By Colleen Lockhart
Although neither R.L. Fritinger Feed Co. nor the feed and lumber building exist today, both were a big part of the Middlefield community and important in the development of agriculture in Geauga County for many years.
My son, Jeff Lockhart, and I were sorting through school papers he had saved since kindergarten from the Cardinal School District. We found a class project where they were studying Middlefield businesses and the surrounding communities. He wrote to the Middlefield Chamber of Commerce on November 8, 1988, for information to help him complete his project. His letter was given to Martha Fritinger, secretary-treasurer of R. L. Fritinger Feed Co. and she took time from her busy schedule to reply to his request. Her complete letter follows:
“November 28, 1988. Dear Jeff, Thank you for showing an interest in agriculture. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. We employ 14 people at this time. Our main suppliers are Purina Mills, Inc. and Central Soya/Master Mix. They supply our feed and some of our health supplies. We also purchase farm supplies from Central Farm Supply in Wooster and New Holland Supply in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We also purchase fertilizer, chemicals, farm machinery, stock tanks, sprayers, etc. from other suppliers. Our main products for sale are animal feeds. They range from dog and cat food to hamster and parakeet to horse and dairy feeds. We also sell a lot of whole grains, such as corn and oats. It is hard to say which is our “best seller”, other than to say we sell more feed than anything else. Our business was started in November of 1934 by Ralph and Almeda Fritinger. Because it was so late in the year, they put January of 1935 as the time they started! So the feed store has been doing business for 53 years. Jeff, I hope this answers your questions. Again, I thank you for your interest in agriculture.
Sincerely, Martha J. Fritinger, Secy-Treas., R. L. Fritinger Feed Co., Inc.”
The Lockhart family has donated her original letter to the Middlefield Historical Society as a permanent record in Middlefield’s history.
Colleen Lockhart is a lifelong resident of Geauga County, lives in Huntsburg with her husband, Richard. She retired from Geauga County Commissioners, serves on the Department on Aging Executive Board, is a member of Middlefield Chamber of Commerce, and serves many local organizations.