Sunday Stories - Joseph Snyder Family

No series of stories of important names in area history would be complete without including the Snyder family. Many descendants of Joseph Snyder continue to make valuable contributions to communities in both Lincoln and McPherson Counties in Nebraska.

By Janelle Snyder Blake

Joseph and Mary Snyder are the earliest known of my Snyder ancestors. They were born in Pennsylvania, Joseph in 1796 and Mary before 1810. In 1830, they were raising their family in Stark County, Ohio. One son, Jeremiah, my great-great-grandfather was born there on April 15, 1830. During the thirties, Mary died and Joseph moved to Grant County, Indiana in 1838 and continued in agriculture.

Here also, Lorenzo and Phoebe Moss Miles lived with their eight children. The oldest was Frances Elizabeth Miles, born April 4, 1834 in Steuben County, New York. Her brothers and sisters were William, Nelson, David Franklin, Edam Winslow, Lewis I., Margaret Ann and Hester.

It is appropriate here to mention that Nelson Appleton Miles (1839-1925) who was born near Westminster, New York, was either a son or a nephew of the above mentioned Miles family. Nelson A. Miles was a noted American soldier who fought in the Civil War, the Spanish American War and the Indian Wars. At the age of twenty-six he became a major general, commanding 25,000 troops. IN 1895 he became Commanding General of volunteers. In this state he is perhaps more famous for his battles with the Indians. The museum at Fort Robinson, Nebraska contains much information on him. See any encyclopedia for more information. Miles City, Montana was named for General Nelson A. Miles.

On November 3, 1853, Jeremiah Snyder married Frances Miles in Marion, Indiana. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Silas Parks. The witnesses were Robert Patterson and Mary W. Snyder. All of the above families appear together in the census records of Jefferson Township, Grant County, Indiana.

Jeremiah and Frances spent two years in Missouri, then moved on to Peru, Nebraska along with other relatives. Family tradition says this is where Jeremiah planted the first peach orchard west of the Missouri River. They later moved to Harlan County, living near Republican City for a short time, then moving to a farm three miles north of Alma in 1872. Ten years later, they moved to Lincoln County with eight children, one having died in Harlan County. They were, in order of birth, Mary Ellen, George Washington, Emily Frances, Sarah Alice, Joseph William, John Franklin, Hester Anna, Albert Benton and Eola Pearl.

Jeremiah was given a Bible by his wife as a wedding present and they kept a record of their children and grandchildren in it. This Bible is in the care of a grandson, Ed Sullivan, who still lives (1986) in the original one hundred year-plus house near Maxwell, in Lincoln County, Nebraska.

Albert Benton Snyder was Jeremiah’s youngest son. He was born on February 2, 1872 near Peru, Nemaha County, Nebraska. In his early teens, Bert left home to explore the country from Montana to Texas on the back of a horse.

He returned to Nebraska in 1897 and took a claim on the Squaw Creek. Artie Plummer and Sam Marants also took claims and the three young men summered about twelve hundred cattle there. The cattle arrived in the spring from Maxwell and were still weak from the winter there. They watered at the boggy creek and were often unable to get back out. It was easy to wear out a good horse retrieving cattle and the simplest answer proved to be a dam built with a drag, or a slip, pulled with a saddle horse. Bert did this and rebuilt it each spring when the sand washed out. The dam is still there on the creek although it has been rebuilt many times and is much larger now.

In 1902, Bert bought the Patterson place. It was eleven miles west of Tryon, and six miles north of the Squaw Creek claim. Bert’s son, Miles, now owns this ranch. Bert chose for a brand the AO Bar (AO). When he attempted to register this brand about 1920 he discovered it was a popular brand indeed. He was among six others in the state who were using that brand. He then chose the Ten Bar (10), this being the closest he could come to the One O One (101) brand of the ranch he had worked for in Wyoming. The Snyder family still uses the Ten Bar brand. The following year, 1903, Bert married Grace McCance on October 25, at the home of Bert’s parents in Maxwell.

In 1885, Grace’s parents, Charles Henry McCance and Margaret Anna Blaine had moved from Cass County, Missouri to Dawson County, Nebraska where they took a claim twelve miles northwest of Cozad, on the Custer County line. At that time they had three children: Flora, Grace Bell (born April 23, 1882) and Stella. In Dawson County were born Ethel, Nellie, Elsie, Roy and Esther. Earl was born later. In 1899 the McCance family moved to the Birdwood Creek north of Sutherland.

After their marriage in 1903, Bert and Grace managed the ranch in the Sandhills for another forty years. During that time they raised four children. The first, Nellie Irene, was born on June 20, 1905. She married Harry Yost of Maxwell. Miles William, my grandfather, was born on September 30, 1906. He married Hollis Blackstone. Billie Lee was born April 12, 1912 and she married Tiny Riley. She was widowed and married Robert Thornburg in 1955. The fourth child, Flora Alberta, or Bertie, was born May 2, 1914. She married Glenn Elfeldt.

About 1910 many new neighbors came as “Kinkaiders”. Few stayed, however. The land would not support crops or enough cattle to make a living on the 640 acres. There are still many places where fields were plowed seventy-five years ago and the land has not healed.

In 1912, Bert bought a Ford car. Automobiles soon became common, but the Sandhill trails made their use nearly impractical. Bert and his son Miles were among those who gave their time to collect the necessary money to have the road paved from Tryon west to Arthur. Forty years after Bert bought his first car, the road was built halfway to Arthur before the money ran out. Two years later the remainder was finished.

In Bert and Grace's time, even Sandhills "highways" were only sandy dirt tracks, much like this one.
In those days of being homebound, Grace pursued her quilting interest and made many beautiful quilts. Bert bought land from the neighboring Kinkaiders and expanded his ranch. They put up hay with horse-drawn machinery and nursed their own ailments when doctors weren’t available. Bert and Grace retired to North Platte in 1946 and turned over the ranch to their son Miles. Grace continued quilting and began taking them with her to quilt shows.

Also in North Platte, their daughter, Nellie, wrote of her parents’ reminiscing in two books: NO TIME ON MY HANDS and PINNACLE JAKE. Bert passed away on January 31, 1956, and Grace on December 8, 1982. They are buried in the North Platte Cemetery.


Popular Posts