born the same year, grew up as cousins. In the 1950’s, Louis became a rich businesman in Los Angeles and had a huge estate near Hollywood. One of the great events when I would visit Grandma Miller, was when we would drive up to visit “Uncle Lou”. He was a fascinating character, and his home, like Grandma Miller’s, was full of charm, fun, rich detail and endless surprises. Uncle Lou’s son, Ted, and I had great fun driving a real tractor in the huge backyard, swimming, playing the pin ball machines in their “game room”, roaming around the neighborhood checking out the other huge estates, and generally getting into trouble and adventures.
At age 15, Eleanor was a wild teenager, and around 1919, Roy decided that he just couldn’t handle her so he sent her off to live with her grandmother, “Grandma Freeman Eleanor’s grandfather was Charles Freeman. He was Chief of Detectives on the Hocking Valley Ohio Railroad. He died in 1915. So, when Eleanor went to live with her Grandma Freeman in 1919, Eleanor Harper Freeman had been a widow for 4 years. In order to survive on her meager pension, she ran a small boarding house according to the 1920 census. The census shows Eleanor (widow), living with
Columbus, Ohio - 1904 to 1910
Eleanor was born August 3, 1904. With brother Charles Freeman and “cousin” Louis Freeman (actually Uncle) Eleanor’s mother, Myrtle, died of spinal meningitis at age 25 in January, 1908, when Eleanor was 3 ½ years old.
Columbus, Ohio - 1911 to 1920
Eleanor’s father, Roy Freeman quickly remarried a woman that everyone called “Bird”, and they had a child Catherine, in 1910. Eleanor had troubles as a teenager and she went to live with her grandmother, Eleanor Harper Freeman in 1918. Grandma Freeman’s husband, Charles Freeman, had passed away in 1915, leaving her with her young son Louis. Eleanor and Louis were very close “cousins” all their lives.
Columbus, Ohio - 1921 to 1930
Eleanor married Otto Beckwith, on her birthday, August 3, 1921. She was 17 and he was 21. They had their only child, Charles Miller Beckwith, April 25, 1922. These are rare pictures of Eleanor and Otto because after their divorce in 1935, she destroyed all pictures of them together.
Catherine Freeman, Eleanor Freeman, Charles Freeman
“Bird” Roy Freeman Catherine Eleanor
Buckeye Lake near Zanesville, Ohio
1919 – Eleanor (15) living with Grandma Freeman
1918 - Eleanor (14)
1920 – Eleanor (16) a year before marriage.