Manufacturers of jellies and preserves
Scottish stonemason, Alexander Cruikshank, came to American in 1831, settling in Allegheny in 1836. He started his new life in Pennsylvania as a stonemason but soon changed his vocation to that of a grocer, opening a shop at 214 Arch Street in 1844.
Shelf life of fresh produce was very brief in this pre-refrigeration era. Alexander’s son, Frank, obtained his father’s permission to take unsold produce and (with the help of his mother) convert it into jams and jellies. Frank and his mother undertook this work daily and the preserves they created were sold at the family store during the winter months. The jams and jellies sold so well that 20 year old Frank’s two older brothers, Zachariah and George, sold their grocery stores and together they founded The Cruikshank Brothers Company in 1879. Over the years there would be some experimentation with various condiments but the core products of the company were to remain the jams and jellies Frank and his mother had originally created from the family store’s overstock. Newspaper ads in the 1930s list ten varieties of jellies and jams, “Quince, Apple, Grape, Cherry, Strawberry, Crabapple, Currant, Raspberry, Damson [and] Plum.”
The Cruikshank Brothers Co. was successful and found it necessary to expand several times over the years. By 1915, business was good enough to support a move to a 116,000 square foot warehouse on the North Side. By 1925, Crubro (a catchy, shortened version of the company name) products were being distributed nationwide. Frank proved to be an excellent manager, shepherding the company through these and many other changes for fifty four years.
At the time of his death, the estate of Frank Cruikshank, Sr. was worth over $100,000 dollars. His will made significant bequests to his family, The Methodist Episcopal Deaconess Home, The Salvation Army and Volunteers of America. His sons Vinton, Frank Jr. and Allan had been in the family business for some time and continued their father’s work. The final years of the company saw cutbacks in production until only seven jams, nine jellies and a peach butter were being manufactured. V. W. Cruikshank and Sons, the final iteration of the company, stopped production in 1956.