William F. Hovetter

From Thresherman to Insurance Executive


| July/August 1976



Mr. Hovetter

Picture at left is Mr. Hovetter as General Manager of the Pennsylvania Threshermen & Farmers Insurance Company. At right is Mr. Hovetter in retirement at 95 years, at his home at Walnut Bottom, Pennsylvania. Courtesy of W. J. Eshleman, 722 East End Ave.,

W. J. Eshleman

722 East End Avenue, Lancaster, Pa. 17602.

There is no doubt that the stories published today concerning the building of the nation by its sturdy sons of yesterday, will serve as the archives of tomorrow. And let us hope that the coming generation may find herein an example in a still glowing spark, by which they may be able to find their way out of the current wilderness of bureaucracy, and depend upon their own ingenuity, sound judgment, and self-support for the betterment and benefit of all concerned.

As the roll is called of the names of the men who have been responsible for keeping the American food production apace with the increase in population, Mr. William F. Hovetter must certainly be included. I know of no better example than he to those who lament that they never had a chance, and sometimes declare that they do not believe in the work ethic, and since they are not responsible for being born, the government owes them a living.

Well, let us see how one man made the most of his opportunities. On January 20, 1881, Mr. William F. Hovetter was born in Cumberland County, Pa. His grandfather was a native of Holland, and his father was a thresherman and saw miller. When Mr. Hovetter was two years of age his mother died, and his father cared for him as best he could since he still had to earn a living. Sometimes the father had a housekeeper, and sometimes not. The consequence was that from age two Mr. Hovetter very often accompanied his father over the country on his various business trips.

In the year 1884 the elder Hovetter purchased from Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa., a 10 hp Frick traction engine bearing Serial #3610. This engine served him well until 1901.

By 1893 the elder Hovetter had two threshing rigs in operation and William was twelve years old. Unfortunately, the father met with an accident, and was compelled to carry his arm in a sling. Well, the threshing must go on, so young William was called upon to operate one of the rigs under his father's supervision. Due to his youthful stature it was necessary for him to stand on a soap box under the steering wheel in order to run the engine which pulled the thresher on the road. Thus at twelve years of age William F. Hovetter was compelled to quit school while in the sixth grade.