Once a thriving community in Covington Township with a dozen little homes, a church and graveyard, a couple sawmills, a brush block factory, a lumber camp, post office, schoolhouse and Norman English’s brickyard. It has since found itself written off local county maps and its name all but forgotten.
The town came into existence about 1830, when John and Susanna Frey came here from Monroe County to start a farm in the wilderness. In the early 1900s, several other families lived here, including such names as Sayer, Leader, Stalbird, Ames, Baker, Haines, Shafer and Wall. It was in 1909 that only a single family remained. That was that of Charles H. Schreck and his wife, Rosie. Charles was born in 1867 and died on March 17, 1953, buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Daleville, PA, and Rosie, his wife, was the only surviving inhabitant, who became the “Mayor of Freytown.” Her neighbors often smiled as they passed her home to see her rank painted in red letters on her mailbox, but they all loved her and were proud to call her “Mayor.”
Rosie lived to be 91, but as she became feeble with age, a kind neighbor, friend and companion, Delores (Bentler) Stout, spent much of her time with Rosie, and to Mrs. Stout we are indebted for this story:
Rosie was born in Hamlin, PA, on April 18, 1877, a daughter of Ralph Ames (1847 – 1917) and his wife, Mary (Jones) Ames (1857 – 1925), both are buried in the Freytown Cemetery, in Freytown, PA. In 1881, the family moved to Gas Hollow, near Jericho, Wayne County, to work for the Winters and Ball Manufacturing Company, who had built a factory and sawmill at this location.
In 1882, a road was constructed from Freytown Corners down a steep hill into Gas Hollow to connect with the Jericho Road. On January 27, 1882, the first wagon passed over this road with equipment for the Winters and Ball establishment. At this time, there were several houses and a store at Gas Hollow to accommodate the mill laborers. The mill was eventually destroyed by fire, the other buildings disappeared and the road was washed out beyond repair by a hurricane. It is now closed at Freytown Corners.
Mr. Charles H. Schreck, a native of Freytown, worked for Winters and Ball in 1885 and started construction of his home in Freytown at this time. It was completed in March 1898. On March 28, 1900, he married Miss Laura Rosanna (Rosie) Ames and they set up housekeeping in the new home. After the fire destroyed the mill in Gas Hollow, he became a farmer. Charles was known in Moscow and Gouldsboro where he sold butter that his wife churned, weighed and wrapped.
In her 80’s, of course, Rosie could recall the prosperity of Freytown, its gradual sway and its subsequent death. An old newspaper clipping from November 13, 1909, which she preserved, tells the story. We quote, in part, from the clipping: “Town is wiped off County map by sale of lands to Water Company. Once a thriving little village in Covington Township is totally effaced except old church and graveyard to make room for proposed improvements of Scranton Gas and Water Company. Post Office passes away the same as the schoolhouse.”
The wiping of the town from the map was done by purchase. The Scranton Gas and Water Company apparently began buying these properties as a site for a proposed reservoir and to protect the watershed. It cost the company something in the neighborhood of $100,000 and once a farm was sold, down came the house and other buildings. All the farmers who sold out moved to Moscow, Elmhurst, Madisonville and Hollisterville.
The church may disappear, too, but the graveyard, never, and this, it is understood, is an obstacle in the way of building the proposed reservoir. It was said that the cemetery is in the way of construction as planned by Engineer Marple. The reservoir, according to plans would be an immense affair and would top the graveyard, but the graveyard cannot be disturbed. The right of eminent domain does not prevail against a cemetery or a church.
The church, too, had disappeared in the lifetime of Rosie, the Mayor of Freytown. She died on February 13, 1968. Her home, also, has been torn down and replaced by the new home of William Bentler, but the memory of Freytown and its lovable Mayor lingers on.
Stories of the town resurfaced in 1994, when told to youngsters that outlines of homes and their foundations and streets could be seen. This story had never been truly proved and was left to ponder over, but in 2005, when another story was told to a daughter from her father about the town and an expedition of the area was planned, that nothing was to be seen. All that remains of this thriving town is the cemetery and foundations of homes long forgotten.