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In August 2002, workers at the Hershey Foods' construction site of the West Hershey Plant found the remains of an old unmarked family cemetery. This family cemetery is not documented on the map of Derry Township in the Dauphin County Historical Atlas of 1875 nor is it the cemetery shown on that map near the Balsbaugh property.

In addition to pieces of broken headstones, coffin nails and hardware were found. Researchers quickly identified the plot as part of a tract of 295 acres of land that was patented to Johannes Adam Hamaker in 1762.

Hershey Foods Corporation hired archaeologist, Mr. Christopher Espenshade, to take charge of the site. Espenshade made a study of the property ownership, Hammaker descendants, and also directed the exploration of the site. Because of the nearly pristine condition of the gravestones, Espenshade believed that the stones were plowed under shortly after the original owners left the property. Consequently, no trace of the cemetery would exist in 1875 and thus would explain why the typical “Cem” notation does not appear on the map of 1875.

Evidence indicated the location of at least 11 gravesites and up to 19 separate stones. After reviewing the report of the archaeologist, Hershey Foods developed a plan for preservation of the site, which was reviewed and approved by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission.

Although none of the stones could be identified with certainty, Hershey Foods Corporation created a fitting monument to this pioneer family of the township. Their plan included brass marker pins to preserve the location of the 11 suspected graves and a low fieldstone wall which incorporates pieces of the stone markers found on the site in addition to an informational plaque. The stone wall is approximately 4 feet high and 30 feet long. The monument can be seen from Old West Chocolate Avenue just west of the West Hershey Plant.

A wrought iron fence now surrounds the burial grounds. Although the site is located on private property, family members are allowed to visit the site with advance permission from Hershey Foods' Public Affairs Department. A Dedication Ceremony was held on July 26, 2003, which was attended by about 75 descendents from all over the United States. A copy of the Archaeologist's Report reveals significant new information about the culture and practices of these early pioneers and can be reviewed at the Derry Township Historical Society.


We would be happy to conduct a cemetery search or do more extensive research for you.  The cemetery search would include all Derry Township cemeteries plus others that are closely associated with our township.  Most of the names in our cemetery database are not available elsewhere on the Internet.  The cost is $5 per surname and you may supply up to three alternate spellings (total of four).  If you find your ancestors in the list below and require additional information, please contact us

For more thorough research, please request a copy of our research policy.   In addition, our obituary list and our name index of “lost and found” ancestors may be of interest to you.  Please check our main library page for these and other links, as we continue to update our information on line.



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