The Ft Tecumseh Store ended an over 30 year long run as a Clark County icon back in 2012 when shop owner Shirley Kinzer had to close the door for health reasons. Shirley is gone now, and the old store is gone as well making room for a modern version of the convenience store known as Dollar General, a nationwide chain.

Scott Suther from the Medway Area Historical Society recently helped KBA News to learn more about the history of the store and how it evolved over the years.

Back in 1921 when the National Road was paved, Benjamin Shartle owned the land and decided to set up a popular Tourist Camp where weary travelers along the highway could stop and rent a heated cabin or pitch a tent on the property. The little store was in front of the five cabins and had a supply of grocery items and gasoline for the travelers who either stayed the night or stopped along their way. Back then people rarely looked for a restaurant when camping and elected to cook on site and may or may not have had fresh items along unless they had a really good “ice chest”. By 1923 there were an estimated 1,800 public auto camps where travelers in the new age of automobile travel could find overnight accommodations.

The camp was purchased by Harry Marot in 1940. In 1946 his brother Clyde joined him and worked at the tourist destination until 1973. In the 1950’s as the increased traffic came to the National Road, the brothers added a restaurant to the store to allow travelers and locals the opportunity to have a hot meal with no fuss on their part. A meat counter and deli were later added to the store. It wasn’t until the building of I-70 that the tourist camp began to decline in popularity.

In 1973 the store began a time of moving from owner to owner until Shirley Kinzer reopened the Ft Tecumseh Store. She had a variety of penny candy for the kids along with Amish Cheese and other delights for customers who came from the local community. With the store being just up the road from George Rogers Clark Park in Clark County, it was also a great place to stop for a treat after a hike in the park.

Shirley had a wall that featured the school photos of many of the local kids who would stop by for candy. She was described as a nice lady who adored the many children who came in and then the second generation of children that were visitors over the next 39 years that she ran the store.

In addition to the candy and other food items, Shirley also had Indian souvenirs on display noted Suther in his description of the history of the store. The family sold the contents of the store when it was closed in 2012 and the doors were also closed for the last time when Shirley retired.

The business was the only part owned by Kinzer. The property was now the location of a number of mobile homes and an 1877 one room school house that was used for over 50 years.

Today, crews are making way for the construction of the Dollar General Store approved by Clark County last year. There will be penny candy but it will come prepackaged and the cost will be $1.00. There will be bread and milk but it won’t be the same as when Ben Shartle sold to the drivers and their families who were setting out on an adventure to see the U. S. A. in the Chevrolet. America still calls families to enjoy the open road, but today it is a high speed trip at 70 MPH whizzing across interstate highways and the scenery is pretty much open fields or commercial building sites. There are no tourist camps anymore, just Hampton Inns and Comfort Inns at the various exchanges along the interstate. But we do have the memories of residents who lived in the area to enjoy and the photos preserved by the local historians to appreciate as we look back at a time when the Ft Tecumseh Store was a destination for kids of all ages.

Special thanks to Scott Suther for providing us with photos from back in the day along The National Road.

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