Memorial trees at Freeland High School

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History of Freeland, Pa.
WWI Memorial Grove at Freeland High School

World War I military dead from the Freeland area were commemorated in 1927 by a "grove" of maple trees that were planted around Freeland High School and marked by plaques, one of which is shown below. Charlie Gallagher told me about these trees in 2013, but it's only recently that I revisited that correspondence and tracked down more information about them. This coincided with a visit to Freeland, where Carol Jones had borrowed this plaque from her neighbor and they allowed me to photograph it. The rings on the back of the plaque would likely have been fastened to a stake or some other holder (rather than nailing them onto the trees).

This plaque says: This tree planted in memory of Joseph Zelner 1890-1918.

Label for a memorial tree at FHS Label for a memorial tree at FHS

This 1927 article from the Standard Speaker archives lists the World War I Freeland area dead who were individually commemorated by the trees planted around Freeland High School, and it recounts how the memorial trees were presented to the American Legion at a ceremony on Memorial Day in 1927.

List of military personnel memorialized by trees at FHS List of military personnel memorialized by trees at FHS

Charlie Gallagher shares the photo at below left, a detail cropped from one of the 1939 aerial photos of Pennsylvania created as part of the Penn Pilot project sponsored by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey; this particular aerial project was done by the USDA (see Aerial photos on Maps page). The detail below shows the memorial trees surrounding the Freeland High School campus. The other two photos were scanned from FHS yearbooks for the mid-1950s, courtesy of Carol Jones.

Memorial trees at FHS, 1939 aerial view Memorial trees at FHS, mid-1950s Memorial trees at FHS, mid-1950s

The project was conceived of in the immediate aftermath of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Freeland's 50th anniversary. The small clippings below outline the planning and planting of the trees. Joe Moore remembers that his grandfather, Edward Moore, was FHS janitor at the time and took part in their planting.

Plans for FHS memorial grove Plans for FHS memorial grove Plans for FHS memorial grove Plans for FHS memorial grove Plans for FHS memorial grove Plans for FHS memorial grove

The clipping dates are, left to right: 9-25-26, 9-27-26, 4-28-27, 4-27-27, 4-13-27, 4-13-27.

In a sad ending to this story, the trees were supposed to have been preserved when the Freeland Elementary School was being expanded, and at that time David Sachs led an effort to take the issue about preserving the trees to the School Board and had their removal stopped. However, later they were removed after all, and only a few remain.

Thank you to Charlie Gallagher, Carol Jones, and Carol's neighbor for sharing information and images.

Here are the names printed out so that people can find them through online searches. More details are in the article shown above headed North Side News.

Lieut. John F. Houser
Joseph E. Fleig
Wassil Kopanlec
Stanley Makerewicz
Fred Vandermark
Barton W. Spitzner
Lyman B. Conrad
Andrew J. McNulty
William A. Wackley
Michael Switzko
John g. Ferko
John C. Jenkins
James A. Meehan
John C. Chechorn
Fred D. Funk
John A. Novack
Joseph Zellner / Zelner
Michael J. Ondushko
John Yurko
William L. Caffrey
William J. Carlis
Louis S. Wetzel
Clyde R. Lewis
William D. Kline, Jr.
Stephen Williams
Frank E. Costello
Harry Heckler
Thomas J. Clark
Michael J. Roarty
Charles J. Lynott
Alvin M. Sipple
Bridget C. Boyle
Joseph Cranyak
Christ Luthman

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