An excerpt from: The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897, compiled and edited by Geo. E. Goodrich, Dryden, N.Y. 1898. (Available in electronic form at The Internet Archive.)
We here treat of that branch of the Snyder family which descended from the pioneers Peter and Christopher Snyder, now constituting a multitude, and who have cherished and preserved their family history since leaving their old home at Oxford, N. J. The details of their pioneer journey and early settlement in Dryden are so carefully and minutely given, affording some new facts regarding pioneer life and manners, that we are pleased to insert in full the annals of the family as prepared and revised under their family organization, which has an annual meeting in our town called the "Snyder Picnic." Another branch of the family, descending from the pioneer Jacob Snyder, who came to Dryden from near the same locality and at about the same time, probably more or less nearly related to a common origin, settled near and gave its name to "Snyder Hill," and is treated of briefly among the pioneer families of the South-west Section.
The following is the history of the Snyder family of the town of Dryden which was read by Alviras Snyder at the first annual picnic of that family, Friday, September 18, 1874, and lately revised by him:
In the latter part of the winter of 1746-7, a colony of about one hundred Germans emigrated from near Tinnen and near the Ems River, in the extreme western part of Germany, and near the Holland line, and settled in the northwestern part of New Jersey. Among this number was Cristoffer Schneider (meaning a tailor) and his wife, Katrina, who settled in what was then Sussex but now Warren county, near Oxford and Oxford Furnace on what was known as Scotch Mountain. It is about five miles from that village of Belvidere, in a southwesterly direction, and two to three miles from the Delaware River. Trenton was their nearest market, being about sixty-five miles distant, and Greenwich, since changed to Montana, was their postoffice.
There were born to them five sons and one daughter. The sons' names were Christopher, George, Peter, William, and Henry, and their only daughter was Anna, who married John Shults. The youngest son, Henry, remained on the old homestead, and the son William and the daughter settled near by. The son George settled in Genoa, Cayuga county, N. Y. The four older sons were in that part of the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War which was stationed in New Jersey. The musket that Peter carried in the service and brought home with him was very short, having a flint lock, and was sold after his death, at his vendue, to some person residing in the eastern part of the town of Dryden.
Peter Snyder was born in Oxford township December 26, 1752, and died July 28, 1832. He was both a wagon-maker and a blacksmith by trade and at the marriage of each of his children presented them with a wagon, chains, and other utensils necessary for farming. He kept the teams shod until he became infirm. His shop was located just north of the four corners near Bradford Snyder's, and where the creek now runs. In 1776 he married Mary Shaver, also a German, who was born in the township of Oxford, June 25th, 1753, and died October 20, 1839.
There were born to them eleven children, viz: Elizabeth (Nail), born October 25, 1777, and died September 22, 1802; George, born May 11, 1779, died May 9, 1843; Henry, born May 2, 1781, died August 29, 1870; Catharine (Grover), born June 28, 1783, died January 18, 1860; Peter, born April 15, 1782, died June 25, 1875; William, born April 9, 1787, died December 4, 1878; John, born February 12, 1789, died February 26, 1861; Anna (Whipple), born February 1, 1791, died February 26, 1811; Abraham, born November 23, 1792, died October 4, 1857; Marc (McCutcheon), born July 17, 1796, died March 7, 1865, and Jeremiah, born October 25, 1799, died May 7th, 1857.
Early in April, 1801, Peter Snyder and his brother Christopher came to the township of Dryden, then Cayuga county, and selected Lot No. 43, which they intended to purchase. They thoughtlessly and incautiously revealed their choice to one William Goodwin, who immediately proceeded to Albany and purchased the lot, consisting of six hundred and forty acres, from the state. Shortly thereafter the two brothers, on arriving at Albany, learned of the purchase by Goodwin, but they subsequently bought the entire six hundred and forty acres of him for three dollars per acre. Immediately on their return to New Jersey the two brothers and Henry, son of Peter, and George Dart, son-in-law of Christopher, came to Dryden and chopped the trees from six acres of land on their newly acquired farm on the west side of what is now Bradford and Delilah Snyder's farm, and on the northwest bank of Fall Creek, after which they returned home. In August following the two brothers and George Snyder and George Dart returned, logged and burned over the six acres that had been chopped the previous spring. They purchased wheat of one John Ozmun, in the town of Lansing, for three shillings per bushel, sowed their fallow and returned home.
On the first day of June, 1802, Peter Snyder and his entire family, together with his son-in-law, Henry Nail, and wife and child, consisting of sixteen persons, together with all their worldly goods packed in three lumber wagons covered with white canvas, started for their future home in the Far West. One of these wagons was drawn by two span of horses, one by two yoke of oxen, and the other by a span of horses, The three sons, William, John, and Abraham, barefooted, drove eight cows the entire distance through the woods.
They were accompanied by Christopher Snyder and family, Jacob Crutts, son-in-law of Christopher, and family, and George Dart and family. There were in all thirty-two persons, ten teams, and six wagons. They crossed the Delaware river at Belvidere, came through what was known as the Beech Woods in Pennsylvania to Great Bend, and thence to Owego. From Owego there was a track cut through the woods as far as Pewtown, one mile east of Ithaca, along which they came. They were obliged to cut their own road from Pewtown to Judd's Falls, whence they came up the Bridle Road and arrived at the inn of George Robertson on the evening of the eighteenth day of June, having been eighteen days on their journey and having traveled a distance of one hundred and sixty-five miles. Their slow progress, only nine miles a day, is accounted for in part by the bad condition of the roads, but mostly by the fact that the horses and cattle had to be fed in the morning before starting, which was done by browsing; that is, by cutting down basswood, maple, and beech trees, and letting the animals eat the tender leaves and small twigs or branches, and the same was repeated at night, but in time so that all the animals could be properly tethered after their supper, otherwise they would wander astray.
Before starting they cooked a large quantity of provision for the journey and made tea night and morning in a kettle which they carried for that purpose, either building a fire where they encamped or getting permission to "boil the tea kettle" over the old fashioned fireplace. Their principal subsistence was mush and milk and samp and milk and journey-cake, now johnny-cake, and these constituted their main subsistence until after the harvest of their wheat. At night they slept in inns when it was convenient, the remainder of the time in their covered wagons. They obtained fire by striking a flint stone with a piece of steel made for that purpose and so held that a spark therefrom would come in contact with a piece of punk wood, which was easily ignited. On arriving at Charley Hill, the upper half of the east hill at Varna was found to be impassible, so that they were compelled to cut a new road around and to the south further than where it now is, and then back again.
On arriving here, the two brothers threw up a chip, "Wet or dry." By chance Peter won the choice and chose the western half, each retaining a half interest in the wheat that was on this half. The wheat was harvested, not with a binder, but was cut with sickles administered by eight sturdy hands, and threshed, not with a Groton thresher and cleaner, but with flails, upon the ground, which had been smoothed off for that purpose. It was cleaned in true Egyptian style, by pouring it from an eminence, while the wind was blowing, and the wheat was thus separated from the chaff. This wheat was carried to Ludlowville on horseback, where it was ground.
The next day after their arrival, June 19th, all the working force commenced work on Peter Snyder's log house, which was located opposite the present residence of B. Snyder. It was 20 x 24 feet, and was completed in a few days, with green hewn basswood floors, and the roof was covered with basswood bark. They had just moved into this house when the children came down with the measles, which they had contracted at the Water tavern in Pennsylvania. Gerchen Nail, the only child of Henry and Elizabeth Nail, died on July 2nd from this disease, which was the first death in the town, and she was followed on Sept. 22nd by her mother from consumption, which was the first adult death in the town. Peter Snyder chiseled these names and deaths on a brown quarry stone which still stands at their graves in the Robertson cemetery. Up to the time of the completion of this house, the families staid at George Robertson's, which was about a mile distant, and the men while at work found their way back and forth through the woods by means of marked trees.
Immediately on the completion of this first house, one was built by Christopher, where Catharine Rhodes now lives.
After having been here about two weeks, the horses, allowed to run at large, took "French leave" one night and started for their former home. They took a straight course for Owego, instead of the circuitous one they had taken when they came, but were recognized by the settlers and were subsequently recovered at Owego.
These houses were further improved in the summer by building a stone fireplace about seven feet high, the upper portion of the chimney being composed of sticks and clay. The crevices between the logs were filled with clay, an opening about two feet square was left in the west end for a window and a split and hewn basswood floor was completed for the chamber, which was reached by a ladder, and the roof was covered with shaved shingles. Up to the time the chimney was completed the cooking was done out of doors by means of a pole placed upon crotched sticks, from which the cooking utensils were suspended, and this department was now transferred to the fireplace. It was now done by means of a green pole placed across the chimney some six feet high, called a "lug pole," from which trammels and trammel-hooks were suspended so that the cooking utensils could be raised or lowered at pleasure. At this time it was not an uncommon occurrence for this pole to get on fire and break, and down would come the dinner. It was then a common expression to say of a person of a weak mind, or rather below mediocrity, that he had been "hit on the head by the lug pole." The doors wore hung on wooden hinges, rudely constructed, with a wooden latch, and a "latch string" extending through a small hole in the door above the latch and running to the outside. The fireplace was afterwards improved by means of iron cranes and still later by andirons.
There being no friction matches at this time, the settlers were often compelled "to borrow fire" of one of the neighbors in the morning, when their own had gone out.
After the families became settled, George Snyder returned to New Jersey, where he remained with his family until February, 1805.
Peter Snyder subsequently purchased all of Lot No. 42 of a Mr. Constable for $2.75 per acre, but shortly thereafter sold one hundred and twenty acres of this to a Mr. Skillinger, so that he was enabled to give each of his sons one hundred and six acres of land and each of his daughters fifty-three acres in one contiguous body. Thus it is seen that our ancestors followed, to a certain extent, the old English rule of giving the sons more than the daughters. He afterwards purchased fifty-eight acres of land on Lot No. 90, Ulysses, now Ithaca, which came into possession of his daughter Anna (Whipple.)
The descendants of Peter Snyder, commencing at the time of their marriage in 1776, and including all who intermarried therein, were, on Sept. 15th, 1874, 668 ; deaths in that time, 128; males in the family, 325; deaths there from, 66; females, 343; deaths 62; then living, 540; males, 259; females, 281. As far as a census at the present time could be taken there have been in the family 1068 persons; males, 517; deaths, 138; females, 551; deaths, 143; now living, 887.
This family instituted an annual picnic in 1874 and the family has had an annual reunion every year since.
Christopher Snyder died the next year after his settlement in Dryden, in 1803, leaving eight children, viz Katrina: (Crutts,) William, Mary (Brown,) _____ (Dart,) Christopher, Sarah (Sovocool,) David, and Margaret (Rhodes.) The Rhodes and Crutts families of Drvden are descended from this branch.