Freeman Sardou, a prominent citizen of Topeka, Kan., and one of the first residents of that city, is a well known fruit grower of that section of the state and is also extensively engaged in the canning business. Mr. Sardou was born on the Atlantic ocean, Jan. 16, 1854, while his parents, Charles and Josephine (Mere) Sardou, were enroute for free America. His father, Charles Sardou, became a French refugee, due to his conspicuous part in the French Revolutions of 1848 and also of 1851. A price of 20,000 francs had been set on his head for the part he took in the latter and his faithful wife had been exiled. It was to escape their persecutors, to enjoy the rights of citizenship in a free land and to be protected in them that these parents came to America. The whole life of Charles Sardou was one of adventure and daring. He was born near Carqueiranne, France, in 1813, and for twenty-three years he was a sailor on the seas. His later life demonstrated that he was much more that a mere sailor, for in his participation in the struggles of 1848 and 1851, he evinced that fortitude, courage and personal bravery which characterized the French Revolutionists and made them such a menace to the royalty of France. It was because of his activity in behalf of his countrymen in their struggle against their royal oppressors during the Revolution and the period immediately following that he was denounced a dangerous person and a price set on his head. With a party of his mates, numbering seventeen, they seized a vessel in a bay on the Italian coast and headed for the land of the free across the Atlantic, which was reached after a voyage of 120 days. It was during this voyage that Freeman Sardou, of this review, was born. As most of the party were sailors, they had no difficulty in beaching their vessel and leaving her to her fate, they made their way to land and freedom. On Aug. 28, 1854, a party consisting of Mr. Sardou, J. B. Billard, Frederick K. Vesscelda, and a Mr. Berrenger came to the site of Topeka, Kan., and located on section 28. Each took up a claim of 160 acres of land and were the first white people to locate at Topeka, the date being Aug. 28, 1854. Mr. Sardou soon found he had not entirely left trouble behind, though it was of a new nature. His first house, a dugout by the side of a bank, was washed away by a sudden flood; it was replaced by a sod house, which was destroyed by a furious wind storm. His third home, a log house, was burned to the ground on Nov. 23, 1854, thus three times within as many months he was left without a home. Two days after his last loss, a party of white people, led by a well remembered Daniel H. Horne, crossed the place where his cabin had stood while on their way to Topeka, though that place had not yet received its name. Their visit later proved a very fortunate circumstance to Mr. Sardou. A severe and sudden fire had swept over that section and had carried away many landmarks, but fortunately left the sills of his cabin standing. Mr. Sardou, with his wife and son, Freeman, crossed the river on the ice and spent the winter in the settlement of what is now Silver Lake, with the Indians. In the following April, Charles Sardou returned to his farm and found it occupied, a Dr. Martin having "jumped" his claim. Mr. Sardou entered suit for his land and won through the sworn testimony of Daniel H. Horne, who testified that he had seen the sills of the log cabin on the land when he and his party had come to Topeka the preceding November. It was not until 1860, however, that the usurper was ousted and then Mr. Sardou was compelled to pay Dr. Martin all he possessed in order to secure it, as the latter made a large claim for improvements, though the land lay in its original state. Mr. Sardou remained on his farm until 1870, and by that time had brought it to a state of successful cultivation. The revolution which broke out at the conclusion of the war between France and Prussia in 1870 stirred old memories, and, gathering together what he had accumulated in this country, he returned to his native land to assist in establishing a Republic. With $4,000, which French subjects in Kansas had subscribed to the cause, he went to New York, where he recruited 1,000 volunteers with whom he sailed to France to assist in the overthrow of royalty. He participated in the battles of Strassburg, Metz and Sedan, and after seeing the fall of Paris, he returned to Kansas in September, 1871, having been absent nine months. Dr. M. A. E. J. Campdoras, a friend of Charles Sardou, was offered the first presidency of France in 1851. In 1883, Mr. Sardou and his wife once more returned to their native land, and he was elected to a seat in the House of Deputies for life. He died there on Nov. 2, 1894, in his eighty-second year, and within a stone's throw of the house in which he was born. His tomb is in the old sailors' and soldiers' cemetery at Carqueiranne. France honored his name in memory of his services for his countrymen by ordering all trains to stop for a certain period during the hour of his funeral services. He was a relative of Victorien Sardou, the noted French dramatist, and was a classmate of Hugo, Danton and Robespierre, noted French Revolutionists.
Freeman Sardou grew to manhood in Topeka and received his education in that city. He walked two miles to attend the school at the corner of Tenth avenue and Jackson street, and had for his teacher a Mr. Drake, who closed the school in 1862 and entered the army. He subsequently attended the Harrison and the Lincoln schools. In 1869 he was one of five forming the first class of the Topeka High School, his classmates being Emma Boyd, now Mrs. F. C. Bowen; Mrs. Emma Woods; W. C. Campbell and Lloyd Hope; all surviving in this date (1911), except Mr. Hope. After completing his education, Mr. Sardou learned the tinner's trade at St. Louis and was employed at his trade thirteen years. In 1883, when his parents returned to France, he took charge of the farm on the outskirts of Topeka and has resided there continuously since that time. The handsome brick residence at 455 Freeman avenue has as a setting a tract of twenty acres, much of which is devoted to fruit growing. It is a beautiful place, one section of which is shaded with stately oaks that are a century old perhaps. His orchards are of his own planting and, while not the most extensive, they are among the most productive in the state and their fruit among the finest. He has devoted much attention to the culture of fruit and has had the success in that line for which the nation of his ancestors is famous. He has also planted 135 chestnut trees, which are now coming into bearing and has three varieties. On his grounds are found great arbors of Concord grapes; a cherry orchard of twelve acres, where four choice varieties are grown; one acre given to gooseberries and there are other small fruits in abundance. In 1909 Mr. Sardou built a canning plant with a capacity 20,000 quart cans per day. The equipment is modern in every respect and nothing but sanitary cans are used. In 1911 Mr. Sardou closed contracts for the produce from about 200 acres of ground for canning purposes, and despite the effects of the extreme drouth during the earlier part of the season, the plant was kept running through the entire canning season. His cherry crop was sold without canning, as a greater profit was realized in that manner. Throughout the whole of his business career he has been very successful.
On Sept. 26, 1878, Mr. Sardou was united in marriage to Miss Mary A. Morriss, a daughter of George A. G. and Leddie (Ladd) Morriss. Mr. and Mrs. Sardou have two sonsCharles and George. Charles Sardou, who is an electrician, married Emma Isaacson and resides in Topeka. They have one son, Charles, born Nov. 10, 1906. George Sardou, the second son, also an electrician, married Gertrude Brandenburg. At the present time (1911) he is installing the electric light plants and the telephone systems at Onaga and Waterville, Kan. During the flood of 1903, Mr. Sardou and his sons rescued over 300 people who were in peril of their lives. In grateful remembrance of their heroism, the citizens of Topeka presented each with a beautiful gold medal appropriately inscribed. Mr. Sardou's medal on one side has in gold type, "For bravery," below the words being a representation of a row boat filled with the rescued. On the opposite side is the inscription: "Presented by citizens of Topeka, Kan., to Freeman Sardou for manly and heroic efforts in behalf of his fellow beings during the flood of May 30, 1903." Both sons were married in 1904, the year following the flood. Mr. Sardou has seen Topeka grow from a mere village of a few cabins and wigwams to one of the most beautiful and progressive cities of the West and has seen Kansas in one half century take her place among the foremost states of the Union. He has made two trips to France, once in 1890 and again in 1910. On his return from his last visit to that country he brought his mother to Kansas and she now resides with him. Mr. Sardou takes a great interest in public affairs and is a Democrat in politics. Fraternally he is a member of Topeka Lodge, No. 38, Knights of Pythias.Pages 1596-1599 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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