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History of Freeland, Pa.
Henry George's grocery store

*** New on this page! See bottom of page for photos of a wooden shipping crate used by Henry George in his store!

Henry George as a young man Henry George's store on Walnut St. Henry Charles George was born in Stockton in 1865 of German parents. At age 9 he had to quit school to work in the coal breakers and he worked there until  his teens, then signing on as a carpenter's apprentice. He also took a course in business school, and subsequently worked for awhile as a sales agent for a sewing machine company. Dissatisfied with this work, in 1896 he opened a grocery business with $100 in capital. One of his family members recalled that in the beginning he had one or two horse-drawn wagons in which his clerks would travel to take orders from customers and then to deliver the groceries to them. Later the wagons were replaced with a large truck. Then Henry George opened his grocery store, which he called his "cash and carry" store. He retired a success in 1919, selling the store to another aspiring grocer, who I have assumed was James Norris, but this is a little confusing, as Norris is already listed as a grocer at Walnut and Washington Streets in the 1900-1901 directory. Interestingly, I also received a copy of the photo shown at bottom left from another source, and it was labeled Norris's store, seeming to confirm the succession by which the store changed hands. If anyone can elucidate this I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Henry George's first grocery store Henry George's store with workers In the 1895 city directory Henry George is listed under Sewing Machines, as well as Pianos and Organs, at 43 Walnut Street. By 1897 he had opened a grocery store at the same address. The photo at left gives a great view of the outdoor produce display, and the business card at top left of this page lists the store's specialties. I'm a little uncertain about the sequence of these photos, although it at least seems clear that the store at left must have been his first store. However, it also seems to me to be a different building from that shown in the other photos on this page, because it doesn't have a gable but the others do. Or was the building renovated?

The enlarged view (when you click on the small version) of the photo at left has been digitally repaired by Jay Cawley -- thank you, Jay!

Henry George's grocery store Henry George's grocery store Here are two more views of George's store, looking more polished and well established. The four sepia photos and the portrait came from John Grayson Jones, great-grandson of Henry George. The background information came from him, from another family member and (I think, but need to confirm) from A History of Wilkes-Barre (1906-1930).

Henry George wooden box Henry George wooden box Henry George wooden box Henry George wooden box Henry George wooden box

Photos of this box from Henry George's store come to us thanks to Bob Zimmerman. The first two photos show what the box was originally made to ship: Baby Brand Oleomargarine. Between the two lines of print in the second photo there is this line of printing in a smaller font and different color: Trade mark registered U.S. patent pending. That should help us date the box, but I don't have time to research it right now. Also on the box in that 2nd photo there are the remains of a shipping label, and what is still readable says: American Railway Express Co., Jersey City, N.J.

The remaining three photos show more details of the box's construction, and the fifth photo has stenciled on it Henry George's store address and the words pre paid. So interesting! These wooden crates would have been reused many times for all kinds of things, so we don't know that the original use for shipping margarine was related to the partly readable shipping label. There could have been up to 20 years between those two events. But it's so cool to think back a century, thinking about goods being shipped to small stores in small towns from other places by train and then horse-drawn wagons, and later by trucks.

There is a newspaper ad online from 1919 that describes Baby Brand Oleomargarine. I don't know how long the company was in business and so I don't have any idea when this wooden box dates from, but I thought the ad was informative even if it's later than the box.

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Site contructed by C. Tancin.
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