John H. Fitch

John H. Fitch

Born:5 February 1843
Austintown, Ohio

Died:25 may 1919
Youngstown, Ohio

Spouse:Alice Packard

Children:Stella G. (King)
Minta M. (Goode)
Paul P. Fitch
John H. Fitch, Jr.

John Fitch was a successful Youngstown business man and State Republican Party Leader. He was born on his father's farm in Austintown, OH on February 5th, 1843. He attended, but did not graduate from Hiram College. Future US President James A. Garfield was college president at the time. At the age of 15 he began working as a store clerk in Austintown for $5/month. At 22, he purchased a half share in the company and it was renamed Crum & Fitch. In 1871, he bought the entire company outright. John moved to Youngstown in 1885 and went into the grocery store business. The next year he married Alice Packard and they had four children: Stella (married to Fred G. King), Minta (married to Rev. Walter S. Goode), Paul P., and John H. Jr. The firm grew and John had a few partners, but by 1901 John was sole owner and it was called the John H. Fitch Company, with capital stock of $300,000. His sons Paul and John both helped run the company. Paul served as Vice-President and John's son-in-law, Fred B. King served as treasurer. He greatly expanded his empire and would also run the John H. Fitch Coffee Company (after acquiring the coffee company Baldwin, Holcomb, & Co), the Youngstown Ice Company, Youngstown Dry Goods Company, Peoples Bank, Dollar Bank, and First National Bank. He was also a member of the Youngstown Club and served on the board of the Youngstown Chamber of Commerce.[1] Despite becoming a titan of local industry, he never gave up his love of farming. He lived on the family farm in the summer, actively managing the 400 acre family farm in Austintown until his death. [2]

John witnessed the camps at Cannon's Mill and West Point. He realized the positive impact that an outdoors vacation under Christian leadership could have on city boys. He considered camp life to be democracy at its best.[3] So in 1918, John H. Fitch met with YMCA President Jonathan Warner and wrote a $5,000 personal check to purchase the campsite that had been used in for the first time in 1918.[4] This new site would become the West Point boy's summer camp.[2] Mr. Fitch also provided the funds to run the camp for 5 years (the farm and cash totaled $10,000).[5]. The farm had 26 acres and an existing lodge. To show their appreciation, The YMCA Board of Trustees passed a resolution changing the name of the camp from Ot-Yo-Kwa to Camp John H. Fitch.[6].

John died on May 25, 1919 at the age of 76. In 1923 Camp Fitch was again at capacity. Knowing it would have been John's wish, his heirs gave the $25,000 needed to purchase the original 93 acres of the Lake Erie site from the Holliday Family that Paul Davies found and we still use today.[5][3]


1. a Sanderson, Thomas W., 1907. 20th Century History of Youngstown and Mahoning County Ohio. Biographical Publishing Company, pp.756-757.
2. a, b Simmon's, 1919. Simmon's Spice Mill; Volume 42, Part 1. The Spice Mill Publishing Company, pp.780.
3. a, b Camp Fitch, 1939. Silver Jubilee. Youngstown YMCA, pp.1-13.
4. a Youngstown Vindicator, September 3, 1918. Gives $5,000 for Camp Site. Vindicator Printing Company.
5. a, b Phil Tear, 1964. Camp Fitch Golden Anniversary. Allied Printing, pp.5-7.
6. a Youngstown Vindicator, 28 April 1989. Camp Fitch had 'primitive' beginnings 75 years ago. Vindicator Printing Company.