Historical Details

Snyder, Harry C.

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/29/2021


by Vira Snyder Olinger

I have been asked to write a short history of three sisters who were born and reared in Wyoming but first I must tell you a little about their parents who were true pioneers. The sisters are the Snyder girls, Nellie, Vira, and Veda.

Their father was Harry C. Snyder, a tall handsome Texan, who came up from Texas with a herd of long horn cattle. I am not sure of the year, but it was either 1880 or 1881. They stopped at the 4 P ranch near Fort Laramie; and there Harry stayed for three years as foreman of the ranch.

It was while he was at the 4 P he met Mary Vincent who later became his wife. She came from Pennsylvania as a young school teacher and made her home with an aunt, who resided at the old government farm a few miles from Fort Laramie.

At that time the Fort was the center of the social life of that part of the country.

Mary Vincent Snyder was a graduate of Franklin College at New Athens, Ohio, of which her grandfather, the Rev. George Vincent, was president. After teaching a term near Fort Laramie, she taught at the old Rawhide Stage Station where Russell Thorp was one of her pupils.  She also held classes at the Emma Ranch owned by Henry Reed and at the old Matt Hargraves ranch, called the water hole ranch.

After leaving the 4 P, Harry Snyder was foreman of the L Z located 15 miles east of Lusk.  He held this position until his small daughters were of school age, and then moved to Lusk and bought out the Barron Mercantile Co. Later he and Rae Collins bought the Baker Brothers store and this firm was known as Collins moved to Douglas 
and Snyder bought his interest and this store was known for many years as the H. C. Snyder and Co.

Snyder was a stock holder and vice­ president of the Lusk State Bank and one of the pioneer mayors of Lusk. He represented Niobrara County at the State Legislature and was elected chairman of the Lusk Citizens, who were seeking the creation of Niobrara County, naming Lusk as the county seat.

During the 30 odd years that Mary V. Snyder was a resident of Lusk, she was foremost in every movement for the better­ment of her home city and always engaged in every enterprise looking to the welfare of the community she loved so well.

Mary Snyder was the first Worthy Matron of Niobrara Chapter #26 Order of the Eastern Star, and during the years of 19l4 and 1915 she was crowned Grand Worthy Matron for the State of Wyoming. She was a charter member of the D.A.R. and at the time of her death was president of Chapter I.P.E.O. Sister­ hood.    Her busy life came to a close on February 14, 1925 at the age of 62 and she was laid to rest beside her husband in the Lusk cemetery.

The eldest daughter, Nellie, attended the Lusk schools and the University of Wyoming at Laramie. When not in school she assisted her father in the store and on August 29, 1910 she was married to Martin C. Agnew.

The first year of their married life was spent in New York City, but ever the call of the West was in their hearts, so in 1911 Martin and Nellie came back to Wyoming and Martin became a partner in the Snyder store.

Ten years later he died, only a few months after he and his brother-in-law, Ralph Olinger had purchased the Lusk Herald.  Nellie then bought Mr. Olinger's interest in the paper and took over the editorial and business management of the paper and retained an active part in its establishment until her death.

In 1926 she married J.B. Griffith and moved to Laredo, Texas. There they established a daily newspaper and their son James Griffith Jr. was born.   Later James Jr. became active in politics and served Wyoming as State Treasurer and State Clerk and Recorder.

After a year, the Griffiths returned to Lusk where Nellie spent the rest of her life (with the exception of 4 years in Cheyenne while her husband was Land Commis­sioner).

Lusk was her home, Lusk was where her activities seemed unlimited and where she carried on with gentle firmness and depend­ ability. For 35 years she wore the badge of a journalist and was part of the press of Wyoming. She kept the breathtaking pace of her chosen profession and like others who have matched its stride found reward in her endeavors.

Besides her newspaper work she was active in the Congregational Church of which she was a member the D.A.R-, the P.E.O. Sisterhood and the Order of the Eastern Star.

This history wouldn't be complete without a brief account of Nellie's family.

She and Martin were the parents of two daughters, Polly and Mary Lou.   Polly is married to Lyle Tysor who, with his brother, owned and operated the Pontiac garage in Cheyenne for many years. Polly and Lyle have four children, three daughters and one son. They are an active family and have already had a part in 
making Wyoming history.

Mary Lou is married to Robert Canaday, a vice president of the Douglas aircraft.

Robert's job takes him to all the foreign countries and Mary Lou often goes with him. It is a rewarding life.    They have two children, a daughter and a son.

To Nellie and Jim Griffith was born one son, Jim Jr. who is co-owner of the Lusk Herald and active in politics. He is the father of three teen-age daughters, Sally, Laura and Lynn.

At the age of 66, Nellie Snyder Griffith died quietly in the Lusk Hospital and was laid to rest beneath the bower of flowers in the cemetery she helped to beautify. Trees transplanted from her own yard now cast a shadow over her resting place.

Vira Snyder Olinger was the second daughter born to Harry and Mary V. Snyder. She was born the same month and the same year that Wyoming became a state and Wyo. was her home until her husband retired and moved to Ariz. where the winters are milder and the altitude lower.

She, like her sister Nellie, lived on the L Z ranch until it was time they were in school, then moved to Lusk and attended school in the little two room school house located where the court house now stands. Lusk was a small village, but its citizens were progressive and the little town grew and thrived.

After attending the Lusk schools, Vira went to the University at Laramie for two years and then helped in the store and it was there she met Ralph I. Olinger, a young bookkeeper who recently had come from Tekamah, Nebr. He came to visit his broth­ er Albert who was a rancher, and liked Wyoming.    He decided to find employment and it was then he went to work in the Snyder store.

In May 1912 he and Vira were married in the old Snyder home in Lusk. They had one son, Harry, born Aug. 9, 1913, and at the age of 35 he was killed in an auto accident.

Vira's life was that of a house wife and when help was needed in the store she did her bit. Ralph became a partner in the store when he and Vira were married and was manager after Martin Agnew's death.

When the depression hit, it hit hard and the old store along with other worldly posses­sions were lost. In 1932, Ralph and Vira went to Newcastle, Wyo. and started a small store of their own.

It was a struggle but it turned out to be a blessing and 12 happy years were spent in the little Wyoming town at the foot of the Black Hills.

In 1943 they sold the store and went to San Diego because their son, Harry, was in the Navy and San Diego was his base.

After the war they came back to Wyoming to Lusk, their first love. Here again they started a small store and here they worked together to build up a new business.

After selling the store in 1953, Ralph served three times in the legislature.

In 1957 they moved to their desert home in Arizona. Ralph died on Feb. 6, 1965 and Vira still lives on among her friends and the warm desert sun.

She, like her sister and mother was a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, the D.A.R. and Order of the Eastern Star.

Veda, the youngest of the sisters, has led an interesting life as she has lived in many parts of the United States.  As a young girl she attended Rockford College at Rockford, Ill. and later the University of Wyoming. She, like her sisters, helped in the store and entered into the social life of Lusk. 

On Feb. 12, 1920 she and Otto Stratton were married in Hollywood, Calif. After a honeymoon on the west coast they came to Lusk, where Otto was manager of the then­ new Silver Cliff Hotel. Most of their married life was spent in the Western states. Otto has owned or operated hotels in Nebraska, Oregon, Montana, Nevada and now the beautiful Flamingo Hotel in Palo Alto, Calif.

Their daughter Marilyn was born in Chicago and their son, Stanley, in Wayne, Nebr.  Marilyn is now Mrs. E. S. Wilson and Stanley a young architect in Palo Alto.

Marilyn and her husband are both graduates of the University of Oregon and are managers of the Flamingo Hotel. Veda is active in the P.E.O. Sisterhood and the Menertons, she is also a D.A.R.

Otto is an active member in both the Blue Lodge and the Shrine.

(Vira Snyder Olinger died March 31, 1974).

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Snyder, Harry (06/24/1861 - 11/23/1916) View Record
Cemetery Record SNYDER, MARY VINCENT View Record
Obituary Snyder, Mary (05/23/1862 - 02/14/1925) View Record
Business Hardware and Mercantile: Snyder's View Record