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Union County Has A Day At Liberty

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Date: 27 Aug 1907
Location: Liberty, Center Township, Union County, Indiana, United Statesmap
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This article about the Snyder Family Centennial appeared in the The Indianapolis News on August 22, 1907.[1]


Union County has a day at Liberty

Celebration of Snyder Centennial, however, is marred by disappointments

Joaquin Miller not there

“Billy Taylor,” too, missing, to regret of the fair sex—nearby towns send delegations.

[By W. H. Blodgett, staff correspondent of the Indianapolis News.]

Liberty, Ind., August 22. — They began coming in last night, and they have been raving all day. The Snyder Centennial and the "home-coming of Joaquin Miller, the Poet of the Sierras”--only "Wo-kin" did not come. He is an aged man, and the distance was too great for him to get here.

There was some disappointment over the poet's absence but the real disappointment was when it was reported that W. L. Taylor, of Indianapolis, would not be here. Mr Taylor is not only an active candidate for governor, but he is a bachelor, and when "Billy" shows up in a crowd the girls quote can't just make their eyes behave." They realized that Mr. Taylor is on the track ready for the start, while some of the other candidates are just cavorting about the paddock. And Union county girls are no different from other girls—all of them would like to lead the grand march at the inaugural ball, leaning on the arm of "Bachelor Billy."

Francis T. Roots Spoke.

It rained some last evening, too, and that made a lot of people feel “blue.” The sun came out bright and cheerful but there was no “Billy” Taylor, and his place was taken on the program by Frank T. Roots, of Connersville, who consented to make a speech, and Frank knows how to make a good one. The address of welcome was made at the fair ground this morning by George W Pigman, one of the leading lawyers of this part of the country. the response was by M. H. Snyder, president of the Centennial.

The afternoon session began at 2 o'clock. Before that the people had dinner and the great dinner it was—everyone brought his own and the fairground resembled one great big basket picnic. There was plenty of music by an excellent band. Miss Jenny Coughlin recited “William Brown of Oregon,” the Rev. T. H. Kuhn made a short address, and everyone was happy.

In one of the buildings were arranged a lot of relics of early life in Indiana and they attracted a great deal of attention from the large number of visitors. Another interesting feature was the badges worn by the members of the different families. Each branch had printed on its badge the original family from which it sprung. There were eighteen hundred of these badges.

Farms Deserted For A Day.

Most of those who came last night were from a distance. They were taken to the homes of friends, and a few of them stopped at the hotels. It was this morning early when the real crowd started to town. There are not many Union County farms that are full handed to-day. About all that is left is the growing crops, the crops that are harvested, the cattle and the fowls. Everyone and everything else is here dash that is everyone and everything else that can be moved.

There are several reasons for this. In the first place, Liberty is a good place to look at. It is not a metropolis, and it is the seat of an almost exclusively agricultural district. A crow never flew across better land than can be found in the vicinity of Liberty. But, looking at the people you would imagine yourself in a mercantile district—everything is up to date.

There is nothing old-fashioned here, except the hospitality, honesty—and Republican politics. They never vote anything except the Republican ticket-- perhaps it would be a good thing to do so once in a while—but this is not a political gathering. It is just a great big crowd of merry, happy people, young folks and old folks, with the age marks wiped out.

Used To Chum With Burnsides.

There are people here who used to chum with General Burnsides when he was a barefoot lad in this town, and there are more than some who used to steal watermelons with genial but erratic Tom Bennett, who was a general in the civil war and for many years was mayor of Richmond.

And many a group to-day was discussed professor Hurty, father of doctor John Hurty, secretary of the State Board of health, who was in charge of the Liberty schools for years.

And from all the surrounding towns, Connersville, Rushville, Richmond, etc., came those who in early life where pupils of William Haughton, whose old seminary school was one of the famous institutions of Union County's early history. And more than one visitor at the fair grounds to-day could tell an entertaining story of “black chattels” sent on their way to freedom by the underground railway. For Liberty was a famous station on the “underground” in the slavery days.

The Snyders and the Elys.

This gathering, too, is peculiar in that it is really the centennial of the Snyder family and its various branches that settled in what is now a part of Union County in 1807. The original Snyders came from Germany about 1650 and settled in what is known as Snyder County Pennsylvania. The Ely family came from Germany also and settled near the Snyders, but afterward went to Lancaster and Buck counties, Pennsylvania.

The Snyders and the Elys were famous in the early history of Pennsylvania. William and George Snyder and George Ely were officers in the British Army. In the Revolutionary War Frederick Snyder and his cousin, Simon Snyder, were prominent revolutionists. Simon Snyder was governor of Pennsylvania from 1808 to 1817. Frederick Snyder was the father of Michael Snyder, who settled in Indiana Territory in 1807, close to the now town of Liberty. John Ely was an aid of general Washington's staff and his brother, Aaron, was killed in the battle of White Plains. Michael Snyder married Sarah Ely and two years later drove over land to Indiana Territory.

Joaquin Miller's Grandfather.

Simon Ely, also a soldier of the revolution came to this country in 1805 and settled on what is now known as Ely’s Creek. Simon Ely was a mechanic, having owned the first blacksmith shop in this State. He was also a magnetic healer. Adam Ely, who came here at the same time, was a brother-in-law of Michael Snyder. General Lane, of Mexican fame, was a nephew of the Elys and a grandson of John Ely.

The Elys, the Witts and the Boones are all related through intermarriage. Daniel Boone was an own cousin to Simon Ely, also to John Witt. The Witts and the Boones came from Holstein Germany, the Witts settled in Yadkin, North Carolina, and the Boones in Pennsylvania. Daniel Boone was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1746, near Bristol on the banks of the Delaware. When he was 13 years old his family moved to Yadkin to join their relatives, the Witts, who were already located there.

John Witt came to Indiana territory from North Carolina, and settled on Silver Creek, Harrison Township. He was the grandfather of Joaquin Miller. He was a ventriloquist.

Adam Ely's daughter Mary married Adam Pigman, who was a sergeant in the War of 1812, and later made lieutenant. He marched from Kentucky with troops to the Falls. Also was at Lundy Lane and Lewiston. He came to Indiana territory in 1812 and entered a quarter section in Fayette County and later became one of the largest land owners in Harmony Township, Union County.

Other participants in the War of 1812 were Levi, Jacob and Baltzer Snyder, also Michael Snyder II. He was the father of Michael III, president of this Centennial. In the Mexican war Levi Snyder, also David and Jacob, nephews of Michael Snyder, were privates.

Abram Miller was a sergeant in the battle of Tippecanoe and was killed in that battle. He was a nephew of Henry Miller who came here from Virginia in 1806.

Helped Develop The Country.

Of the nine children of Michael Snyder five were boys. They were all of a remarkable physical build. Moses, especially, was extremely stout. These sons did a great part in developing this country. With their father they came to this country, from Lee County, Virginia, in 1807, 100 years ago, and settled in the southwest quarter of Section 24, Range 2 west. The farm of their cousin, Henry Miller, who had settled in 1806 in Section 24 on Richland Creek on the farms now owned by James and Charity Wilson. While in the fort here Elizabeth Snyder, a courageous girl became tired of being so confined and one dark night she stole out and shot off a gun to make believe that the Indians were near. Then being afraid to meet her parents she hurried through the forests to her father's log cabin where she was found asleep the next morning. This broke up the fort. Elizabeth afterward married Frank Harvey who had been in the War of 1812.

Benjamin Boone, grandson of Daniel Boone, in 1807 entered the sixth quarter section of Brownsville township on the farm where C. C. Beeler’s home buildings now are. Adam Ely entered that section now owned by Abner Starr and John Burke.

The first schoolhouse in Brownsville township was destroyed by fire and because the township could not afford to erect another, Simon Ely Snyder, through his own efforts, built one. He hired the first teacher and gave free tuition to all. This teacher was Miss Charity Witt, later Mrs. Wilson, mother of Curtis Wilson. This building afterward sheltered her and her children during the civil war, and it still stands in the little village of Clifton. Simon Ely Snyder also erected a nondenominational church on the first ground laid out for burial in Brownsville township, on the banks of Richland creek.

Mother of the Poet.

Sarah Witt became the wife of Simon Ely Snyder. Her brother George married Esther Snyder. These are the parents of Michael Witt, who was Sheriff of this county fifty years ago. Andrew Witt, a brother, married Ellen Swafford. She is still living with her son Ross at the age of 97 years. Margaret was married to Hulen Miller in 1835 at a church which stood on the farm now owned by Smith Mitchell. She was the mother of Joaquin Miller, who is known as explorer, warrior, miner, editor, judge, traveler, politician, and best of all, "The Poet of the Sierras.” His parents lived on the farm now owned by Monroe Lafuze, and here in a little log cabin in 1842 Joaquin was born.

In 1852 the Millers drove across the Plains to the “Land of the Setting Sun,” where Margaret Miller became the “Queen of the Golden West" until her death in December, 1905.

So the original settlers here were the Snyders, Elys, wits and Boones period from them sprang the Pigmans, Crists, Immels, Becks, Stevens and others. It is asserted that there is hardly a person here to-day whose genealogy can not be traced back to some of these families, and it is said, too, that in Indianapolis alone there are more than 5,000 people whose ancestry dates back to the Snyders, the Snyders, Elys, Witts and Boones.

This is regarded as one of the most remarkable gatherings of its kind ever assembled in Indiana.


  1. Union County Has A Day At Liberty. The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. August 22, 1907, p. 2. Accessed at Newspapers.com on March 22, 2021.


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