Freeport PA Postcards
"You'll be surprised to hear about my visit here. I'm having a wonderful time and the people sure do treat Papa and I great."
Postcard dated 7/26/1919, High Street, looking West, Freeport, PA
Where is Freeport, PA?
Freeport is a borough in Armstrong County located along the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania. The population is approximately 2,000.
Why are you collecting Freeport, PA postcards?
Ah yes, the obvious question. My mother, Constance Fischer Boschetto, was born in 1934 and grew up in Freeport, PA. After starting a family of her own, we frequently traveled to Freeport in the 1960s and 1970s to visit her mother and father, (Martha & Henry Fischer) and her aunt and uncle (Margaret ("Dutch") & Clarence Barry). Henry Fischer owned Fischer’s Appliance, which was located at 205 Fifth Street in Freeport. Joe Skyzinski purchased the business when Henry passed away and ran the store until the mid-1990’s. I loved visiting Freeport for many reasons including the chance to spend time with our relatives, especially with Mike Barry, Dutch & Clarence’s son. We also loved to visit the Freeport Park and walk “up street” with Dutch. I began collecting Freeport postcards as a means of preserving these memories.
How many postcards are in your collection?
I have 108 unique Freeport, PA postcards, all of which are posted on this website. I have a handful of duplicates in my collection, which are not posted.
What is the image that forms the background on the homepage to this Website?
The background image on the homepage is from a 1913 fire risk assessment and real property map of Freeport, PA. The map, which was created by the Sanborn Map Company, is comprised of nine 65 x 54 cm sheets. The image displayed on the homepage is of the first sheet. The map is included in the Pennsylvania State University, Libraries' digital collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law.
What is the significance of the bee image on the top and bottom of the various pages in this website?
First of all, semantics is important in this regard as the image is meant to be that of a yellowjacket, which is the logo for the Freeport Area School District! This hyperlinked image provides a means to navigate from the various category pages back to the homepage.
Is it possible to view an enlarged version of the front and back of each card?
Yes! Each postcard image (front and back) will open in a larger pop-up window when clicked. The pop-up window may be closed by clicking on the "X" in the top right corner of that window.
Do you have any favorites in your collection and/or any that hold sentimental value?
I particularly like the card titled, "Buffalo Street, looking west, Freeport, PA" because my grandparents lived at 212 Buffalo St., which is next to what we referred to as the “spite" house. Mike Barry and his parents lived at 203 Buffalo St.
I also like the card titled, "Winter Scene on Fifth St, Freeport, PA", which has a postmark of 1913. The picture was taken in the aftermath of what must have been a tremendous snowstorm. The snow drifts are much greater in height than the people walking on the street!
Are you aware of any Freeport, PA postcards that you do not own?
I am aware of the following postcards that I do not own:
"6036A Sixth Street, Freeport, Pa"
"High St, Looking East, Freeport, Pa"
"Buffalo Street, Freeport, PA" (early view)
I am sure there are many others, so I regularly keep my eyes open for adding to my collection. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to compare notes (!).
What is your oldest Freeport, PA postcard?
Of the postcards that are postmarked, the oldest postmark date is 1903.
What is your most valuable Freeport, PA postcard in terms of monetary value?
Although I have not maintained detailed records of what I paid for each postcard, in January 2022, I spent $49 for a single postcard ("Annual Outing of G.A.R. Post 32, Freeport, PA, Sept. 18, 1906")!! The acronym G.A.R. stands for Grand Army of the Republic, which was a fraternal organization comprised of Union veterans of the American Civil War. Based on the number of men in the picture, many Union veterans of the Civil War lived in Freeport. I purchased this card via an online auction and found that I was in competition for the purchase not with a fellow postcard collector but with a collector of G.A.R memorabilia. Interestingly, the card was mailed from Freeport to Capt. James Ferguson in Belfast Ireland. Given the 1906 postmark, this was a full decade before the Irish republican insurrection against the British government, which is known as the Easter Rising. That there is no street address speaks to how small Belfast must have been at the time. It is a mystery how the card found its way back to America!
Is there anything of interest in the messages on the postcards?
Postcards offer a certain degree of history, both in the pictures and in the messages. Most of the cards in my collection are from the early 1900s and the messages reflect a simpler time. Many of the postmarked cards were addressed only to the name of the recipient and the town/state in which they lived. No street number or name; no zip code. The messages on several of the cards indicate a great deal of satisfaction with Freeport as a place to visit/live. While I do not know any of the people who sent any of the cards in my collection, I do know one of the recipients. The postcard displaying St. Mary’s school, parsonage, convent, and church is addressed to my great uncle Clarence Barry and mailed in 1967!
Probably the most unique postcards in my collection are two cards that reflect different views of Butler [Railroad] Junction, one postmarked in 1908 and the other in 1912. Interestingly, each card was sent from Freeport, PA to Verona, Italy. Each includes a two cent U.S. postage stamp, which was apparently the postage rate at the time for sending a postcard overseas. The message on each card is written in Italian. See my translations presented underneath each card.
The railroad postcards remind me of my mother's description of her early childhood home at 428 Market Street, which was a second floor apartment at the corner of Market and Fifth Streets (the building has since been torn down and is now, in part, the location of the Freeport Area Library). Underneath the apartment was a bar and grill. My mom recalls that at one point, the building was owned by Tony Crestani, who also owned one of three butcher shops in Freeport. In the rear of the apartment, the kitchen looked out upon railroad tracks, which included three sets of tracks and was a spot that trains would pull off to the side track to allow trains with a higher priority to pass. When trains pulled off to the side track, the engineers and caboose workers would step off the train and were close enough to my mom's kitchen window to allow her to toss snacks and soda cans to them as a friendly gesture. Due to the close proximity to the tracks, my mom's family regularly experienced loud noise and rumbling as trains passed. In addition, their kitchen window sill needed to be dusted on a nearly daily basis due to the accumulation of cinders and dust from the locomotives fueled by coal. The actual Freeport train station was located a short distance away on Second Street, where one could pick up a passenger train into Pittsburgh. The Schenley Station, which was one station away in the opposite direction from Pittsburgh, is where many folks from Freeport travelled to their jobs at the Schenley Distillery.
Of the messages written on the postcards, one is particularly noteworthy for its simplicity and kind expression of gratitude for a gift. The postcard titled, "Bridge over the Allegheny River, Freeport, PA", postmarked January 14, 1916, is a thank you note from a granddaughter to her grandmother, which reads, "Dear Grand-Mother, This is the river that I went swimming in last summer . I am just about the same. Thanks for the five dollars and candy. I am saving money to get a velvet dress. Good bye. From Alice Riffle".