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History of Freeland, Pa.
St. Ann's parish in Woodside

St. Ann's in Woodside, a century or more ago

Charlie Gallagher has treated us to something from his family photo albums: views of a St. Ann’s that hardly anyone living will remember now – views of the old, old, old St. Ann’s. St. Ann's, 1990s St. Ann's, 1960s Not the old one that lasted about 40 years from 1967 to around 2007, before being transformed into Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, an amalgamation of the four Roman Catholic churches in Freeland. (Photo at left - C. Tancin)

And not the older one that was also on Centre Street and also lasted about 40 years, from the 1920s to the 1960s. (Photo at right - Ed Merrick - thanks, Ed!)

No, these historical photos are of the oldest St. Ann’s, the St. Ann’s that was built in Woodside in the early 1870s as a mission of the Immaculate Conception Church in Eckley. With time and demographic shifts, the mission outgrew the mother church to become a large and prosperous parish.

The photos shown below were made several decades after the founding of that first St. Ann’s in 1874. Charlie’s family were parishioners, and many of these photos show at least one Gallagher family member.

St. Ann's, Woodside St. Ann's, Woodside But first, here’s the church, shown in an undated triptych postcard along with two views of the road near the church. Another postcard from my own collection was suggested as an addition because Charlie thought it would be good to highlight the hitching rail in front of the fence! That card at right is from the 1890s or early 1900s, and of course a hitching rail would not have been part of the later churches on Centre Street. Imagine a Sunday morning with a number of horses tied up there.

I’ve cropped some close-ups from the triptych postcard for a better look. I’d welcome any comments, especially about the two views of the road.

St. Ann's, Woodside St. Ann's, Woodside St. Ann's, Woodside

St. Ann's, Woodside, 1911 A group photo dated May 17th, 1911 shows mostly men of the parish, and one of them at front left holds a C.T.A.U. pennant (Catholic Total Abstinence Union). Most of the people in this photo (excepting the clergy and the band members) are wearing lapel ribbons of some kind. Charlie commented that this photo represents only a fraction of the parish, which would have been quite large by 1911, nearly 40 years after the church was dedicated. I think that looks like Rev. Falihee in a suit, seated front and center between two other priests in cassocks. Can anyone supply the names of these other clergymen?

In 1884, ten years after the church dedication, a convent and school were also built and dedicated. The school opened in 1886. Students were taught by members of the Sisters of Mercy, an arrangement that would continue throughout the lifespans of St. Ann’s schools in Woodside and in Freeland.

St. Ann's 1902 Commencement program St.
                  Ann's 1906 Commencement program Here are two graduation programs from 1902 and 1906. Both graduation ceremonies were held at the Grand Opera House in Freeland. The 1902 program at left is from the graduation of the senior class of St. Ann’s Commercial School. The students graduating were: Cornelius Breslin, John Boyle, Mary Cross Salvador DePierro, Anna Denneny, Alphonsus Gallagher, Mary Green, Bid Herron, Maggie Kelley, Hugh Malloy, Aubrey Powell, Nellie Quinn, Charles Reilly, Grace Sweeney, James Thompson and Cornelius Welsh. Some very familiar names there!

The 1906 program at right was billed as the “Thirteenth Annual Entertainment by the Pupils of St. Ann’s Parochial School. Second Night.” The elaborate festivities included distribution of medals and certificates of honor, the salutatory and valedictory addresses, several musical pieces, a play and an operetta.

The next three photos show a group of young adults at St. Ann’s in 1910, a few years after those graduation programs. Charlie says that the group in these photos must have been working on a show or a choral group performance.

Group at St. Ann's,
                  Woodside The first photo shows the group sitting on a stage. Note the blackboard behind them. “A welcome to June” appears to be part of a program they’re working on. Charlie’s great aunt Mary Bridget Gallagher is fourth from the right in the first row sitting on the stage. You can see that this is a group of people who enjoy each others' company and are at ease together.

Group at St. Ann's,
                  Woodside The next photo again shows the group, and his great aunt Mary Bridget Gallagher is second from the right in the back row, standing (she's wearing a black tie of some kind with her blouse). Note the Gibson Girl fashion plate in a frame on the wall. I love the expression on the face of the young woman at front left. Does that guy have a cup on his head? These people look like friends having a good time.

Group at St. Ann's,
                  Woodside The third photo shows a larger group assembled on the stage in a more formal group photo. Note the blackboard behind them. It looks like lyrics for a song. Charlie’s great aunt Mary Bridget Gallagher is fourth from the left middle row. Charlie notes that she was born in 1885, never married, and she lived with his family until her death in 1969. She was very religious, attending mass at St. Ann’s every day, always sitting in the front left far side pew at St. Ann’s. And a humorous side note: She listed herself as 25 years old on the 1910 census, 25 on the 1920 census and 25 on the 1930 census. “A woman never reveals her age” was one of her sayings.

at Woodside
                  Lake Woodside Lake was near St. Ann's and was a popular picnic spot in those days. This photo was taken in June 1913, and the person on the left is Emily Eckert Gallagher. I'm not really sure what they're doing there at the edge of the water with those branches. It's interesting to me to see how dressed up these young women are, out there in the woods. Their hats are amazing! The Flapper years (Roaring Twenties) are less than a decade in the future, but you would not know it to see these two. World War I has not yet begun. Prohibition and the Great Depression are still to come. These young people and their families and friends are enjoying what seems like an idyllic time on the brink of life-changing historical developments.

St. Ann's
                  Band, 1915 St. Ann's
                  Band, 1915 St. Ann's
                  Band, 1915 These photos of St Ann's Band are dated 1915. Charlie’s grandfather Bernard Gallagher is fourth from the right in the back row in the leftmost photo. At right the band members stand in formation with their instruments. Apparently every August the band went to Auburn, N.Y. to play. A third photo shows them building "Camp McHugh" there in Lakeside Park.

St. Ann's
                  tennis court, 1922 St. Ann's
                  tennis court, 1922 And finally, St. Ann’s in Woodside even had tennis courts! These two photos were taken in August 1922. In the picture at left, Mary B. Gallagher is second from the left. In the other photo we see Emily Gallagher. This is nearly the end of the parish's time in Woodside. Soon a new church would be built (or at least begin to be built) on Centre Street in Freeland, and the Woodside days will be a memory.

Thanks to Charlie for sharing these long-ago views of a vibrant parish and an important part of Freeland’s history. Most of us who remember St. Ann's, even our oldest family members and neighbors, remember the churches on Centre Street. These glimpses of what came before all that are truly priceless.

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