Who Were These Schneiders?
Who Were These Schneiders?
Our knowledge of Jacob and Maria Magdalena Schneider is limited. As Herbert Elgin Snider explained in his correspondence of 1979, the first new clue family researchers discovered was an Ontario Bureau of Archives report dated 1905, which contained details of claims for compensation made by United Empire Loyalists in Canada. When the Loyalists joined the British Forces at the time of the American Revolutionary War, the rebels confiscated their land and other property.
Peter and Elias Snyder, brothers of Martin Senior, gave evidence that their father owned 175 acres of land in Northampton County, Philadelphia (sic), which he had to sell to pay their jail fees while they were imprisoned by the American rebels.
From an exchange of letters with Thomas B. Wilson of Lambertville, New Jersey, Elgin Snider learned of the existence of N.J. Supreme Court records concerning the Snyder brothers. The report related an incident which occurred on the night of September 12–13, 1777, in which four Snyder brothers from Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, were apprehended:
The majority of the men were captured on 13 September 1777 and this included four Snyder brothers: Elias, Martin, Christian and Peter. . . .
"Ultimately the men were tried in Morristown in the middle of October 1777. Many of the men got off with only a misdemeanor charge, but 35 were tried for treason. The indictments read in part:
‘ . . . being armed and arrayed in a warlike and hostile manner . . . did wage a publick and cruel war . . . .’
"Merely intending to join the Army of the King of Great Britain was only a misdemeanor, but being armed in such an endeavour was high treason. The four Snyders were in this latter category and were sentenced to be hanged, the execution to take place on 2 December 1777.
"The Justices of the court, however, sent a list of the sentenced ones to Governor Livingston so that he ‘might better judge which ones were objects of mercy . . . . "Here is the entry for the Snyders:
"Petitioners, inhabitants of Pennsylvania (neighbours of the prisoners) moved by compassion for the parents and for the wife and children of Elias Snyder, pray for pardon. The father of good character . . . the sons always conducted themselves like prudent modest young men."
Signed by Capt. Patrick Campbell, Col. Jacob Stroud, Col. Abraham Miller, Robert Forsman, Elisha Barton, Jacob Emrich, and Lion Jones.
We know the four Snyder brothers were confined in prison, which were often wretched, cold cellars. Food was hard to come by and expensive, and prisoners were obliged to pay for their own food from their diminishing supplies of paper currency. Because of these harsh conditions, prisoners were weak and subject to infection. In some areas, cholera epidemics raged.
After their neighbors testified on their behalf and they were released from prison, Elias, who was ill, was allowed to go home. They were all forced to enlist in the Continental army.
At last they escaped from Pennsylvania and found their way to where the British forces were entrenched. Elias confirmed later that he spent twelve months hiding in the woods, before he was able to join the others in New Jersey. Mary, his wife, was forced to sell a horse and stocks of grain in order to feed her family.
Patricia Snider Armstrong © July 2000