Freewater, although named New Walla Walla on its original plat filed in 1889, received its name from the offer of free water extended to new settlers. This town was located to the north of Milton.
In the 1960s, Milton-Freewater billed itself as the pea capital of the world. They had a yearly festival and parade known as the "Pea Festival". In the late 1970s, agriculture practices and crop prices changed the dynamics of the local economy and peas were no longer grown as abundantly as they once were. The town dropped the title and the celebration. At the time, Milton-Freewater had a popular festival called the "Corn Roast" (started by local resident Thomas Dodd when he was Chamber President in the early 1970's) that took place in August, and the decision was made to increase the festival to a weekend long celebration which eventually became known as "Muddy Frogwater Days". The city had long been referred to as "Muddy-Frogwater" by the locals, so some enterprising individuals decided to capitalize on that theme and hence Muddy Frogwater Days were born. Since then the town has been firmly committed to marketing itself to business and tourism as a "fun town" able to laugh at itself and the quirky nickname. Unfortunately, since it is indeed a small town with limited infrastructure, the city has lost most of its business to Walla Walla, Washington just to the north.
There were 2,237 households out of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 25.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.31.
In the city the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,365, and the median income for a family was $33,265. Males had a median income of $28,292 versus $19,176 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,101. About 13.2% of families and 15.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 15.2% of those age 65 or over.