Snyder, John Wesley (1837–1922)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

John Wesley Snyder, rancher and Civil War veteran, the second of four children of Charles W. and Susan (Hale) Snyder, was born on June 21, 1837, in Yazoo County, Mississippi. After his father's death in 1840, John moved with his family to Missouri. In the fall of 1856 he accompanied his older brother, Dudley Hiram Snyder, to Texas. There he became an equal partner in his brother's apple orchard and horse-trading venture between Round Rock and Georgetown, as well as in his budding cattle operation. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Snyder enlisted in the Confederate Army and assisted his brothers in selling and shipping cattle to the Confederacy's Trans-Mississippi Department. Afterward he freighted cotton to Brownsville and Matamoros to help recoup the family's losses suffered at the close of the war. He married Catherine Jane Coffee, daughter of John T. Coffee of Georgetown, and they had eight children. Beginning in 1868 John Snyder was associated in the Snyder Brothers' cattle enterprise and assisted in gathering herds and trailing them to the northern markets. In 1869 he led a drive from Llano County over the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas, and the next year took a herd to Schuyler, Nebraska. In 1878 he was placed in charge of the John Wesley Iliff estate in Colorado, which he managed for the next nine years. With his brother he invested in rangeland in Wyoming. After the 1886 blizzard and the accompanying financial panic, the Snyders concentrated their efforts on their West Texas holdings, including the Renderbrook operation in Mitchell County and 128,000 acres in Lamb and Hockley counties, which they had bought in the early 1880s. In 1884 and 1891 they sold this acreage to Isaac L. Ellwood and W. L. Ellwood, who developed these operations as the Renderbrook and Spade ranches. Snyder moved his family to Georgetown and built a home. After 1891 the Snyder brothers focused their efforts on their San Gabriel stock farm, where they raised and sold fine horses. After selling his land for the new Southwestern University, Snyder moved to Austin, where he spent his later years. He died on April 14, 1922, after having been in ranching and other agricultural businesses for more than fifty years. He was buried in the family plot at Georgetown. The site of his home is now occupied by Southwestern University's fine-arts building.

Gus L. Ford, ed., Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas: Cockrell, 1936). Richard C. Hopping, "The Ellwoods: Barbed Wire and Ranches," Museum Journal 6 (1962). J. Marvin Hunter, Trail Drivers of Texas (2 vols., San Antonio: Jackson Printing, 1920, 1923; 4th ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Snyder, John Wesley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995