Milton S. Hershey was born on September 13, 1857 to a German-Mennonite family in south-central Pennsylvania. As a young boy, Hershey was a poor student, and after transferring among seven different schools, he dropped out before reaching the fourth grade. He was apprenticed to a Lancaster County confectioner and launched several candy businesses. In 1886, he opened the Lancaster Caramel Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which specialized in caramels made with fresh milk. He sold the very successful Lancaster Caramel Company in 1890 for $ 1 million and used the proceeds to start the Hershey Chocolate Company. The first Hershey Bar was sold in 1900, Hershey’s Kisses hit the market in 1907, and the Hershey Bar with almonds appeared in 1908.
Mr. Hershey and his wife Catharine, who was affectionately referred to as ‘Kitty,” were unable to have children of their own. In 1909 they founded The Hershey Industrial School, as it was then called. The first students lived and attended classes in The Homestead, which was the birthplace of Mr. Hershey. The school’s mission was to provide students with a stable home life and a rigorous training in agriculture, trades, and academics.
Milton Hershey’s beloved Kitty died in 1915, and in 1918 Mr. Hershey gave his entire personal fortune to the School. He continued to be involved with the School until his own death on October 13, 1945. He was 83