Morgan Freeman Family History

Overview

Morgan Freeman was born on June 1st, 1937 to Morgan and Maymie Freeman in Memphis, Tennessee.  He spent much of his early childhood at his grandmother Avie’s home in Charleston, Mississippi after his parents had moved north.   From this unpromising beginning, he forged an acting career.  However, success did not come to him until 1987 when he was fifty and the film Driving Miss Daisy became a big hit.   He lives close to his roots in a 124 acre ranch in Charleston.

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Slavery

What is known about Morgan’s origins is from DNA analysis.  Some of his ancestors were from Niger.  A little over one-quarter came from the area that stretches from present-day Senegal to Liberia; while the remaining three-quarters came from the Congo-Angola region.  What is not known is how and when his ancestor came to America.  It was probably in a slave ship and he must have survived the journey.

Curiously, the path through slavery here was mainly traced in its later stages through the female side, based on the following records handed down:

  • Sylvia Cain and Milton Wright were brought south from North Carolina to Mississippi probably sometime in the 1840’s.
  • while their daughter Cindy, born in 1853, lived through emancipation.

Cindy Cain was still alive in the 1930’s and was interviewed as part of the Federal Writers’ Project.  She revealed that her parents had been owned by a man named Herbert Cain. Though Cain owned the two since they were young children, he went on to sell Cindy’s father years later when she was a child. “Not even treated as well as a mule,” was Morgan Freeman’s reaction when he read the transcript.

Meanwhile the female line in Mississippi through his mother Maymie went back to another black woman enslaved, Celia Johnson, who was born in 1835.  She was with a white man Alfred Carr, thirty-five years her senior, who worked for her owner.  An 1870 census showed Johnson and eight children living with Carr five years after the end of slavery.  But although they lived together and wanted to be buried together, Mississippi law would not allow them to be legally married.

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And Later

Following emancipation in 1864, Cindy Cain married Albert Anderson in Mississippi and they had a daughter Avie Anderson.

Avie married Morgan Hubert Freeman of which not much is known except that he came from North Carolina (did his parents adopt the Freeman surname at the time of emancipation?).  They had three sons, including Morgan Porterfield Freeman who was born in 1915.  However, this marriage broke up and Avie was married to Alonzo Cortledge by about 1920.

Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber, married Maymie Revere, a teacher, around 1935 and their son Morgan was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1937.  The family moved north to Chicago when Morgan was little and he was sent to his grandmother Avie’s home in Charleston, Mississippi. He moved frequently during his childhood, living in Mississippi, Indiana, and finally in Chicago where he was reunited with his mother.

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Morgan Freeman’s Family Tree
  • Sylvia Cain m. Milton Wright. both born circa 1835 in North Carolina
  • – Cindy Cain (1853-1942)
  • Cindy Cain m. Albert Anderson (c. 1860-1940) in Mississippi
  • – Avie Anderson (1887-1943)
  • Avie Anderson from Mississippi m. Morgan Hubert Freeman from North Carolina (1875-1942) around 1906; rem. Alonzo Cortledge around 1920.
  • – Jesse Freeman (b. 1911)
  • – Willie Freeman (b. 1913)
  • – Morgan Porterfield Freeman (1915-1961)
  • Morgan Porterfield Freeman from Mississippi m. Mayme Revere (1912-2000)
  • – Morgan Freeman (b. 1937) m. Jeanette Bradshaw in 1967 and Myrna Colley-Lee in 1984

 

 

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