|Birth: ||Mar. 5, 1859|
|Death: ||May 8, 1949|
New Jersey, USA
LUDEN, WILLIAM H.
Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery, p. 768 (1909)
Surnames: LUDEN, KISSINGER, RITTER, SHEARER, MUSSER, BAILEY, ETZEL, MARSH, BENSON
William H. Luden, prosperous manufacturing confectioner since 1879, with a national reputation in his branch of business, was born at Reading March 5, 1859, and received his education in the local schools. In 1879, before he was of age he began manufacturing candy in limited quantities and disposed of it successfully, which encouraged him to
continue. This modest start in business life was made at No. 37 North Fifth street, where he was brought up and where his father had carried on the jewelry business. He continued there ten years, gradually increasing his production of various confections, and then moved into larger quarters which he had secured at the northeast corner of Sixth and Washington streets, and equipped with improvements to meet the demands of his trade. He occupied the entire building (four stories), employed nearly one hundred and fifty hands, and worked up a car- load of sugar weekly, and by this time his trade had come to reach out into the Eastern, Middle and Southern States.
By the year 1900 his trade was developed to still greater proportions, so that he was again obliged to secure larger quarters, and he accordingly purchased a property on North
Eight street, beyond Walnut, with a siding extended from the Philadelphia & Reading railroad, where he erected a substantial and commodious four-story brick structure (165
feet front and 110 feet deep) and supplied it with all the necessary improvements and appurtenances for his business and employes. The building was dedicated with appropriate
ceremonies in June of that year, and the enterprising proprietor was given many earnest congratulations. And here, too, his business kept on increasing year after year until 1909, when he enlarged the building by erecting a four-story addition at the south end, 60 feet front and 110 feet deep, making his establishment altogether 225 feet front and 110 feet deep and one of the prominent industrial enterprises of Reading. He now employs between four hundred and five hundred hands constantly and produces all kinds of
confections, in large quantities, which are shipped to all parts of the United States.
During the last several years, his establishment has made a specialty of "Luden's Menthol Cough Drops," which have become very popular throughout the country, the annual sales amounting to five million five-cent packages. From twenty to twenty-five tons of sugar are required daily in the manufacture of his various confections; and the
siding from the Philadelphia & Reading railroad to his plant affords the necessary facilities for his enormous shipments, which shows its importance as a factor in the
dispatch of his large and growing business.
Mr. Luden is recognized as one of the largest and most successful manufactures of candy in the United States. During his career, from the beginning, he always treated his employes with great consideration and as a natural consequence they have come to be as much devoted to his prosperity as he is to their comfort and welfare. For a number of years past he has given them an annual "outing," at different places, along some railroad, paying all the expenses himself, which evidences his generous spirit. The
high degree of mutual respect and confidence which has been developed between him and his employes is truly admirable and worthy of imitation by other large manufacturers.
Mr. Luden has been a devoted and generous member of the "Church of Our Father" (Universalist) from his early manhood, and his straight-forward spirit has contributed a
great deal toward the welfare of the congregation. He served as a trustee of the church for a number of years. In 1890, Mr. Luden assisted in organizing and establishing the
Schuylkill Valley Bank of Reading and since then has served as one of its directors ; and upon the decease of John Kissinger, the president, in 1906, he was selected to officiate in his stead, which important position he has filled until the present time. In 1904 he established the "Reading Natatorium," on North Fifth street, which was immediately appreciated, and since then it has been patronized extensively. The basket-ball exhibitions there during the winter and spring seasons have been highly appreciated by large and enthusiastic audiences. Mr. Luden is prominently identified with the National Confectioners Association, the Wyomissing Club, the Berkshire Club, and the Reading Board of Trade.
In 1889 Mr. Luden married Annie Ritter, a daughter of William Snyder Ritter and Julianna Shearer, his wife, and they have eight children (four sons and four daughters) : Harry Ritter, Albert Musser, Dorothy, Marjorie, Frederick Shearer, Milford Dirk, Jeanette and Wilma. His wife and children have also taken great interest in the welfare of the Universalist Church. Mrs. Luden is a member of Berks Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, being a lineal descendant of John Christopher Shearer, who emigrated from Germany in 1769 and then settled at Reading, in Berks county, where he came to enlist in the Revolution, and subsequently filled the office of justice of the peace for nearly twenty years, dying in 1830, aged seventy-seven. She is also a lineal descendant of Francis Ritter, the progenitor of the Ritter family in Exeter township, who died in 1825 and left four sons- Daniel, John, Jacob and Samuel- and four daughters, Daniel having been her grandfather.
Jacob Luden, the father of Mr. Luden, was born at Amsterdam, Holland, where he learned the trade of watch maker and jeweler and followed that business until about 1850, when he emigrated to Pennsylvania and settled at Reading. In 1855 he established a store on North Fifth street (now Nos. 35-37) and carried on business as a jeweler successfully until his decease in 1864, aged forty-two years.
He was married to Sarah A. Musser, of Reamstown, Lancaster county, a descendant of one of the early families of that vicinity, and they had six children: Caroline (m. William L. C. Bailey) ; Edward Musser (m. Lizzie Etzel) ; William H. ; Sallie A. (m. James B. Marsh) ; Jacob C. (m. Annie Benson) ; and one that died in infancy.
Luden's Company Chronology:
1855: On Feb. 11 Jacob L. Luden, a watchmaker and jeweler who emigrated to America from Amsterdam, opens a store at 35-37 N. Fifth St.
1859 : William H. Luden is born on March 5 to Jacob and Sarah Luden.
1864 : Jacob Luden dies at 42.
1874 : Luden leaves grammar school and becomes apprentice candy maker at Reading confectionery, Color and Barrett.
1879-1880: Boyd's City Directory for Reading lists Luden as a confectioner at 35 N. Fifth St. Luden begins making moshie, a clear, hard candy, in his widowed mother's kitchen, behind the jewelry shop.
1881 : Luden begins making menthol cough drops, a product that will bring his name national renown.
1882 : Luden is making 100 pounds of candy and cough dropsa day. He also sells and delivers the products, which include hard and soft candies, holiday candies, chocolates,
marshmallow candies and a peanut bar.
1889 : Luden marries Annie Ritter, daughter of Reading Adler publisher Edward Ritter. They will have eight children.
1892 : Luden moves production to Sixth and Washington streets. An 1893 directory lists it as the largest confectionery establishment in Reading. It employs 75 to 80.
1900 : Luden's moves into a four story brick structure at Eighth and Walnut streets, where it will remain for more than a century.
1909 : A four-story addition is built onto the plant.
1916 : Annie Ritter Luden dies. Luden later marries his second wife, the former Catherine Fasig.
1927 : Luden retires.
1928 : Food Industries of Philadelphia, whose principal is Daniel W. Dietrich, buys Luden's for $6.5 million.
1930 : Luden's sells into 26 countries.
1933 : Luden's sells a record 23.5 million pounds of candy.
1935 : Luden's has 850 employees. Quashing rumors of leaving town, the firm buys equipment from Philadelphia candy makers Brandle and Smith, and moves it to Reading.
1936 : 5th Avenue bar introduced.
1949 : William Luden, age 90, dies May 8th, 1949 of a heart attack in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
1956 : Luden's employs more than 1,100 and its payroll grows to $2.5 million. It produces 100,000 packages of cough drops daily and the plant, now six stories tall, covers nine acres of floor space.
1959 : Luden's employs 1,200 during peak production. It makes everything from penny candy
to five-pound boxes, along with 93 Christmas-related items, 25 for Easter, 15 for Halloween and 23 for summer — 400 varieties in all.
1964 : Luden's opens a western division in San Francisco. It now makes 500 products.
1967 : A $10 million expansion is announced, with a 330,000-square-foot addition for warehousing, shipping, order selection and production of hollow chocolate specialty items and cough drops.
1969 : The new addition opens. Also, Luden's discontinues the 5-cent size of the 5th Avenue bar and moves to a 10-cent size.
1970 : Luden's plans to begin automating some production lines.
1973 : The company lays off 150 due to a crisis in the cocoabean market.
1974 : With 1,000 employees, Luden's is the third-largest employer in Berks County.
1978 : Executive Vice President Richard T. Kirkpatrick tells the Reading Eagle: "We've had a lot of offers to be acquired, but we're not going to be acquired. We're
going to do the acquiring." Luden's is the third-largest cough-drop maker, behind Halls and Vicks.
1980 : Begins 100th anniversary celebration. The firm acquires Queen Anne Candy Co., Hammond, Ind., a maker of chocolate-covered cherries.
1982 : "5th Avenue" signs are installed along Fifth Street, although the street is not renamed.
1986 : Luden's is for sale. Hershey Foods Corp. agrees to buy it from Dietrich Corp., Philadelphia. No purchase price is given, but Luden's earlier said it had received offers
worth $80 million. Layoffs begin, and 98 salaried and 350 hourly workers are terminated.
1990 : Luden's is down to 600 workers.
1996 : Renovation reduces space to 400,000 square feet from prior 750,000 square feet. There are five new loading docks, down from the previous 14. Hershey demolishes seven of nine Luden's buildings.
2001 : Hershey sells the Luden's brand to Pharmacia, although maintaining production of Hershey products at Eighth and Walnut streets.
2003 : Pharmacia merges into Pfizer.
2006 : The Luden's brand is trans ferred to Johnson & Johnson.
2007: The Hershey Reading plant employs about 280.
Sources: Reading Eagle archives, Boyd's City Directory, "History of Reading Pennsylvania" by Morton L. Montgomery, Historical Review of Berks County, and HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL ANNALS OF BERKS COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA, Compiled by Morton L. Montgomery, 1909, Chicago
Catherine Fasig Luden (1881 - 1950)
Annie Ritter Luden (1864 - 1918)*
Harry Ritter Luden (1890 - 1947)*
Albert Musser Luden (1892 - 1925)*
West Laurel Hill Cemetery
Plot: Hanover 39
Created by: Big Ern
Record added: Apr 04, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35502860
Mr Luden, thanks for all you did for so many families and friends. Your generosity will always be remembered. May you rest in peace.|
Added: Nov. 5, 2011