Map with blue and yellow lines
Hilltop Location: This map shows the approximate location of the Hilltop Carryout, on the northern edge of Mount Vernon. It is marked with a green star on this map. The Hilltop bar sat behind the station. Credit: (Image source: Google Maps)

History Knox

History Knox publishes each Saturday by Mark Sebastian Jordan

To quote Homer J. Simpson: “D’oh!”

After readers gently pointed out that Kemmer’s gas station (mentioned in last week’s column) while indeed between Fredericktown and Mount Vernon, was much, much closer to Mount Vernon, I suddenly recognized the spot on the road, even though the gas station is long gone.

The establishment was in fact at the split where Upper Fredericktown Road splits from Ohio 13 on the northern edge of Mount Vernon.

Now when I look at the photo Vickie Clawson Adams donated to Knox Time, I don’t see how I didn’t recognize the road.

Moreover, once I knew the location, I was able to remember when the Hilltop bar used to sit behind the station, not visible from this angle.

In my teens, way back in the 1980s, one of my favorite adventures was to drive from where my family lived, north of Mansfield, and come down through Mount Vernon on my way to visit Gambier, home of the then-magnificent Kenyon College Bookstore.

The Hilltop was the landmark telling me I had made it to Mount Vernon.

I also remember a couple years later when I was talking with my OSU English professor, Dr. Tim Kahrl, and he recommended that I NEVER take my nerdy, bookish self to that bar. I don’t know if it was really as rough as Tim seemed to think it was, but I never did go there.

I remember it was quite a bit later before it was finally torn down. Reader Jim Crowl says that it was the late 1990s when it was razed.

Does anyone recall when the gas station and carryout was torn down?

I can’t picture it, but as the years went by, I felt like something was missing when I passed the Hilltop bar, before it was torn down.

Perhaps I did see the station in my early visits to Mount Vernon.

Chuck Kemmer commented that his uncle owned this gas station at the time of this photo, while his father owned the Sinclair station in Centerburg. The stations had full-service bays, a mechanic on duty, and 24-hour towing service.

Karen Lee added that she walked to this station many times as a kid, and that she believed the Burrits took over running it in the 1970s.

Brian Bernicken remembered the Knox Pages published an obituary for Ida Burrit in 2018, who had run the station and carryout with her husband George for 23 years. Bernicken’s father used to deliver Pepsi to the carryout on his way to Fredericktown.

He wasn’t the only one who would stop there on the way to Fredericktown. Reader Donald Bouchard notes that it was a favorite stop for factory workers who lived in Fredericktown but worked at Cooper or other industrial plants in Mount Vernon.

Many of them would stop at the Hilltop Carryout on their way home from work to buy beer.

Larry Kemmer identified the station as being run by his grandfather.

Dave Frazee replied to him, “I used to work for Don and Leda, they were my second mom and dad. Fond memories.”

Many thanks to the readers who steered me back on course. You all are a wealth of knowledge.

Meanwhile, a couple readers mentioned a bar right on the city limits of Fredericktown.

Does anyone have more information about that?