Captain George Francis Freitas

         
 

Biographies

 

History of the Great Lakes

Page 728 - 729

 

GEORGE F. FREITAS was born in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1868, and attended the public schools of his native city until he was sixteen years of age.  his career as a sailor opened on the tug Johnson, on which he served as fireman out of Buffalo harbor.  He was employed in the same capacity on the tug Beyeas for two seasons, then joined the tug Hebard for one season.  In 1889 he entered the employ of Capt. Thomas Maytham, going to the tug E.C. Maytham, finishing the season as engineer on the James Ash.  in the spring of 1890 he was appointed engineer of the tug Kelderhouse, and in 1891 of the tug Cheney, and in 1892 served in like capacity on the S.W. Gee.  That season he took out pilot's papers, of which he has four issues.

 

In the spring of 1893 he acted as engineer on the tug Acme, remaining with her two seasons, and in 1895 was on the tug Excelsior, and in 1896 was on the tug Fabian.  The company by whom he is employed has the utmost confidence in his ability as a tug man.  Mr. Freitas did the winter work of 1896-97 on the tug Acme, and in the spring 1898 was appointed captain of the tug John Kelderhouse, of the Maytham line, a position he still holds.  He is a member of the American Masters and Pilots Association.

 

In 1889 Mr. Freitas was united in marriage to Miss Emma Knight, of Buffalo, and four children have been born to them:  John, Maggie, Mary and Alice.  The family reside at No. 292 Elk street, Buffalo, New York.

         

History of Ohio

Page 304-305

 

GEORGE FRANCIS FREITAS is a citizen who commands high place in popular confidence and esteem, as is indicated by his being a member and chairman of the Municipal Board of Commissioners of the City of Sandusky, and thus ex-officio may of the city, and also by his incumbency of the office of grand president of the Licensed Tugmen's Protective Association of the Great Lakes, a position which he has held, through successive re-elections, since the year 1914.  He has played a large part in connection with navigation interests on the Great Lakes, and along this line has had many trying and hazardous experiences.

 

Mr. Freitas was born in the City of Buffalo, New York, February 14, 1870, and is a son of John and Mary (Lattimer) Freitas, the former of whom was a native of Portugal, and the latter born in Buffalo, New York, where she still maintains her home and where her husband's death occurred, he having there been engaged in the sand business for a long period of years.

 

The public schools of his native city afforded Mr. Freitas his youthful education, and there also he early gained experience of practical order, as he was but twelve years of age when he initiated his service as a driver of a team of horses used in connection with his father's business.  After four years of work along this line he became the tug-boat fireman in the Buffalo harbor, and there he won advancement to the status of engineer and pilot.  In 1904 he came to Sandusky and assumed the position of master of a tugboat in commission in connection with the towing of stone scows from Sandusky Bay to south shore ports on Lake Erie.  He continued his efficient service in this connection until the autumn of 1913, and in January, 1914, was elected grand president of the Tugmen's Protective Association of the Great Lakes.  Each successive year since that time has been re-elected, and at the meeting of the association held at Toledo in January, 1924, he had the distinction of receiving an unanimous re-election, this being a testimonial to the high estimate placed upon his administration.  His official duties have engrossed a godly part of his time and attention during his entire period of service as executive head of this important organization.  Mr. Freitas has been a member of the Board of Commissioners of the City of Sandusky since January 1, 1919, and in his re-election he received the largest vote ever cast for any one candidate for municipal office in this city. As the progressive and loyal chairman of the board he is called upon to give virtual service also as mayor of his home city, and he has been the zealous champion of all measures and undertakings that have been brought forward for the civic and material good of the city.  In politics he supports men and measures meeting the approval of his judgment, rather than being constrained by strict partisan lines.  He is a zealous communicant of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church at Sandusky, as was also his wife, whose death occurred February 26, 1924, and he is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus, the Loyal Order of Moose and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

 

On the 17th of March, 1889, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Freitas and Miss Emma Knight, who likewise was born and reared in Buffalo, New York, and who was a daughter of John and Bridget (Brennen) Knight, the former of whom was born in England and the latter in Ireland.  Mrs. Freitas is survived by six children:  John, who resides in Sandusky,; Margaret, who is the wife of Alfred Presler, of Fremont, this state; Mary, who is the wife of Clarence Hess, of Sandusky; Alice who is the wife of Edward Myers, of Sandusky; and Edward and Ann, who remain at the paternal home.

 

An experience of Mr. Freitas in connection with navigation matters is worthy of special mention in this review.  In April, 19-7, during one of the worse of gales on Lake Erie, a stone scow of the Kelleys Island Lime & Transport Company broke from its mooring on Kelleys Island and, with its crew of five men, went adrift at the mercy of the storm.  Mr.. Freitas was notified of the predicament of the periled mariners and was asked to go to their rescue.  From his employers he gained permission to use one of their tugs in this hazardous venture, and, with a crew of fourteen equally faithful and determined men, he set forth in the face of the storm, finally found the tug and passed a line to the same, and after several attempts, attended by hard work and much danger, he succeeded in towing the scow to the port in Sandusky and in saving the lives of its crew.  It may be noted also that on the 22d of December, 1903, in commend of a tug with scows in tow to a distance of more than a mile, Mr. Freitas set forth to bring the flotilla to Cleveland, Ohio, where he arrived on the 24th of the same month.  This was a perilous voyage, as a gale was blowing with a blinding snow, at the time when the tug and its tow scows finally made the Cleveland port, about six o'clock in the evening.  It is needless to say that Mr. Freitas has never flinched from service of duty in whatever way it has been presented, and this fact accounts largely for his secure place in popular confidence and good will.

         

Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio
30 Dec 1925

Page 3
 

Every boy is ambitious to be a locomotive engineer.  Most youngsters never attain their dream, while others become engineers.  But Mayor George F. Freitas, president of city commission and Mayor of Sandusky, had an opportunity to be a real engineer and run a regular engine. Instead of grasping the opportunity he turned to the water, and today he is president of the Licensed Tugmen’s Protective Association of America.

 

The first turning point in his life came at the age of 12 years.  Because he loved horses he quit school when a dozen years old and drove a team for his father who was in the sand business at Buffalo.  In his spare time he rowed in a clinker built boat with another chap.  They won several races, and Buffalo rowing clubs offered him a place in the 4-oared shells.  He refused all offers to join with a club, although he did some rowing in the 4-oared boats.

 

Turns to Lakes

Each year his ambition became stronger to be a railroad engineer so he applied at the Erie Offices.  A year later, when he was 17, the railroad had an opening for him.  His family objected, he yielded to its wishes, and turned to the lakes for a living.

 

Freitas mastered the fundamentals of the tug business in the boiler room, and for nine years was an engineer.  From engineer on a tug he was promoted to master, a position which he retained until 1914, the year he became head of the union.

 

While in Buffalo he hauled stone for the breaker water from Windmill Point, Canada.  The company transferred him to the Cleveland district in 1905, and he moved his family to Sandusky.  Sailing from the local port he carried stone from Johnson’s Island to Cleveland.

 

A second turning point came in the winter of 1913-1914.  Shortly before the tugmen’s union convention assembled in Detroit the local received an announcement that Capt. Martin Cole, Duluth, wouldn’t be up for re-election as president. “Freitas will be our next grand president,” a member of the local organization declared after the reading of Cole’s letter.  He attended the convention and won a three-cornered race for the presidency.  Since the Detroit convention he has been re-elected for eleven consecutive terms.

 

Ushered in Office

The political turning point came seven years ago.  On returning from a Longshoremen’s convention in Galveston, Texas, on July 19, 1918, a delegation from local labor unions informed him that he was to run for city commissioner.  Other labor candidates had been unsuccessful and the unions though he could sin out.  His record vote in 1918 is a testimonial of his popularity with laboring men and voters in the city.   He has been president of the commission for four years.  Last November he was elected to serve four more years.  

 

Besides his affiliations with labor organizations, he is a member of the Moose, Eagles, Elks, Knights of Columbus, and is a vice president of the Boy Scouts.  While taking stone to Cleveland he established a record of 29 round trips in a month.  He made so many trips that the Lorain light used to tell the time of day by his passing.

 

Thrilling Experiences

One of his thrilling lake experiences is that of clearing Buffalo on the morning of December 23, 1903.  With a string of 7 scows a mile long on the heels of a storm.  He docked at Cleveland the next afternoon, a few hours in advance of a hurricane which swept the lakes.

 

Mr. Freitas is (??)1 concerning his experiences, but newspaper files reveal a deed of heroism for which he never received recognition.  After docking at Sandusky on April 7, 1909, a storm broke.  In the height of the storm officials from the Kelley Island Lime and Transportation Company called him to rescue a tug with four men and a woman on board which had broken loose near Kelly’s Island. 

 

With no thought for his own safety, Freitas set out with his crew in a 70-mile an hour gale, rescued the five persons and brought the disabled tug back to the harbor.

 

In addition to heading the Tugmen’s union, he has been president of the Sandusky local since 1907, with the exception of one year, and he was vice-president of the International Longshoremen’s union for five years.

         

Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

Mar 1948

CAPT. G. F. FREITAS DIES IN LAKEWOOD

Lake Veteran Had Headed Tugmen's Association

 

Capt. George F. Freitas, associated for most of his life with lake shipping, died yesterday in his home, 1347 Edwards Street, Lakewood.  Capt. Freitas, who was 78, had been in failing health for the last year.

 

He had been a resident of Lakewood for the last 20 years, coming here from Sandusky, where he was a member of the City Commission from 1929 to 1924 and president of the commission, with the title of may, from 1924 to 1928.

 

From 1934 to 1943, when he retired from active work, Capt. Freitas was assistant dispatcher here for the Great Lakes Towing Co.  From 1919 to 1931 he was grand president of the Licensed Tugmen's Protective Association.

 

A native of Buffalo, he started his sailing career as a young man.  In the earlier years of the current century he was captain of the sea-going tug Anson M. Bangs and hauled much of the stonework from the Lake Erie islands for the Cleveland breakwater.

 

Surviving Capt. Freitas are his wife, Emma; his sons, John and Edward; his daughters, Mrs. Margaret Pressler, Mrs. Mary Hess, Mrs. Alice Meyers, and Mrs. Ann Donahue; 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. James' Catholic Church, Lakewood.  Burial will be in Sandusky.

         
 

Newspaper Articles

 

The Sandusky Star

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

12 Jul 1904

The big derrick scows, brought here for work at Johnson's Island were formerly in use by the Gaynor Bros. at Savannah, Ga., in the work which Capt. Oberlin M. Carter became involved, resulting in his imprisonment.  The big tug Bangs will soon be in commission with George Freitas as captain.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

3 Jun 1911

BANGS DIDN'T GROUND

Capt. Freitas Denies Report Coming from Lorain.

 

Capt. George F. Freitas, here yesterday denied, as reported in dispatched from the Lorain, that the tug Anson M. Bangs of which he is the mater, went aground during the storm of last Wednesday morning.  He admitted that the blow threatened once or twice to put his craft in close quarters, together with several others nearby, but the Bangs, as upon many other occasions, responded nicely to the manipulations of those directing her course, and with the passing of the storm was not only right side up, but free in the open waters and resting as serenely as if nothing had happened.

         

The Sandusky Star Journal

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

1 Jan 1912

TUGMEN'S OFFICERS

 

At a meeting held recently of the Licensed Tugmen's Protective Association officers for the year were elected as follows:  Capt Geo. F. Freitas, president; Omar Collins, vice president; Louis Miller, corresponding secretary; Carl Becker, recording secretary; August Schenk, financial secretary; W.P. Wheeler, treasurer.

         

The Sandusky Star Journal

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

4 Jan 1912

 

CAPTAIN FREITAS, POPULAR LOCAL TUGMAN, WOULDN'T MIND A RESCUE TRIP THROUGH ICE

Had his boat been in commission, Captain George F. Freitas, of this city, would not have hesitated to go to the rescue of the helpful and ice-bound little steamer tourist off Kelley's island, even if a gale had been blowing.  Unfortunately, like all super boats in the harbor, Captain Freitas tug was land up.

Captain Freitas has had many thrilled experiences during the 26 years he has sailed.  One of the most daring and notable was the rescue of the crew of the barge Kelley a few years ago.  After battling with heavy seas over nine hours, he reached the barge and then succeeded in towing her safely back B.& O. dock.

Born in Buffalo, Feb 14, 1870, Captain Freitas took to the water naturally, his father having been a sailor.  The young man started as a deckhand at the age of 16 and was advanced to fireman, then engineer and then captain.  He has been in his present employment for sixteen years and for the past seven years has been master of the Anson M. Bangs, a big ocean-going tug.  He has always been a friend of the fishermen and many times has gone to their assistance.  He is one of the most popular mariners in Sandusky.

         

The Sandusky Star Journal

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

15 Jan 1916

City Briefs

Capt. George Freitas, Lawrence-st, will leave Sunday night for Chicago to attend the annual meeting of the National Tugmen Protective association, of which he is president.  The convention will open on Tuesday, of next week, and Freitas will again be a candidate for the presidency.  He has held the office for two terms.

         

The Sandusky Star Journal

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

20 Jan 1916

CAPT. GEO. FREITAS AGAIN HEADS TUGMEN

A dispatch from Chicago to the Star Journal Thursday afternoon, announced that Capt. George Freitas, of Lawrence-st this city had been elected president of the Licensed Tugmen's Protection association in connection at that place.  The election will make Freitas the holder of the office for three consecutive years.

The convention will continue until Friday and Capt. Freitas is expected home the latter part of the week.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

5 Jan 1919

New Year's Dinner.

Mr. and Mrs. George Freitas, of Lawrence St. entertained the following guests at a New Year's dinner:  Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Pressler, of Fremont, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Myers and family, of Stone St., and Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Hess of Fifth St.

         

Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

8 Nov 1919

Commissioner-Elect Now Holds Real Job

(Photograph of Capt. George Freitas shown)

 

Captain Freitas, Honored Tuesday by Sandusky Voters, Has Long Followed Great Lakes and is Head of Tugmen's Association of 2,000 Members; Lived Here Since 1903.

 

Introducing the first citizen ever elected to office in Sandusky as a labor candidate, Captain George Freitas of Lawrence St, Captain Freitas by virtue of his election on Tuesday, will assume the office of city commissioner January.

 

To say that few people know Captain Freitas would be a misstatement because of the large vote he received Tuesday is an indication that a large proportion of the Sandusky public knows of him and knows him well.  But to those who were not listed among his supporters at the polls a words about the

commissioner-elect should not be amiss.

 

Captain Freitas was for many years a Great Lakes mariner. Starting as an oiler on lake steamboats he worked his way to a captaincy.  For years he sailed out of Buffalo.  In 1903, Captain Freitas came to Sandusky as captain of the tug Croidy, a chartered Great Lakes Towing Co. boat.  His next tug was the General.  Later he was placed in charge of the big tug Anson M. Bangs, owned by Hughes Bros. & Bangs.

 

Always one of the best known tugmen on the lakes, Captain Freitas in 1914 was elected president of the Licensed Tugmen's Protective Association of the Great Lakes, an office which he has ever since hold and which has demanded his entire attention. The Tugmen's association has about 2,000 members.  The presidency of this organization is a real job.  It carries with it a multiplicity of duties.  And it is to the credit of the commissioner-elect that the organization has, since he has been at its head, conducted its negotiations with the employers in a rational business-like manner.  He has brought about many benefits for the men of the association through his policy of fair dealing and through his executive ability.

 

Captain Freitas is happily married.  He has four daughters, and two sons, four of the children themselves being married.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

30 Dec 1919

Page 12

New Commission Will Organize Thursday, 10 A.M.; Looks like John

 

Organization of the city commission for the coming year will take place in the council chamber at 10 o'clock Thursday morning, accordant with the provision of the city charter.  new members to be initiated into the lawmaking body are Capt. Geo. Freitas and J.F. Donahue, who will take the places of retiring members Roy D. Mitchell, president and Mayor, and Albert Sturzinger.

 

Constituting the commission for 1920 will be John A. Himmelein, E.W. Altstaetter, re-elected in November; Theodore Miller, Capt. Geo. Freitas, and J.F. Donahue.

 

The paramount issue which will confront the body will doubtless be the choice of a mayor.  Although nothing has been whispered about the city building to definitely indicate upon whom the honor may fall, yet there is expressed in some quarters the beit that the chair of chief executive of the city will fall to the lot of John A. Himmelein.

 

Mention No Names.

 

However, as far as the election of the lawmakers is concerned, not the slightest information could be gleaned from any of them as to whom they had in mind to place in the position.  On part of each was the comment that they had no considered the question and would scarcely think of the matter seriously until next Thursdays meeting.

 

Legislation by the old commission for 1919 ceased after a brief session and with no other notice being taken of the passing event other than the bland remark on part of one member, "well this is the last meeting of the old year."

 

Monday's meeting closed the doors upon the chamber, in which voluminous resolutions were adopted and tomes of ordinances enacted for the weal or woe of the helpless citizens, for the year past and for as long a future period as they can be endures.

 

All were present at the meeting except member Sturzinger.  Perhaps he had tied himself to solitude somewhere, like Jeremiah, to lament the passing of the happy days he spent in the council halls measuring out legislation by the yard in effort to please the people, raised their taxes and benefit the city at the same time.

 

Mitchell Seems Happy.

May Mitchell wielded the gavel with unusual glee and warring a smile, as though the doors of long and weary confinement were about to be thrown open and release him into the open of blessed liberty and real personal independence.  his merry attitude stood about in marked contrast with that of the other members of the august body, whose gravity and semi-glumness betokened that they might have, away down inside, been envying the mayor and member Sturzinger of their freedom from the worry about politics, and of trying to make the man, with a stretch of vacant lots along a street, believe he is equally benefited by a sewer improvement as is the man on the other side who owns a row of houses.

 

All in all the commission has not very much to worry over on account of its doings of the past year.  The city has done little stumbling under its jurisdiction, and if anything may be credited with having taken a few steps ahead.  Much has been accomplished in lines of general improvement, and this all the while with a view to conserving the city's money.  it is not the fault of the commission that the treasury is empty.  It will be filled again, for there are new taxes to be levied to supply the municipality with needed revenues.  The plans will be pushed to realization by the new organization of lawmakers.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

25 May 1920

Vol. 98, No 124, Page 1

Freitas Ruled Off Commission; Charges 'Frame-Up;' Will Fight

 

He ASSAILS MAJORITY; SUCCESSOR NOT NAMED AT MEETING MONDAY

Charges Telegram Asking Excuse Was Received Before Meeting of May 10 and Was Suppressed for Week; to Claim His Seat.

 

Capt. George F. Freitas is not a member of the city commission, by action of that body at its meeting yesterday afternoon.

 

A permanent resolution, adopted by the commission, declared the seat occupied by Capt. Freitas vacant.  the resolution stated that Freitas, because he was absent from five consecutive regular sessions of the city commission, ceases to be a member of the body, according to an express provision of the city charter.

 

Voting for the measure declaring Capt. Freitas' chair as a member of the commission vacant were Mayor John A. Himmelein, president of the board, E.W. Altstaetter, and J.F. Donahue.  Theo. Miller voted against the measure.

 

Nothing was said at the meeting relative to filling the vacancy on the board declared by the resolution.  But it is not unlikely, according to a remark made in the meeting by Mayor Himmelein, that the reinstatement of Freitas may be proposed.

 

Freitas was in his chair when the meeting was called to order.  When the roll was called the other four commissioners were designated, but the name of Freitas was left out.  Freitas immediately took the floor and said:

 

"I notice my name has not been called.  The fight has started and I am going to see it through.  It's a clear-cut frame-up to oust me off the commission."

 

At this Chairman Himmelein resented the charge of a "frame-up" and reminded Freitas that he might be mistaken in the view he is taking of the situation.

 

""We have only followed the provisions of the city charter," remarked Himmelein, "which states that any member absent from five consecutive regular meetings ceases to be a member of the board.  The chair is vacant by this provision, but we have not considered whom we shall choose to fill the place.  There is a possibility of our reappointing you to fill the vacancy."

 

A large representation of the labor organizations crowded the council chamber and cheered Freitas as he continued:

 

"I consider myself a member of this commission, duty elected by the citizens of this city and I intend to stay here.  I will be in this chair at next Monday's meeting, just as I am here at this meeting.  If I am to be ousted from this chair, it will have to be in some other way than simply by my walking out of it.

 

Said He Aimed to be Fair.

"I have tried to do my duty openly as a member of the city commission.  My cards have always been above board.  I am in a work in the interest of the laboring classes, and I am proud of it.  I am fair to the worker and to the employer in all my dealings, always considering honestly both sides of the question.

 

Regarding my absences from these meetings, I would state that something may arise which may prevent any of you men from being present at the sessions of the commission.  I have not been able to be here because I was called away on a good cause.  Yes, I have been on a mission upon the results of which depended the welfare of the whole country."

 

Away on Important Mission.

"I was attending a greater business than is transacted in this commission.  My mission was to prevent the tying-up of traffic in all the lake ports, and to prevent the traffic of the port of Sandusky from being also tied-up.  You men contend that I did not need to attend all these meetings dealing with lake traffic.  If you men were sincere and had at hear the good of your own city and that of the country you would agree that I could not have been on a granter mission, and you would have been glad to excuse me from the meetings of the commission.

 

Refers to Telegram.

"But, no, you did not excuse me.  It looks like a 'frame-up' to oust me from the city commission.  The city charter says I am out of the commission by having been absent for five successive meetings.  But the charter leaves it open for you to grant me an excuse.  But you didn't grant it.  I telegraphed you to excuse me from the meeting of May 10.

 

Tell me why you did not present my telegram to the commission at that meeting?  Why did you hold it over until the next meeting to bring it up at the eleventh hour?

 

at this juncture the discussion turned upon consideration of the telegram.  Freitas said he sent it to the clerk of the commission, Miss Beatrice Snyder, who admitted she received it at 1:20 the afternoon of that date.  He then asked Himmelein why it was held over for eight days, until the next meeting.

 

Himmelein Makes Reply.

Himmelein told Freitas that the majority of the members of the commission agreed to hold it over until the following session.  He explained that inas much as he had been granted an excuse before, after having been away from four successive meetings, he was present at the fifth, and that they thought he would probably attend the fifth meeting this time.

 

"You got to show me," retorted Freitas, "why you assumed the right to hold back my telegram, asking to be excused from discussion at the meeting of May 10 until the following session."

 

When Himmelein stated that they decided at the meeting of May 10 to hold the telegram over until the next meeting.  Freitas asked him if the decision was made after the meeting had been called to order.  Himmelein said the decision was made before the meeting.

 

"No," rejoined Freitas, "my telegram was not brought up at the regularly convened session.  This is the way you do the most of your business on this commission - behind closed doors."

 

Freitas then asked Commissioner Miller if he knew his telegram was at the meeting of May 10.  Miller replied that he did not know that he had sent a telegram, and that it was neither presented nor discussed at the session of May 10.

 

Himmelein admitted, on question from Freitas, that he, Altstaetter and Donahue acted upon the telegram prior to calling the meeting of May 10 to order, and that they said nothing to Miller about the telegram or the action they had taken.

 

Claims There Was "Clique"

"That's your way of doing business," exclaimed Freitas, "There's too much of the commission's legislation transacted on the clique basis."

 

Freitas told the commission that there was not a word in the copy of the minutes of the meeting of May 10, relative to his telegram requesting to be excused from former absences, mailed to him in Buffalo.

 

"Had my request been acted upon at that meeting," contended Freitas, "and had it been refused, I would have noticed it in the minutes.  Then, knowing that absence from another session would unseat me, I might have arranged to attend that meeting.  But it was not intended that I should know.  It was a game to oust me.  It was a 'rotten deal,' that's all I can say of the transaction.  yes, I call it a frame-up, and that is what any honest, sensible man would have to call it.  An instance to show that a few members of the commission were playing the game.  I called up one of them awhile ago from Buffalo to speak of a man in the employ of the city who had resigned.  he is a good mechanic and I thought he should be kept on the job by giving him more money.  This member of the commission told me I knew nothing about the matter and asked me why I did not resign."

 

Freitas also claimed that the commission had held a number of special meetings and did not notify him of any of them.

 

Will Be in Chair Next Monday.

After the resolution, declaring vacant the chair on the commission occupied by Capt George M. Freitas, had been read and passed, Freitas exclaimed, brining his fist down heavily upon the table: "I still maintain today that I am a member of this commission, and I will be in my chair at the meeting, next Monday afternoon."  Freitas spoke several times during the afternoon, the first time for almost an hour.  There was little discussion with him from the other members of the commission.  May Himmelein interrupted once or twice to resent the charge that there had been a frame-up to get him off the board.  The Mayor emphasized the fact that Freitas was not ousted from his seat in the commission by any action of the members, but solely by the automatic action of the city charter.  he also stated that the seat was declared vacant by the same charter, and that the commission in passing the measure simply endorsed the provisions of the charter.

 

Following adjournment, Freitas did not say what course he intended to pursue regarding the matter, but intimated that he will go the limit by all legitimate means to retain his seat on the commission.  It is his judgment that he has good ground for contention by reason of the fact that his telegram, asking to be excused, was not presented at the meeting of May 10 for action.

 

Fifty or more representatives of local labor councils present claimed that they will make a strong fight for Freitas.  They put up the argument that they elected him to the place and will do all within their power to keep him there.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

27 May 1920

Vol. 98, No 126, Page 1

Exercise of Recall Is Promised If Freitas Is Not Again Chosen

 

Recourse to an effort for recall of the commissioners who voted to declare the seat of George F. Freitas vacant last Monday will be taken by the union labor if Captain Freitas is not re-seated.  If Captain Freitas automatically forfeited his seat on May 17, the fifth meeting from which he was absent, then today is the last day which the city commission has to chose his successor.

 

If the city commission fails to name his successor within a ten-day period then the chose of a new commission will fall upon the board of sinking fund trustees.

 

It was announced Wednesday night that a special meeting of the Trades & Labor Assembly would be held this evening.  The resolution which the assembly sent to the city commission demanding the reinstatement of Captain Freitas has not been answered  and labor leaders last night said they did not believe an answer was forthcoming.  Consequently, it is planned to hold a mass meeting Saturday night.  it is likely that Captain Freitas will be a speaker at this meeting.

 

Freitas Predicts Recall

"It has been settled upon that recourse will be had to the 'recall,' if an attempt is made to appoint another person is to take my pace on the commission," Capt. Geo. F. Freitas said Wednesday night.  "Exercise of the recall will require fifteen percent of the voters who cast their ballots at the last election.  We believe they can be secured in an effort to oust three members off the city commission, for their underhanded trickery in dealing with me as a member of that board."

 

"the fight has only begun," emphasized Freitas.  "Labor is in this battle to a finish, and I have as large a following which is not affiliated with the labor organizations."

 

Claims Illegal Action.

Freitas declared that the city commission illegally constituted his seat in the body vacant before the resolution to that effect had been presented to the board and passed.  he collaborated his statement by referring to the fact that the secretary was instructed at the opening of the meeting of May 24, not to include his name in the roll call.  The resolution was proposed to the body and passed shortly be adjournment.

 

Figuring from the meeting of May 17, the fifth meeting from which he was absent and on which date, according to the city charter, his seat became vacant, the alleged deposed commissioner says that the board has ten days during which to choose his successor.  Today is the last day of the ten.  In case the board does not elect his successor today the city charter provides that the appointment shall be made by the sinking fund trustees.  May Himmelein, Solicitor Stephens, Lee B. Keller, George R. Butler, and C.P. Dennis compose the board.

 

An attempt was made yesterday to arrange for a special session of the city commission for last night.  Member Theo. Miller was approached by one of the other members to endorse holding the meeting, but he refused.  The remaining three members did not attempt to call a session.

 

May Meet Today.

Whether a special meeting of the body will be called for today could not be learned, but it is understood that efforts are being made to have the commission convene if possible.  If a meeting should be held, from reports being circulated, it is a question whether the members will decide to reconsider their action taken regarding Freitas, or appoint another in his stead.

 

In opinion of Freitas it is the design of the commissioners to turn the matter over to the sinking fun committee.  However, he declared, he will attend the meeting of the commission next Monday, and assume his seat as a member, whether or not a new member has been appointed.  It was also stated by Freitas that John L. Rieger was approached yesterday by a member of the commission and asked if he would consent to fill the vacancy left by him.  Freitas declared that Rieger said he positively would not take the chair.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

30 May 1920

Vol. 98, No 129, Page 1

 

FREITAS PLEADS CAUSE AT PUBLIC MEET LAST NIGHT

 

Tells Large Audience He Was Victim of Frame-Up in Commission; Raps City Solicitor and Is Caustic in Reference to Meeting Permit.

 

Before a crowd of upwards to 1,000 citizens, who intermittently expressed their sympathy with his statements by cheers and plaudits, at a mass meeting, last night, convened at Columbus-av. and Water-st., Captain George F. Freitas defended his cause against the action of the city commission in declaring vacant his set in that body by a permanent resolution, passed at the meeting of May 24.  The meeting was under Trades a& Labor Assembly auspices.

 

Referring to the permit granting permission to hold the public meeting, issued by City manager George M. Zimmerman on condition that city officials should not be attacked or their names mentioned in any way to cast reflection upon them, Freitas reminded Zimmerman that he is not "living in Germany or Russia."  He declared that it was not in his mind to hurl invectives at city officials or anyone else, but simply to acquaint the public with the manner in which their legislative body transacts business, and with the discourteous and illegal manner in which they had ruled his chair vacant.

 

Scores Stephens

Rapping City Solicitor Stephens for alleged unparliamentarily action in "smothering" his telegram, which he stated the clerk of the commission admitted she received on the afternoon of May 10, Freitas assailed Stephens for "sitting dumb" at the meeting of that date, instead of informing the members, as their legal advisor, that the telegram, asking to be excused for being absent from that session and the three previous ones, was official business and should be read and acted upon.

 

Reiterates Frame-up Charge.

Accusing three members of the commission of conspiring in a "frame-up" to place him in a position where in his seat might be ruled vacant by a provision of the city charter, Freitas asserted that the transaction was a "frame-up pure and simple," for the reason that that three members of the body did not inform Member Theo. Miller of the existence of the telegram "for feat that he would move that it be acted upon at the meeting of May 10, and acquaint Freitas with the action taken, so that he might be present at the next, or fifth session, and spoil their game of being able to tell him that he relinquished his seat automatically by being absent from five consecutive regular meetings."

 

Commissioner Donahue was referred to as proposing "poor dope," following a statement, made by Freitas, that when he called him over the phone from Buffalo on business, Donahue asked him why he did not resign.  he slammed the city commission for star chamber sessions, participated in by three members, questioning what kind of a city the citizens expect to have if this kind of tactics is allowed to go on in the legislative body of the municipality, whose members are elected by the people to make their laws.

 

President Farrell, of the Farrell-Cheek foundry, was accused by Freitas of attempting to influence the commission.  According to information he had received, Freitas declared that he was told that Farrell has already picked a man to fill the vacancy on the commission, and that he has given Member Altstaetter to understand that this man must be seated.

 

When he exclaimed that he still considers himself a duty qualified commissioner and intends to take his chair at the next regular session of the body, adding that he will accept neither reinstatement nor reappointment, but demands that the city commission rescind its action in his case, he was greeted with cheers and blasts from scores of automobile horns.

 

Captain Freitas was introduced by Oscar Schmidt, representing the car workers union.  Freitas spoke from an auto and was accompanied by City Commissioner Theo. Miller, who told the audience that he knew nothing of a telegram in hands of the commission.  May 10, and also that he considered holding the message over until the meeting of May 17.  A premeditated scheme to oust Freitas off the commission"  Freitas said in part:

 

Claims Right of Free Speech.

"No doubt there are city officials here, also attorneys at law and perhaps judges.  I hope there are.  As the  morning paper stated we received  a permit to hold this meeting from the City Manager, who gave us the understand that no names were to be used.

 

"I asked the City manager if he thinks we are in Germany or in Russia.  We have the right to free speech, the right to express our opinion.

 

I have been a resident of this city for many years and have a reputation for uprightness, if I must say it myself.  I was 2,000 miles away from Sandusky when I was chosen as a candidate for the city commission, which surely guarantees my standing in this community

 

As concerns attending the meetings of the commission.  I did my best as I could.  Conditions arose which I could not help and I was called away to adjust labor disputes, not for a single community but for the welfare of the whole nation.  Duty demanded that I absent myself from meetings of the commission just as duty requires a doctor to respond to a patient's call.

 

During my recent absences the port of Buffalo was tied up and my intervention prevented a general strike.  had I attended the sessions of the commission instead, a general walkout might have occurred throughout the entire lake region.

 

Says Telegram was Smothered.

"While away I did not lose sight of the fact that I was a commissioner.  No, I sent a telegram to the clerk of that body on May 10.  What became of it?  It was smothered.  A frame-up, that's what it is, and I do not care who hears it and who does not like it. 

 

"The clerk of the commission said she gave my telegram, in which I asked to be excused for absences to Legal Advisor Stephens. The members of the commission said they acted upon the telegram and that I was off the commission automatically.  Where do they find that word in the city charter?

 

I asked Altstaetter what had been done with my message and he admitted he had seen it.  I asked Donahue, who stated he probably saw it laying around.

 

Member Theo. Miller affirmed that he did not know of my telegram on May 10.

 

When I asked Himmelein who considered my message.  He said Donahue, Altstaetter and himself had decided to lay it over until the next meeting.  These three men constituted themselves the commission.  Member Miller was not consulted.

 

"Who is right in this controversy?"  interrogated Freitas.

 

"You are.  You are," was the response from the crowd.

 

"What right had the city solicitor." continued Freitas, "to hold back my telegram, thereby depriving me of my rights as a member of the city commission?  had they acted upon my message at the session of May 10 and had they refused to grant me an excuse, I would have been notified and would have arranged to be at the fifth meeting.

 

"At the session of the seventeenth they acted on my telegram at the close of the meeting.  Why did not they take action when the roll was called?  Because they thought I might walk in any moment.  At that very meeting or rather after it, they wanted to hold a special session to declare my place vacant, but member Miller declined to submit to their proposition.

 

are we going to stand for this kind of business?  I have not been given a square deal, not have you, fellow citizens.  For all that, they are still running about trying to get a man to serve on the commission.

 

A certain commissioner is around on this job.  He is a man who will promise you one thing today, then turn around and throw you down tomorrow.

 

Says He's Still In Office.

I shall maintain that I am one of your city commissioners at the present time.  This controversy is all uncalled for.  if those three men had played their cards on the table it would not have occurred.

 

I understand that Mr. Farrell, of the Farrell-Cheek foundry, has named a man for the commission.  Who runs your commission?  Mr. Farrell?  Let me emphasize that the facts show that I am declared off the city commission by a frame-up it's that simple.  This must be clear to everyone, by the way they handled my telegram.  I am willing to submit the question to any of our attorneys and judges.  I do not believe labor will let this matter drop until a square real has been shown.

 

Says He's No Radical.

"Another thing, I don't want anyone here, city dads or city manager, if they are present, to leave saying that Freitas is a Bolshevik or radical.  I am too well known here to merit that criticism.  I am not only known among labor, but also by your best business men.

 

My reputation is unsullied, and a few men in that city building are going to be allowed to rob me of it.  Even one of the city commissioners said that I am a Bolshevik.  I would not say that about any member of that body.

 

But this is your fight and you must forget Freitas in part.  Think of it; what is to become of your city if officials are permitted to act in this manner?  Ponder over the action taken by legal advisor, City Solicitor Stephens regarding my telegram.  He should have told the commissioners it was an official document and ought to be considered.  But no; he hobnobbed with the others and smothered it.

 

Were these men honest they would admit they had made a mistake.  But, however, there will be no reinstatement or reappointment for me.  I want them to rescind their action.  I give them to understand that I am going to sit at the next meeting of the commission and I am going to stay there in Seat No. 7.

 

This fight was not started by me.  They started it.  They thought, after that I would walk out and say 'goodbye, fellows, and that would end it.  But I am not going to walk out.  They had a chance to get out in a nice way.  But they wanted to domineer.  Then think of the city manager presuming to stop free speech.

 

Perhaps Freitas would have been considered a good fellow on the commission had he favored star chamber sessions.  no meetings behind closed doors for me.  Let all meetings be open and at the regular time.

 

Member Donahue asked me why I did not resign.  What dope!  This question was put when I called him up from Buffalo and asked if any meetings had been held.  Yes, several of them, he replied."  When I asked what action they had taken in my case, all the satisfaction I got was, that he had called up my home and that I was not there."

 

Concluding Freitas stated that several influential friends offered to put his case into legal hands, but that he refused to accept the officer saying that he would rather carry the fight through himself.  He remarked that what the honorable body of commissioners has done is the comment of the community.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

2 June 1920

Vol 98, No 131, Page 1

CITY COMMISSION WILLING TO 'TALK OVER' MATTERS

Refuses to Head T.&L.A. Appeal for Immediate Action on Freitas Case But Agrees to Meet Committee in special Conference.

 

Captain George F. Freitas declared automatically unseated as a member of the city commission by application of the provision of the city charter, in his battle to regain his official standing as a duly qualified constituent of that body, has made a stride toward accomplishing his purpose, as may be inferred from the action taken by the city dads at their regular meeting yesterday afternoon.

 

The members of the commission voted unanimously its willingness to confer, in special meeting, with the committee of the Trades & Labor Assembly which drafted the resolution demanding that action taken by the commission against Freitas be rescinded and that Freitas be reseated, to talk the matter over in an effort to reach an amicable settlement concerning the questions contained in the subject matter of the resolution.

 

Should the members of the labor committee not have the power to act at the proposed special session of the commission, or should members of that committee be opposed to such a conference, the city commission agreed to hold a conference on the questions involved with any committee the Trades & Labor Assembly sees fit to appoint.  Oscar Schmidt, representative of the assembly, said he would convey the mind of the commission to the labor body at its next meeting Monday night.

 

Freitas Was in Seat

Captain Freitas resumed his seat as a member of the commission, but his name was not mentioned in the roll call.  Immediately upon the session being called to order, the resolution from the Trades and Labor Assembly demanding of the city dads to rescind their action regarding Freitas and to reseat him, was read by Solicitor Stephens.

 

Member Miller's motion that the request be granted, receiving no second, was lost. 

Member Altstaetter stated that a committee of the labor assembly had called on him in a very fine and commendable spirit.  He deplored that the resolution from the labor assembly had not been worded differently.  He contended that it should not have made a specific demand, declaring:  'It looks as if a certain organization wants to run the city commission.  The commission is an open body."

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

8 June 1920

Vol 98, No 136, Page 1

COMMISH RESCINDS ACTION IN FREITAS CASE; HE IS AGAIN SEATED AS MEMBER

Solicitor Stephens Rules New Action Illegal, and Says It Might Cause Litigation; Donahue Alone Opposes Reversal Action.

 

Captain George F. Freitas is again a full-fledged member of the city commission, thus terminating a three weeks' battle with the city dads on the one side and the Trades & Labor Assembly on the other.

 

On motion of Member Altstaetter a temporary resolution was passed to the effect that the action of the city commission declaring the seat of Captain Freitas vacant shall be rescinded and that Member Freitas be excused for his absences from five consecutive regular meetings of the commission was carried.

 

Member Donahue voted against rescinding the resolution.  He wanted to know of Altstaetter what had influenced him, within the past three weeks, to make him change his position in the matter.  Altstaetter informed him that he was not there to answer his question.

 

Stephens Says "Illegal."

Although the permanent resolution declaring Freitas' seat vacant has been rescinded and Freitas on June 14 will take his seat as a member of the legislative body, possessing the same powers as any other member and to remain in office throughout his entire elective term, City Solicitor Stephens ruled that the action taken is illegal, and stated that the only legal action that could be taken regarding to Freitas would be to reappoint him to hold his office as commissioner until the next election.  He said that, although he does not anticipate trouble, by reseating Freitas by rescinding the resolution there remains always the possibility of the city's being hauled into litigation concerning the legislation Freitas may assist in passing.

 

Immediately upon rollcall, from which Freitas' name was omitted, Freitas requested that his name be included with those of the other members, but there was no response.  On motion of Altstaetter the body proceeded to routine business.  Among the communications was one from the trades and labor assembly petitioning for the withdrawal of its resolution asking that the commission rescind its action declaring vacant Freitas' seat on the body and that he be reseated.  A motion carried granting the request.

 

Freitas Asked Action.

When the order of the day had reached unfinished business.  Freitas stated that he agreed that it is within the power of the members of the commission to bring his case to a settlement and required that this would be done before the meeting adjourned.

 

Altstaetter replied that in the contention regarding Freitas there has been a great deal of misunderstanding.  For this reason, he declared, many utterances were made which tended to draw the contending parties apart instead of bringing them together.

 

"Statements, not all fact," he said, "were made.  Some of them regarding myself were unfounded.  However, I am willing to pass by those things and to move that we rescind the action of the commission declaring Freitas' seat vacant and also that we excuse him for his absences."

 

"I want to ask Mr. Altstaetter," interrupted Donahue, "what has occurred to make him change his mind within the past three weeks."  "It is not for me to answer that question," replied Altstaetter.

 

"Not Bluffed" Says Donahue.

"I have not been bluffed nor bullied to change my mind on the question," exclaimed Donahue, "and from what teh city solicitor told me, this action cannot be legally taken.  The commission has no right to take it."

 

"I will state again what I told you before," explained Stephens, "That five consecutive absences from as many regular meetings makes the chair vacant.  This is so provided in the city charter.  legally the seat can only be filled until the next election."

 

"As a proposition at law you may repeat or amend your legislation.  You passed a resolution in this matter which I <remaining sentence unreadable.>  the resolution added nothing to the case.  It simply declared and made more clear something that had already happened.  you may rescind your resolution or you may draft a counter resolution."

 

Donahue asked Stephens if rescinding the resolution would make Freitas a full-fledged commissioner.


Stephen Gives Opinion.

Stephens replied that, in his opinion, rescinding the action of the commission would not make him a fully qualified member of the board.  He contended that his five successive absences prevents his restoration to full powers on the board, and that Freitas can legally only be reseated until the next election.

 

The solicitor argued that Freitas could not now be excused for his absences, for the reason that his would necessitate going back to the meeting of May 17, which is obviously impossible.


Freitas objected to this opinion on the ground that his telegram of May 10 would have an influence against such a ruling.  He contended that the fact that the telegram was not acted upon when received and was kept from the knowledge of one member of the body, would still leave open the question to excuse.

 

I do not want to add any more fuel to the flames which are already warm enough," retorted Stephens, "But it seems to me that Mr. Freitas wants to shift upon my shoulders a great part of the load under which he finds himself.  Mr. Freitas, you know I cannot ask each of the commissioners individually if I shall present this or that communication.  I am seated here beside the president of the board, and I ask him whether I shall bring before the body this or that matter of business. I am not here to do as I want, but am here to do as the members of the commission desire."

 

Resents Freitas Remarks.

"I resent what you said in public about me, but I do not care to discuss this matter with you.  I leave it to the people to judge whether I am honest.  As to your questioning my opinion of your position as a city commission, I am not going to discuss what led up to the predicament in which you were placed.  But you know that with the meeting of May 17, you were absent from five consecutive sessions of the city commission.  You also know that there is a provision of the city charter which stated that any member absent from that number of meetings makes his seat vacant.  The resolution passed by the city commission didn't put you out, but only served to put on the records of the body the fact that you had been absent from five consecutive meetings, as stated.  It added nothing to the reality of the situation.  There is no legal way now to excuse you from the meeting from which you were absent.  If the resolution declaring your seat vacant is rescinded, you will be in exactly the same position in which you were on May 17.  You can be reseated legally as a full fledge commissioner only until the next election.  You cannot be legally excused now, if you are reseated by rescinding the action of the commission, in my opinion you will be reseated illegally.  Thereafter there is the possibility of any legislation on which you vote being open to attack, on the ground that you were illegally seated."

 

Question was called on Altstaetter's motion to rescind the permanent resolution of the commission declaring the chair vacant and to excuse Freitas for his absences.  The ballot stood four to one, Donahue voicing the negative vote.  Captain Freitas will sit at the next regular meeting of the commission, June 14, as a fully qualified member to the expiration of his elective term of office.

         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

9 June 1920

Vol 98

Two birds called up last night to find out who they nominated at Chicago.  We couldn't tell 'em, but we mentioned Cap Freitas was back on the city commission.
         

The Sandusky Register

Sandusky, Erie, Ohio

23 June 1920

Page 11

Here's Letter to Freitas

 

Here is the complete text of the court action proposal of City Commissioners Himmelein, Altstaetter, and Donahue submitted Monday to Captain George F. Freitas, central figure in the commission vacancy controversy:

 

"June 23, 1920.

Mr. George F. Freitas

Sandusky, Ohio.

"Dear Sir:

In order that there may be a judicial determination of your claimed right to hold the office of City Commissioner of this city, since May 17th last, and that the vacancy, which we claim now exists in said office, may be filled, we address you this communication to advise you of our position in the matter of determining the legality of your claimed right and of filling said vacancy.

 

We claim that from the time of the adjournment of the regular meeting of the City Commission held on may 17th, you have not been and are not now a City Commissioner.  You claim that you are a City Commission.  As the question concerning your right to hold the office is a question of the interpretation and construction of certain sections of the city Charter, a question of law rather than a question of fact, we consent and agree to join and cooperate with you and your counsel in the preparation of an agreed statement of fact is, for the submission to the Court of Common Please of the question as to your right to hold the office of City Commissioner from the time of the adjournment of the regular meeting of the City Commission held on May 17th.  in the event you consent to a determination.  in the manner aforesaid, of the question of your right to hold said office, and so desire us on or before four o'clock p.m. on Monday, June 28th, or institute, within said time limit, your own appropriate action in court for the determination of your claimed right, we will withhold the filling of the vacancy for the reasonable time required to procure a court decision in the Court of Common Pleas and in the Court of Appeals in error or an appeal is prosecuted by you or in the city or any of its officials.  If you do not elect to submit the question upon an agreed statement of facts, or do not institute your own appropriate action in court prior to the time above stated, we will proceed to fill the vacancy which we claim now exists in the City Commission.

 

In answer to the claim that we have not carried out in good faith an agreement made with a committee of the Trades and Labor Assembly to reseat you as a City Commissioner, we claim the facts concerning said agreement to be that said committee agreed to withdraw their communication demanding that you be reinstated in office for the remainder of the full term of four years for which you were elected, and that we agreed to confer with you personally concerning the matter of reinstating you in office.  Afterwards we did confer with you, and after the conference did take such action as, we were advised.  We could legally take in the matter of reinstating you in office.  We did on June 14th elect you to fill until the next regular municipal election, the vacancy in the office of City commissioner caused by your absence from five consecutive regular meetings of the City Commission, without being excused there from and having the excuse entered of record.  You have declared to qualify under said election.

 

Trusting that you will cooperate with us in bringing to a speedy conclusion the pending controversy, in the manner herein before mentioned, we remain.

 

Very truly yours,

JOHN A. HIMMELEIN.

E.W. ALTSTAETTER

J. FRANK DONAHUE

City Commissioners.