We Were Here

J.J. Snider
by Konrad Stump, contributing writer to The Logan Daily News

This column focuses on a person or family from Hocking County’s history. Even those who aren’t famous have a story to tell.

If you’d said the name J.J. Snider around Logan in 1900, you would have gotten a positive response from anyone with whom you spoke. At the time of his death in 1904, J.J., whose proper name was Joseph Jacob, was known as the hardwood lumber king of Ohio and was the most prominent manufacturer in Hocking County. As is the case with many of Hocking County’s former residents, and will be the case with most of us, his name no longer spurs immediate recognition and he is merely another name on a stone in Oak Grove.

He was born Jan. 1, 1854, in Saltilla, Perry County, the son of Peter and Eleanor (Dean) Snider. He grew up there, his father working as a farmer, and on Sep. 18, 1873, he married Mary Elizabeth Eldrick. She was born in Cincinnati, but was working as a servant in the home of Phillip Scott in Somerset when she and J.J. met. They had five children together over the next decade: Mary in 1874, Emily “Emma” in 1876, Isabelle in 1878, Frances “Tillie” in 1880, and their only son William in 1882.

Around 1883 the Snider family moved from Perry County to Logan for a few years before moving to Columbus, then again back to Logan. On July 12, 1895, The Hocking Valley Gazette reported, “Mr. J.J. Snider of Columbus, O., has moved his family to this city and will occupy the house formerly occupied by J.O. Tipton.”

The Sniders had remained prominent figures of interest to the people of Hocking County despite their absence. In January of 1895, The Hocking Valley Journal reported that J.J.’s lumber company had purchased 20 acres of timber land in Oreland and was to move a mill there shortly after.

In the same issue, the paper reported that J.J.’s oldest daughter Mary had a number of China paintings on exhibition in the show window of Harrington’s store. It was noted that she possessed “a rare talent as an artist” and that the work on display equaled “the best in the line of decorated China.”

Mary had graduated from St. Mary’s of the Springs in Columbus and begun her preliminary training as a nun at a convent in Somerset. She had planned on moving to begin her career at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Albany, N.Y., but she became seriously ill with consumption. She passed away on June 30, 1896, though “Ohio Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997” incorrectly lists her date of death as Jan. 30, 1896.

Despite the loss of his eldest daughter, J.J. had to continue running his business. On the same day he and Elizabeth ran a card of thanks in the newspaper, it was reported that two men had purchased a small mill off of J.J., and in another column that he had for sale or trade “saw mill, ox teams, and all necessary tools, chains and carts for logging.”

Shortly after this, J.J. began to expand his business to cover much more than just lumber. In April 1897, it was reported that J.J. and a Mr. Lanning of Mount Vernon purchased what was known as the Horn Brick Works. Once the purchase was complete, J.J. and Lanning were to begin operations, their intent to lay a tram way to the clay banks in order to transport the clay to the works. This would have been far superior to the company’s old transport system during heavy rains.

In September 1900, The Pomeroy Democrat reported that J.J. was trying to secure land on “the old Dabney Salt furnace lot” so that he could erect a planning mill, sash and door factory. If he were to be successful in his endeavor, he would have to build an incline to the river in order to receive and send the lumber by boat, a necessity the city thought might be problematic given the water level. However, it was noted that the factory, if successful, would significantly benefit Pomeroy and his coming would be “hailed with delight” by the people. Apparently the endeavor was successful because The Ohio Democrat reported two years later that he was there looking after his lumber interests.

In December of 1900, The Journal Gazette reported that J.J. was taking “a dip in oil.” There had been talk of putting a test well in the neighborhood of Minerton in Wilksville Township, Vinton County. A man from Pittsburgh was willing to pay for most of the expenses of the well being dug, as long as he could secure an additional $2,500 from businessmen in the area. J.J. promised to take part in the profits and pay for $500 toward the $2,500.

J.J. continued to be an active and prosperous businessman for the next few years, and would have certainly continued to help Logan and Southeastern Ohio thrive had he not died at the early age of 50. He suffered a heart attack and passed away at his home in Logan on Aug. 5, 1904. As with the record of Mary’s death, J.J.’s death date was inaccurately recorded as Sept. 6, 1904. He had attended an annual reunion of Elks in Cincinnati a few days before, and became ill while there. He was confined to his bed for a few days before having a fatal heart attack.

He was interred in the Catholic section of Oak Grove Cemetery on Aug. 9. In February 1905, Elizabeth had the Danison Bros., a monument firm, of Lancaster erect a 25-ton Barre granite tombstone on J.J.’s grave. The stone is 7 ½ feet high on a 6x8 feet base, and is surrounded by 12 large columns. Before its placement on the grave, it was on display in the show window of a store on North Columbus Street in Lancaster.

After J.J.’s death, the lumber company was most likely ran by his only son, William. Readers may recall that William was the young man who was involved in and died a year after the car accident that killed Lillie Wright and Flossie Newman. By the time Elizabeth died in Columbus on March 25, 1926, the J.J. Snider Lumber Co. was the J.E. McNally Lumber Co. Elizabeth’s body was brought back to Logan and interred by J.J.’s. With them lie Mary and their other daughter, Tillie.

We find many names walking through Oak Grove. And we learn what those names meant to the city in which they lie through the newspapers that recorded them.

Konrad Stump is an Athens County resident with family ties to Hocking County. His column stems from his genealogical research. Readers can reach Konrad at kstump@logandaily.com

Reprinted here with the permission of the author, Konrad Stump.

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