Ohio Biographies

Freeman Grant Cary

Freeman Grant Cary was born in Cincinnati April 7, 1810. His father, William Cary, emigrated to the Northwest Territory in 1803 and settled on a farm he purchased at the head of Main street, Cincinnati, where he resided until 1814 when he removed to College Hill. His thirty-two acres in Cincinnati were sold and he bought section thirty in Mill Creek township - now College Hill - where he resided until his death March 25, 1862.

Here in the wilderness, the subject of our sketch, the oldest of three sons, with his two brothers, William Woodward, and Samuel Fenton, received his early education. He afterwards attended college at Miami university, and graduated with honor in the class of 1831. This was fifty years ago, and since that time Mr. Cary has left a marked impress of his character for good which in the history of the county is inerasable. He has devoted more than thirty years of his life to teaching. He established Cary's academy, originated Farmers' college, into which the academy was merged; also originated for females what afterwards became the Ohio Female college; which institutions were eminently successful until after he resigned the presidency - the Farmers' college at that time numbering three hundred students. The Female college was likewise quite successful.

Mr. Cary's fort was in government, and was also a successful teacher. During his presidency he associated with him men of ability in the various departments of his institution - we say his institution, for he exercised entire control of it from the first until he resigned his place in it. During the period of its existence under him he educated, to a greater or less extent, some three thousand young men, many of them now occupying distinguished positions north and south, in the ministry, at the bar, as physicians, or becoming active business men. Mr. Cary's character is marked by a combination of striking traits; being possessed of a strong constitution, of temperate habits, of good health, giving him physical ability to successfully accomplish whatever he undertakes.

He has made his own place in society and is known to be persistent, energetic and self-reliant, never seeking aid from others, much less place or honors of office. The arduous and responsible duties that have fallen to his lot have been discharged so as to reflect credit upon himself and the honorable positions he has filled. He has now reached the age of over three score and ten, and is still in possession, to a wonderful degree, of those characteristics which have distinguished him through life. He seems to be thoroughly conversant on all subjects of natural science, especially those pertaining to agriculture and horticulture of which he is proficient both in practice and theory. He has connected with his residence an admirably arranged conservatory and greenhouse, on his own plan, in which he spends much of his time in experimenting for his own gratification. He established and edited an agricultural periodical, The Cincinnatus, which for five years had a wide circulation, and only ceased by reason of the Rebellion, which placed such literature at a discount, many of the subscribers being in the south. He was one of the distinguished early leaders and supporters of the Cincinnati Horticultural society, being several times its honored president. Mr. Cary is not only an adept in the natural sciences but is also a good classical and mathematical scholar, his education and ability eminently fitting him for marked prominence. He was selected as one of two to represent the great State of Ohio - under Buchanan's administration - in a congress of the States for the promotion of agriculture, with Marshall and Wilder at its head. After over a quarter of a century's labors in the schools originated and constructed by him, he retired to a farm in Butler county, where, with his wonted zeal and industry, he devoted himself to rural pursuits, leading a quiet and retired life. His residence, planned by himself (see engraving), is a model of taste and fine architecture, combinding more conveniences than almost any structure in the county. His place is set with the choicest fruits grown in the climate and with fruits, evergreens, and deciduous trees his residence is completely encircled, and all is in keeping with the intelligence of the man, amply repaying any one with the information he would receive, on almost every subject, from a visit to his place. He has been an elder in the Presbyterian church for over forty years, and its active, zealous supporter.

His wife, Malvina McCan, to whom he was married April 4, 1833, was a native of Chillicothe, a daughter of a pioneer, who was a man of fine education and was an extensive surveyor. She died in the month of January, 1872. He had by her eight children, five of whom survive. His second wife was the widow of Dr. James Richardson, and daughter of Clark Bates, one of the earliest pioneers of the west. He was married to her March 6, 1873, with whom he still lives. His mother, Mrs. William Cary, now ninety years of age, intelligent and still active, lives with him. Notwithstanding her advancement in years she enjoys all her faculties of mind. William Woodward, named after William Woodward, the founder of Woodward college, died in 1847. He was a farmer, a man of sound judgment and mathematical education. General S. F. Carey, of world wide renown as a lecturer and popular orator, is the youngest of three brothers. The Cary sisters, the celebrated writers, are his cousins, and were greatly aided in their first efforts by the subject of this sketch.

We may say, few men, in an independent and unaided life and on their own resources, have exerted a more extended influence than has F. G. Cary.


From History of Hamilton county, Ohio, Henry & Kate Ford, L. A. Williams & Co., Publishers, 1881