Hershey Family Bus Tour – Celebrating 300 Years in the USA

Friday, September 15

It was a beautiful morning as we backed out of our driveway to go to the Hershey Reunion Bus Tour. The land where we live has been part of the Hershey family for 142 years.

Our first stop at Manor Church was to pick up our name tags and get on our assigned bus. There were two.

In 1717, Christian Hershey (circa 1661-1720) my ancestor – I am in the 10th generation since then – and Hans Brubaker obtained 1,000 acres from the William Penn family along the Little Conestoga Creek in what is now the city of Lancaster. This wall on Marietta Avenue is believed to be part of the original farm.

It was due to persecution in Switzerland, that the two families moved to the United States.

Christian’s son Benjamin (1697-1789) – my ancestor – proved to be more influential than any other local Mennonite leader is his day. He was a minister and then bishop for more than half a century, and provided wise, articulate leadership in the difficult years between 1755 and 1783. He was respected by neighbors of all classes and denominations.

Most of the pictures were taken from a bus window so you will notice glares on many of them. This house near Columbia belonged to an ancestor of Andrew and Maria Acker Hershey. Brother to Benjamin. Notice the difference in the stones. The first story was built with field stone and the second story was built with quarried stone.

This house/farm, also near Columbia, belonged to the Andrew Hershey family for about 90 years.

Our first stop – where we got out of the bus – was on Harrisburg Avenue, Mount Joy.

It is now owned by John and Lizzie Beiler (Amish)

The other bus left shortly after we arrived.

There is reconstruction going on in the barn, but they encouraged us to look at the plaque in the barn.

Lizzie (right) told us about the wooden communion cup she found in the house when they were remodeling.

She learned that if this was on the mantel in a house, it meant you were welcome to stay for a meal.

There is a story in the Hershey history that one time a 1,000 people came to the farm for a communion service. I understood that the family at that time was River Brethren. They usually worship in barns or large buildings on a farm.

Clair Leaman (TFC friend) talking to John Beiler and a construction worker. Clair and I talked about being part of the Hershey family at a retreat many years ago. I think he said that his mother was a Hershey.

Returning to our bus. I think there were just over 50 people on each bus.

Andrew Hershey Farm – youngest son of Christian, near Mount Joy.

J. Hoffman Hershey built this house in 1873 – he is a descendent of Andrew. The barn was built in 1888.

This house near Manheim (Kreider Farms) was built by a Benjamin Hershey in 1791.

I loved this shirt that one of our relatives wore. I forget which numbers are transposed, but he told me that one of them was incorrect. They live in Florida and didn’t take time to proof it because of the hurricane.

We stopped at Kreider Farms where there was a Native American ceremony because the Hershey’s protected an Indian couple during the Paxton Boys massacre in 1763. (Mrs.Noah Kreider, Sr. was a Hershey.) It was her ancestor Christian Hershey and his wife who protected the couple – members of the Conestoga tribe. (I just learned from Glenn Hershey – see comments – that they were Delaware Indians. He said the newspaper reported it incorrectly. Thanks, Glenn.)

Barry Lee – a member of the Munsey tribe shared some words of thanks.

A friendship belt

They sang a friendship song for the Hersheys

Sharon Kreider Beiler also shared a few words.

The gravesite of Michael and Mary – the Native Americans who lived on the Kreider farm.

Reporters getting notes from the three Native Americans.

Leaving Kreider Farms

We had lunch at Erb Mennonite Church

Fay Stoner holding a vegetable tray


Hershey Kisses. 🙂 (Milton Hershey is of our lineage)

I went to the Erb Cemetary, while the others finished eating, to find Hershey tombstones. I don’t think most of them are in my lineage. Maybe brothers, uncles, or cousins to my family.

This is my great-great-great grandpa.

This was his third wife. I am descended from his first wife Anna Reist Hershey and their son John R. Hershey. I think it was this John who married a woman from our church, which is how I grew up in the Church of the Brethren.

  I stopped by the gravesite of Cerwin’s parents. We were thinking about them a lot on this day, because the day we were there (September 15) would have been Mother’s 100th birthday. They attended Erb Mennonite Church.

We drove by many other Hershey farms and heard interesting stories on the way to the Glenn and Helen Hershey farm. Glenn was one of the organizers of the bus tour and knew a lot about this farm. It has been in the Hershey family since 1801.

Both buses were here at the same time.

The farmhouse was built in 1808.

By this time we were in Amish Country. These horses are pulling both wagon loads of tobacco.

As we traveled some of the organizers told “Hershey” stories. One was about a train accident that killed Barbara Hershey and Enos Barge who were returning from a party in 1896. Years later the engineer would tell someone that the horse bolted in front of the train. Because of that accident, several hundred Mennonite young people turned their lives over to Christ and were baptized.

Back at Manor Church after the tour – about 4:45 pm.


It was an interesting and informative day. I love learning about our ancestors.

14 thoughts on “Hershey Family Bus Tour – Celebrating 300 Years in the USA

  1. I love history (even when it’s someone else’s family.) We have Hersheys in Wiscnosin who originated in PA so I imagine they are some distant relation of yours.

  2. A friend, who recognized a family connection, shared your post with me. Thanks so much for writing about this tour! I really enjoyed reading your very interesting recap! I, too, have Hershey lineage, and was disappointed not to be able to attend the reunion. (Clair is my uncle.)

  3. Great summary on the tour and wonderful pics. One note on the elderly Native couple that was protected at the Kreiders, last survivors of their Delaware race in LC. It is being erroneously published they were Conestoga. Not as close to that situation as some imagine as they sought refuge elsewhere before the 2 Paxtang attacks began. They were Delaware, none the less kept by the Hersheys of Warwick and buried onsite. See J. Ruth p. 287 and 300.-THE EARTH IS THE LORDS

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