Tobias Snider, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith

Introduction: Tobias Snider is known as a gunsmith from tax rolls, his death certificate, a contemporaneous account in a history book, and surviving examples of his guns.

1790: Information that is included farther below indicates that Tobias Snider's maternal grandfather Helsel was an early settler on the waters of Dunning's Creek, in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and indicates that Tobias's father was Abraham Snyder. The following excerpt from the Bedford County portion of the book "Heads of Families First Census of the United States: 1790 State of Pennsylvania" lists a Tobies (sic) Helsel. A web page about Johann Tobias Hõltzel indicates that he was the father of Abraham Snider's wife Margaret Marie (Heltzel) Snider, and died in 1792.

1819: The following excerpt from the 1819 Melish-Whiteside map of Bedford County shows the location of Dunning's Creek relative to the town of Bedford, and also shows the location of a Heltzel's mill in Bedford Township. I do not know which Heltzel owned the mill.

1830: The death certificate of Tobias Snider (included below) indicates he was born March 15, 1830 and his mother was a Helsel. A website indicates that his mother was Margaret (Helsel) Snider. 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. Tobias was one of ten children."

The Whiskers' 2017 book indicates that Tobias Snyder was an apprentice of the gunsmith George Fay.

1848-1849: According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Tobias Snyder, brother of the gunsmith Jacob Snyder, is identified as a gunsmith in the 1848 and 1849 tax rolls of Hollidaysburg (the county seat of Blair County, Pennsylvania).

1850-1862: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts Tobias Snider in the Woodcock Valley of Liberty Township in Bedford County from 1850 to 1862. The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker & Yantz puts Tobias Snyder in Liberty township from 1850 to 1855.

1852: Both of Tobias's wives were sisters to his brother Jacob's wife. In reference to Tobias Snider, the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "He settled in Woodcock valley, where he married Susan, daughter of George F. Steel. While living in the valley he worked at gunsmithing." The following excerpt from the 1909 book "A Genealogy of the Descendants of George Steele and his wife Margaret late of Hopewell Township Bedford County, PA" by William H. Welfley (who is a distant cousin of mine) indicates that Tobias and Susannah (Steele) Snider were married on March 4, 1852:

The 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "Woodcock valley extends from Huntingdon to Everett, and lies between Tussey's mountain on the west and warrior ridge on the east." The following excerpt from a 1954 map incorporates red arrows to identify the locations of Tussey Mountain, Warrior Ridge, Everett, and the Huntingdon County line.

1853: Welfley's 1909 book (see above) indicates that Thomas Franklin Snider was a son of Tobias Snider and Susanna S. (Steele) Snider, and was born on April 28, 1853. Thomas Snider is buried at the Fockler Cemetery in Bedford County, where his tombstone inscription indicates he was born in 1853 and died in 1920.

1856-1867: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that Tobias Snider appears as a gunsmith on the 1856 to 1867 tax lists.

1857: The 1953 edition of Gluckman's "American Gun Makers" puts Tobias Snyder in Liberty Township of Bedford County in 1857.

1857-1884: The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book puts Tobias Snyder in Saxton from 1857 to 1884. Saxton is in Liberty Township.

1857: According to Kauffman's 1960 book, Tobias Snyder, brother of the gunsmith Jacob Snyder, is identified as a gunsmith in the 1857 tax roll of Hopewell Township, Bedford County, and his quality was average.

1861: I did not find a reference to Tobias Snider in the Liberty Township, Hopewell Township or Saxton portions of the 1861 Walker map of Bedford county. I did find a gun shop near a G.F. Steel residence of Liberty Township, as shown below. I am only aware of two long rifle gunsmiths from Liberty Township of Bedford County, and they were Jacob and Tobias Snider. I presume the "G.F. Steel" 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. Either that or there was another Liberty Township gunsmith associated with the Steele family who escaped the notice of historians. 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 that is shown below.

1861: The following item is from the January 18, 1861 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer" newspaper. It indicates that Tobias Snider was selected to serve as a petit juror for the February 1861 court term.

1861: Welfley's 1909 book (see above) indicates that a son named John Charles Snider was born to Tobias and Susannah Snider on June 15, 1861.

1863-1864: In reference to Tobias Snider, the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "In 1863-4 he was in the government employ at Washington." I did not find Tobias Snider in Boyd's 1864 Washington and Georgetown directory.

1864: The following item is from the April 8, 1864 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer" newspaper. It indicates that Tobias Snider was selected to serve as a Petit Juror for the May 1864 court term.

1865: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts Tobias Snider in Washington, D.C. in 1865.

1865: The following composite image is from the March 3, 1865 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer" newspaper.

1866: The following item is from the August 17, 1866 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer", and was also included in the August 31, 1866 issue. It indicates that Tobias Snider was a member of the Union County Committee of Bedford County.

1866: The following item is also from the August 31, 1866 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It indicates that Tobias Snider was selected as a petit juror for the September 1866 term.

1866: The following item is from the November 23, 1866 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". It indicates that Tobias Snider shot a 310-pound bear on Tussey Mountain.

To better understand the bear hunting story, the following excerpt from the 1861 Walker map of Bedford County identifies the location of Bedford Forge on Yellow Creek. As a general reference, Bedford Forge was near the "M.E. Ch." that is illustrated on the 1861 map. The cemetery of that church is located at 40.14102073, -78.33297499, in case you want to try to figure out where the bear was taken.

1867-1884: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet puts Tobias Snider in the borough of Saxon from 1867 to 1884. In reference to Tobias Snider, the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "In 1867 he came to Saxton, kept the Burnet house, and was contractor on the railroad." If I understand the layout of Saxton, the Burnet house was at approximately 40.215813735, -78.24454068, on the northeast corner of 8th (formerly Catherine) Street and Main Street. These coordinates are based on the Saxton map in the 1877 county atlas that identifies the location of the Burnet house.

1867: The following item is from the April 19, 1867 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". It indicates that Tobias Snider of Saxton applied for a tavern license in 1867.

1868: The following item is from the January 24, 1868 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It documents that Tobias Snider of Saxton applied for a tavern license.

1868: The following item is from the April 10, 1868 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It indicates that Tobias Snider was selected to serve as a petit juror for the April 1868 term of the court.

1868: The following item is from the May 8, 1868 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It indicates that Tobias Snider had a store in the borough of Saxton in 1868.

1869-1871: In reference to Tobias Snider, the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "In 1869 Mr. Snider engaged in general mercantile business as one of the firm of Snider, Berkstresser & Rhodes. In 1870-1 he carried on the business alone."

1869: The following item is from the February 12, 1869 issue of the "Bedford Inquirer". It indicates that Tobias Snider was appointed to serve on the resolutions committee of the Republicans of Bedford County.

1869: The following item is from the April 2, 1869 issue of the "Bedford Gazette". It indicates that Tobias Snider was a judge of some type at Saxton in 1869.

1869: The following obituary of Tobias Snider's father-in-law appeared in the August 4, 1869 issue of the "Bedford County Press & Everett Press" newspaper. George F. Steele is buried in Saint Luke's Cemetery (40.23271012, -78.27545612), in Bedford County.

1870: The following item is from the April 29, 1870 issue of the "Bedford County Press and Everett Press" newspaper. It indicates that Tobias Snider was appointed to serve as the guardian of the minor children of Philip Croft.

1870-1873: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet identifies Tobias Snider as a gentlemen and tenant in the 1870 to 1873 timeframe.

1874: The following excerpt is from the book "Reports of the heads of departments, transmitted to the Governor of Pennsylvania, in pursuance of law, for the financial year ending November 30, 1874" and pertains to payments concerning common schools. This shows that Tobias Snider was serving in some capacity concerning the public school system in 1874.

1875: The following news item from the June 11, 1875 issue of the "Cambria Freeman" newspaper indicates that Tobias Snyder was a brother of Jacob Snyder, who had been a gunsmith. The 2001 Whisker & Yantz book reports that Tobias inherited his murdered brother Jacob's fortune, which was appraised at over half a million dollars.

1875: Click here to see a 32-acre survey that was performed in Liberty Township on August 31, 1875 for Tobias Snider.

1877: According to Welfley's 1909 book (see above) a son named Frederick R. Snider was born to Tobias and Susannah Snider on March 29, 1877.

1877: The tombstone of Susann S. Snider at St. Luke's Cemetery in Bedford County indicates she was the wife of Tobias Snider. and died on April 21, 1877.

1877: The following image from the Saxon portion of the 1877 book "County Atlas of Bedford Pennsylvania" identifies the home of "T. Snyder" and the nearby Burnet house that Tobias Snider began operating in 1867 (see above). If I understand the old street names relative to present day street numbers, the house of Tobias Snider was located at 40.2157439, -78.24398993, which is 707 9th Street. The house that stands there today looks like it could date from Tobias Snider's era.

This 2021 photo shows the house that is currently located at 707 9th Street. It has the same peripheral shape as the house that is illustrated on the above 1877 map.

1877: The following image from 1877 book "County Atlas of Bedford Pennsylvania" identifies the location of Saxton within Liberty Township:

1877: Compare the following enlargement of the 1877 Liberty township map to the 1861 map above, and notice that the former gun shop is now, following the death of George F. Steele, a cabinet shop.

1878: The Whiskers' 1983 booklet indicates that Tobias Snider served as a Petit Juror in February of 1878.

1878: Tobias Snyder is listed as a gentleman in the 1878-1879 edition of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania":

1878: Tobias Snyder is also listed as a County Auditor in the 1878-1879 edition of "Farquhar's Official Directory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania":

1878-1884: In reference to Tobias Snider, the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" states, "For the last six years he has been engaged in the lumber and bark trade."

1881: The following excerpt is from the book "Reports of the Heads of Departments of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1881-82" and pertains to expenditures of the State Treasurer for common schools during the month of January, 1881. This shows that Tobias Snider was serving in some capacity concerning the public school system in 1881.

1882: Tobias Snider married his first wife's sister Louisa Steele. The following excerpt from Welfley's 1909 book indicates that Tobias and Louisa (Steele) Snider were married on March 21, 1882. Louise is buried at Saint Lukes Cemetery in Bedford County, where her tombstone inscription states, "Louise Snider 1848--1921".

Both of Tobias Snider's wives were sisters of his brother Jacob Snyder's wife Elizabeth, as shown by the following excerpt from Welfley's 1909 book.

1883: Welfley's 1909 book (see above) indicates that Tobias Snider's son Harry B. Snider was born on September 28, 1883. Harry B. Snider is buried at the Union Cemetery in Meyersdale, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where his tombstone inscription indicates he was born in 1883 and died in 1971. The April 12, 1917 issue of the "Meyersdale Republican" tells of a government contract for 106,644 pick handles that H.B. Snider obtained while Secretary of the Meyersdale Handle Company.

1884: The following image is from page 333 of the book "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania", which was published by Waterman, Watkins & Co. in 1884. It provides a brief biography of the Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith Tobias Snyder, who was still living when the book was written.

1897: A 1903 newspaper article included below indicates that Mary Ann Steele (the mother-in-law of Tobias Snider) died circa 1897.

1903: The following article from the September 4, 1903 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper indicates that Tobias Snider, his wife, and his son Harry attended a reunion of the descendants of George F. Steele, and indicates that Tom Steele was living on the old homestead.

1905: The following notice is from the November 10, 1905 issue of the "Bedford Gazette" newspaper. Note the involvement of Tobias's son Harry B. Snider.

1916: The death certificate of Tobias Snider indicates that he died December 5, 1916 from apoplexy (i.e., stroke), is buried at Saxton in the St. Luke Cemetery, and was a gunsmith, lumber dealer, and general contractor. The informant on the death certificate was Tobias Snider's second wife Louisa Snider of Saxton.

Photos of the tombstones of Tobias and Louise Snider follow:

Work product:

  • SNIDER, Tobias, percussion rifle
  • SNIDER, Tobias, percussion rifle

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