Background on Snyder County Historical Society

Located in Middleburg, Pennsylvania, Snyder County Historical Society is an organization that was established in 1898 with the aim of preserving the culture and heritage of Snyder County through educational events and research archives. The organization also helps students and other individuals who would like to learn more about the geographical region with historical research. As of 2019, Snyder County Historical Society had assets worth $624,307, generating $55,907 worth of revenue. Snyder County Historical Society preserves the region’s historical documents through a museum and library the society established and operates, right next to a bank if you need one, hosting yearly banquets, and distributing educational materials. The Snyder Historical Society collects, maintains, and preserves artifacts, facilitates historical and genealogical research into events, individuals, and institutions making up the region’s history offers museum displays detailing the region’s history and also sponsors a variety of programs geared towards enlightening people about Snyder County’s rich history.

Snyder County Historical Society was incorporated in 1898 and acquired its current headquarters in 1978, later renovating and enlarging the area in 2001. The organization is situated at 30 East Market St. Middleburg, Pennsylvania, just a few blocks from the Snyder County Courthouse. The Snyder County Historical Society building houses a library with various secondary and primary documents. The building also houses a museum with various displays distributed among 2 big rooms. Each of the museum rooms pays close attention to historical detail, one changing and the other permanent. One room details the history of the Civil War, while a conference room is dedicated to commemorating President Theodore Roosevelt. Snyder County Historical Society also preserves a log cabin and the Memorial Structure in Middleburg that pays tribute to the Countians who have served the United States of America on several occasions. The organization’s government consists of a twelve-member executive committee that is elected on a yearly basis as volunteers. Every year, Snyder County Historical Society offers 4 programs on different topics, most of which are dedicated to educating individuals about Snyder County’s history. The society also publishes a yearly bulletin that gives a summary of the society’s business and presentation, and various museum programs are available in the summer months.

A Brief History of Snyder County

According to the information available, the first people to settle in this region were John Ritter, together with Elizabeth Ritter, who obtained over 600 acres, one hundred and forty-two land perches in the area around Black Oak. According to the records in the Northumberland County office, in February 1796, John Ritter from Salisbury Township in Northampton County bought two attached pieces of land from Joseph Simons together with Rose Simons from the County of Lancaster. The two attached tracts were 272 acres, 20 perches, and 71 acres, 102 perches.

The tinier portion of seventy-one acres, twenty perches, was initially purchased by S. Snyder of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth and later on sold it to Joseph Simons. Between 1808 and 1817, S. Snyder served as Pennsylvania’s governor.

During the colonial period, the colonial government did not permit settlers on this part of Pennsylvania since it had not been purchased from the Indians. Due to that, a treaty was negotiated at Albany, New York, between the colonial government and the 6 nations, which made way for relocation to Snyder County. The people were forced to settle on the western side of Pennsylvania. After a period of time, there was a war in 1754- 1763 between French and Indian, which led to harassment of the settlers. The settlers were harassed with Indian massacres, burnings, plunder, and pillage. This led to the movement of settlers to the nearest forts for safety. In 1763, there was a treaty in Paris that ended the war between French and Indian. After peace reigned at the frontier, the settlers went back to their former claims. An application to survey this land was entered by William Trent in August 1766, who was a trader in Pennsylvania and a land speculator. He was also a partner of George Crogan, who built Fort Granville. With a company of sixteen men, Trent marched to Albany for action against the French in Canada. He induced several chiefs of the six nations to travel to Lancaster to confer with the colonial authorities to try to persuade the chiefs to be loyal to the Americans instead of the British. Captain Trent, being one of the officers during the French and Indian war he was given 300 acres in Cumberland County and also 100 acres in the same county.  

From 30th July to 9th July 1754, there was a treaty negotiation between the Iroquois Confederacy (the 6 Nations) and the Colonial government at Albany, New York, where for payment of four hundred pounds, the land was acquired on West Susquehanna running 1 mile up Penn’s creek and northwest to Pennsylvania’s western boundaries. This made way for relocation to what is now known as Snyder County. Initially, trouble from the Indians made land grants very slow. The Munsees, Swanees, and Delawares were incensed for making a sale of their right under the nose of the 6 Nations. The 6 Nations had promised them this territory when they were removed from the River Valley region of Ohio and the eastern side of Pennsylvania. The frontier was set ablaze in the subsequent Indian and French War, which gave rise to several instances of massacres and destruction of property. Residents of the frontier were left with no option but to completely relocate to the east region. Although the 1763 Paris Treaty officially brought the Indian and French war to a halt, the Indians still continued to cause mischief. The period that followed was characterized by several depredations, hardships, campaigns into Indian regions, as well as fort sieges to many to enumerate. However, a new treaty made at Ft. Stanwix on 5th November 1768 simmered things down in the region, and a peace deal with the 6 Nations was consummated by Richard and Thomas Penn. After the treaty, the region enjoyed a relative period of peace before a rivalry took place in the Revolution of America when raids were made on the Frontier of America by the British and the Iroquois.

One of the important names to remember in Snyder County’s long history is Captain William Trent. He was a land speculator and trader in Pennsylvania and one time enlisted to serve Virginia. Captain William Trent was George Crogan’s partner, who, alongside his men, is credited with building Ft. Granville. In the year 1753, Captain Trent, together with 30 able-bodied men from Virginia, constructed a fort at Ohio’s forks. One year later, the fort was under siege and got captured by about 1000 soldiers led by Contrecoeur. The French Soldiers constructed Ft. Duquesne in the area. Details of Captain Trent’s activities in the colony’s service are available in Pennsylvania’s Records and Archives. Trent served as one of Cumberland County’s Magistrates(which comprised Snyder County before 1772) during the Indian and French War Period. He also played a great role in correspondence with Philadelphia’s provincial government by bringing Indian massacres to light as well as the frontier fort’s strengths. Captain Trent is also credited with rallying the leaders of the 6 Nations to pledge their allegiance to Americans rather than the British. Several soldiers of the Indian and French wars were presented with land grants as a reward for their service. The lands were located at the Alleghenies and were used to deter Indians from carrying out attacks on the region. Captain Trent benefited greatly from this settlement acquiring 300 acres on 12th December 1765 and a hundred more on 23rd December 1765. 

The Ritter tract’s initial survey was done before Northumberland County was loyal to the British flag and British Crown. On 22nd March, the regional assembly erected the county out of parts in Northampton, Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, and Lancaster. In 1790, Northumberland County sheriff Martin Withington seized William Trent’s land due to a debt he had, and the land became the property of the U.S. government. In the previous year, the U.S constitution had come into effect, and George Washington became elected as President of the U.S.

Snyder County became a self-governing political unit on March 2, 1855, when it formed part of Union County. According to the present information, Snyder County is geographically located in the Ridge and Valley region of the Appalachian Mountains. The Susquehanna River is the eastern border. People in Snyder County mostly major in agriculture, which helps them in growing their economy and environment. Snyder County has over 400 active farms.

The Snyder County Historical Society ensures that all these details about the region’s history are well preserved and that people from Snyder County as well as other areas who would like to learn more about Snyder County’s rich culture and history get the opportunity to do so. The museum achieves this through displays in its museums as well as providing several useful historical references in its libraries alongside annual events that allow attendees to gain significant knowledge on different topics.