Julius Freed was an important post-Civil War German Jewish merchant in Trenton, Gibson County. A native of Prussia, Freed immigrated in 1854 to Columbus, Georgia, where he worked as a peddler. Three years later he moved to Memphis and established a dry goods business. From 1860 to April 1861 Freed operated a small shop in Jackson. During the Civil War he served in the Fifteenth Tennessee Infantry of the Army of Tennessee and was wounded in the battles at Perryville and Chickamauga and during the Atlanta campaign. Captured during Hood's attack on Nashville in December 1864, Freed became a prisoner of war until his release in May 1865.
After the war, Freed promptly moved to Trenton, where he established a partnership with another German Jewish merchant, Julius Ebert. Ebert's and Freed's store on the town square met with success and after Ebert's death in 1878, Freed continued to operate the store as a very successful business. By 1893 the store was known as J. Freed & Son (later Sons). He invested in banking and real estate, and operated a cotton gin. The economic success brought political power. Freed was a city alderman during the 1880s and was placed on a city board to manage the new town waterworks in 1897. Freed submerged enough of his Jewish identity to become part of the economic and political ruling class in Trenton, yet he remained proud of his ethnicity and with his family, at home, maintained Jewish cultural traditions until his death.
In 1871 Freed married Henrietta Cohn and built her a new Victorian-style house on Eaton Street. Today, a local group of historic preservationists is guiding the restoration of the house, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Freeds' sons were important local bankers and politicians, and the family made many civic contributions, including a fountain and ball park. One of its last acts of generosity was by Dr. Frederick Freed, who gave the city a unique and valuable set of Veilleuse-Theieres (night-light teapots), and this collection, housed at City Hall, has become a city symbol for Trenton.