Monday, April 11, 2022

Piecing the Story Together


It is not likely, the further back in time we research our family's history, that we will find the details presented to us in one neatly-bound packet. Sometimes, we learn the details a little here, a little there. It is then our task to piece that story together. That is exactly what is unfolding as I seek verification for the travels of Nicholas and Elizabeth Schneider and their migrating family.

We've already discovered that, of their many children born on two continents, the only ones consistently reporting the same place of birth were the youngest—Conrad in Ohio—and Lewis, the family's 1809 addition in Pennsylvania. What, then, of that report I found online of the family's move to Emmitsburg, Maryland—and then to Adams County, Pennsylvania?

Thanks to a long-standing corroboration with distant cousins connected to the Perry County, Ohio, Snider family, I already knew of one resource for baptismal records which might help pin down some dates. Nicholas and Elizabeth were Catholics, and the place where they settled in Ohio—near a small town eventually called Somerset—just happened to claim the first Catholic church established in the state

While records of itinerant priests of those early days might be understandably lacking in clarity or even organization, it was possible for a team from the eventually-established diocese of the area to transcribe those historic records and offer the results online. From that resource, we learn not only that Conrad Snider was baptised there on May 13, 1819, but that he had a twin named Andrew.

When the family first arrived in Ohio cannot be gleaned from that record—the church's original chapel was dedicated in 1818—but it was likely after the estimated date of 1814 that we found last week, provided in the Snider family history posted online.

Since both the online Snider family tree and reports of Nicholas' son Lewis' 1809 birth pointed to Pennsylvania, my next step was to locate any possible record of the Schneider family in the 1810 census. Granted, the search would require checking for at least three spelling variations, and would also be limited to solely naming the head of household, but perhaps this was just my lucky day.

Sure enough, there was a "Nicholass Snyder" located in Adams County, Pennsylvania, in 1810. It was hard to confirm from the head count whether this was our Nicholas' family, but the two boys under ten and one more under fifteen—plus what appeared to be a mom and young daughter—seemed a promising list. That could have been sons Jacob, Lewis, and baby Joseph, plus daughter Catherine.

The most promising way to find more details on the names of family members back in 1810—especially for Catholic families—would be to look for baptismal records. As it turns out, Adams County was location of a church called the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus—otherwise known as the Conewago Chapel. Established in the late 1780s, its baptismal records from 1790 through 1815 can be found online at FamilySearch (at least currently).

We'll take a look, tomorrow, at what can be found in those records regarding any possible matches with our Schneider family.

Image above: "Nicholass Snyder" entry found in the 1810 U.S. Census from Adams County, Pennsylvania; image courtesy

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