John Wesley Snyder (Texas)

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John Wesley Snyder
Born (1837-06-21)June 21, 1837
Yazoo County, Mississippi, USA
Died April 15, 1922(1922-04-15) (aged 84)
Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas

(1) Georgetown, Texas

(2) Austin, Texas
Nationality American
Occupation Rancher; Businessman
Spouse(s) Catherine Jane Coffee Snyder

Eight children, including:
Laura S. Chessher (1870-1908)

Dudley F. Snyder (1880-1956)

John Wesley Snyder (June 21, 1837 – April 15, 1922) was a pioneer rancher, farmer, as well as a businessman from principally Georgetown in Williamson County near Austin, Texas.


Snyder was the second of four children born to Pennsylvania native Charles W. Snyder and the former Kentuckian Susan Hale (1816–1892), later Susan Wulfjen,[1] in Yazoo County in west central Mississippi. Charles Snyder died in 1840, and the three-year-old moved with his family to Missouri. In 1856, Snyder and his brother, Dudley Hiram Snyder (1833–1921), came to Texas as partners in the apple orchard business and horse-trading business situated between Georgetown and Round Rock, located in both Travis and Williamson counties.[2]

Dudley Snyder had gone to work at the age of seven. At fourteen, he was earning $3 per week splitting rails. In 1854, he was acquitted of murder in a case of self-defense. Thereafter, he committed himself to leading an exemplary life, and his family never again spoke of the trouble that he had faced in his early years.[3] Dudley Snyder was a devout member of the Methodist Church.[4] He was the founder of the Georgetown High School Board.

Pioneer cattleman[edit]

With the outbreak of the American Civil War, both Snyders enlisted in the Confederate Army. Dudley reached the rank of colonel[3] and served as a conscription officer in Williamson County. He moved herds across the Mississippi River to deliver beef to the Confederacy.[4] The Snyders sold and shipped cattle to the Confederacy's Trans-Mississippi Department. After the hostilities ceased, John Wesley sold cotton in Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico. He married the former Catherine Jane Coffee (1844–1928),[1] the daughter of John T. Coffee of Georgetown. The couple had eight children.[2] Dudley Snyder married the former Mary Oatts of Round Rock and was the father of nine children.[4]

In 1868, the Snyder Brothers cattle enterprise began gathering herds and moving the cattle overland to northern markets. In 1869, John Wesley Snyder headed a drive from Llano County in the Texas Hill Country via the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas. In 1870, he took a herd to Schuyler in Colfax County in eastern Nebraska. In 1878, he began a nine-year management of the John Wesley Iliff estate in Colorado and also invested in a range of land in Wyoming. After the 1887 blizzard on the Great Plains, the Snyder brothers focused their efforts on their Texas holdings, including the Renderbrook operation in Mitchell County near Colorado City as well as vast acreages in Lamb and Hockley counties about Littlefield and Levelland, respectively. By 1891, they had sold these lands and moved their families to Georgetown, where John Wesley constructed a house which still stands. There they operated their San Gabriel horse farm.[2] In November 1892, the Snyders formed the trade group, the Texas Livestock Association. They were business partners throughout their adult lives.[3]

According to manuscripts at the University of Texas at Austin, Dudley Snyder also operated large cattle ranches in Cooke, Stonewall, and Hartley counties, one of which encompassed 130,000 acres. He was a builder of the short-line railroad from Granger in Williamson County to Austin which was subsequently purchased by the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway Company. He died at his home in Georgetown in 1921, a year before the passing of his younger brother John Wesley.[4]

Later years[edit]

John Wesley Snyder subsequently sold his land to the new Southwestern University in Georgetown and relocated to Austin, where he spent his later years. He died at the age of eighty-four in Groesbeck, the seat of Limestone County in East Texas, having been in ranching and other agricultural businesses for more than a half-century. He is interred at the family plot in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Georgetown.[1] The Southwestern University Fine Arts Building is located at the site of the former John Wesley Snyder home in Georgetown.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "John Wesley Snyde". Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "H. Allan Anderson of Lubbock, Texas "John Wesley Snyder"". The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c John Hope of Hockley County Historical Commission of Levelland, Texas, "The Snyder Brothers," West Texas Historical Association, annual meeting, Lubbock, Texas, April 1, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d "W.H. Atwell, "Dudley Hiram Snyder"". The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 


  • Gus L. Ford, ed., Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas, Texas: Cockrell, 1936).
  • Richard C. Hopping, "The Ellwoods: Barbed Wire and Ranches," Museum Journal 6 (1962).
  • J. Marvin Hunter, Trail Drivers of Texas (2 vols., San Antonio, Texas: Jackson Printing, 1920, 1923; 4th ed., Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1985).
  • Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973).
  • Snyder Family Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, named for former Governor Dolph Briscoe of Uvalde, University of Texas at Austin.