Note: For recently received corrections or added information,
search for double asterisks ** and
** 8-20-16 - Scroll down about 2/3 of the page to see a
question from Ed Merrick about Fairchild's swimming pool, in the
section called Summer Fun.
Here are links to three pages containing previously posted photos and
information from the Featured Photos section of the home page: earliest postings, more recent ones, and the most recent ones.
credited to the sources. Some of these have also been integrated into
other parts of the site, while others are still waiting for that.
Meanwhile, these past Featured Photos are always available via these
Featured photos: Freeland's 10th Anniversary Celebration,
1886 - from Danny Balon, and a group photo including B. F. Davis - from
Bill Davis - posted August 5, 2013
Freeland's 10th Anniversary
Three versions of a single historical image come to us from Danny
Balon. He wrote:
"I have software on my computer that lets you take a picture and turn
it into a negative, so I decided to take the negative and by turning it
negative, see what the resultant positive image might look like. I was
stunned to see the image. It would appear to be taken from the corner
of Center and South St looking up Center St. Interestingly enough, I
was able to verify this location via some other information on your
"If you look closely at the bar in the picture, the sign above the
Lager Beer sign says Manus Brennan. I saw on your website that Manus
Brennan had a bar on the corner of Center and South and suddenly the
location became evident. At the far end of the block up on the left
side, you can see the 3 story building that is the tallest building
presented here. That is clearly the apartment building that is still
there on the corner of Center and Main St.
"What is now intriguing me is that as you come closer down the street,
our bar would be the second building working your way closer. It almost
seems to me like our building does not even exist yet, that space seems
to be an open area. Our building is a 3 story structure that is a story
taller than the 2 story building that is currently on the corner of
Center and Main. So, it looks to me like it's not even there yet. If
that is the case, it helps somewhat to date this photo, because I know
that my father was born in our building in 1919. So if the building
isn't even there yet, we are probably looking at about 100 years ago
here. Pretty cool, huh?"
As I was searching in my files for something else a day or two later, I
found a copy of the Freeland's
Suburban PennySaver for May 1971, and there was this same image
on the front page! That's how we knew what it was that Danny had sent
me. The photo that was published in the PennySaver had been sent to Tom
Zubach by Ben Davis, who thought that it had been taken during the 10th
anniversary celebration of the founding of Freeland. (Although the town
was first laid out in the early 1870s, it was not incorporated as
Freeland until September 11, 1876.) The man in the striped clothing in
front and to the left was identified as Benjamin Davis, an early
Freeland resident. As Tom Zubach wrote in the article accompanying the
"By deduction it seems the picture was taken just about at the, or near
the intersection of Centre and South Sts. Through inspection of the
original picture with a magnifying glass some of the businesses were
identified. The building on the left, above the house with flags was
McNulty Bros., Undertakers. On the right side of the street, above the
Manus Brennan Saloon are Webers Meat Market, Lewis Getz Meat Market,
and as near as can be determined, the big watch belongs to Bachman
Jewelers." He also noted that the trees on the left side of the street
near the horizon would have been the trees in the area of the Central
Hotel. (See the Central Hotel page for
pictures of the hotel and of what later would be reduced to a single
tree.) The tall building on the left side of the street with the John
Turnbach sign on the side on the 3rd floor is the building that still
stands on the northwest corner of Centre and Main Sts.
Note that the streets were not paved and that the sidewalk
seemed at least partially to be something like a boardwalk. We're
looking at 1886! Think about that!
New information about the group photo with B. F. Davis
- including a U.S. president and a presidential home!
Please scroll down to the second featured photo, showing a group of men
photographed standing in front of a house. Knowledge and sleuthing from
Charlie Gallagher reveal surprising details.
Group photo that includes
Benjamin F. Davis
[THERE IS ALSO NEW INFORMATION about this photo on a
related page about Christian T. Miller.]
This photo comes from Bill Davis, and when I first
posted it I wondered whether the Benjamin Davis purportedly shown in
the 1886 photos above would have been the same B. F. Davis who had the
feed mill. When he originally sent the photo Bill wrote: "Freeland
'movers and shakers'. No names other than B F Davis is 9th from the
left or 8th from the right. After looking at the picture with other
software, I think it is a fraternal group. On the right side of the
picture, several people are wearing large round medals with a head on
them. I have not found a source for fraternal organizations to compare
with. Why not post the picture on the Freeland web site and ask
visitors if they have any information." When I emailed him recently to
let him know that I'd posted the photo, he took a look and sent this
follow-up note: That is the BF Davis who owned the Feed Mill and was my
grandfather. His son William M Davis I, and his son William M Davis II
continued to operate the feed mill until the 60's (?). I have no other
info on the picture as all my relatives from that era are gone."
According to Bradsby's History
of Luzerne County, B. F. Davis was born at Buck Mountain in 1859
and was a dealer in flour, feed, hay and grain in Freeland. His feed
mill and store opened sometime between 1888 and 1895, as it's listed in
the 1895 city directory but not in the one for 1888. It lasted for
approximately 70 years in Freeland, at Johnson and Birkbeck streets. If
you visit my page on grocery and
specialty food stores of the 20th century and scroll about 2/3
down, there's an entry for the B. F. Davis feed mill (under Candies,
Bakeries and Specialty Foods) with a photo from Ed Merrick taken just
after the 1964 fire that burned down the building had been put out. The
feed mill had closed just a few years before the fire happened.
In the photo from Danny Balon at the top of this page, Ben
Davis would have been about 37. For this bottom photo, we don't have a
date yet, but keep reading and you'll see that we now have an
approximate idea as to what it might be. I had posted this photo as an
open mystery, asking for assistance, and Charlie Gallagher took on the
challenge. At first he walked around Freeland looking for existing
homes to see if he could see any possible matches, and he identified a
few in the old part of town with the same door and window
configurations, but there was nothing conclusive. A little later he
sent this note:
>> Now I may be way off base here..
>> Here's the answer..
>> (Ted Williams missed 60% in his best year)
>> But, here's my theory..
>> Mr. Davis must have been a political animal to be appointed
>> Now this is only a theory, but I don't believe the picture may
>> at Freeland at all.
>> The person in the center of the photograph with the top hat
appears to be
>> President McKinley.
>> I think this may have been a Republican Party meeting or
delegates to a
>> As Mr. Davis appears younger than when he was appointed
postmaster and he
>> was postmaster throughout the McKinley years.
>> If the person is in the middle is McKinley, it appears that he
>> than when he became President.
>> This picture may be of both gentlemen before they held office.
>> Maybe late 1880's early 1890's.
>> This may have been laying the groundwork for his appointment.
>> Look at a photo of McKinley and compare it to your image.
Well, wow!!! Sure enough, that's William McKinley there in the center
of the photo. But where was that house? Charlie did a bit more reading
and sent this follow-up note:
>> Same House (you can see the lanterns better on this photo
running across the roof line).
>> It's also on the William McKinley
page on Wikipedia.
>> About halfway down.
>> It's McKinley's home in Oil City, PA [Correction from
Katherine Miller 7-2015: Canton, Ohio]
>> And yes, I recognized him from memory once I started paying
attention to the people and not the building.
>> Sister Philomena at St. Ann's said I never studied !!
>> Ha !!
So I sent all that back to Bill Davis, who wrote back: "Thanks so much
for this information. I have learned more in a few emails than I ever
knew. Yes, from all I have heard, my family has always been into the
Republican Party. So much so than when I tried to get an appointment to
West Point from the Congressman for the Freeland area, I was turned
down because of the political ties of my relatives. So, I went to Penn
Amazing what can be learned from these old photos. Thanks to Danny
Balon, Bill Davis, Charlie Gallagher, and everyone who enjoys these
pages. Your comments and contributions of information and photos are
Featured photo: Joseph Greshko's Bar and Restaurant - from
Lori Germani Lupi and Vilma Kish Germani - posted July 5, 2013
great photo (at left) that comes to us from descendents of Joseph
Greshko, seen here standing in the doorway of his restaurant. Here is
what Lori Germani Lupi wrote when she sent the photo:
"I'm sending this for my mother Vilma Kish Germani. She graduated from
Freeland High 1953 and lived at 445 Schwabe St with her parents Joseph
and Mary Kish. She now lives in Allentown. My mother is the
granddaughter of Joseph & Mary Greshko of 306 Center St. Business
that still has its name on the building. It is Joseph in the door. Not
sure when the pic was taken but he died in 1933. After his death his
daughter Anna Greshko Kraynok turned it into her beauty shop."
In the 1921-1922 Freeland directory, Joseph Greshko is listed
as having a saloon at that address. At some point the Greshko name was
removed from the top of the building; I don't know when or why. It's
too bad, as it takes away some of the wonderful character of the
building. Ditto for the lovely decorations on the upper stories in the
photo at left, which were later covered by more run of the mill siding.
But you see in the more recent photo at right that the upper window
configurations are still the same. Wonder when that building was built?
Featured section - Freeland
area cemeteries pages now online. - posted 5-25-13
Although I know that not all of the cemeteries are connected with
churches, I didn't have another obvious category to put this section
under, so for now it's linked from the churches page. At some point I
might separate it out as its own section, but I don't have time to do
that right now.
Here's a little test. -- We have a winner! - posted
This section of fence is a remnant of bygone days and is still standing
in Freeland. Can anyone tell me where it is, or do you recognize it and
remember what it's from?
Ed Merrick has correctly
identified the fence as being the one that used to surround Daniel Coxe
Memorial School (DCM). Awesome memory, Ed!
Featured photos - Four sports teams, from Barbara Bartol
Rentenbach and Bruce Bartko - posted 4-16-13
Stars - Bruce Bartko sent this photo, with a note saying that it's
possible that this could be the photo of the 1908 team, based on the
roster for that team given in an article that I had sent to his sister,
Katherine Bartko Leighton - the article that I have is missing the
photo that was apparently published with it. Their grandfather, Mike
Bartko, was on the team and is shown in the front row, far right.
** Note: I found the article and its 3 photos, and
sure enough, this photo from Bruce is the 1908 team! Here's the roster
as found in the article:
Front, mascot John Yalch; First row (from
left), Mike Serock, Steve Batcha, man-ager Mike Bogansky, Mike Becker
and Mike Bartko; Second row, Kelly Condrick Sr., Andy Sarosky, John
Pavlinko, Gus Cherescavitch and Joe Makuta.
Freeland Yellow Jackets - Barbara Bartol Rentenbach sent this and the
next two photos. Her grandfather, Wante Bartolo, is in the second row,
MMI Collegiate Champions, 1937 or 1938 - Barbara's father Wante Bartol
is in the front row, center here. She says that he loved sports all his
life, being a huge baseball fan.
Ah, Ed Merrick reports that the ball says 1936-1937. Thank you, Ed, for
your eagle eye.
Brook Pirates, 1937 - Barbara's father played on this semi-pro
team at age 17. Team members' names are written on the bottom of the
photo [please let me know if I've mistyped any names]:
Dikie Litchko, Frank Midlick, Snuffy Bartol, Joe Dufallo, Horse
Witchko, John Hynick, Gusard Sessack, Mushy Kovack, John Midlick, Billy
Kovalick, Louis Paulshock.
Note: Some of you have sent me photos of sports teams in the past, and
I have been hanging onto them and intending to post them on a sports
section of this site. I'm hoping to start that section sometime soon,
so at some point you should see your photos there. Please send
additional photos if you have them and are willing to share. Please contact me about image sizes. Thank
you! This site continues to improve in part based on contributions from
site visitors, and we're all happy to share these stories and images
Featured page - Lists of Freeland area school
personnel, 1940, sent by Ed Merrick - posted 12-22-12
Featured photo - Ferrari / Bartel family with connections to
hotel, saloon, beer distributorship - posted 12-22-12
sent this photo and the following note:
is a photograph of Tyrolean immigrants taken in Freeland about 1907.
The gentleman to the far right sitting at the table is my great
grandfather Francesco Giovanni Ferrari. On the back of the original
photo one of Francesco's children identified the others in the picture.
First, the children are all of Francesco's sons; the other men at the
table are, from left to right: Frank Petruzze, identified as Pop's
Driver; John Corra and Fiore Albertini. The gentleman playing the
accordion is Loff Magagna; the one sitting on the chair is Francesco's
father-in-law, Frank Salvaterra; the man on the banister with the boy
on his shoulder is Toto Ravina; and the man sitting on the banister
against the house is Cinto Magagna. The woman/girl in the background is
identified as the housekeeper.
My great grandfather arrived in America in 1891 from the village of
Revo. He lived in the Hazleton/Weston area where he met and married my
great grandmother Sylvia in 1899. They moved to Freeland about
1902-1903. I have been told by family members that Francesco owned a
bar room or saloon and boarding house or hotel with his brother in
Freeland. Family members have
told me he owned a beer distribution company in Freeland as well. In
the 1907 listing of liquor license applicants Frank Ferrari is listed
under Wholesale in the Fourth Ward of Freeland on Ridge Street. I
believe this may be where he either owned or managed a beer
distribution in Freeland. He is listed on his WWI draft card as a
Driver for Bartels Brewing Company in Freeland. When my great uncle was
alive he told stories of riding with my great grandfather in the beer
wagon to make deliveries in White Haven. The trip took all day but it
was a special treat to go along. I have found my great grandparents and
their family in the 1910 census living on Carbon Street in Freeland and
then in 1920 living on Adams Street. They left Freeland in the early
1920s. I'm thinking it is because prohibition came around and they were
no longer able to continue with their liquor businesses.
As you can see in the photograph there is a corner of a sign visible in
the top center of the photo. I am trying to find out more about my
great grandparents' life in Freeland. I was hoping maybe one of your
readers could identify the house or maybe someone may have a connection
to one of the other people in the photo or information about Bartels
Brewing Company in Freeland.
[A further note from
Chuck: I found Bartel's Brewing Co. Beer Depot on a 1912 Sanborn map,
see detail at left. It was located just below the train tracks between
Washington and Centre Streets. This was a great location near the
tracks so that beer could easily be unloaded from train cars. Also, I
shared with her some information that I received from Eddie Barna, who
had written to the Yuengling company because they also had a beer depot
in Freeland in the early years of the last century. Here's what they
told him: "Beer depots were used as drop off points for the beer. They
would deliver the beer by wagon and then drop them off at a beer depot
for someone else to take it further. This way they wouldn't spoil. The
beer depots kept them cold."]
** Note: The enlarged view of the Ferrari/Bartel photo
has been digitally repaired by Jay Cawley of Harleigh. Thank you, Jay.
IF ANYONE CAN OFFER TRINA SOME INFORMATION REGARDING HER FAMILY OR
OTHER QUESTIONS, WOULD YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW? I'LL BE HAPPY TO FORWARD
A MESSAGE TO HER AND WOULD BE GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO ADD THE
INFORMATION TO MY FILES.
Featured photo - St. Mary's students, circa 1896, from Ann
Malenky Nakpaira -- posted September 14, 2012
Ann Malenky Nakpairat writes:
"This picture is said to be of St. Mary's Byzantine Church School. I
would date it at around 1896. My father, John Malenky, is in the first
row, fourth from the right. Born in 1890, he is wearing a cap and
appears to be about 6 years old. My grandfather, George Malenky, said
to be a founder of the church, may be the gentleman with the mustache
and hat standing at top row on far left of photo. "
George Malenky was indeed a founding member of St. Mary's. He was also
a bottler, and had his home, saloon and bottling works on Fern Street.
St. Mary's original church building is to the right of the photo, and
the street was unpaved at the time the photo was taken. Fern Street is
on a hill, so this photo is tilted to look somewhat level, but you can
see the amount of tilt by looking at the building that I am guessing is
the rectory. At this time the parish, founded primarily by immigrants
from Carpatho-Ruthenia, would have been approximately 10 years old.
Featured photos - AND a masters thesis about a Freeland
business! -- posted April 4, 2012
Ralph Pecora and his tailor business, sent by Emily Pecora
All of our featured photos have been wonderful, and this month
we've got something extra special. Emily Pecora has recently completed
a Masters Thesis about the tailoring business of Ralph Pecora, Sr.,
which stood on Freeland's Centre Street from the early 1900s until
Ralph's death in 1959. While the thesis will be of particular interest
to those who knew Ralph or other members of the Pecora family, it
should have a larger appeal to all Freelanders and ex-Freelanders. It
can be downloaded in full here (see below).
Emily is the great granddaughter of Ralph Pecora, Sr. and the
granddaughter of Amelia Pecora. She welcomes comments or corrections
and is particularly interested in any additional reminisces or
information about Ralph and his family. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tailor of Freeland: Everyday Life, Labor, and Community in a
Pennsylvania Town, by Emily Pecora
Clicking these links will open Adobe PDF files of Emily's
thesis. If you don't have Adobe Reader on your computer you can
download it for free at www.adobe.com.
illustrations, table of contents - (PDF file size = 1 MB)
Chapter 1 - (PDF file size = 3.1 MB)
Chapter 2 - (PDF file size = 5.1 MB)
Chapter 3 - (PDF file size = 4.7 MB)
The descriptions of these photos come from Emily herself.
This is Ralph and his staff in front of the tailor
shop, probably at some time in the 1910's. From let to right,
those pictured are Ralph Pecora, his sister Louise Pecora, Luther
Peters, Gerard Mazziotta, and Ralph's brother Michael Pecora. At
this time, the tailor shop occupied the full first floor of the
building. Later, Ralph would rent out half of the space to an ice
cream shop and then to an optician.
Two pages from a book used to track hours worked
by one of Ralph's employees from May 1, 1927 to January 30, 1930. Ralph
drew the red X's and dated the bottom of the pages after settling the
daughter Amelia Pecora in Freeland, twenty-four years old. Although the
photograph is undated, the following diary entry almost certainly
records its taking: "Feb. 4, 1945 - Daddy took pictures of me by some
huge snow banks on Ridge Street."
Ralph standing in the doorway of his shop in 1939.
The establishment on the right side of the building is the Hazle Dip
Ice Cream parlor, where several of Ralph's children worked after
school. Ex-Freelander Lorraine Rehn Gricevics used to hang out at this
ice cream parlor as a teenager and was impressed that, though the
patrons sometimes got loud, Ralph never complained about the noise.
Crescents Football Team, 1902, sent by Curt Javic, posted in
I received this image from Curt Javic recently. Here's what he wrote
Chuck, here is a copy of the Crescents 1902 football
team I have. The ball in the photo is marked Crescents 1902. ... After
researching the names on the back most of the gentlemen are from
Freeland or Foster Township . Therefore the team has to be from Luzerne
County. Again the names on the back are as follows; John Nowak, J Coll,
Bernard McLaughlin, Frank Hindson, Louis Stolz, Cony Welsh, H Sims,
Cletus Fultz. Sitting – Geoge Hartman, John Dusheck, J. Motsko, John
James Baskin, Harvey Deitrich, Peter O’Donnell, Aubrey Powell. [Louis
Stolz at one time was the Police Chief of Freeland & was born in
1880, therefore in this picture he was 21- 22 years old.] I think
therefore these people might be slightly older than say Freeland High
School. I know there was a prep school in Freeland called Mining &
Mechanical Institute that a lot of miners attended after work but to me
these gentlemen don’t appear to be miners. In 1908, I did find a
semi–pro football team out of West Scranton called the Crescent Team
but again that is pretty far from Freeland & also 6 years later. If
anyone knows anything about this photo I would appreciate that info.
I wrote to Tom Landers, president of the Freeland Historical
Society, former Freeland athlete and longtime local sports enthusiast,
to ask what he knows about the team. Here's his very informative reply:
The 1902 Crescents - a very good team - all Freeland
John Nowak - owned the pool room on Centre St.
Bernard McLaughlin, a mailman.
Louis Stolz - Chief of Police during 1920s, later a coal and iron
police office. George Hartman - Freeland Burgess (mayor).
Connie Welsh - owned Welsh's Drug Store on Centre St.
Aubrey Powell - a small man but very fast runner; a Freeland page
writer for the Standard Speaker in the 1930s-1940s, a penny per word.
I do not know if the field was named after the team or the
team after the field. Crescents Field was located across from Alvin and
Maple streets, and the outfield had a crescent running track around it.
My high school baseball team (St. Ann's) played its home games on this
Curt is interested in selling this photo, if anyone is
interested. Here's his reason:
I bought it from a friend of mine in Renningers for
way too much expense - $80.00. The reason I paid so much is that at the
time we both thought it was the Crescents Rowing Club in Phila. They
were a major rowing club in Phila. - late 1880-early 1900’s. They also
played some semi pro football. I collect anything to do with very early
Phila. semi-pro football. Even at that price I was thrilled to get it.
If anyone is interested in it I would mail at my cost or less or offer
it in a trade for something. It is a pretty big photo in rough shape.
If anyone has additional information to offer about the
Crescents Team or the individuals in the photograph, would you please
let me know? Also, if you're interested in contacting Curt about the
photograph, please let me know and I'll put him in contact with you.
** Note: The enlarged view of this photo has been
digitally repaired by Jay Cawley of Harleigh. Thank you, Jay.
DCM class photo of 1919 or 1920, from Ed Merrick - posted
December 8, 2011
Here's a great photo of a young class at Daniel Coxe
Memorial School. Ed Merrick sent it with this note:
"Here is a copy of a great old photo that my cousin in
Sarasota, Ann Cravener, sent to me. It was sent to her by another
cousin of mine, Nancy (Remak) Penn, who is the family's most ardent
historian. The photo had been sent to Nancy by Carol (Corazza) Jones,
with whom I went to school from grades 1 through 8, until we parted
ways when I went to MMI."
According to the legend at the bottom of the photo, these kids
were in grades 1 and 2, with Miss Sara Gallagher as their teacher,
standing in the back row at right. I love the ties on the two boys in
the front row at right, and the big bow on the girl in the middle of
the 2nd row. Several nice family links spelled out on the bottom of the
photo, too. Thank you to Carol Jones, Nancy Remak Penn, Ann Cravener,
and Ed Merrick for this!
Featured photos - St. John's Nepomucene Roman Catholic Church
Band - posted October 28, 2011
This great photo comes to us from Pat Boren, along
with this note:
"Love your website about Freeland. My mom grew up there in the
30s and 40s. Her father was Mike Herkalo, who was a butcher with a
grocery store in the front of their home at 904 Centre Street. Mike was
born in Freeland in 1884, first generation born here (his parents were
from Kucin, Slovakia and they spelled the name Hirkala). Here are a
couple of photos that I hope you share on your website. In the band
photo, Mike is holding his white hat and tuba , 2nd row back, on the
right. I believe his brother is behind him to the right on the end,
horn visible. Guessing the time frame is 1910-ish?"
Can anyone identify anybody else in this photo? Please let me
know and I'll add the information here. Also, if you have any similar
photos from the Freeland area, of if you know anyone who does, I hope
you'll consider sharing them.
here's a related photo from my own family collection. My dad's mother
was a Berta, and so I'm related to several people in this photo of a
later version of St. John's Band, dated September 6, 1943. This is one
of those wonderful situations where someone wrote the names of the
people in the photo on the back of the photo. Maybe you know some of
these people! Names include Berta, Prussock, Barna, Jadish, Jacko,
Stegana, Hollis, Morro, Stefanik, Barron, Dinovic, Halko, Shemo,
Kardisco, Casper, Drauschalk, Charnigo, Zippay, Spock, Wargo, a few
others I wasn't sure of from the handwriting. A number of these guys
had nicknames that are also written on the back of the photo. I
remember that a lot of my dad's friends from his youth in Upper Lehigh
had such nicknames.
Summer Fun - Mystery photos from Ed Merrick - posted August
** NEW COMMENT FROM ED, 8-20-16:
When you wrote about the Gabuzda dairy farm, you mentioned
Fairchild’s swimming pool and recreation area across the road. Could
that be the site of the photos taken of my aunt, Mary Merick?
Recently Ed Merrick sent me some photos and a note detailing what he
knows about them. He's looking for more information on who the people
are and where the photos were taken. In his words, "If you decide to
run any of them, perhaps your fans would be able to shed light on
them." Well, by "your fans" he means fans of this website, so if any of
you looking at this page now can offer information or even guesses for
Ed, would you please email me and let me know? Perhaps you are of an
age to be able to remember some of these people. Or if not, perhaps you
could show them to someone you know who might remember them. Please
help if you can! Here's the message he sent with the photos, and I've
embedded the photos next to the part that talks about each one.
Hi, Chuck. My
sister sent me these mystery pictures, which she got from my Aunt Mary
Merick (she spelled her name with one 'r') before she died about 8
years ago. I would guess that they are photos of an outing of a group
from St. Casimir's. The site is a puzzle. It can't be Woodside because
the only water there was in strippings, which were deep. On the
platform in Picnic01 are the words "deep water" but it can't be that
deep because most of the adults are only chest deep. Note the bench in
Picnic02 was taken from behind the platform, and that bench in the
background is probably the same one because of the configuration of the
tree canopies. My Aunt Mary is on the right. The woman with her could
be Jenny Drobick, a good friend who lived directly across Chestnut
Street from my aunt and who attended St. Casimir's.
In Picnic03, my
aunt is on the extreme right, with her face partly hidden by the tree.
Note the age of the car. Unfortunately the license plate is not visible.
that's Mike Ostroff second from the left in the second row, while my
aunt is third from the right in the first row. Obviously, beer is
allowed at this locale, which would rule out Eurana Park. Did Hazle
Park allow people to bring in beer?
my aunt on the extreme left in Picnic05. I included Picnic06 to show
the vintage of the cars. I would guess that these photos were taken in
marked] Mary01 is a total mystery. Written in pencil on the back in
loopy longhand is what looks like "Miss Mary Merick." Neither of the
women looks like my aunt. I have no idea what the outfits represent and
what is in the right hand of the woman in the front (a flashlight?).
The men could be miners, but they lack the ubiquitous lunch pail and
aren't black with coal dust (though they could just be on the way to a
shift). The card-like things on their hats baffle me. My sister
speculates that this could have been taken at the Freeland Shirt Co.
factory. (Notice the guy inside the window.)
If you decide to run any of them, perhaps your fans would be able to
shed light on them. -- Ed
Featured photos - Centre Street in March, 1966 - posted March
These photos come from Ed Merrick, who snapped them in the mid-'60s. I
was halfway through high school at the time. Thank you, Ed, for sharing
south from above Front Street, there's Caster's Floral Shop on
the right, next to Fairchild's news shop. That Fairchild's business was
in the building that was built in 1893 and which contained Freeland's
post office at one time. On the other side of Caster's, Dr. Drogowski
had his office in that corner building. Seventy years earlier it was
the site of Amandus Oswald's General Store. Below Front Street the
People's Bank, Genetti's and Citizens Bank signs are visible.
Here's what I had written: Here we're
standing in front of the Refowich Theatre, watching the St. Patrick's
Day parade on March 13, 1966. To the right across Main St. is Allan's
Show Store, with Vercusky's Drug Store and Bellezza's Shoe Store signs
visible. Seitzinger's Drug Store is across Centre St. The same
buildings shown in the previous photo are seen here from the other
direction. I guess that's a fire alarm box on the telephone pole?
** Here's a correction from Charlie
Gallagher, sent 3-28-12:
The box pictured on the pole was not a fire alarm box. It was
actually a phone box that the Freeland Police used up to about 1973 or
74. When you called the Freeland Police (636.0111) the
phone would ring in the borough building and on the pole in front of
the Refowich. It was a locking box with the Police having the key.
You may recall that the Freeland PD used to park on Center in front of
the Ref and watch the town before the advent of radio communications
with the Luzerne County Communications Center.
I believe that is Rich Petchol and Nick Goida standing next to it in
Turning in the other direction we see the J. J.
Newberry Co. (now VideoMania) and, to the extreme left, part of the
sign for Pittman's Furniture Store. They had pretty crummy weather for
the parade that year, but that didn't dampen the spirits of the
marchers or the hardy souls who came out to see them. Parades were
always a special thing in Freeland, a way for the town to turn out and
celebrate the community.
Featured photos - SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! - posted Feb. 8, 2011
Two of these photos come courtesy of John Zubach, and the one marked
"Blizzard March 1st 1914" comes from Carol Jones. All show a very snowy
Freeland in the time when, although some people had cars, there were
still horse-drawn carriages in use. (You can find more information
about horse-drawn carriages in Freeland on the Transportation page.)
This photo seems very evocative of the wonderful
silence that comes after a winter storm. These young kids look like
they're having so much fun out there! Everything has been transformed
by the snow and ice. The DCM school is decorated with snow and icycles.
Even the trees look a bit like ballerinas. This storm came at the tail
end of a heavy year for winter storms in Freeland!
So here we are on upper Centre Street, just down
the block from the Borough Building (which still had its spire at this
time). Look at the snow on the street! Those horses can't have had an
easy time of it. Nor did the human pedestrians, actually. And this was
March, almost springtime. Those guys standing in the doorway don't seem
to me as though they're quite bundled up enough for this weather. Many
of these buildings are still with us today, by the way.
NEWS! Ed Merrick has identified what we're looking
at in this photo! He writes: "I think the photo that puzzles you
is of Main Street looking east from Centre. The Ref is at the right,
with its distinctive second-story bay windows. That is the old St.
Luke’s on the left. My grandparents’ house is the squarish, four-story
on the left, and it looks as though the clock might be in front of it.
Just beyond it is the building that preceded the Post Office."
Thank you, Ed. As I wrote back to him, now that I
look at pictures of the Refowich, it's obvious that that's the building
in the right front of the photo (there's a photo of the Refowich on the
Entertainment page). Looking
at other aspects of this photo, isn't it cool to see that horse in the
background? That looks like a sleigh on the left side of the street,
maybe, and there's a carriage or car just beyond the man who's crossing
the street. Don't you love how crooked the telephone poles used to be?
I wonder what business that clock on the left was connected to?
** Note: The enlarged view of this photo has been
digitally repaired by Jay Cawley of Harleigh. Thank you, Jay.
Photo of interior of Refowich Theatre, 1940s - posted Nov.
This photo comes to us courtesy of Ed Merrick, who copied it years ago
from Stanley Potosky, who was projectionist at the Refowich in the
writes: This is the interior of the Refowich in the 1940s. Notice
all the kids up front. They were sitting in what was notoriously known
as the First 6, a zone zealously enforce by the ushers. The seats were
not upholstered and were for use by children not accompanied by an
adult. Adults and kids accompanied by adults could sit in the
upholstered seats. Trying to sneak back to the padded seats when the
movie began became an adventure, more often than not thwarted by the
ushers. The restrooms were under the stairs to the balcony, the men's
on the left in the photo and the women's on the right. Notice also the
standees, a common occurrence in those days because you didn't purchase
a ticket for a particular showing and could stay as long as you wished.
We kids would always stay to see "the good part" a second time.
Ticket for Grand Ball at Haas's Hall, New Year's Eve, 1890 -
posted Sept. 27, 2010
First question: where was Haas's Hall? It
didn't ring a bell with me at all. This ticket is from 1890. Aha - in
the city directories for 1882-1884, 1884-1886 and 1886-1888, Frederick
Haas is listed as proprietor of a hotel / the Cottage Hotel at the
corner of Washington and Main streets. In 1895 he's listed as the
proprietor of the Cottage Hotel as well as a saloon at that address,
and in 1897, HENRY Haas is listed as the proprietor of the Cottage
Hotel. According to the 1897 city directory, also living at that
address are Annie Haas (dressmaker), Harry Haas (barber), and Lillie
Haas (waitress). Frederick isn't mentioned; maybe he died between 1895
In W. W. Munsell's History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties,
Pa. (1880), Frederick Haas is described as having been born in Germany,
March 11th, 1830 and as being the proprietor of Harmony Hall at South
Heberton. It also says that he kept a hardware store and shoe shop, and
that his wife was Ann Elizabeth Noth, of New York city. So, there are a
few questions right there: where were the hardware shop and shoe shop,
and might she be the dressmaker mentioned in the 1897 directory (in
which case, maybe she's his widow by then)?
Going back to my first question: where was Haas's Hall? In 1880 Munsell
says that Frederick was proprietor of Harmony Hall, in South Heberton.
Where was that hall located exactly? South Heberton was the area of
town around Birkbeck Street, between Front Street and Upper Lehigh.
Wonder where Harmony Hall was? Ten years later, does he have a new hall
at the Cottage Hotel? Or somewhere else? Or does he still have Harmony
Hall, now being referred to as Haas's Hall? Maddeningly, because at
this time South Heberton was still a separate community, it's not
represented in the city directories for Freeland yet.
And what would the "Grand Ball" on New Year's Eve on December 31, 1890
have been like? The ticket says "By the 'Kosciusko Guards' of Freeland,
Pa." That suggests something to do with Freeland's Polish community.
The Kosciusko Guards also marched in the civic and industrial parade at
Freeland's Pearl Jubilee in 1906. How many people do we think would
have attended a ball like this? If it was at the Cottage Hotel, well,
that building is a decent size but it's not huge.
This little ticket will probably generate more questions, too. As with
all these feature photos, it's posted to share it with all of the
visitors to this website, and also to ask everyone who sees it to let
me know if they can shed any light on it. I'd love to know more about
Haas's Hall and Harmony Hall, about the various businesses of the Haas
family, and about the Kosciusko Guards, and about the types of balls
that would have been held to celebrate events like New Year's Eve back
in 1890. Please share what you know or what you think and I'll post the
best info here.
Here's some new information sent by Ed Lakitsky on 3-3-12:
I notice your article on Hass Hall in Freeland
Andrew and Katie Lakitsky purchased the Cottage Hotel around 1917 (I
have the deeds) and operated a rooming house, butcher shop and maybe a
Before that a John Fisher owned what is now the garages which were
horse and stables behind the present day cottage hotel. that I
understand from my aunt is where they kept horse sleds for travel in
The big dining room on the south side of the cottage hotel, from the
Hass and Fisher days of ownership, was removed in a boundary dispute
when Fisher sold the hotel to my grandfather around 1917.
Hope this helps a little.
Gubi from St. Mary's church in Freeland - posted June 18, 2010
This photo comes to us courtesy of Ann Malenky Nakpairat.
time to time I receive photos or copies of photos reflecting
Freeland area history from correspondents. I will feature one of these
on this page every once in awhile, so that more people get to see them.
Today's feature photo came from Ann Malenky Nakpairat. She doesn't know
who any of the people are in the photo, but they may be from St. Mary's
around 1929. Can you or someone you know help???
Ann wrote: "I believe [this photo] is a group of Gubi from St Mary's
church in Freeland, who went out before Christmas singing carols and
were scary as all get out to kids. It was my grandfather's. I remember
it being at the farm ever since I can remember. Whether I ever saw
these Gubi, I don't know; however, I do remember much talk about them
and how scary they were. I also recall hiding the picture in a trunk.
Sometimes lore takes on a life of its own. The first one is carrying a
church model with, they say, a nativity set in it. Born in 1855, I
doubt that my grandfather was a caroler nor my father. No one in our
family can sing a note. I do not know the identity of any of them. They
would have to be from St. Mary's as we celebrated both Christmases in
Ann guessed that this photo might date from around 1929. Charlie
Reczkowski also shared with me a recollection of a group that he called
the Kuby Bace (pronounced "Koobee Botchee") from around 1930, who
caroled in the Slovak, Polish and Greek Catholic parishes in Freeland
at Christmas. The carolers included a Santa and several angels in white
clothes with red and blue ribbons criss-crossing their chests. They
would go from house to house, and would donate to the churches part of
the money they received for their singing. As I look at this photo, I
can see that it would have been the two individuals in masks on the
right who would have been in charge of scaring kids. Notice also the
sticks they carried.
There is an even more descriptive account of such singers on the web at
http://www.iarelative.com/xmas/gubi.htm. Meanwhile, show this photo to
your older family members and see if they remember anything like these
Gubi. If anyone reading this page knows of other people who
participated in this tradition, I would love to hear about it.
Additional photos would also be very welcome. I know that something
like this tradition is still practiced in parts of Slovakia, and I
don't know whether it is still done in other countries in eastern
Europe. However, this is a tradition that has surely all but faded from
our American experience.
Oliver Miller in his store - posted May 7, 2010
This photo comes to us courtesy of Lori Vining and Nancy Paskin.
time to time I receive photos or copies of photos reflecting
Freeland area history from correspondents. I will feature one of these
on this page every once in awhile, so that more people get to see them.
Today's feature photo came from Lori Vining, and Nancy Paskin provided
This is Oliver Miller standing in his jewelry and watch repair shop.
Mr. Miller also repaired bicycles. In the 1890s this business was on
Centre Street, and later it was moved to 711 Main Street in the area
where the Post Office is today. It is listed on Centre Street in the
1895, 1897 and 1901 city directories, and at 711 Main Street in the
1921-1922 city directory, so he had his business in Freeland for nearly
3 decades. Nancy Paskin (great-granddaughter of Oliver Miller) wrote:
"My father, who is now 92, remembers that the store always had
patriotic buntings on the second story railings and that the family
lived in the same building with rooms above and behind the store. He
also said that later on when he was a young man, the building was taken
down and made way for a post office. He said he worked one summer
helping digging the foundation for the new post office." (You can
actually see photos of our current post office foundation being dug on
a page about Freeland's post offices.)
Frank Balon's bar - posted April 30 2010
This photo comes to us courtesy of Frank Balon.
is a picture inside Balon's Bar from sometime in the 1920's.
Behind the bar is Frank's grandfather, Frank Balon. The tin ceiling and
cedar bar are still there today.
This information came from Frank Balon in 2005, relaying information
from his father Stanley: Dad thinks that my grandfather Frank Balon, of
Polish descent, began the business around 1910, taking over a bar that
was already in existence. He had arrived in the U.S. around 1892-1896.
In the early years of the bar, mostly drinks were served, but Frank
Balon was also known for making large pots of soup. He ran a boarding
house/rooming house upstairs above the bar. I think miners stayed
there. There are stories that I recall of Dad's older sisters having to
wash miners' clothes, and leaving a mouse in miner's shoe. In fact, we
still had the rooming house through my years, at least until around
1980. I recall as many as 5 roomers at a time. Dad was born in 1919 and
took over running the bar when he returned from WW2, but Frank was
still in the picture until his death in the mid-1950's. I helped out
with the bar for a bit in the early 1980s, tending bar and doing
short-order cooking - hamburgs, cheeseburgs, steak sandwiches. But Pop
made the BEST burgers in town.