Charles Freeman

7 W Myrtle

The 1940 home of the Freeman family, 7 W Myrtle Street.

The Freeman family at the end of Ward 5 in the 1940 U.S. Census caught my eye. The first thing I noticed was that it was a widowed father living with his grown single children renting 7 North Myrtle Street (which must be West Myrtle Street as there is no North Myrtle). Charles Freeman Sr. was born in Mantiania, Greece circa 1889 based on his age in 1940 and immigrated to the U.S. most likely in the early 1900s while he was in his 20s.[1] It was ideal for Greek immigrants to come to the U.S. earlier before the passage of the 1924 National Origins Quota Act made immigration for Greeks and many other nationalities more difficult. His reasons for coming to the United States are unclear, but, like most other Greek men his age, he probably came for work with the intention of returning home after earning enough money. His early immigration could also account for his Americanization of his name as he was trying to adapt to his new environment as quickly as possible.

Charles Freeman moved to Alexandria in 1938 with his wife, Hilda, and five children; Charles Jr., George, Donald, James, and Maxine.[2] The 1940 U.S. Census for Alexandria states that all five of his children were born in New Castle, Pennsylvania suggesting that after immigrating from Greece, Charles settled there, married Hilda relatively soon after, and started a family. Hilda died on June 13, 1939 and is buried in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery in Alexandria. Details about Hilda’s life prior to Alexandria show that she was an active member of the New Castle community as a member of the woman’s group, the Windsor Girls, as early as in 1907 and hosted group meetings at her home on Harbor Road.[3] She was also an avid card player, and she won a prize for a card game in 1934.[4] The details surrounding Hilda’s death are unknown, but she left behind a husband and five grown children.

Freeman Draft Card

Charles Freeman Sr. World War II draft card.

Alexandria in 1940 presented several opportunities for Charles and his children, two of whom had graduated college; the other three, Donald, James, and Maxine, were high school graduates. As the United States was preparing for possible involvement in World War II, thousands of new jobs in the government and other industries were created. These jobs attracted people to the DC metro area not only for the jobs in the government, but also for the jobs that were created to sustain theses newcomers. Most Greek immigrants in the 1940 U.S. Census were continuing their tradition of owning and operating restaurants or other food industry related jobs. Recognizing the need for quick and easy food for the region’s growing labor force, Greek immigrants quickly adapted to their role as restaurateurs. Charles Freeman went against the norm among Greek immigrants. His occupation in the 1940 U.S. Census was listed as an owner of a movie theater. Charles’ World War II draft card reveals that he owned the Lido theater at 3227 M Street in Georgetown.[5] By 1942, Charles is listed at 913 Bashford Road in Alexandria with all but James still living at home; he was still the owner and manager of the Lido.[6]

The last known address of the Freeman family, 913 Bashford Rd.

The last known address of the Freeman family, 913 Bashford Rd.

Charles’s unconventional job also affected his children. Most children of Greek immigrants work in the family restaurants; however in the case of Charles’s family, his children pursued their own careers. All of his children have their own careers in the 1940 U.S. Census and in the 1942 city directory except Donald. Donald, in 1942, continued the Greek American tradition of working in the family-run business by managing a movie theater; this job is quite different from the one listed in the 1940 census, which was a brakeman at Potomac Yard.[7] The 1942 City Directory does not list the theater that Donald works at, but it can be assumed that it is the Lido theater his father owns.

Charles Freeman died in 1951 in Alexandria and the last of his children, Maxine, passed away in 2014.  He is survived by numerous grand and great-grandchildren.[8]

[1] Charles Freeman World War II Draft Card, 1942;, (accessed October 8, 2015).

[2] “Maxine M. Knight,” Daily Press Obituaries, (accessed October 1, 2015).

[3] New Castle Herald, April 24, 1907,, 6.

[4] New Castle News, November 8, 1934,, 6.

[5] Charles Freeman World War II Draft Card, 1942;, (accessed October 8, 2015).

[6] Hill’s Alexandria City Directory (Richmond, VA: Hill Directory So, Inc., Publishing, 1942), 156;, (accessed October 8, 2015).

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Maxine M. Knight,” Daily Press Obituaries, (accessed October 1, 2015).

One thought on “Charles Freeman

  1. Thank you so much for this information. Charles Freeman Sr. was my great grandfather, Charles Jr. was my grandfather. I will be sharing this with the rest of my family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *