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
nor is it the
cemetery shown on that map near the Balsbaugh property.
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.
Foods Corporation hired archaeologist, Mr. Christopher
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.
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
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.
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
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.