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of Freeland, Pa.
What's on this page:
A narrated train trip through White Haven, Freeland, and other nearby towns in 1886
From The Wilkes-Barre News, December 20, 1886:
Lower Luzerne - A Trip Over the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad.
Freeland, Pond Creek, White Haven, Upper Lehigh, South Heberton and Other Towns Visited
[Note: This was a very long/tall clipping with 2 columns of text, and it's been cut into 4 short clippings. Beginning with the first clipping on the left here, read the left-hand column in each clipping, then go back and read the right-hand column in each clipping. The Freeland section is in the left-hand column of the fourth clipping and continues in the right-hand column of the first clipping.]
The big Freeland fire in 1886
The big 1886 fire mentioned in the Excursion article above
[The research on this was done by Ed Merrick.]
Wilkes-Barre Record 9-15-1886: A DISASTROUS FIRE
Freeland Swept by a Big Conflagration – One Man Killed
This is the initial reporting from Wilkes Barre about a massive fire that happened in Freeland where, as in many small towns in the area then, most of the buildings were made of wood. Damages and a death were listed in the article. John Yannes' hotel / saloon on the SW corner of Front and Washington streets was one of the buildings burned to the ground.
Wilkes-Barre Dollar Weekly News 9-18-1886: FIRE AT FREELAND
Nearly a Block Swept by the Flames - One Man Killed by a Fall
This is the updated and more complete reporting from another Wilkes Barre paper. It included this:
“... Nothing but the most vigorous and daring labor saved Lindsay’s Hall at Front and Washington [photo at right]. Dwellings a square away in the line of the wind and flame have patches burned in their roofs. Household goods are stored everywhere along the streets, and there is considerable of a mixture, many families piling up their effects wherever they could carry them. This will lead to loss and much confusion in getting things back into shape again. The fire was got under control shortly after noon, when the Hazleton steamer, old Pioneer No. 1, rounded Five Points, bowled along at a smart canter by a team of four dark grays, the reins being held by Liveryman Kunkle. Fireman Knies and many others came in by carriage. Owing to the wreck near Hazleton no railroad transportation could be secured. A telegram from Editor Fowler, of the Freeland Progress, advised the Hazleton Sentinel of the fire five minutes after the start. The steamer made the nine miles over the hills in one hour and one minute and was greeted with a cheer as it rolled up Main street.”
In the Freeland section of the Excursion article shown in the previous section above, the reporter wrote about this fire! That reporter wrote: "The scene of the late fire was visited. Nearly all of it is again built up. It is rumored that Bottler Yanish will erect a town hall that will cost $32,000."
Hazleton Sentinel 2-3-1887: The Local News Field
“It is rumored that John Yannes of Freeland will during the coming summer erect a large opera house in that borough. Such an institution might be considered a paying investment in Hazleton.”
A bit of Lindsay's building is also shown in this photo postcard, courtesy of the Freeland Historical Society.
Hazleton Plain Speaker 5-15-1888: Nearing Completion
"The latter part of last week a number of bricklayers arrived in town and begun the work of laying the brick facing to the new opera house of John Yannes. The work is progressing rapidly and in a few weeks it is expected that it will be completed. In the hotel side of the building the plasterers are at present at work and it is expected that before long this will be ready for the carpenters to finish. When completed this will make on of the finest buildings in Lower Luzerne.”
The new building outlived John Yannes and became Krell's Hall, and later the A&P supermarket opened there in 1938. It burned down again in 1974.
A photo of Centre street from 1886, taken during Freeland's 10th anniversary - from Danny Balon
This image comes to us from Danny Balon and was first posted here in 2013. The photo was published in Freeland's Suburban PennySaver for May 1971. It was sent to Tom Zubach by Ben Davis, who thought that it had been taken during the 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of Freeland, which as you see was a wild affair. You can read more about this photo on the page about it.
The center image is a crop enlarging the right side of the photo. You can read some of the signs. All of the buildings were wood, and it looks like the sidewalk was, too. Look at the condition of the street surface, not only unpaved but really rough.
The Central Hotel and Turnbach’s general store are both mentioned in the excursion narrative above and are in this photo. The 3rd image is a crop enlarging part of the left side of the photo. The trees near the horizon would have been in the area of the Central Hotel (just down the street from what was later Woodie's). The tall building on the left side of the street with the John Turnbach sign on the 3rd floor is the building that still stands on the northwest corner of Centre and Main streets. For many years it was known as the Birkbeck building. Turnbach had a large general store there.
Thanks to Ed Merrick, Danny Balon, Tom and John Zubach, and Ben Davis for these views of Freeland in 1886.
Historical descriptions from Munsell (1880) and Bradsby (1893)
Accounts of Freeland and other locales were published from time to time in histories of Luzerne County or other histories of the region. This page links to several early published accounts of Freeland and nearby communities. Images of gold-stamped cover titles of three historical source works are also shown here. At the top of the page is the cover title from Bradsby, and on either side of this paragraph are the cover titles from Munsell (at left) and from the 1873 Atlas.
Account of Freeland, 1880, in: Munsell, William Watkins. History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.: With Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1880.
Account of Freeland, 1893, in: Bradsby, H. C., editor. History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Selections. Chicago, S. B. Nelson & Co., 1893.
Account of Freeland, 1910, in: The Encyclopaedia Britannica, a Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. 11th ed. Vol. 11, Franciscans to Gibson. New York: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, 1910.
Account of Eckley, 1880, in: Munsell, William Watkins. History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.: With Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1880.
Account of Foster Township, 1880, in: Munsell, William Watkins. History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.: With Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1880.
Account of South Heberton, 1880, in: Munsell, William Watkins. History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.: With Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1880.
Account of Upper Lehigh, 1880, in: Munsell, William Watkins. History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.: With Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1880.