Tuesday, September 8, 2009

H. P. Hood, Derry's Famous Milk Man

Chen's Chinese Restaurant in Derry, on Broadway,
originally the Hood Family homestead

The famous Hood's Milk Bottle,
now located at the Children's Museum in Boston
Harvey Perley Hood

My uncle worked for the H. P. Hood Dairy from the 1950s until the 1990s. Uncle Bob lived in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. If you lived there in the 1970s until about 2004 you might remember Bob Wilkinson passing out “Hoodsie” ice creams in the Fourth of July Parade, or supplying the Hoods whipped cream for the Lions “Red, White and Blue Breakfast” on Tuck’s Point. In a strange coincidence, the Hood family owned a large summer mansion in Manchester-by-the-Sea, at the far end of Singing Beach. In an even stranger coincidence, the H. P. Hood blimp crashed into the woods of Manchester-by-the-Sea in 2006, not long after Uncle Bob passed away. But the Hood family is most famous for their dairy farm in Derry, New Hampshire.

Harvey Perley Hood was born in 1823 in Chelsea, Vermont, but removed to Boston to work before starting his dairy business. According to Hood’s archives, Mr. Hood started his dairy in Derry because the country air improved his health. He started the company in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1846, and removed to Derry at the time he married, in 1850. At first he drove his milk to Charlestown by wagon, and then implemented the milk train, which carried the milk twice a day to the Charletown plant, which is still visible off Rt. 93.

The Hood home is now Chen’s Chinese Restaurant, across from the Hoodkroft Golf Course, on East Broadway in Derry. This building is now on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Hood name is all over Derry; Hood Plaza being where the dairy cows once grazed, and Hood Middle School on Hood Road was named for Gilbert H. Hood, Harvey’s descendant. That land was once a pasture for thousands of dairy cows. Traffic used to stop on Broadway each morning as the cows were moved from one field to another for grazing.

You can see photos of the Hood dairy farms in books such as “Derry Revisited” by Richard Holmes, the Derry town historian, published by Arcadia Published in 2005. You can see exhibits also at the Derry Museum of History http://www.derrymuseum.org/ Derry is no longer home to any dairy production, but Londonderry still reigns as the headquarters of Stonyfield Yogurt http://www.stonyfield.com/

Historic New England has the manuscript collection of the Hood Dairy's business records and other items, please see this link http://www.historicnewengland.org/collections-archives-exhibitions/collections-access/collection-object/capobject?refd=CC001

The Hood Family Tree:

Gen. 1. John Hood, b. about 1600 in England, resided in Lynn, Massachusetts, married to Ann (?)

Gen. 2. Richard Hood, b. abt 1625 at Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire, England, d. 12 Sep. 1695 in Lynn; married about 1653 to Mary Newhall, daughter of Anthony Newhall and Mary White.
Gen. 3. Nathaniel Hood, b. 9 June 1669 at Lynn, d. 30 Oct 1748 at Topsfield, Massachusetts; married on 16 Oct. 1706 at Topsfield to Joanna Dwinnell, daughter of Michael Dwinnell and Mary (?)

Gen. 4. Nathan Hood, b. about 1701 in Topsfield, d. 4 May 1792; married on 6 Mar. 1730/1 in Rowley, Massachusetts to Elizabeth Palmer

Gen. 5. Nathan Hood, b. 10 Jan. 1739/40 in Topsfield, d. 23 Mar. 1772; married on 17 Feb. 1763 to Mary Perkins

Gen. 6. Enos Hood, b. 26 May 1767 at Chelsea, Vermont, d. 23 Apr. 1845 at Salem, Massachusetts; married on 29 Sep. 1791 to Gillen Lane.

Gen. 7. Harvey Hood, b. 1 June 1798 at Chelsea, Vermont, d. 18 Sep. 1879 at Chelsea; married on 23 Sep. 1821 to Rebecca Smith.

Gen. 8. Harvey Perley Hood, b. 6 Jan 1823 at Chelsea, Vermont, d. 17 June 1900 at Derry, New Hampshire; married on 5 May 1850 to Caroline Laura Corwin, daughter of John Corwin and Clarissa Thompson.

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Hi
    Do you have an email or a contact for anyone within the Hood's archives? My father and grandfather were employees of Hood and I have some old signage that I would love to figure out the age.
    Dan Coleman
    Pacific Palisades CA

  2. Hi Dan! Hood's is still a working company in Boston. You can see their website at www.hood.com and probably send some sort of query to the Public Relations people about an archive. Good luck!

  3. My dad worked in the Fall River, MA garage as the head mechanic. If anyone has or knows of any pictures that were taken at this location I would very much love to hear from you. He worked there from the 50's to the 70's and his name is Henry Wood. (He has since passed in 2008) My email address is: shasha855@gmail.com

    1. Thanks for reading my blog, and good luck with finding photos of the Fall River Hood garage. I'll promote this blog post again through social media and we'll see if we can get a response!