Friday, April 8, 2022

A Wandering Immigrant


Thought: if the records of one son of an immigrant can't provide us with a clear indication of the stops along the route for a family headed to Ohio in the early 1800s, can we at least glean a clearer picture by combining the birth reports of the rest of the family?

In short: not necessarily. But don't groan quite yet; there are other ways to approach this puzzle.

We already took a look at the reported birthplace of Peter Snider, son of immigrant Nicholas Schneider who settled in Perry County before 1820. The catch was that even though we found biographical sketches about Peter's family—thanks to the business successes of two of Peter's sons—Peter never showed up in Nicholas' will as a son. What if that was a bum lead?

Let's take a few minutes to see whether the other children mentioned in Nicholas' will can help us pinpoint the family's wanderings in their New World.

Or not. Apparently, census records for each of Nicholas' adult children reveal mixed messages, as well. For Conrad, first one mentioned in his father's will, it was obvious that his 1819 birth would be in Ohio. Sure enough, though his sister Catherine's birthplace was overwritten in the 1850 census, Conrad's was clearly listed as Ohio. For Jacob, being the oldest child born in 1799, it comes as no surprise that the 1850 census listed him as born in Germany, same as his parents.

The next child listed in Nicholas' will was Joseph. His census entries did not help our case at all. Born in 1807 in Pennsylvania according to the 1850 census, the story was revised to 1812 in Maryland ten years later. There could have been quite a different story told about the family's travels, depending upon which of those two scenarios was the true fit. And yet, for the next son mentioned—Lewis—his 1810 birth location remained stable through all census records: Pennsylvania.

Somehow, we piece together a story of possible family wanderings, back and forth between Pennsylvania and Maryland, before the final decision to move to Ohio. Is there any other way to confirm these wanderings? After all, it would be helpful to locate some baptismal records for the children of immigrants Nicholas and Elizabeth.

As it turns out, on a wild attempt at googling names and terms, I ran across an old do-it-yourself website which included a segment of the Snider family pedigree chart. It wasn't the tree itself which attracted me, since such websites can often contain errors, but the notes below the diagram. In particular, one (possibly erroneous) note mentioned that, after landing in Philadelphia, the young Schneider family moved first to Emmitsburg, Maryland, and then onward to Adams County, Pennsylvania.

Sure enough, in the 1810 census, there was an entry in Adams County for one "Nicholass Snyder"—but nothing I could find, yet, on the Maryland location. Looking closer at the two locations, however, helps us understand a few things about the Snider wanderings—and may also open up a gap which needs some explanation.

Above image: Excerpt from the 1810 U.S. Census for Adams County in the state of Pennsylvania which includes an entry for the household of one Nicholass Snyder; image courtesy

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