First Pennsylvania German Governor Educated in York
Simon Snyder, Pennsylvania Governor 1808-1817
Simon Snyder, who served from 1808 to 1817, was the first of many Pennsylvania Governors to have Pennsylvania German roots. George Leader, Governor from 1955 to 1959, the only York County-born governor, was another.
Even though Simon Snyder wasn’t born in York County, biographies of Governor Snyder agree that he was educated, both as a tradesman and academically, during the eight years he lived in York, to which he moved about 1776.
The information below is from an unidentified biography in Simon Snyder’s manuscript file at York County Heritage Trust, as is the engraved image above, but the story in confirmed in many other sources.
“He was born at Lancaster, on the 5th of November, 1759. His father, Anthony Snyder, was a respectable mechanic, who came to America from the Palatinate, in 1758. His mother, whose maiden name was Knippenberg, was born near Oppenheim, Germany. Of five children, the offspring of this marriage, Simon was the fourth. The father died in 1774, and two years after, the son, then at the age of seventeen, removed from Lancaster to the town of York, in the adjoining county, where he remained for eight years. Here he learned the business of a tanner and currier, serving faithfully an apprenticeship of four years, without being bound by any indenture or written agreement, evincing thus early a steadfastness of character, and a faith that was auspicious. At a night school, kept by John Jones, a worthy member of the Society of Friends, he was taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and made some progress in higher mathematics. His industry at this period was very great, and often at the midnight hour, after a hard day’s work, he was still at his books, and his Sundays were usually devoted to study.
In July, 1784, he removed to Selinsgrove, then Northumberland County, since Union, now Snyder, the two latter having been successively erected out of territory of the former, and the last having been named in honor of that then nameless young man. Here he opened a store, and became the owner of a mill.”