Mary Sargent Freeman was the youngest daughter of Charles and Susan Freeman. She was born December 25, 1887, in Lancaster, New Hampshire. In 1898, she moved to St. Pierre and Miquelon after her father’s appointment as United States Commercial Agent. Here, she spent most of her impressionable young years, from the age of 11 until 19.
Within the Freeman Collection, there is a menu for a dancing club from 1903. This document illustrates some of the events and activities Mary and her sister, Harriet attended with their parents while living in St. Pierre. Additionally, she and her sister Harriett also went to convent school on the island. Growing up the children of an American Consulate, they were certainly accustomed to a comfortable standard of living. The girls traveled frequently with their parents around the United States and Canada. As she grew older, Mary helped her mother with her hosting duties and learned how to run a household.
In 1906, she moved with her family to Durango, Mexico and in 1911 to Sydney, Nova Scotia, following her father’s Consul appointments. Soon after arriving in Sydney, Mary began work as a clerk with her father in the United States Consular Office on Charlotte Street.
During her family’s time in Sydney, Mary often socialized or volunteered with her mother and sister. She was an avid tennis player and participated in the Nova Scotia Tennis Tournament that took place at the Sydney Tennis Courts near her home. She took many photographs, including images of the American Naval Air Station in 1918 in North Sydney and the celebrations at the end of World War One in November 1918.
After Charles’ retirement in 1924, Mary stayed in Sydney and continued working for the U.S. consular service. Fred T. Muggah, Sydney’s Stipendiary Magistrate wrote to Mary after learning of her father’s retirement, stating that it was his wish that she stay in the city. In describing Mary’s skills as a clerk, Muggah stated, “I have found you faithful, excellently equipped for the duties that have devolved upon you, courteous and withal firm, and possessing those rather rare qualifications for meeting difficulties that must confront you daily in your rather exacting official work.”
In 1932, she was the chief clerk at the consular office in Sydney. In the late 1930s, she worked as a clerk in the United States Consular office in Toronto. Like her sister, she was often visited by her parents and frequently traveled to spend time with them at their home in Portland, Maine.
When her mother came to Sydney, Mary and her sister were responsible for hosting parties in her honor. The local newspaper reported that “Miss Mary Freeman entertained a number of Mrs. C.M. Freeman’s friends at a bridge-luncheon at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Jamieson, Charlotte Street on Tuesday. Covers were laid for fourteen. The prizes in the game were won by Mrs. J.E. McCurdy and Mrs. O. Gaylord Marsh.”
As early as 1937, she was suffering from a prolonged illness and obtained a disability pension commencing August 1, 1938. She was paid an annuity of $938.28 on a monthly basis. To maintain disability retirement, she was regularly evaluated by a physician to determine if she was fit for work. In 1946, she was reassessed and once again found unfit for work, suggesting that she suffered from a chronic illness.
After her retirement, she moved to Portland, Maine to live with her mother, sister and brother-in-law on Read Street. After her mother died, she lived with Charles and Harriett until her death on December 27th, 1958.