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History of Freeland, Pa.
Charles Maso & Sons

This story of Charles Maso, his family and his business, Charles Maso & Sons, comes from Donna Maso.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” European immigrants during the early 20th Century were noted for NOT being tired nor poor. They would have to have passage to the United States (at least $25.00 upon arrival), good teeth, good health/ mental health, be able to work a trade and would have no free financial support nor benefits after arriving.

Carlo Francesco Maso aka Charles Frank Maso was born 15 Aug 1888 in Fregona, Provincia di Treviso, Veneto, Italy, to parents Valentino Maso & Maddalena Breda. His parents produced seven sons and one daughter, between 1875 and 1893.

Carlo’s (hereafter Charles) Northern Italy family were respected home builders, masons, and religious and government leaders whose family can be traced back to 1560 in Fregona – where the center of town is named after the family. The Dal Mas/ Maso family helped build their only Roman Catholic church – Chiesa Arcipretale di Santa Maria Assunta of 1475 – and the family name is etched into the church-steeple’s, bell, the family nameplates are attached to the pews, and the church history books/ documents include family bishops, priests and officials. Most every family name in Fregona can be traced back to them – including many in Pennsylvania and Freeland.

Charles Maso, and many of his family (including his brother, Antonio/ Anthony born 1879), immigrated to the USA 04/18/1906, bringing with them their unique masonry trade skills, residing in Pen Argyl / Mauch Chunk, and employed by the Works Progress Administration. Charles’ brother (Rudolfo) joined Charles & Anthony in Freeland, but later relocated to another country. Anthony died in Freeland in 1949. Family reports that St Anthony’s Church had 3 Sunday morning masses. Charles and his 2 brothers would take turns sharing their only suit, requiring each to attend 1-of-3 Sunday Masses. After working in Pen Argyl / Mauch Chunk for 4 years he retunred to his family for a brief period.

Charles Maso returned to the United States / Mauch Chunk, again, 05/06/1911 and was employed 1917 by GB Markle (mining industry) for special masonry/ construction projects – eventually marrying 10/14/1916 and residing in Freeland. 1917, Charles was listed as residing on Fern St, Freeland, where he and his brother (Anthony) were assigned work on the new St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church (keeping fireplaces going 24 hours while installing marble, mixing concrete, brick and stone work), along with area projects – including building garages, chimney repair, installing sidewalks (almost all Freeland church sidewalks and steps), parking lots, stone walls for St Joseph’s Cemetery (Hazleton) and Hazle Twp. High School boundary walls.

Charles & his spouse produced 11 children (1917 – 1941); their 9-month-old son died in 1920. The family resided at 342 S Washington St. (1920s – 1930s), 626 Hemlock St. (1940s, when Freeland Borough decided that one-half of their home would be in Freeland and the other half would be in Foster Twp. school district, forcing the kids to change schools mid-year – after most of the children had attended Freeland schools until their high school years – having to walk thru “strippins”). (Also, Freeland/ Foster Twp. snowplows would each stop in the middle of the Hemlock St. double home!) Last, the family resided at 992 Walnut St., until the parents’ deaths.

Charles’ children report that Charles and his spouse would arise early and could be heard speaking Italian to each other in low voices, that Charles would be gone and walking to work/ his jobs (9 miles, all year). His children said they might eat oatmeal, cereal, toast made by holding bread over a coal stove for breakfast – that the radio was always on (Sunday polkas), Sundays were for family/ friend visits, and Charles’ wife always ensured her wash was out hanging 1st on Monday wash-day (competition among the women). Charles’ wife could be seen with her apron, cooking/ baking, all day, every day. Children might be down the cellar cracking coal for the coal bin, from coal that fell off trains (and area people may have helped the coal to fall from trains).

Before 1942, Charles was employed by Jeddo-Highland Coal Co, again for his masonry and construction talents (fixing company-owned homes and properties). His brother, Anthony, was listed as his employee and they were hired for many Freeland-area jobs, including construction foundations for 12 homes that were relocated from Swamptown to Jeddo in 1947. Charles employed Angelo Lorenzoni, the Rinker brothers, his children (Charles, Lawrence, Robert, Fred, Ernie, Ray), and other Freeland people in his own business. Coal company employers paid their workers with CREDIT at their company stores; Lawrence Maso (age 8) remembers walking from Freeland to Japan-Jeddo to get a pair of shoes in 1938. Charles was known to enjoy attending Bingo games, where he would return with more masonry jobs from women attendees, or he liked playing cards at Zike’s Bar (1131 Walnut St.) and would return home from the card games whenever the family had visitors. The Maso family was all about family.

Angelo Lorenzoni had a truck, but business picked up when Robert Maso returned from serving in the US Army WWII 1946, and used his mustering-out $200 from US Department of Veterans Affairs to buy the first Maso company truck. Five-of-Charles’ 8 sons served in the US military during Korea and WWII, and returned home to work for their father. Due to a depressed economy, seasonal work, or the trouble to take a bus while lugging all the masonry equipment - some of the children moved to New Jersey.

Beginning 1950s – 1970, I-80 and I-81 were built, creating more need for homes and construction. Charles Maso & Sons was incorporated 1954, and began building or renovating homes. Charles Maso purchased property that became known as Charlwood Estates, land in Beech Mountain, Valley of the Lakes (Eagle Rock), Churchview Estates, properties in Freeland and Vero Beach, FL.

Charles Maso died 7 Nov 1968 and lived most of his life in Freeland, operating a business and contributing to and supporting his community – along with his spouse and children. 1969 – 1970, Charles Maso & Sons opened a custom kitchen & bath showroom on the Freeland-Drums Hwy, and showcased an array of building goods and home options. As one of his sons said about his own life, “I wouldn’t have changed a thing”.

Thank you, Donna, for this family history.

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