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Archive for February, 2013

The Man Behind the Myth: Milton S. Hershey

Milton Hershey seated on the porch of his home, High Point.  May 1913

 

 

The Archives oral history collection provides insight into many aspects of the Hersheycommunity: work, homelife, recreation, education. Many of the interviews also contain personal memories of Milton Hershey. Milton Hershey is well honored for his many accomplishments and his generous spirit. The oral histories help us to better understand the man behind the honored name.

 

 

In 1920, when he was three years old, Earl Houser moved to Hershey with his family. The family lived on East Derry Road, across the street from the Derry Presbyterian Church. In his interview he discusses growing up in on Derry Road and its proximity to Milton Hershey’s home, High Point.

 

 

 

Interview transcript:

[Milton Hershey] had two beautiful ponds to the northwest of the mansion down in the hollow. . . Down in the hollow there, there were two big beautiful ponds that he had landscaped, fed by a spring. And he stocked it with trout.

 

Age six. That’s when I started fishing. When I lived on Derry Road and lived where Nagle’s store is now, next door to us, toward the railroad, there was a general store, and right in the heart of that building was a shoemaker shop run by a fellow by the name of Lloyd Achenbach. He was a fisherman, and he’d take me along fishing. We’d get down to Spring Creek, but we didn’t fish on the ponds. Well, as I grew a little older, the temptation to catch these trout became overwhelming, and three other now-highly-respected people in town–

No, I won’t identify them. We would sally forth into these ponds, and Mr. Hershey would see us, and he’d come out on that front porch and he would lay everything upon us that he possibly could, including murder. He would always call the constable, and he’d threaten us with this, that we were going to go to jail for the rest of our natural and unnatural life. So he lived up to his threat, and we could hear the Model T coming.

Question: They had one constable in town?

Yes. It was a very small place in those days, less than 3,000 people. So anyhow, at the edge of the cliff that faces the factory of the mansion grounds, it was all full of honeysuckles and there was a cave there. So we’d hear this Model T coming, and we knew who it was. It was George Lafferty, who was the constable. We’d reel in our lines and carry our fish and zoom into the cave. He could never catch us. He would be threatening us with everything under the sun, too, all kinds of penalties. So when he’d leave, ZOOM! Back to catching fish. So that was my first contact with Mr. Hershey. It’s a good thing that he never knew who he was yelling at, or my career would have been considerably different, I’m afraid.

 

The entire transcript of Earl Houser’s interview can be found on the Archives’ website, along with 100 interviews from the collection.

Hershey Chocolate Company: On the Road

Hershey Chocolate Company introduced the motor car to Lancaster, Pennsylvania with this Riker delivery car. 1900

 

In February, 1900, some months before the sale of the Lancaster Caramel Company, Milton Hershey brought the first automobile to Lancaster, and used it to advertise his product.  The arrival of the machine was announced in the Lancaster New Era, February, 13, 1900:

 

“The Hershey Chocolate Company will have the distinction of having introduced the automobile into Lancaster, and for business purposes, too.  One was received here this morning from the Riker Electric Vehicle Company, and it will be put in shape for operating tomorrow, and be used in the delivery service.  It will haul a load of about 2,000 pounds and has a storage battery with sufficient power to carry the machine 30 miles.”

 

            After running around Lancaster for a few days – and nights, because the young clerks liked to drive it after hours – it set off on a tour of the cities of Pennsylvania, visiting Allentown, Bethlehem, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, and other centers.  With it was a crew of salesmen under F.W. Delori.  The “operator” was R.C. Orndorff of Baltimore.

            Reporters in the various cities through which it passed noted that it had won a $1,500 prize at New York’s recent Madison Square Gardens Automobile Show, that it cost $2000 (some said $2500), weighed 3,500 pounds, had four storage batteries (each weighing 300 pounds), and was equipped with electric lights, an electric bell, a brass “steering apparatus,” and brakes.

            Its top speed was nine miles an hour.  

 

Even though the car was such an attraction, the only image of the Riker electric motor car in the Archives’s collection is this print of a wood engraving, executed by J. J. Hensel, a Lancaster, PA engraver.  It would be wonderful to find an actual photograph of the vehicle somewhere, some day.