Sunday Stories: Miles W. Snyder Family

While some of the details included in the stories in the history books don't seem particularly entertaining, I, nevertheless, find the tidbits about how life was lived in previous generations endlessly fascinating. People, especially the elderly, are generally much more interesting than we believe.

Excerpted from the McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890
Miles married Hollis Elizabeth Blackstone on June 23, 1935 at her parents’ home in Lincoln County, Nebraska. Hollis and her two brothers, Herbert Alva and Ralph Gordon, were born to Harry and Nora Eleanor May Blackstone. Their farm was located nearest to Curtis, Nebraska but located in Lincoln County.

Mercer County, Pennsylvania was the home of five previous generations of Blackstones, beginning with Prideaux Blackiston, a young soldier in the Thirteenth Virginia Continental Regiment. He died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War, leaving a widow, Bridget Shrader Blackiston, and an infant son, Samuel. Samuel Blackiston was my (Hollis’) fourth great-grandfather.

Harry Blackstone’s mother was Ellen Elizabeth Rittenberg. She was born in Canada on October 9, 1847. Her parents, James E. and Sarah E. Greenman Rittenburg were married at Caister in the province of Ontario, Canada. They lived to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1897. Hollis’ mother, Nora, was born March 17, 1897 in West Virginia. Her parents, Richard Clark May and Mary Elizabeth Wolfe May were also born near Preston County, West Virginia.

Hollis was graduated from the Nebraska School of Agriculture at Curtis and taught school for several years before her marriage, including the school in the Huffman-Van Meter district in McPherson county.

The children of Miles and Hollis are James Gordon, Jerry Blaine and Jean Elaine.

Miles attended school in his home district. The schoolhouse was several miles northeast and attendance was limited in the winter. The family moved to Salem, Oregon so that Billy and Bertie could attend a high school near their home.

Miles enlisted in the Army at Vancouver, Washington on September 14, 1928 and was in the Signal Corps. He spent some time in the Philippines. He was honorably discharged July 25, 1931.

The Miles Snyders lived in a log house made from timbers hauled from South Dakota.

Miles learned to pilot an airplane in the mid-forties. John Clinch of Clinch Flying Service in North Platte would come alternately to the rancher’s homes and give flying lessons. Interested men for miles around would gather at a rancher’s home and they would each take a lesson. In 1847 Miles purchased a Taylorcraft airplane. This would be the form of transportation Miles would use to take son, Jim, to school in Tryon for about four years. In 1978 Miles sold the aircraft to a family in Anchorage, Alaska and in May of 1979 Jim and Joyce flew it to Anchorage International Airport for delivery.


  1. Something wrong with the date in this sentence: In 1847 Miles purchased a Taylorcraft airplane.


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