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Fred H. Bitner
(1891-1968)

Fred Harrison Bitner, the founder of Bitner's mineral and lapidary store, was born in Marion, Kansas on January 5, 1891, the son of Agnes Amanda Harrison and John Leander Bitner, a house carpenter. By 1910 he had moved to Wichita with his brother Austin (also a house carpenter). Fred Married Jessie J. Harris and they had two children while living in Kansas: Barclay (1913) and Marjorie (1916). The family then moved to California, where as of 1917 Fred was working as a stock and order clerk for International Harvester in Oakland. A third child, Georgia, was born in California in 1919. Fred was working as a salesman for the Care Nichols Hardware Company in 1922, but within a few years he had left California for Arizona and was working as an aluminum siding salesman in Phoenix in 1930. Returning to California by 1940, he opened a gem and mineral store in Santa Monica, California that same year (a 1952 note in Rocks & Minerals stated that he had been a dealer for 12 years.) and lived there through September 1950. In October 1950 Fred relocated once again to Scottsdale, Arizona and opened his lapidary store there.

In 1957 Fred wrote and published Arizona Rock Trails, consisting primarily of an envelope containing 20 maps to various localities. In 1958 he financed the publication of Arthur Flagg's book, Mineralogical Journeys in Arizona, a review of the state's mineral occurrences from the mineral collector's perspective.

Fred died in Scottsdale, Arizona in May of 1968, and passed the business to his son, Barclay (born August 30, 1913; died September 30, 1995), who sold the business to mineral collector and retired businessman Charles Leavitt (born January 11, 1919) of Scottsdale, Arizona. Charles, who died December 4, 2004, sold the company to Mike New in Tucson, the current owner. One shop ("Bitner's Rocks & Minerals") is currently located at 42 West Hatcher Road in Phoenix; and "Bitner's, Inc." is currently located at 4222 West Crocus Drive.

References:
U.S. Federal Census, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930.
Social Security Death Index.
World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.
California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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