Merkt Market in
                the Birkbeck Block

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History of Freeland, Pa.

Happy New Year! Here are three sets of featured photos to welcome in the new year.

What's on this page:

  • Frank Ceol plowing snow with the help of horses, and views of the winter of 1914
  • The Borough building and the Washington Hotel
  • The Mulhearn building torn down in December 2017

Frank Ceol plowing snow with the help of Jim Boyle's horses, and views of the winter of 1914 (with thanks to Marie Marencin and Ed Socha)

Frank Ceol plowing snow 1914 Marie Marencin told me that her father Frank Ceol was a cowboy before he moved to Freeland a little more than a century ago, and that when he was new to Freeland he worked at Jim Boyle's livery stable on Johnson Street (in front of what would later be the site of Freeland High). That was already exciting information - a cowboy! And another livery stable, one I hadn't known of. Around the same time that I spoke with Marie, Ed Socha alerted me to this newspaper clipping showing Marie's father plowing snow in 1914 with Jim Boyle's plow and horses. The newspaper clipping is used courtesy of the Standard Speaker.

Frank Ceol, cowboy Frank Ceol Frank was born in 1896, and he moved to Freeland from Oregon in 1913 (so, around age 17). When he was a child, he and his older sister Anna rode a horse to the one-room schoolhouse they attended. He only went to school through 2nd grade, but he could read and write. Marie said that in the coal mines they spelled his name "Cole." His brother Joe's wife Ruth (Horn) Ceol was one of my Girl Scout leaders in the 1950s-1960s. These two photos come from Marie Marencin; the  sepia tone images were "washed in Google images" by Charlie Gallagher to make them greyscale and visually sharper.

Jim Boyle had been at that Johnson Street location at least since 1912; he was listed in the 1912 and 1917 phone books this way: "Boyle, James W., Con & Bldr, Johnson nr Alvin." In the 1921-1922 Freeland directory he's listed: "Boyle, James W., 415 Johnson" under the heading Contractors and Builders. In the 1928-1929 directory there's this: "Boyle, James W. (Rebecca; Boyle's Garage), Lumber, Building, Roofing and Contractors Materials, General Contractor and Stripper, 415 Johnson." No mentions of a livery stable anywhere, though. Marie Marencin told me that his daughter Mary Boyle was the Home Economics teacher at Freeland High School.

Speaking of Frank Ceol plowing snow in 1914, Freeland had at least one spectacular blizzard that year and quite an intense winter, remembered on these four postcards (some previously featured here). The photo at left looking north at a pair of horses pulling a sleigh down Centre Street is shared courtesy of Carol Jones and the Freeland Historical Society. The horses are just about in front of the drug store and hotel shown in the second photo.

Blizzard 1914 Blizzard 1914 Ice storm 1914 Blizzard 1914 Close-up, blizzard 1914

The photo showing Schilcher's Drug Store and the St. Elmo Hotel came to me from John Zubach, as did the one of DCM during an ice storm. The fourth photo was seen on eBay and is looking south toward the Front and Centre intersection; the enlarged crop gives a sense of how much of a hassle it must have been getting around in the snow in 1914. The poles holding up an awning at far right in that photo mark the entrance to Amandus Oswald's general store. The photo with Schilcher's Drug Store and the St. Elmo Hotel was published in the Pennysaver in 1969 with this caption:
"Photo on Centre St. after blizzard, March 1914 - looking north. We're informed that this is the storm a young girl lost her life in when she froze while out for a buggy ride. This picture comes to us through the courtesy of A. L. Mitke, who also gave us the identities of some of the people pictured here. Left to right: Antone Leppler, unknown, Tony Leppler, small boy unknown, Willy Dougherty in sweater, prop. of the St. Elmo Hotel."

Dr. Frank Schilcher was listed in the 1882-1884, 1884-1886, 1886-1888, 1895, 1897 and 1901 directories as a physician and often also as a druggist, always at the same location on Centre between Front and Walnut streets. In 1895 he was also listed as Secretary of the Freeland Water Company.

The Borough building - a conversation by email with Charlie Gallagher

Charlie was looking at an old postcard of the Bethel Baptist church, wondering about the oddly-shaped steeple seen at the end of the block on the left. Here are the postcard images of the Bethel Baptist church (postmarked 1913) and the Borough building (postmarked 1907) that Charlie sent me, and he asked when the Borough building was built, and if it was built with the tower. I sent him some information from Charlie Stumpf's history of Freeland and an enlargement of that steeple part of the postcard with the opinion that we were looking at two steeples, but in the meantime he had also figured that out and he sent the cropped detail shown below on which he highlighted the two steeples. He wrote: The Hotel / Bar at 11 West Walnut is in front of the borough building (as the borough building is set back from Walnut). The hotel steeple is outlined in red, the borough building in yellow.

Bethel Baptist church before 1913 Borough building before 1907 Two steeples near Walnut and Centre streets Two steeples near Walnut and Centre streets

I read his note, looked at the images he sent, and remembered a photo Tigers Club 1906 Washington Hotel that Mr. Deitos senior allowed me to make a cell phone copy of several years ago. It shows the Washington Hotel, run by Al Goeppert and located on Walnut Street next to the Tigers Club, not far from the intersection of Walnut and Centre. Here at right is Mr. Deitos's photo of the hotel, along with a photo of the Tigers Club (as seen on eBay) during the 1906 Pearl Jubilee - you can see the same hotel to the left of the Club. Washington Hotel 1895 Here too at left is a detail from the 1895 Sanborn map showing the two buildings (the address numbers are from an earlier numbering system). The Washington Hotel is mentioned (sometimes along with Mr. Goeppert's name) in Freeland directories from 1886-1888, 1897, 1901-1902, and is shown on Sanborn maps as the location of a saloon in 1895, 1900, 1905; in 1912 the map specifically named the Washington Hotel there. Charlie saw his name in a list of people applying for liquor licenses in 1892. So the Washington Hotel is what the first of the two steeples in the Bethel Baptist church postcard belonged to.

Meanwhile, there was Charlie's question of when the Borough building was built, and whether it was built with the tower. I am assuming that the building was built with the tower/steeple. Charlie Stumpf gives the date as 1884. Charlie Gallagher set out to confirm it by visiting the Borough building, where he was allowed access to the 2nd floor and photographed the two plaques shown here. Charlie, thank you for sharing these photos!

Borough building plaque Borough building plaque

Nicely done, so it's 1900 for this building. I wrote back to him to thank him, expressed interest in the "public library and reading room," and I asked where he thought the Borough Council was meeting for all those years before the borough building was built? The 1873 Freehold map shows a town hall on Ridge between Front and Walnut. The 1895 map shows Freeland Hall (built 1891) where Woodie's was later, and doesn't show the Ridge street town hall. So maybe all of their Council meetings were at the Ridge Street town hall before 1891, and then they met at Freeland Hall for a few years after that? BUT Charlie Stumpf mentioned (page 7) a Borough Building being erected in 1884 that had a Council room and a jail. Maybe there was a small building (just a council room and jail) built in 1884 that was used until the current building was built? Wonder where that would have been? The current site wasn't donated by the Knights of Labor until 1899, according to Stumpf.

Here are some relevant notes from the Stumpf book:
- The meeting to decide the new name of Freehold was held at the town hall in 1876 (page 7).
- At the 2nd meeting of the Council in 1876 it was decided to build a small jail at Pine and Johnson streets, which was used until 1884 when the Borough Building was erected (page 7).
- Land for the Freeland Municipal Building was donated by the Freeland Chapter of the Knights of Labor. Construction began in August 1899. The Council first met there on December 10, 1900 (page 15).

There are still unanswered questions there, but regarding the reading room / public library, Charlie replied: From my understanding of the borough building, the reading room / library was the north side of third floor. This was one large room.
First Floor: Police Office, Borough Secretary Office, Police Holding Cell, Men's Room, Women's Room, Fire Garage.
Second Floor: Council Chamber, Council Secretary Office, Citizen's Hose Company Office, Office (later Magistrate Office), Men's Room, Women's Room, Storage Closet.
Third Floor: Engineer's Office, Storage / Records Room, Reading Room / Library.

Thank you, Charlie Gallagher, and I'm remembering Charlie Stumpf with appreciation for all of his work. If anyone knows what the 1884 date in Charlie Stumpf's book on page 7 refers to, please let me know and I'll post it here!

The Mulhearn building torn down in December 2017 - with photos from Charlie Gallagher, me, and the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society

This is to remember the old Mulhearn building that was just torn down in December 2017. Charlie had emailed me these and other photos of the demolition as it progressed over a number of days, and reported that the land and building were purchased by MMI for the purpose of expanding their parking lot.

Mulhearn building demolition 12-2017 Mulhearn building demolition 12-2017 Mulhearn building demolition 12-2017 Mulhearn building demolition 12-2017

When I was in Freeland in March 2017 I photographed some buildings, including that one. I don't know what the original purpose of the building was, but here are six photos I took then that show some interesting features of the building.

Mulhearn building 3-2017 Mulhearn building 3-2017 Mulhearn building 3-2017 Mulhearn building 3-2017 Mulhearn building 3-2017 Mulhearn building 3-2017

When I heard that it was being torn down, I checked to see what was in my files about it. Not much, but I do have these mentions of that site/building and one just to the north of it as they were listed in early city directories and on maps in the days before Mulhearn's Plumbing and Heating:

239 Centre Street (old address 805 or 806 Centre)
1890s - it was an empty lot
1910s - Hay warehouse (1912 Sanborn map)
1920s - Charles Karnatski, grocery (1928-1929 directory)

229-231 Centre Street (old address 804 Centre)
1890s - it was an empty lot
1900s - Bottling works on the north side of the train tracks (1900 and 1905 Sanborn maps)
1910s - Bottling works (1912 Sanborn map)
1920s - Mrs. Hilda Boyle, gasoline, automobile accessories and supplies (1928-1929 directory)

Here are details from the 1912 and 1923 Sanborn maps. When I posted this page on New Year's Eve 2017, I was confused about which building shown on these maps was the building that was torn down! So now I see that it was the building right next to the tracks, 229-231 Centre street. Looking at the 3rd photo from the left of my 6 photos above and comparing it to the left photo of the two from Anthracite Railroads below makes it clear that they are the same building. I apologize for any confusion encountered by those who read this page before I made this correction! So apparently the Mulhearn building was a bottling works in its early life.

1900 map detail near depot 1912 map detail near depot 1923 map detail near depot

Freeland RR tracks, looking east near Centre Freeland RR tracks, looking west near Centre Charlie Gallagher pointed me to these photos from 1912; they are part of the Joe Zogby collection of the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society (ARHS), used by permission. Both were taken by someone standing on the railroad tracks, and Charlie tells me that these photographs were made during accident investigations. The one looking east shows the railroad depot at left and across the street on Centre shows the building at 229-231 Centre, with a storefront visible. The one looking west shows the Freeland Overall Company left of the tracks with a train car parked alongside to load or unload a shipment, while to the right of the tracks in the foreground we see the building at 229-231 Centre, and the railroad depot across the street. Behind the brick building there is a small wooden addition and behind that is a Farmer's Dairy horse-drawn wagon. In 1912 this building was listed as a bottling works; perhaps the Freeland Dairy wagon was there to pick up some new milk bottles.

Books on a shelf Newest updates to the site: Please visit the WHAT'S NEW! page for announcements and updates.

Gubi from St. Mary's
              Church Past Featured Photos: 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. They are 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 links.

Merkt Market in
                the Birkbeck Block Note: Photo at top left of this page came from J. Zubach; identification from Gretchen Collins says that the business on the right in that photo was Merkt Confectionery, run by Charles and Lena Merkt. It was located in the Birkbeck Block on Centre and Main streets, and reputedly sold fabulous ice cream.

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Site contructed by C. Tancin, and last updated December 31, 2017.
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