Teeter and Young win historic preservation awards
● By Steven Hoffman
By Steven Hoffman
Glenn Teeter and Peter Young received awards from the Oxford Area Historical Association for their efforts to preserve local history at the organization's annual meeting, which was held at the Oxford Presbyterian Church on Nov. 18.
Ken Woodward, the vice president of the historical association, presented Teeter and Young with the awards, explaining why each man was a deserving recipient this year.
Teeter thoroughly researched and documented the history of the Union Fire Company No. 1 in Oxford. He spent three years working on the project, relying on newspapers and other resources at the Oxford Public Library and the Chester County Library in Exton to piece together a history of a fire company that got its start in 1871.
Some of Teeter’s research focused on the formation and early days of the fire company. In 1871, Rev. John Miller Dickey, a member of one of the most prominent families in Oxford history, traveled to Philadelphia to purchase an engine and a hose cart from fire companies in the city.
During the course of his research, Teeter was able to document many of the fire calls that the firefighters responded to through the years. He also collected information for books about the fire chiefs and Union Fire Company No. 1 presidents.
Teeter has been involved with the Oxford fire company for sixty years, serving in various capacities. Today, he is the unofficial historian, and can readily share many stories about the history of the fire company.
Woodward talked about Teeter's enthusiasm for the task of compiling an accurate history of the fire company.
“I think it was a work of love—his love of the fire company and his love of Oxford,” Woodward said.
Young, meanwhile, helped the Oxford Area Historical Association officials begin the process of archiving its collection of historical materials. Vernon Ringler, the president of the Oxford Area Historical Association, enlisted Young’s help on this effort because he knew about his distinguished career working in libraries—Young served as the chief of the Asian Division of the Library of Congress and was also the director of the National Agricultural Library.
Between February and April, Young worked with the Oxford Area Historical Association members as they processed items in their collection.
Young said that he helped provide some principles of organizational structure so that they were following standard practices of cataloging materials. Young explained that it is essential that archives and library collections be organized for use—the information must be cataloged in such a way that researchers can find the documents or materials that they are looking for.
Ringler said that the historical association is extremely grateful that Young shared his expertise on the project.
The guest speaker at the event was former State Rep. Art Hershey, who talked about his 2013 book, “From the Farm to the House” and shared stories about his life as a farmer and as a state legislator representing the 13th District in the State House of Representatives.
Hershey grew up on a farm that his father rented in Lancaster County. That was where he learned the basics of farming and grew to understand the importance of agriculture to the area.
When he got married, Hershey and his wife, Joyce, started their own dairy farm in Chester County. They eventually brought their son, Duane, into the partnership. It was around that same time that Hershey ran for the seat in the 13th District. He entered the State House in 1982 and served for 26 years.
“I always felt that farmers weren't fairly represented in the legislature,” Hershey said, explaining that he was able to be a voice for the farmer in Harrisburg, and he was often asked by colleagues for status updates about how farmers in the area were doing.
Hershey recalled how Leon Wilkinson, one of southern Chester County's most notable farmers, gave him some advice when he was thinking about partnering with his son to run the farm in the early 1980s. Wilkinson said that the father and son were too much alike, and it would be better simply to allow Duane to operate the farm. That's what Hershey did.
Hershey talked about how farmers have to be willing to make changes as factors in the industry change.
“Duane, our son, is not farming the way we did,” he explained. “Farms have to grow and change, just like any other business.”
Hershey also talked about his family, including how he is related to chocolate company founder Milton Hershey—but only distantly.
“I have to pay the same for candy as you folks do,” he joked.
He also shared some of the hard-earned wisdom that he picked up as a farmer and legislator.
“If you dream big, work hard, and talk to people who have had experiences that you don't have, you can succeed,” Hershey said.
This was the last Oxford Area Historical Association event for 2014. The organization is already making plans for its 2015 programs. On Jan. 20, Dr. Dick Winchester will serve as the guest speaker as he conducts a program about the history of education in the Oxford area. On March 17, there will be a program on vintage baseball just in time for the arrival of spring. Details about upcoming events and other information about the Oxford Area Historical Association can be found at www.oxfordhistorical.com.