Peter Wilbert Free

Born: Sept 09, 1839
Loc: South Shenango, Crawford Co. PA
Died: Feb 21, 1915
Loc: Waterford, Erie Co. PA
Father: Richard Free
Mother: Nancy Ann McKay
Married: June 16, 1870 at Waterford, Erie Co. PA - Spouse: Sarah Rodgers
Children:  Jay Clark /Ina Sarah /George G. /Lytle Rodgers /Albert Ray
1850 Census: South Shenango Twp. Crawford Co. PA
1860 Census: South Shenango Twp. Crawford Co. PA
Military: Civil War
Peter Free was a Chaplin in Company H, 145th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry.
Enlisted at age 22, was 5 feet 9 inches tall, light complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.
He held the rank of Corporal, Sergeant, 1st Sergeant, 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant and Captain.
Peter served from August 8, 1862 until his discharge on May 31, 1865.
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN published the following:
"Peter Wilbert Free, of Waterford, Pa., passed to his crowning early Sabbath morning, February 21st. A slight hemorrhage in the brain resulted in paralysis and did its work quickly. He was on the street the Thursday preceding his death apparently in his usual health. The funeral was announced for Tuesday, the 23d inst at 2:00 P.M.  Dr. Free was in his seventy-sixth year and carried his age well. He was a native of Crawford county, Pa., a graduate of Monmouth College and of Monmouth and Xenia seminaries. He was licensed, ordained and installed by the Presbytery of Lake, of which he has ever since remained a member. He never held but the one pastorate, at Waterford, with which, for a few years, the little mission station of Summit was annexed, and of which he had the oversight. Waterford and Dr. Free seemed inseparable in the minds of the people of that entire presbytery. He was a patriarch among them, and one of the delights of presbyterial meetings was the fellowship of the good Doctor, a man universally honored by his brethren. His smile was as familiar as his face, and his face was welcome in any company. His report as treasurer of presbyter was always an event. His accounts were faithfully kept, as his duty in every relationship was conscientiously done. The fact that he remained as pastor of the congregation over which he was installed as a young man, until his hair had grown gray and his step somewhat irregular, shows how he was esteemed and revered as a shepherd of the flock. It will be a sad day when Lake Presbytery comes together, and there is no "Peter Free," the faithful and the beloved, to greet the young members -- for of those who started in the race with him forty-five years ago, not one is now left as a presbyterial associate to speak the word of appreciation to which he is so justly entitled. We are not certain as to the date when he demitted his charge at Waterford, yet it is safe to say that he held the pastorate for over forty years. And yet, Dr. Free was a modest, quiet man. There was nothing of the whirlwind or the cyclone about him. His mission was that of the zepher, or the flower that remains in the place of its planting and emits its fragrance. Possibly he never wrote an article for the Church paper in all his long life; yet he had the strength of conviction and a keen, analytical faculty. His judgment on what others wrote was generally to the point. His criticisms were wreathed in smiles. We do not believe he ever willfully injured the feeling of single human being. He was not "apt to speak" in synods and in meetings of the General Assembly "his strength was to sit still," and give his judgment privately and by vote. His voice was heard once or twice, modestly, in the last General Assembly. When he spoke, it was with mildness and wisdom. We are pained at his death, sorrowing most of all that we shall see his face no more. His son, the Rev. L. R. Free, of the Boulevard church, Philadelphia, will perpetuate his graces and his gentleness and strength of character." 

The United Presbyterian Directory indicates Peter Free was licensed by Lake Presbytery on May 4, 1869; that he served as pastor at Waterford from September 6, 1870 to 1897 also serving at Summit from 1890-1897. He again served at Waterford from 1902 until his retirement in 1909. Peter Wilbert Free served in the Civil War. He was a Captain in Company H of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment. He was enrolled at Espyville on August 8, 1862 and was discharged at Alexandria, Virginia on May 31, 1865. He participated in the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where he was taken prisoner, but exchanged at the end of four months, returned to his regiment and was through the battles of the Wilderness and the siege of Petersburg.