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History of Freeland, Pa.
Past featured photos, page 1

Note: For recently received corrections or added information, search for double asterisks ** and maroon-colored headings.

** 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. 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.

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 Celebration, 1886

Freeland celebration
                1886 Freeland celebration 1886 Freeland celebration 1886

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 website.

"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 photo:

"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.]

                  fraternal organizationThis 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 great
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..
>> (Ted Williams missed 60% in his best year)
>> But, here's my theory..
>> Mr. Davis must have been a political animal to be appointed postmaster.
>> Now this is only a theory, but I don't believe the picture may have been
>> 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
>> convention.
>> 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 was younger
>> 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:

>> Here's the answer..
>> 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 State."

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 always welcome.

Featured photo: Joseph Greshko's Bar and Restaurant - from Lori Germani Lupi and Vilma Kish Germani - posted July 5, 2013

                Restaurant Tiny Bubbles LaundromatHere's a 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.

Mystery fence

Here's a little test.  -- We have a winner! - posted 4-22-13

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

                AllStarsJeddo 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.

                Yellow Jackets

Freeland Yellow Jackets - Barbara Bartol Rentenbach sent this and the next two photos. Her grandfather, Wante Bartolo, is in the second row, at left.

                Collegiate Champs

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.

Hazle Brook
                PiratesHazle 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.

Hazle Brook

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 online.

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

Trina Bartel sent this photo and the following note:

                family This 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.

1912 Sanborm map detail [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.


Featured photo - St. Mary's students, circa 1896, from Ann Malenky Nakpaira -- posted September 14, 2012

St. Mary's
                students ca. 1896 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

The 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

PDF logo Preface, illustrations, table of contents - (PDF file size = 1 MB)

PDF logo Chapter 1 - (PDF file size = 3.1 MB)

PDF logo Chapter 2 - (PDF file size = 5.1 MB)

PDF logo Chapter 3 - (PDF file size = 4.7 MB)

The descriptions of these photos come from Emily herself.

Ralph Pecora's tailor
                business and staff 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.

Ralph Pecora staff time
                book 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 accounts.

Ralph Pecora's daughter Amelia Ralph's 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 Pecora's tailor
                business 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 January 2012

I received this image from Curt Javic recently. Here's what he wrote about it:

                Football Team, 1902
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 residents.
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 field, 1948-1953.

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. Thanks!

** 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

DCM class,
                circa 1919-1920 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

St. John's Slovenska
                Band, ca. 1910 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.

St. John's Band,
                1943 St. John's Band, 1943 Meanwhile, 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 20, 2011

** 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.

Merrick picnic photo 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 the background.

Merrick picnic photo I think 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.

Merrick picnic photo 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.

Merrick picnic photo In Picnic04, 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?

Merrick picnic photo Merrick
                picnic photo That's 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 the 1930s.

Merrick picnic photo [The photo 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 2011

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 these memories.

DCM school in 1914 ice store Looking 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.

Centre Street after 1914
                blizzard 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 the photograph.

Snow street, horse in
                background 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.)

DCM school in 1914
                ice store 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!

Centre Street after
                1914 blizzard 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.

Snow street,
                horse in background 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. 20, 2010

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 1960s.

Refowich Theatre,
                1940sEd 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

                for Grand Ball at Haas's Hall, 1890 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 and 1897?

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 saloon.

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 snow.

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.

Gubi from St. Mary's
                ChurchFrom 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 our family."

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 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.

                Miller in his storeFrom 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 the backstory.

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.

Balon's Bar
                in the 1920sThis 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.

Click here to see past featured photos that were posted more recently.

Note: Photo at top left comes from Ann Malenky Nakpairat.

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