SURNAMES: FLEMING, BUNKER, KIFER
John Snyder was born in Harrison County, Indiana, February 11, 1828. His father, Joseph K. Snyder, was a native of Philadelphia, where he was reared and married to Sarah Fleming, a native of France, who came to Philadelphia with her parents when she was a mere child. They afterward emigrated to Indiana and were pioneers of that State. It was about 1820-21 when they settled in Laconia, Harrison County, and they lived in that county until the fall of 1839. They then moved to what was afterward Tipton, Cedar County, Iowa, where they lived the remainder of their life-time. They reared a family of eight children, five daughters and three sons, of whom three sons and one daughter are now living. John Snyder remained with his parents until he was twenty-one years old. In the spring of 1849 he made the trip to California, coming overland, there being two wagons in the party they started. At the Missouri River they were joined by others, but while traveling over the country some of the party were slow in their movements, while the two wagons belonging to Mr. Snyder’s party, together with another one making faster time, soon outstripped the others, and stayed together during the remainder of the journey. With the party was Mr. Snyder’s father and his brother-in-law, Mr. Moses Bunker, but they, however, soon after returned to Iowa. The party came into the State where Chico is now located, and from there, in the fall of 1849, went to Shasta, or where that city now is, which at that time was called Redding Springs. Mr. Snyder worked in the mines there until the following April, then he went on to Trinity, and mined there a part of the spring. At this place a party was organized to go down to Humboldt Bay after provisions for the camp. Also a prospecting tour was made from Trinity, where a trail was laid to the Salmon River; there they mined a short time and then returned to Trinity, where Weaverville is now located. There they organized another expedition, commanded by an man named John Ross. The result of this expedition was the discovery of Scott River. History records the event as the river being discovered by a man named Scott; but the truth of the matter is, it was first seen by Mr. Snyder’s party, and they, having trouble with the Pawnees, who had stolen a part of their horses, were in pursuit of the Indians, trying to recover their lost horses, when they came across Scott and his party, whom they told of the river, whereupon Scott turned his course in that direction and made it known that he discovered it.
After spending some time in the recovery of their horses, Mr. Snyder and his party returned to Trinity after supplies, when they made another trip to Scott River and spent some time in mining at Scott’s Bar, where they took out considerable gold. Bad weather set in, and the party left and followed the course of the river up nearly to its head, where they left it and went off in the direction where Fort Jones is now located, then went toward Shasta Butte and came to the Oregon trail. Here the party broke camp; some going to Oregon and others, including Mr. Snyder, came down to Sacramento. From there he came to San Jose, and stayed in that vicinity about two months, when he went down to the lower Redwoods, back of where Searsville is now located, and worked there until the winter of 1850-51. Returning to Santa Clara County the following spring, he remained here until February, 1852, during which time he had a severe sickness. He then returned to the Redwoods lower down than where he was at first, and worked there until the fall of 1854. In 1855 he returned to Santa Clara County, and commenced farming and running a threshing-machine, and has followed farming since. In the fall of 1855 he was married to Martha Kifer. He continued farming in the neighborhood of Santa Clara until the fall of 1859, when he sold and bought a farm near Mountain View, and lived there until 1865.
His present place he
bought in 1861, which is situated four miles from Mountain View Station, and now
contains 800 acres. The original purchase was 1,160 acres. In 1862 he put in
the first crop, which yielded sufficient returns to pay for one-half of the
land. This was about the first grain-raising in this section, as the old
settlers thought grain could not be raised here without irrigation; however,
after the successful experiment of Mr. Snyder, it was not long before it was
followed by others. He has from 450 to 500 acres under cultivation.
Twenty-five acres are in orchard, mostly in French prunes; and he also has
sixteen acres in vineyard, all in good bearing condition. Mr. Snyder has eighty
acres in the Collins School District, which is all in vineyard. The farm where
he lived near Mountain View, which he yet owns, contains 160 acres, which is
devoted to hay production. In the fall of 1866 Mr. Snyder and his
brother-in-law, Mr. Kifer, went to Salinas Valley, in Monterey County, and
bought 400 acres of land together, after which they made other purchases until
they owned over 1,200 acres. The first purchase was put into wheat, and the
first two years it yielded twenty-two sacks to the acre. They then divided the
property, Mr. Kifer taking the original 400 acres, and Mr. Snyder the other
purchases, which amounted to 850 acres. Since that time Mr. Snyder has sold
part of it, having at the present time 300 acres in that valley. In the winter
of 1880 Mr. Snyder, together with two others, bought a half interest in what is
called the Mountaineer, a quartz mine near Nevada City. The mine was located,
but had not been developed until the present parties came into its possession.
The other members of the company not being financially able, Mr. Snyder, at his
own expense , built a mill on the property in 1882. He still owns a one-sixth
interest in the mine, which has been a paying investment.
Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy
SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight