Historical accounts
The Suiters
The Freemans

The Suiters

Elizabeth Agnes Suiter's great-grandfather, Jacob Suiter, was born about 1770 in Pennsylvania. He married Margaret Masters about 1794, and they had 8 children between 1795 and 1812: Hiram G., William Martin, Philip Jacob, Mordecai Y., Jeremiah, Bethany, Israel Lewis, and Mary. Jacob Suiter died June 23, 1832 in Lawrence County, Ohio.

As a young and growing family, the Jacob Suiters lived by the river in Lawrence County, Ohio. Reverend James Gilruth's memories of Lawrence County, Ohio, including the Suiter family. (references to the Suiters/Suitors are found in the sections labeled "February 1" and "March 14").

Agnes's grandfather, Philip Jacob Suiter, was born Nov 1, 1799, in Lawrence County, Ohio. Though Rev. Gilruth (see above) says he was married 4 times, other sources indicate 3 times. With Sarah Shores (or Shour), his first wife, he had 5 children between 1822 and 1831: John Halford, Mary Ann "Polly", William Martin, Jacob G., and Sarah. Their first 2 children were born in Ohio, but prior to the birth of William Martin in 1826, the family had moved to Illinois, where they stayed for some 10 years.

Philip Suiter then moved his family to LeClaire, Iowa, around the fall of 1836. LeClaire was a new settlement on the bank of the Mississippi River, at a place where there is a bend in the river, and rapids. He was already married to second wife Nancy McElyea at the time of his move.

Philip and Nancy had 4 children between about 1835 and 1839 (Philip L., Nancy, Joseph, and Francis M). He then had 3 children (James Winfred, Elizabeth Ellen, and Zachariah) with his third wife, Hannah Wright Maddox, in 1842 - 1846. By this time, Philip Suiter also had grandchildren, including granddaughter Elizabeth Agnes Suiter, who was born in 1843 in LeClaire.

Philip Suiter was one of the community's original settlers, and his occupation was that of rapids pilot, guiding riverboats over the rapids. Article about the Suiter River Pilots in LeClaire, by Joann Loete.   At least 3 of his sons, John Halford (1822-1896), William M. (1826-1904), and Jacob G. (1828-1904) followed him in this profession, as well as 2 grandsons and 2 great-grandsons. Philip Suiter died Nov. 16, 1884 in DeWitt, Nebraska, but was buried in LeClaire, Iowa. "LeClaire River Pilot Homes Self-Guided Tour" Website, which includes drawings of the Le Claire homes of James, William, Jacob and John H. Suiter, and information about LeClaire river pilots.


John Halford Suiter, Agnes Freeman's father, was born Aug. 15, 1822 in West Port, Ohio. When he was about 14, his father moved the family to LeClaire, Iowa. He also had a new step-mother, Nancy, and at about that time, the first of John's seven half-brothers and sisters was born. John was the first of a total of 12 children in the family altogether.

John married Eliza Jane Wright, also a native of Ohio, on Dec. 22, 1842, in LeClaire, Iowa. The following year he began work as a rapids pilot (at the age of 21), and also his first child was born: Elizabeth Agnes Suiter, born March 16, 1843, in LeClaire. John and Eliza had 8 children altogether, between 1843 and 1861: Elizabeth Agnes, John Wright, Margaret Ann, Zachariah Grant, George Philip, Jeremiah James, Eliza J., and William A.

Little Margaret Ann died in infancy, and Eliza J. also died young. Elizabeth Agnes was the only remaining daughter, and was a favorite of her father.

John worked as a rapids pilot from 1843 to 1875 or 1886, and afterwards took up farming, with 2 of his sons taking over for him on the river. He died June 6, 1896 in LeClaire, Iowa. His wife, Eliza Jane (Wright) Suiter, died after 1888.


Other sources (besides those mentioned above):

Family tree website of the Suiters and Freemans by Sara C. Johnston. Some of this information came originally from the Suiter Family Association.

The History of Scott County, Iowa 1882. Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co. -- Found on website: Scott Co, Iowa USGenweb Project, History of the Township and City of LeClaire. In the transcription on the website, the Suiters are mentioned in the sections "Early Settlers", "Educational", "Religious" and "Societies".

History of Gage County, Nebraska, by Hugh J. Dobbs. Lincoln, Nebraska: Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1918. p. 891.

Portrait and Biographical Album of Gage County, Nebraska. Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1888. p. 522.

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