Jacob Snider, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: Jacob Snider is known as a Bedford County gunsmith from a contemporaneous newspaper article, a tax list, and surviving examples of his work.

According to the 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker & Yantz, Jacob Snyder was a gunsmith who operated in Hopewell and Liberty townships of Bedford County, Pennsylvania before moving to Colorado.

In the chronology that follows, I have avoided incorporating newspaper articles unless I felt certain that they pertained to the right Jacob Snider.

1821: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that the gunsmith Jacob Snyder was born in 1821. William H. Welfley's 1909 book "A Genealogy of the Descendants of George Steele and his wife Margaret late of Hopewell Township Bedford County, PA" indicates that Jacob Snyder was born on October 6, 1821 (see excerpt below). This agrees with the date on Jacob Snider's tombstone.

At least one parent of Jacob Snider would be the same as his brother Tobias Snider. The death certificate of Tobias Snider indicates that his mother was a Helsel. According to the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania", "Tobias Snider was born in Hopewell township. His maternal grandfather, Mr. Helsel, was an early settler on Dunning's creek. His father, Abraham Snider, came from Adams county when young and located in the same settlement." Follow the above link for Tobias Snider for additional genealogical information.

Circa 1842: The June 9, 1875 issue of the "Hollidaysburg Register" newspaper states, "Jacob Snyder, formerly of Stonerstown, Bedford county, a banker in Colorado Territory, was murdered on the 20th of last month, at Georgetown, Colorado. Mr. Snider learned the trade of gunsmith with Mr. Geo. Fay, of Altoona, some thirty-three years ago. His remains were brought home for interment." This dates the apprenticeship to circa 1842. The Whiskers' 1983 booklet locates the gunsmith George Fay in Hopewell Township of Bedford County from 1835 to 1844.

1842-1843: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book puts Jacob Snyder in Hopewell Township in 1842 and 1843.

Circa 1845: According to A. Merwyn Carey's 1953 book "American Firearms Makers" Jacob Snyder was a gunsmith in Liberty Township of Bedford County circa 1845.

1846: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Jacob Snyder is identified as a gunsmith and merchandise retailer in the 1846 tax roll of Liberty Township, Bedford County, worked in a log gun shop that was still standing in 1960, and the quality of his guns was average.

1846-1855: The following excerpt from William H. Welfley's 1909 book indicates that Jacob and Elizabeth (Steele) Snyder were married in 1846 near Saxton and had five children in the 1847 to 1855 timeframe at Saxton. This puts Jacob and Elizabeth (Steele) Snyder in in Liberty Township from 1846 to 1855.

Elizabeth Steele was a sister to the wives of Jacob Snider's brother Tobias Snider, as shown by the following excerpt from Welfley's 1909 book.

Circa 1855-1865: Welfley's 1909 book indicates that Jacob Snyder's wife Elizabeth (Steele) Snyder died on June 30, 1865 or in 1851 (see excerpts above). The 1851 date makes no sense because the book lists children born after 1851. A secondary source indicates that Jacob's wife Elizabeth (Steele) Snider died on January 30, 1855 at age 30 and is buried at St. Luke's Cemetery in Bedford County. This date of death conflicts with Welfley's report of the birth of Elizabeth's child William Dorsey Snider on June 23, 1855 who died in July of 1855. If I were forced to guess, I would guess that Welfley's "June 30, 1865" is a typo caused by misreading handwritten notes, and Elizabeth probably died on June 30, 1855 from complications related to the birth of William Dorsey Snider.

1855: Pennsylvania Act No. 136 of 1855, titled "An act to incorporate a company to make a plank road from Hopewell to Bloody Run, in Bedford County" became law on March 27, 1855. Jacob Snider was not one of the commissioners, but as shown below he and Milton Locke had a contract for furnishing and laying plank on the road.

1856: The following notice is from the December 12, 1856 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer and Chronicle" newspaper. In concerns the dissolution of the lumber-related business venture of Milton Locke and Jacob Snider. In 1862 Milton Locke and Jacob Snider took a lawsuit to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that concerned money due "...for furnishing and laying the plank on the road of the the Hopewell and Bloody Run Plank and Turnpike Company..." They lost on a technicality.

1860: The 1953 edition of Gluckman's "American Gun Makers" puts Jacon (sic) Snyder in Liberty Township of Bedford County in 1860.

1860-1875: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts Jacob Snyder in Georgetown, Colorado from 1860 to 1875.

1861: I am only aware of two long rifle gunsmiths from Liberty Township of Bedford County, and they were Jacob and Tobias Snider. There is a gun shop next to a "G.F. Steel" residence in the Liberty Township portion the 1861 Walker map of Bedford County. I presume the residence is that of George Franklin Steele, the father-in-law of Jacob and Tobias Snider. Because of this, I suspect the gun shop may be that of Jacob and/or Tobias Snider. The approximate location of the gun shop is 40.19771612, -78.28199371. These approximate GPS coordinates were generated by scaling the same building on the Liberty Township map in the 1877 county atlas.

1862: The following court case is from the 1864 book "Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania", Volume VII, "Containing Cases Decided in January, May, October, and November Terms, 1862".

1875: The following news item is from the June 11, 1875 issue of the "Cambria Freeman" newspaper from Ebensburg.

1875: Jacob Snider is buried at Saint Lukes Cemetery (40.23268017, -78.27539859) in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. His tombstone states, "Jacob Snider born Oct 6, 1821 died May 20, 1875". The following three photos show Jacob Snider's tombstone. Tobias and Louisa Snider are buried under the bush that is visible in the background of the second photo (red arrow).

1875: The following news item is from the June 11, 1875 issue of the "Juniata Sentinel and Republican" newspaper. The same news item was included verbatim the June 16, 1875 issue of the "Sentinel & Republican" newspaper of Mifflintown.

According to the 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania", Jacob's brother Tobias Snyder inherited the fortune Jacob Snyder had accumulated.

Work product:

  • SNIDER, Jacob, percussion rifle
  • SNIDER, Jacob, percussion rifle

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