FRED KITTLE'S GENERAL STORE
KYTTLE, LUZERNE COUNTY, PA

Donated by Harold and Lois Kittle Sitting- Will Koons, standing behind him- Martha, Robert Kittle, Hilda Saxe holding Allen Kittle

Ephraim R. Kyttle was born November 11, 1795 in Rhode Island.  At the age of 7, he was sent to Norwich, Connecticut to work and attend school.  He remained there for over 7 years.  When nearly fifteen years old, he came to the Wyoming Valley and found work on a farm in Wilkes-Barre Township, helping to harvest a crop of hay. In 1815, at age 20, he married Abigail S. Fletcher of Norwich, Connecticut.  She was two years younger than he. Over time, she bore him 6 children. 

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 “Abigail Fletcher (Mrs. Ephraim) Kittle.”

In 1830, he came to Wilkes-Barre, where he worked at his trade (coopering) and part-time farming. 

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 “Modern-day cooper preparing barrel for firing.  From the Internet.”

In 1831, he moved to the Lake Silkworth section of Lehman Township, purchased land, and erected a log house. During the winter of 1831- 1832, he attended an "academy" to further his education.

Ephraim must have been quite successful in Lehman Township, for a subsequent move to Ross Township by 1850 allowed him to buy one “section” of land (640 acres.) It lay along the wagon road that eventually became PA Route 115 and, later, Route 118.  While the exact boundaries of the 640 acres is not known, the eastern edge was near where the Mooretown one-room schoolhouse later sat. The western edge, towards Red Rock, extended to where Steele’s Restaurant used to be, across from the trail that leads up to Mountain Springs.

As is traditional worldwide, Ephraim’s land holdings eventually passed down to his male descendants. Ephraim died on February 14, 1876 and his wife Abigail died on November 19, 1878. Their son Hiram, born in 1821, inherited the western acreage and he lived near where Steele’s Restaurant eventually opened.  Hiram later granted to his son, Robert E. Kyttle (born July 31,1854), the eastern section closest to the intersection with Mooretown Road.  Beginning with Robert’s children, the family changed the spelling of their surname to Kittle.

At some point in the late 1800’s, the Albert Lewis Lumber Company began operations up at Mountain Springs, primarily cutting timbers to be used as “props” in the Wyoming Valley mining industry.  A secondary operation was stripping the bark from hemlock trees and shipping it to the tannery in Noxen, Wyoming County.  At roughly the same time, in the mid-1890s, Albert Lewis and his nephew, Arthur L. Stull, founded the Mountain Springs Ice Company.  For the most part, the timber men and ice harvesters at Mountain Springs were supplied by the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) which also hauled the props and ice off the mountain.  The Creasy, Wells, and Stackhouse Company built a sawmill on the banks of Arnold’s Creek north of the Kyttle lands but below the crest of North Mountain in a place called Arnold’s Notch.  The sawmill served a fairly substantial lumber camp there but that camp was not served by the LVRR line. To supply Arnold’s Notch, Creasy, Wells, and Stackhouse leased a small site from Ephraim Kyttle and later from his grandson Robert. On that leased site, they built a store which, in addition to selling supplies, also used the barter system.  A wider customer base was also reached because the store was the largest of its kind between Ruggles Corners in Pikes Creek (the intersection of Routes 115 and 29) and the base of Red Rock Mountain. The store was managed by Al Stevens. 

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 “Creasy, Wells, and Stackhouse Co. store run by Al Stevens.  Mrs. Stevens, Blanche Lewis, Martha Kittle, Alverna Wesley (Mrs. Robert E.) Kittle, Taci Kittle, Gertrude Stevens, Robert E. Kittle, Al Stevens (standing), two teamsters. Sitting: Luther Kittle, Boyd Stevens.”

Robert originally lived in a house behind and slightly to the east of the store. He later built a residence just 100 yards west of the store on the eastern bank of Arnold’s Creek.

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“Arnold’s Creek just west of the Kyttle homestead, looking eastward toward Wilkes Barre.”

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“Kyttle homestead looking westward toward Red Rock.”

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”Front view of Kyttle homestead. Note large fence surrounding it.”

It’s funny how one’s times shape one’s perceptions.  Seeing the fence in front of the home, I initially thought “What the heck could that porous thing ever keep penned up ?”, thinking of how we fence in our yards in 2005 to keep dogs from straying.  Speaking to Allen Kittle (son of Fred and Lizzie Kittle), I learned that this fence was meant to keep the cows OUT (off the porch) rather than to keep anything IN.  Silly me !  

On February 10, 1886, the US Postal Service established a post office in the Kyttle home and Robert was named its first postmaster.  As was tradition, post offices were named for their initial postmaster and it thus became the Kyttle Post Office.  The surrounding area, too, took on the surname and it survives even today.  In the year 2005 although most natives of the area call it Mooretown, the name Kyttle can still be seen on road maps and even at mapquest.com.  It is interesting to note that as long ago as 1887, one could send a letter via registered mail.  As is the custom today, such letters would be assigned a number and each mail handler along its path had to sign for it.  However, back then a registered sticker was not simply attached to the sender’s envelope.  The entire letter was enclosed in a separate cover made of heavier brown paper.

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“Registered letter cover from 1887.”.

Robert Kyttle remained postmaster for only 8 years. Giles L. Moore, undoubtedly a descendant of one of the early settlers of Mooretown, became postmaster effective June 12, 1894.  The Kittle family is still in possession of a final audit notice for the 3rd quarter of 1894. 

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“Postal audit notice from 1894.”

Upon appointment of Giles Moore, it’s probable that the office moved eastward on the Mooretown Road about a mile from the Creasy, Wells, and Stackhouse Company store. 

A study of the US Census for 1910 shows the timber business at Mountain Springs to have still been in full operation.  [The census for Ross Township was, coincidentally, enumerated by one Andrew M. Hontz, who was a first cousin, twice removed, to your author.]  On one page of the census alone, there were 24 lumber men, all of “Austrian\German” birth, living in a lumber camp at Mountain Springs.  Undoubtedly, many farmers from the surrounding areas commuted to jobs there, too.

The town of Ricketts sat atop Red Rock Mountain just a little west of the Kyttle lands.  It, too, housed a booming timber business (run by the Trexler and Turrell Lumber Company) and the entire little settlement was totally dependent on it.  It is said that Ricketts “died” in 1913 and became a ghost town when there was no more timber to be harvested.  It is fair to assume that the Mountain Springs operations of the Albert Lewis Lumber Company  died at that same time.  Proof lies on the 1920 census where no lumber men are found.  [The ice dam business continued to operate up until 1947 when housewives began buying refrigerators to replace their old iceboxes.  All three of Fred and Lizzie’s sons worked there at various times.] Given a large drop in business, Creasy, Wells, and Stackhouse was no longer interested in owning the store and they sold it to their landlord, Robert Kyttle. Robert operated the store up until his death in1927 and it then passed to his daughters Martha (born in 1881) and Taci (born in 1888.)

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“ Will Koons (husband of Martha Kittle); Taci Kittle; Hilda (Saxe) Hanner (granddaughter of Robert E. and Alverna Kyttle); Allen Kittle, Robert E. Kyttle.”

Taci Kittle, at age 28 on June 24, 1916, had married John Piatt from just over the Ross Township line in Fairmount Township.  Taci’s brother Fred Kittle, 5 years younger than she, married John Piatt’s sister, Lizzie, in 1918. 

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“Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Piatt Kittle.” [ A genealogical point of interest here.  My chief sources on this story have been Freda and Allen Kittle, children of Fred and Lizzie.  They confirm that John Piatt was their “double uncle”—by marriage to their Aunt Taci, and also because he was their mother Lizzie’s brother !

All during the time that Creasy, Wells, and Stackhouse had run the store, Robert had continued farming all around it.  In 1903, he had built a barn on the south side of the wagon road to shelter the livestock in the winter.  During the warmer months, 8 cows essentially had the run of the farm as did up to 75 sheep.  The cows, needing to be milked twice daily, hung around the lowland but the sheep would spend the entire summer unattended “up the mountain.”  A small barn at the higher altitude gave them shelter from the summer rains.  Robert and his trusty dog would drive the sheep back down to the main barn in the fall.

At some point in the early 1900’s, two Pennsylvania State Police officers used the Kittle residence as a layover station.  The troopers would ride their horses out from Wyoming to Mooretown.  After spending a night with the Kittle family, they’d continue their circuit ride to Dushore the next day.

In the early 1900’s, a glimmer of “modernization” shone on the horizon. Several events happened in and around Dayton, Ohio. The Wright Brothers built the first airplanes in their bicycle shop there.  In 1903, an electrical engineering graduate of Ohio State University, Charles F. Kettering, invented the first electric cash register while working for the National Cash Register (NCR) Company. With a partner, Edward A. Deeds, Kettering founded the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco)  in 1909. In 1911, they installed the first electric starter in a Cadillac, but then Kettering’s interest expanded beyond the automotive industry.  Cities had enjoyed electricity since the late 1800’s.  In Luzerne County, PA, Hildreth & Company began, in 1884, what later became the Nanticoke Light Company [History of Luzerne County Pennsylvania, H. C. Bradsby, Editor, S. B. Nelson & Co., 1893.]  Rural areas, however, had to make do with kerosene lamps. It didn't take a genius to realize there was money to be made supplying electric power to rural America.  In 1916 Delco introduced its "Delco-Light" line of electric-generating plants. From the beginning, the Delco-Light line was designed to make life easier. Power was supplied by a single-cylinder vertical engine. To keep things simple, the engines were air-cooled. To make things easy, Delco, drawing on its expertise in small motors, fitted its light plants with electric starters. The customer only had to fill the tank, close the switch, and the light plant did the rest. The engine started automatically, charged the lead-acid storage batteries and, when the batteries were charged, shut itself down. The engine was restarted only when needed to bring the batteries back up to charge.”  

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” Delco-Light ad. From the Internet.” 

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“Delco-Light engines. From the Internet.”  

Kettering’s inventions made him a wealthy man and his name lives on today. He was part of the founding of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City. [See http://jove.eng.yale.edu/pipermail/eas-info/2004/000676.html]

Allen Kittle (born June 25, 1918) can’t pinpoint exactly when his household first obtained a Delco-Light plant.  He does, however, recall his father Fred operating one.  That would have been in the 1930’s, after Fred assumed store operations from his sisters.  Fred had the Delco-Light model that featured 16 batteries and produced 32 volts of DC current.  He fired up the gasoline-fueled engine just once a week.  This supplied enough current to light the house, the store, and, after he’d strung a heavier-than-AC-required wire across the road, his barn. In addition to lighting, the Delco-Light system powered sheep-shearing clippers in the barn and a coffee grinder in the store.  The Kittles used this system until AC lines came through Ross Township along Route 115 later in the 1930’s.

By the early 1920’s, due to poor management by the commonwealth, the white tail deer herd in most of Ross Township and surrounding areas had been severely decimated.  Near Lake Silkworth in Lehman Township, Alice May (Mrs. Walter W.) Bronson was quite surprised to find a deer track in her garden.  She covered it with a bushel basket to preserve it until all her neighbors could see it.  To improve ability of hunters to find deer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, between 1920 and 1924, bought 48,000 acres from the heirs of Colonel Robert Bruce Ricketts atop and around the base of Red Rock Mountain. The Kyttle store drew considerable business from the influx of hunters along the wagon road and it grew even greater when the road was paved.  In fact, on the first two days of buck season, the store would open at 4 AM.   Mrs. Bronson’s grandson, my best buddy Rich, remembers his father, Hale, telling of driving a Model T up the mountain to hunt.  A Model T had problems climbing steep grades because its fuel system was gravity-fed and lacked a fuel pump. They had to climb the entire way in reverse gear.

During the summer the store also sold to families headed to Red Rock Mountain to pick blueberries.  One of my high school classmates recalls that in the early 1950’s her family would always stop there.  It was the only place she knew of that sold white birch beer soda.

Allen’s brothers. Harold and Bob, were born to Fred and Lizzie on November 26, 1920 and January 30, 1923, respectively. 

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“Lizzie (holding Harold) and Fred (holding Allen) Kittle, circa 1921.”

In 1932, a major event occurred.  The old wagon road in front of the house and store was paved.  The work was done under the auspices of then-PA governor Gifford Pinchot, whose second term ran from 1931 to 1935.  Pinchot was known for the slogan “Get the farmers out of the mud “ and was responsible for the improvement of some 20,000 miles of rural roads in Pennsylvania.  Many area residents believe the initial paving was done by the Works Progress Administration (WPA.)  Analysis shows, however that Franklin D. Roosevelt was first elected in November of 1932 so the WPA, one of his family of “alphabet agencies”, couldn’t have done the first paving.  The WPA DID, however, continue to add improvements later in the 1930’s and 40’s.  Allen Kittle was 14 in 1932 and he surprised me with the fact that my father, Albert W. Hontz, Sr., was a member of the paving crew along with Albert Wallace and Dana (Daney) Lord. The crew worked for the Central Pennsylvania Quarry and Construction Company, a company that also helped build the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Stonewalls, from farms adjoining the old wagon road, fell to the sledgehammers of the paving crew, crushed to build the road bed.  Following the paving, my father and his crew worked on road maintenance which meant, in the winter, “ashing” it.  PENNDOT (or whatever it was called in the 1930’s) had plows at that time but no dump trucks from which to spread the ashes. 

Many a time Fred Kittle would be awakened on a cold winter night by a horn blowing.  He’d climb out of bed to go sell Atlantic gasoline to the road workers so they could continue their work—shoveling ashes by hand from the back of a pickup truck.  Tom Foss also worked for the state highway department; and, while Allen cannot specifically place Tom on the paving crew, Tom was noted for another accomplishment.  Part way up Red Rock Mountain is a pipe running from a spring inside the western rock wall along the road.  Tom installed that pipe.  While the paving of Route 115 was a major boon to the business, it caused Fred Kittle to have to make one improvement at the store.  When there was just a wagon road in front, the store had just two wooden steps.  Building the new road bed, however, lowered the grade of the road and Fred built six concrete steps.  Those steps, along with the iron railings on either side, are all that remains of the store in 2006.  

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The eight cows provided more milk than the Kittle family needed and Allen got a job driving a milk truck for the Dairymen’s League.  On the average, he’d take two 100-pound metal milk cans from the family farm daily and make additional pickups at farms throughout Ross, Lake, Lehman, and Jackson townships.  He’d deliver it to the Kingston Dairy, Woodlawn Dairy, and Highland Dairy.  The sheep were sold as mutton to Percy Brown’s market on Northampton Street in Wilkes Barre.  Fred would also bundle the wool into burlap bags, but Allen can’t recall to whom Fred sold it.

World War II saw all three of Fred and Lizzie’s sons serve their country.  Allen, being the eldest, was the first drafted in 1942.  At the age of 5, he had been jumping rope near the kitchen stove.  Grandpa Robert always drank hot water with his meals, so the stove always contained a boiling teakettle.  Its spout should have been turned inward toward the back of the stove but one day it wasn’t.  Allen’s jump rope managed to snag the spout, spilling it and severely scalding his back.  It left a large scar.  As Doc Brown from Lehman put it, Allen’s life was saved because both of his grandfathers stayed up all night, applying an entire case of Vaseline from the store’s inventory to the burn to keep it from drying out. 

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“Edwin Piatt, Allen’s grandfather.”  

Allen went through Army boot camp but then, because of the scar, was deemed unfit for combat. He simply couldn’t tote a full field pack without the scar tissue breaking open.  He spent his entire hitch at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  Home to some 110,000 troops at its peak, Camp Shelby featured 10 movie theaters and Allen helped run them.  He attained the rank of sergeant.  Harold, two years younger, was also drafted in 1942.  He saw action in North Africa, Italy, and on into Germany, being discharged as an anti-aircraft gunnery sergeant at war’s end.  He was fortunately never wounded and spent a good deal of his spare time writing to his much-younger sister Freda back home on the farm.  Bob, the youngest Kittle boy, wasn’t drafted until 1944 and spent about 18 months as an engineer, building portable bridges and such while stationed in England.  Bob attained the rank of tech sergeant.

Freda Kittle was born to Fred and Lizzie on May 22, 1938; so, during the years when she was from 4 to 7 years old, her two oldest brothers were off in the war.  Bob stayed with her up till the time she was 6 and then he left for a year and a half, an eternity to a 6-year-old.   She greatly treasured the “V mail” she got from Harold almost daily. 

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“V-mail poster. From the Internet.”  

As described at http://www.homefrontmagazine.com/,  “V-mail, with its "V" standing for victory, were pre-printed sheets that were photographed and transferred to microfilm. These films were then flown across the world and reproduced at the mail center closest to where the soldier was stationed. It was first used in England when British troops were in the Middle East. The U.S. Post Office Department adopted this and began using it in 1942. The main advantage of V-mail was how compact it was. By reducing the space needed for letters, more space was made available for war materials. With V-mail, a single mail sack could now hold 150,000 one-page letters instead of the 37 mail bags needed for the same amount of traditional letters.  The special V-mail letter sheets were actually a combination of letter and envelope. The sender would write out his/her message in the space provided and then fold it into the shape of an envelope. It even contained a "gummed area" for sealing. These forms were always free of charge for servicemen, but while free at first for those in the U.S., they later had to be purchased. Letters were mailed out, reduced and placed on microfilm. These films would then be sent to receiving stations where individual letters were printed out and delivered to the awaiting addressee. It was e-mail in its infancy!”  Further, we find at http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/adaccess/vmail.html  “V-Mail letters were written on forms that could be purchased at five and ten cent stores or the post office. The development of the V-Mail system reduced the time it took a soldier to receive a letter by a month -- from six weeks by boat to twelve days or less by air. Transport of the letters by plane minimized the chances that the enemy would intercept the letters, although writers were reminded to delete any information that might prove useful to the enemy in case some V-Mail was captured. Letters from home were compared to "a five minute furlough.”

Lizzie would read Harold’s V-letters to Freda and would write responses for her. 

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“V-letter from Harold Kittle in Italy to his sister, Freda, 2/19/1944.” 

[The new horse Harold refers to was a mare named Dolly.  Fred originally had two mares, Bird and Queen, but Bird had died and Dolly replaced her.  Later, when Queen died, Fred bought a stallion named Dan. The horses helped mow the hay fields, and they also pulled a manure spreader and a grain drill.  Fred also bought a John Deere tractor for larger jobs during the war.  Exemptions from rationing were granted to farmers whose sons had gone off to war, as Fred’s had. He also eventually bought both a Maxwell car and a Maxwell truck.] Freda was too young to fully understand the war but those letters helped her retain the memory of Harold (who was 18 years older than her and had left when she was 4.)   Freda had a playmate, Fran Yahara, who was one year younger and who lived about a half mile away.   Lizzie would watch Freda head up the road to play and kept her in sight until she reached the fork of 115 and Mooretown Road.  From that point onward, Fran’s mother would watch her progress.  At other times Freda and her dog, Biff, would amuse themselves.  They would go across the road to the barn and she would tease Pat, the Guernsey bull, by sticking her fingers through knotholes in the barn’s wooden sides.  Her father would have chastised her severely had he known of these adventures for Pat was quite the ornery cuss.  He was tethered by a chain from his nose ring to the barn’s foundation.  When the door was opened, he had the “run” of the barnyard to the length of his chain.  Allen tells of the time that Pat was so enraged that he managed to tear the ring out of his nose.  Although the Great Depression ended by the 1940’s, Freda recalls “bums” stopping by their home seeking a meal and a place to sleep.  Lizzie would feed them and Fred would let them sleep in the barn as long as they promised not to smoke.  Freda would stand on a chair and watch them through a window as they approached the barn.  One poor bum had several years taken off his life when he opened the wrong door and was chased by Pat. 

The three Kittle boys all returned safely from the war in 1946. 

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“Robert, Harold, Allen and Freda Kittle and Biff the dog.” 

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 “Fred Kittle and sons Harold and Allen in front of the store, Feb. 21, 1946.  Kittle home can be seen to the rear left.” 

In 1948 Lizzie and Freda, along with several other neighborhood ladies, attended a Red Cross life-saving course held at the one-room schoolhouse in Mooretown. 

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“Mooretown ladies at Red Cross training-1948.”  Left to right: Mrs. Mae (Phillip, Sr.) SCAVONE, unknown male instructor, Miss Freda KITTLE, Mrs. Viola SMITH (Albert, Sr.) HONTZ, Mrs. Lois KITTLE (William) O'KEEFE, Mrs. Ruth JONES, instructor Mrs. Ella LONG (seated), Mrs. Joy STEELE (Duaine) WICKER, Mrs. Connie (Julius, Sr.) VERBYLA, Mrs. Lorraine ADAMS (Hobart, Jr.)AUSTIN, Mrs. Lizzie PIATT (Fred) KITTLE, Mrs. Joan KITTLE (Francis) CORNELL, Mrs. Ethel (Basil) STEELE, Miss Mary Keller (daughter of Mrs. Long), Mrs. Marie SCAVONE (Carmen) ALTAVILLA.

Ricketts Glen State Park lies just west of the Kittle lands.  While the area comprising the park was approved as a national park site in the 1930s, the advent of World War II brought an end to this plan for development.  Recreational activities first opened in 1944 and shortly after the war ended in 1945, returning vets undoubtedly also spent money at Fred Kittle’s store on their way to the park.

I find it interesting to study the various patent medicines that were sold in Kittle’s store over the years.  [As I previously wrote in the History of Sweet Valley at History of Sweet Valley  there never was a pharmacy in Sweet Valley until 1988.] On June 30, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Food and Drugs Act, known simply as the Wiley Act, a pillar of the Progressive era.  However, the basis of the law rested on the regulation of product labeling rather than pre-market approval. Drugs, defined in accordance with the standards of strength, quality, and purity in the United States Pharmacopoeia and the National Formulary, could not be sold in any other condition unless the specific variations from the applicable standards were plainly stated on the label. The food or drug label could not be false or misleading in any particular, and the presence and amount of eleven dangerous ingredients, including alcohol, heroin, and cocaine, had to be listed.  [It should be noted that the original formula for Coca-Cola, invented by druggist John Stith Pemberton (1831-1888) in Atlanta,  contained a derivative of the coca plant leaf.]

I can date the Oil Of Gladness back to 1915 based on research done by Doris Harvey and previously published in the Country Impressions newspaper.  In her article, Doris spoke of a circuit-riding pair of deliverymen who brought it from its manufacturer, Moyer Brothers’ wholesale pharmacy in Bloomsburg.  That product would have been delivered to Robert E. Kyttle and Freda Kittle can attest to the fact that her father Fred was still selling most of the other items discussed below as late as the 1950’s.

Oil of sassafras: Traditionally, the oil is used on the skin to get rid of scabies, lice, and other infections.  Once consumed  in  flavoring for candy, root beer, chewing gum, and tooth paste, the oil,  containing safrole has been deemed a potential carcinogen by the FDA.  (From http://www.meridianinstitute.com/echerb/Files/1sassafr.html) My pal Rich Bronson, born in 1946, recalls “I chewed sassafras root for taste or as a tea to heal a cold or a stomach ache.”

Oil of hemlock: Traditional Uses: Antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, rubefacient, tonic. Skin: oily skin. Respiratory: asthma, bronchitis, coughs, respiratory weakness. Muscular/Skeletal: muscle aches, pains, rheumatism. Cardio-vascular: poor circulation. Immune: colds, flu, infections. Nervous/Mind/Emotion: anxiety, stress, mentally grounding, elevating, opening.  Safety Data: non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing at low doses. Avoid in Pregnancy, with babies, children. From http://www.aromatherapy-essential-oils.org/essentialoil/profile/hemlock/It should be noted that, as cited above, the bark of the hemlock was used in tanning hides and a strong caveat is found in  “The volatile oil is used in veterinary liniments, and to procure abortion, but it is very dangerous for this purpose” at http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/pinusb40.html

Oil of cedar: Essential oil of cedar wood is obtained by distilling its saw dust and wood savings. It helps in improving oily skin, acne, scalp disorders etc. It is better to avoid using cedar wood oil during pregnancy and in case of sensitive skin.  (From http://www.indiadiets.com/Alternative%20Healing/Aroma_therapy.htm)

Oil of oragnum: Peppermint/Oregano oil (Mentha/Oraganum/Monarda): Enteric-coated capsules of either of these mint family plants can be useful for diminishing painful and tenacious spasms, bloating and distention of the intestinal tract.  The effects of both of these herbs will be purely symptomatic, but useful in getting relief.  Use 1-2 capsules 3 times a day with meals.  (From http://www.tcbmed.com/Articles/IBS-Article/IBS.htm)

Camphor gum: Camphor has a strong, penetrating, fragrant odor, a bitter, pungent taste and is slightly cold to the touch like menthol leaves. Locally, it is an irritant, numbs the peripheral sensory nerves and is slightly antiseptic.  It is not readily absorbed by the mucous membrane, but is easily absorbed by the subcutaneous tissue. Camphor combines with the body with glucuronic acid, and in this condition is voided by the urine. In Mankind, it causes convulsions from the effect it has on the motor tract of the brain. It stimulates the intellectual centers and prevents narcotic drugs from taking effect, but in cases of nervous excitement, it has a soothing and quieting result.  Camphor has been proven valuable as an excitant in cases of heart failure, whether due to diseases or as a result of infectious fevers, such as typhoid and pneumonia, not only in the latter case as a stimulant to circulation, but to prevent the growth of pneumococci. Camphor is used in medicine internally for its calming influence in hysteria, nervousness and neuralgia and for serious diarrhea, and externally as a counter-irritant and a rubefacient in rheumatisms, sprains, bronchitis, for inflammatory conditions and sometimes in conjunction with menthol and phenol for heart failure. It can be poisonous in large doses, especially to children. Camphor is also used to expel moths and other insects and as an air disinfectant and purifier. Rich Bronson says of it “As a kid, I used warmed camphor oil as a chest rub and to breathe the aromatic vapors for colds.”

Linseed oil (a\k\a flaxseed oil): Is a good source of dietary fiber.  Constipation. For promoting bowel regularity, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of whole or ground flaxseed is taken one or two times per day, accompanied by a full glass of water.  (From http://www.vitacost.com/science/hn/Supp/Flaxseed.htm)

Oil of Gladness:  Luckily, Freda Kittle still has a bottle of this patent medicine from Moyer Brothers.  Its cap can no longer be opened for it is severely rusted, but we managed to scan the label. 

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“Oil of Gladness bottle.” 

Absent looking at the label, I don’t think I would ever have found a listing of its ingredients.  Numerous internet sites report “Oil Of Gladness” ONLY as cited in the Bible (Psalm 45:7).  Freda reported that a few drops of it would be sprinkled on a teaspoon of sugar and then swallowed to cure a sore throat.  Kathleen Hunter Cornell reported its additional use to stop an earache.  Looking at the label, it is obvious that it contained ALL SIX of the oils just cited above. It is my educated guess that it may have been used for several purposes other than just what the label called for.

In addition to these patent medicines, Robert’s inventory included such items as sugar by the barrel or bag, yeast, starch, lard, soap, cocoa, and coffee.  These particular items came from Philadelphia via the Lehigh Valley Railroad by way of Bethlehem. Robert would pick them up at the train station at the Alderson section of Harvey’s Lake or sometimes at the Hunlock Creek station.  Allen says that sugar came in 100-pound bags so, by looking at an invoice, one can calculate that a barrel of sugar weighed 366 pounds.  Robert would bring them home in a horse-drawn wagon and back the wagon up to a loading dock that was at the same level as the back of the store.  The barrels came with wheels on them and he was able to wheel the huge sugar barrels directly into the store. . 

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“LVRR bill of lading from 1926.”  

Another interesting item sold during the years that Fred operated the store was an imitation vanilla extract.  It was manufactured by McCormick, the spice folks, who personalized the product by calling their retailers “distributors” and adding the retailer’s name to the label. 

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Fred Kittle's Imitation Vanilla

The Kittle store itself was part of a small chain called Economy Stores. At some point either Fred, (or, more likely, his father Robert,) had joined a nationwide association of grocers to pare costs through volume buying.  Known as National Retailer-Owned Grocers, Inc., its headquarters was in Chicago. 

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“Blank grocery bill from the 1940’s.  Note the old-fashioned phone number.”  

As suggested by the “Account Forwarded” on the blank bill, Fred extended credit to his customers and this type of bill could be used as an Account Receivable.  Fred was a kindly man who granted credit to most everyone but never could bring himself to hire an attorney to collect bad debts.  After his death, Allen recalls burning some $20,000 worth of receivables.  Freda says that her dad carried the Shurfine brand of groceries.  Although the Kittle store is long gone, another Shurfine store called Mountain Fresh now operates along Route 118 just 3 miles east of the old store.

My earliest memory of Fred Kittle’s store dates back to about 1950 when I was just 4.  Although I grew to be a fairly intelligent adult, at that age I had some strange notions.  (Gabardine was a shade of green and corduroy was always brown.)  Fred disabused me of one silly idea, that anything round and hard was money.  I tried in vain to buy some Grade A chocolate by handing him an overcoat button.  My dad lost his first wife in 1940 and my mother died in 1953.  During these two periods of widower-hood, dad could spend hours sitting around the store telling tales.  Freda heard most of his tales during the latter period for; as a teenager, she ran the store while Fred farmed and Lizzie kept house.  Dad and I left Mooretown in 1957.  We fell upon hard times and, while we later lived only 2 miles away from our original home, we no longer had a car to go to the Kittle store. 

While I was in the Navy, Lizzie Kittle died in 1969.  Fred took her death very hard and never again set foot in the store. It was allowed to fall into disrepair.  He died on July 20, 1976 just 18 days before my dad died.  He left the old homestead farm to his son Bob.  The store building itself stood until the mid-1980’s or possibly into the 1990’s.  Research into an exact date continues at this writing. It is known, however, that it just collapsed onto Route 118 directly in front of the car of a passing neighbor.

Following his Army discharge in 1946, Allen Kittle worked for about a year at the Mountain Springs ice dam before it closed down in 1947.  He then worked at the Shavertown Lumber Company and built houses in New Goss Manor in Dallas for Charlie Bonham.  He spent 25 years as a warehouse manager for Celotex, a manufacturer of ceiling tiles in Harding.   He married Ruth Bertram and they had a son named Robert.  They divorced and Ruth got re-married to Mike Slimak, who adopted Robert.  Allen married Marion Turner and they live in Shavertown.  Allen is now 87 and they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on April 20, 2006.

Harold Kittle spent his career as a carpenter, primarily as a partner with Dick Stroud, Jr. and his brother Don Stroud.  Harold married Lois Cadwalader and they had three daughters and two sons.  Harold died on June 25, 2005, was cremated, and his ashes were interred in the family cemetery along Route 118 just east of the old homestead.

Bob Kittle helped his dad with the farming up until his dad died in 1976 and he then worked at Rave’s Nursery.  He married Bertha Cragle and they had four daughters and two sons.  Bob died on October 26, 2001 and was buried in the family cemetery. Bertha still lives on the old Kittle homestead.

Freda Kittle spent the bulk of her career working for Procter and Gamble at their plant in Mehoopany, making Charmin toilet paper and Pampers diapers.  She married Merten Jay Coolbaugh, a 22-year Navy vet.  Now retired, they live just up the hill from the P&G plant.

All told, the Kittle store existed for nearly three-quarters of a century. Although it is gone forever, it lives on in collective memories of many of us older natives of the Ross Township-Sweet Valley area.

All photos and other items displayed above, except for those from the internet, are courtesy of Harold Kittle and Freda Kittle.

Ronald E. Hontz

33 Whitcraft Lane

Shrewsbury  PA  17361

(717) 235-5791

cell phone (717) 309-1402

e-mail: Sweetvalleykid@gmail.com

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