Cyrus Freer Papers (1889-1916)

Finding Aid Completed by Eric Roth, April 29, 1998
Last revised: October 16, 1999
Volume: 15 items, 0.3 cu. ft.
Acquisition: The Cyrus Freer Papers were donated to the Huguenot Historical Society by Marilyn Anderson on August 1, 1996. Copies of five of photographs came from the Cyrus Freer Papers maintained by the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz, NY.
Access: Unrestricted.
Copyright: Request for permission to publish materials from these records should be discussed with the Archivist and Director of the Huguenot Historical Society.

Special thanks to Freer Family President Richard Percy for his assistance in processing this collection.

Biographical Note

Cyrus Freer was born on March 7, 1845 to Abram P. and Catherine Freer in New Paltz, New York. He married three times throughout his life, first to Tamer Hait in 1872 (died of consumption 1880), then Eliza H. Harp in 1882 (died of cancer 1894), and Mary Jane Snyder in 1898, who became Cyrus' widow after his death on February 16, 1927. Cyrus Freer's three children, came from this last marriage to Mary Jane Snyder (1).

Freer worked as a wagon maker for J. Roberts from 1869 to 1870, and for Hallock Sutton in 1871. In 1872, he briefly managed a wagon maker shop in Modena, and later moved to New Paltz where he opened a furniture repair shop on the corner of North Chestnut and North Front streets. He also worked as a sexton for the New Paltz Dutch Reformed Church and served as Sunday School Superintendent of the New Paltz Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was a devoted member. Cyrus Freer was also involved with the temperance and revivalist movements. According to his obituary, he was known for his strong sense of piety, and his devotion to religious causes (2).

Collection Description

These papers document of the life of Cyrus Freer during the 1890's. The collection is divided into four series: 1) Diaries, 1891-1892, 1895-1898; 2) Account Books, 1890-1898; 3) published Journal, 1911-1916; 4) Photographs, 1889 and undated. The major strengths of the collection are found in the four diaries, which provide the researcher with a rare glimpse into the daily routines and concerns of Cyrus Freer and other local townspeople of New Paltz. The diaries mostly concern matters pertaining to Cyrus' work life as a furniture repairman, church sexton and general laborer; as well as local marriages, illnesses, and deaths.

Of interest are the numerous entries describing work performed for various local individuals personalities and institutions such as Ralph LeFevre, Maurice Hasbrouck, J.N. Vanderlyn, the New Paltz Fire Department, the New Paltz Normal School and the Dutch Reformed Church. The diaries also provide a good source for studying the development of religious revivalism and fundamentalism in New Paltz and Ulster County during the late nineteenth century. Freer documents all meetings attended and provides the names, residences and affiliations of visiting preachers. He also often writes brief descriptions of their sermons and gives his opinions of them. Occasionally, he even writes of his views of the state of religion among his fellow man. On Sunday, Sept 15, 1901, for example, Freer wrote "it is to bad to live in a world where the gospel is so quer and whol familys out of christ with out mutch fear about him" (3). Another entry provides a vivid account of the conversion of Mrs. Vradenburg to a born-again Christian in 1902 (5).

The physical condition of the records is generally quite good considering the low-quality paper used. The pages show the usual degree of yellowing and fading typical of late nineteenth-century paper made from wood pulp. In some places the ink is quite faded as well, but generally still readable. The major problem with the condition of the records is the lack of clarity in the handwriting, which is often difficult to decipher. In all written accounts in the collection there is little or no punctuation, and little standardization in spelling.

This collection does not comprise the entirety of surviving materials pertaining to Cyrus Freer and his family. The Haviland-Heidgerd Collection at the Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz also maintains a collection of Cyrus' personal papers. The two collections are complementary, and due to their close proximity, can be construed as one collection maintained in two separate locations. The Elting Memorial Library Collection (currently unprocessed) contains the following materials: Ciphering book (1836), Diaries (1899-1903, 1913-1915) - (3), Diary of Deaths (1897-1922), Account Books (1870, 1894-1895, 1904-1905), Photographs (loose and bound) of the Freer and Snyder families (undated), Autograph Books of Mary Jane Snyder (1888-1890 and undated) - (2), Miscellaneous Pamphlets and Newspaper Articles (1857-1931 scattered). Materials lacking in both collections include letters and correspondence, to which Cyrus often refers in the diaries, and the studies of history that he supposedly committed to writing (5).

Other Freer family collections at the Huguenot Historical Society also include the Gerrit Freer Papers (1677-1840), the Hugo Freer Family Papers, and the Wilhelmus and Moses Hasbrouck Family Papers (1753-1897), which contain records of Johannis Freer (1725-1797), and other Freer family members. Also, a ciphering book of Elias Freer (1802-1803), which was also donated by Marylin Andersen is housed in the Huguenot Historical Society Ciphering Book Collection. Researchers also may want to consult the several Freer and Snyder family Bibles housed in the Huguenot Historical Society Bible and Religious Book Collection.

Series Description

Series 1: Diaries (1891- 1892, 1895-1898) 4 notebooks
This series contains four personal diaries kept by Cyrus Freer in New Paltz during the 1890's. Daily entries are chronological, although there are occasional mistakes in which the author backtracks and rewrites the entries.

Series 2: Account Books (1890-1898) 2 ledgers
Contains two daybooks kept by Cyrus Freer documenting money owed to him by various individuals and organizations. Both day books contain name indexes and brief descriptions of the nature of work performed. Entries were kept chronologically, and were crossed out upon payment. Some individual accounts lasted several years before being settled, and were in some cases, carried through to the second account book.

Series 3: Unpublished Journal (1911-1916) 1 notebook
Book entitled "All about the M E church and the Reform Church beginning 1911." Contains chronological entries pertaining to the history of the New Paltz Methodist Episcopal Church beginning with its construction in 1839. Entries mainly concern structural changes such as building a parsonage in 1848 and repairing sheds, stoves and chimneys, etc, but some entries mention social gatherings such as special dinners and church fairs. Freer also kept detailed accounts of the expenditures and revenues of such activities.

Series 4: Photographs (1889 and undated) 8 photographs
Contains photographs and copies of photographs of the members of Cyrus Freer's Family and Cyrus' various residences. Most of the photographs were probably taken in the 1910's, although some may have been taken much earlier.

Folder/Item List

Series 1: Diaries (1891- 1892, 1895-1898)

(Sept. 1891- Nov. 1892)
(Aug. 1895 - Feb. 1896)
(Feb. 1896-Oct. 1896)
(Oct. 1896-Apr. 1898)

Series 2: Account Books (1890-1898)

Account Books:

Series 3: Unpublished Journal (1911-1916) 1 notebook

Journal, "All about the M E church and the Reform church beginning 1911."

Series 4: Photographs (1889 and undated) 8 photographs

Original Photographs:
1) Cyrus Freer as a young man
2) "Birthplace of Cyrus Freer"
3) "Cyrus Freer's Residence, New Paltz, NY"

Copies from Cyrus Freer Papers: Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY:
4) Mary Jane Snyder, wife of Cyrus Freer
5) Cyrus Freer
6) Cyrus Freer and son Hugo Freer
7) Cyrus Freer and wife Mary Jane Snyder
8) Cyrus Freer butchering hogs next to Dubois Fort



1. Heidgerd, Ruth. The Freer Family: Descendants of Hugo Freer, Patentee of New Paltz. The Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, NY, Inc. (1968): p. 164.

2. Obituary of Cyrus Freer. New Paltz Independent, New Paltz, NY (February 24, 1927)

3. Cyrus Freer Diary 1901-1903, Cyrus Freer Papers - Elting Memorial Library Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection: p. 1. (Note: This collection was split up by the descendants of Cyrus Freer. Part of the collection was donated to the Elting Memorial Library while other materials were donated to the Huguenot Historical Society).

4. Ibid. p. 32-33

5. Obituary of Cyrus Freer.