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Township: Columbia Township, Bradford County PA
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The Sunday Telegram March 14, 1926

Jerry Ryan Purchases Town of Snedeker Where Forefathers Lived and Labored in Early Days

Ambitious Young Man Admits That Love For the old Stamping Ground Where His Grandfather and Father Lived Their Lives Before Prompted Him to Buy up the Town- He Intends to Improve the Tenement Houses, The School and Make the Residents of His Community Happy and Contented.

Weary of city life, feeling the urge of pioneers’ blood flowing in his veins, and actuated by a determination to reassemble under one ownership the more than 1,500 fertile acres once owned by his great grandfather, Jerry R. Ryan has purchased the entire village of Snedeker and surrounding farm land, in partial fulfillment of his boyhood dreams. Not yet thirty years of age he becomes by this purchase the sole owner of one of the richest tracts of land in the beautiful valley between Elmira and Troy, Pa., landlord of many families, postmaster, Pennsylvania Railroad ticket agent, general storekeeper, school patron and devoted friend of more than a score of bright eyed little children who look upon him both as a fairy god-father and uncrowned king.

Tall, straight, of slender build, and with sandy hair above an expressive face which reflects both the characteristics of a dreamer and a practical man of business, Mr. Ryan gives one the impression of a college graduate about to embark upon some long anticipated and intensely appealing adventure, his eyes lighting with enthusiasm as he discusses the manner in which he hopes to transform the village founded by his ancestor in 1859 and to which he gave his name. Seated at his desk in the general store which supplies practically all needs of the residents of Snedeker, from candy for the children to wearing apparel for the adults, Mr. Ryan glanced out of the window toward the Ryan family home where he spent eight of his childhood years and then toward the opposite hill where in the old Snedeker homestead he lives with his beautiful young wife and two charming daughters and remarked:


"It will take lots of money and plenty of hard work but someday this will be the garden spot of the valley between Elmira and Williamsport, with every modern improvement and convenience, a place where little children will love to live and where their parents will find peace and happiness. Snedeker looks a little barren and neglected now but in the years of the future I hope to see the old family home blossom like a rose garden."

Shortly before the Civil War W. H. Snedeker surveyed the immense timber tract in the vicinity of what is now the village of Snedeker and closed contracts to purchase 1,500 acres from 20 different owners. Installing a saw mill he employed a large force of lumber-jacks and started to convert the standing trees into lumber. As rapidly as a section was cleared he commenced to farm the land, growing grain keeping pace with the rem9oval of the forest giants.

While this work was going on some of the lumberjacks brought their wives and children into this semi-wilderness and within a few years the village had a population in excess of 500, with Mr. Snedeker as employer, landlord, storekeeper, postmaster and banker. He erected a schoolhouse for the children, saw to it that a teacher was supplied and arranged for the visits of a clergyman that his people might not be without spiritual consolation in time of sickness and distress.


When W. H. Snedeker passed away he bequeathed his land to his children, W.H. Snedeker, Jr., being given the old homestead and a farm of large acreage. He followed in his father’s footsteps, operating the store and supervising the activities of the village residents. During his lifetime the fields bore abundantly, winter finding the great barns groaning under the weight of grain and produce, while the large cellar of the house was filled to its capacity with fruits and vegetables.

To this place came Jerry Ryan with his father and mother, shortly after his birth in Syracuse and here he resided for eight years in the delightful home of the sidehill, just across the railroad tracks from the Pennsylvania station. Later Mr. Ryan opened the store in Gillett, burned some years ago, and successfully conducted it until he decided city life was more to his liking and returned to Syracuse.

Jerry Ryan graduated from Syracuse High School and then entered the employ of the New York Central Railroad Company, remaining with it some five years. Interested in mercantile life he entered the employ of the United Cigar Stores Company and with it remained for five years, until he could no longer withstand the urge to return to the old family home and reassemble the realty holdings that had passed from the family control. His first purchase was on July 16, 1925 was the farm containing the old homestead which he acquired from the widow of W. H. Snedeker, Jr., who now resides in Troy, Pa. To this he added until now he owns outright more than 800 of the original 1,500 acres, including eleven houses and the store in the village of Snedeker and nine other buildings of various kinds.


Snedeker’s population at the present time is 110 men, women and children, the latter attending a well organized district school on Mr. Ryan’s property, while religious services are held in the same building each Sunday. Those desiring to attend regular church services motor to Troy, but a few miles away.

The former Ryan home is not included in the recent purchase but Mr. Ryan hopes that sometime in the future he may be able to add this modern and roomy buildi9ng to his holdings, as well as the farm land surrounding it. In speaking of the other houses he acquired Mr. Ryan said: "IT has been a great many years since any repair work was done upon them but in the not too distant future I expect to improve and modernize each one, that the tenants may have all possible comforts. With the completion of the concrete highway through here we will be within a comparatively few minutes ride from Elmira, almost in the backyard of Troy and Canton and but a couple of hours journey from Williamsport, a most pleasing condition from a business and residential viewpoint."

At the present time Mr. Ryan is putting in condition the abandoned hot house on his property and with the advent of spring commence to prepare his 35 acres of rich muck land for celery, lettuce and onions, for which he has a waiting market in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Being on the main line of the Pennsylvania between Elmira and Williamsport quick shipping facilities are guaranteed.


The muck land Mr. Ryan proposes to work so intensively has yielded a comfortable fortune for the Snedeker family in days gone by, the last crop harvested by the late W. H. Snedeker, Jr., some seven or more years ago, totaling 4,000 bushels of onions and a sufficient celery to produce a net profit on this item alone of more than $5,000. In addition to this the rolling fields yielded a vast store of hay and wheat, while from the orchard came choice fruit finding a ready market.

When The Telegram representative interviewe3d Mr. Ryan he found him busy with plans for the enlargement and improvement of his department store, which also serves as the postoffice and Mr. Ryan’s private office. In the days when lumberjacks were wild and wooly, particularly when flush with money, they often journey to nearby towns for certain tonics banned by Mr. Volstead and then assembled in the store to discuss questions of moment. Discussion became heated at times and fights were not infrequent so the late W. H. Snedeker protected his stock with heavy wire screens in front of the counters, this reminder of a day now past being retained at the present time.

Mr. Ryan, however, finds his customers not disposed to quarrels at any time so within a few days these screens will be removed, the interior of the building refinished and other improvements made to erase the last memory of the Snedeker of lumbering days. In the future, also, Mr. Ryan hopes to give the village modern lighting equipment and other features to enhance its comfort and beauty.


Mr. Ryan’s uncle is Thomas Ryan, owner of the widely know Ryan brewery of Syracuse, N.Y. while Mrs. Ryan was very popular there socially and promises to become a social favorite in Elmira as well as in Troy. The residents of Snedeker are much attached to her, because of her rarely charming personality and deep interest in her husband’s interesting project. Their delightful children, Betty Jane, aged six years, and Gerry Alice, aged four years, are idolized by Mr. And Mrs. Ryan as well as by friends who are legion.

One of Mr. Ryan’s employes, a man who has long worked upon the Snedeker farms, views the change in ownership with no small degree of satisfaction, feeling assured that his new employer will maintain the high traditions of the Snedeker family. In speaking of Jerry – they all call him by his first name in the village --- this man said: "Jerry is both a Ryan and a Snedeker and while he has cut out for himself a big job he will master it just as Great Grandfather Snedeker mastered the wilderness here and converted it into the beautiful farm land nestled in here between the hills. He has the right kind of stuff in him to handle a big job in a big way and you had better believe we all like him."

Mrs. C.W. Mitchell of Troy, Pa., who has long been a beloved resident of that town, is the only surviving child of the late W. H. Snedeker who founded the village of Snedeker, and she watches with unalloyed interest the experiment now being conducted by Mr. Ryan at the old family home.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 10 APR 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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