Snyder, William Henry [Pete] (1836–1916)

By: Charles G. Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

William Henry (Pete) Snyder (Snider), West Texas merchant, was born on November 29, 1836, in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, one of seven brothers. None of his records shows the names of his mother and father, but he had brothers named Charles and Tom. Pete and Charles were both in the Union Army during the Civil War, and Tom fought with the Confederates. Snyder moved to Manhattan, Kansas, in 1857 to homestead. He stayed about a year and moved to Central City, Colorado, to mine gold. He joined Company D, Second Colorado Cavalry, at Spanish Bar, Colorado, on September 25, 1862. He was called to active duty on November 17 of that year and began service at Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory. In the spring of 1863 he was sent to Council Grove, Kansas, to help protect New Mexico-bound trains from William C. Quantrill and his raiders. Private Snyder fought in the battles of Big Blue, Little Blue, Mill Creek, and Westport. He was discharged at Fort Riley, Kansas, on June 20, 1865, and went back to Colorado. There he discovered that others had taken his mining claims, and he returned shortly to Kansas, where he worked on the Kansas-Pacific Railroad, a project for which Buffalo Bill Cody was supplying meat at this time. Another famous hunter, Josiah Wright Mooar, also worked there. From 1869 to 1876 Snyder traveled around Texas earning his living as a freighter and supplier for buffalo hunters and settlers. When Mooar and his hunting party came into West Texas in 1876, Snyder went with them to haul their hides. He set up a trading post on Sand Creek, but in 1878, tired of the remote location, he bought a trading post at Deep Creek, where a small community had begun to develop. The settlement, known earlier as Robber's Roost, Hide Town, Scab Town, and Deep Creek, came to be called Snyder's Place as the store prospered. Snyder operated the store until 1881, when he moved to Colorado (now Colorado City), Mitchell County, Texas, where the Texas and Pacific Railway lowered his shipping costs and opened a more profitable market. The trading-post settlement kept the name Snyder, which became official on July 2, 1907.

In 1883 Snyder heard that Scurry County would soon be officially organized as a county and that Snyder would be the county seat. He hired W. W. Marshall to survey the 640 acres surrounding the site of his old trading post, filed a claim for his town on September 4, 1883, and began plans to sell lots. A bitter battle erupted in the courts when a local rancher, Tommy Nunn, also claimed the land. Nunn offered to divide the land, but Snyder refused to compromise. The Texas Supreme Court awarded all the land to Nunn on June 7, 1886, and Snyder left town, rarely to return. In 1899 he bought several sections of land near Dunn, Texas. He lived on the ranch, which was about fifteen miles from Colorado City, for about five years and in 1904 moved back to Colorado City. Snyder was married to Maria Louise (Nellie) Fairclough in Colorado, Texas, on February 7, 1883, by Rev. O. F. Rogers, a Presbyterian minister. The Snyders had no children. Nellie Snyder died on June 7, 1913, in Colorado City, and Pete Snyder died there on October 4, 1916. They are buried in the Colorado City Cemetery, on a part of their ranchland that they had donated for the cemetery. Their land was divided and sold for taxes after their deaths. Although Snyder was not a member of any religious group, he donated two stained-glass windows to the local Methodist church, from which he was buried.

Charles G. Anderson, Deep Creek Merchant: The Story of William Henry "Pete" Snyder (Snyder, Texas: Snyder Publishing, 1984).

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

Charles G. Anderson, “Snyder, William Henry [Pete],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995