The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), July 12, 1917

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Willard A. Kitts

Willard A. Kitts, oldest native born resident of this city, died today at his home, 119 East Fourth street, in his eighty-third year.

Mr. Kitts was born at the corner of East Third and Mohawk streets March 13, 1835. His parents were natives of the Mohawk Valley, pioneers of their day, and for a time before coming to this city lived in both Lewis and Jefferson counties.

His father was the late Henry Kitts, founder of the first tannery and morocco factory that for years was located near the old guard lock on the Oswego canal. Retiring from that business he was was largely engaged in lumbering interests. As boy and man Willard lived here all his life. When a youth he attended the public schools and when his school days were over he entered his father's lumber office.

Afterwards father and son entered into partnership with the late Andrew Miller and conducted a boat and shipyard in the East cover. After that Mr. Kitts established a large shingle mill at the northwest corner of West First and Van Buren streets.

A man of great mechanical genius, Mr. Kitts made and patented several inventions that had to do with the cutting and making of shingles, among them being a planer that would shave both sides of a shingle at once.

Retiring from the shingle business Mr. Kitts was for a number of years in the lumber business and then became active in the Kitts manufacturing plant, making steam boilers specialties. he took out over forty patents on devices, many of which are still in use, among them being high and low water alarms for steam boilers and dampers and regulators for heating apparatus. For twenty-seven years he was the office manager, superintendent and general director, as well as sales director of the plants manufacturing these specialties, and always showed his great capacity for work.

In social life Mr. Kitts was a favorite with a large number of acquaintances. he was of cheerful and sunny disposition and for a few years in later life was one of the leading spirits in the Lake City Bowling Club and after the club's disbandment continued as a member of East side bowling clubs. A few days before his eightieth birthday Mr. Kitts celebrated by rolling twelve games in one match on the Crystal alleys. His bowling record, made on his seventieth birthday, was 269.

For a little more than a year now, Mr. Kitts has been in poor health, spending much of his time at home reading and visiting with friends, going out only occasionally. For some days acquaintances have been looking for the end almost any moment and it came this morning, as in full possession of his mental facilities he turned to those at his bedside, waved a last farewell and passed into the great beyond, unafraid to die.

Mr. Kitts is survived by a son, W.A. Kitts of New York, four grandchildren, Ensign W.A. Kitts, 3d., U.S. N., who came here last week to visit him, Misses Leonard and Hazel Kitts of New York, and Mrs. Ellwood Diment of Minetto, and also a great-grandson and great-granddaughter. he was a member of the Congregational church, but of no other societies. The funeral will be held on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

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July 12, 1917
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), July 12, 1917