About Us
Museum Membership
Event Schedule
Museum Newsletters
Museum Displays


John Wesley Snyder

Arkansas City Traveler, April 26, 1882.
                                                               The Pistol.
A lamentable accident happened at Winfield last Saturday about noon, by which John Wesley Snyder met his death. The unfortunate man was standing in the crowd around a peddler’s wagon, when the salesman took off his coat and laid it down, in doing which, a pistol in one of the pockets fell out and was accidentally discharged, the ball taking its deadly course straight to the heart of the victim. Mr. Snyder was 46 years of age and leaves a wife and six children to mourn his loss. The coroners jury rendered a verdict of accidental death, upon which Mr. Wood, who has been arrested, was discharged.
Cowley County Courant, April 27, 1882.
                                                            THE PISTOL!
          Lamentable Accident—How John Wesley Snyder Met His Death Saturday.
          On the Corner of Main Street and Ninth Avenue—Details of the Accident.
One of the saddest accidents ever recorded in the history of Winfield was the sudden and accidental shooting of one of Cowley County’s most respected farmers Saturday, about fifteen minutes before twelve o’clock.
The streets were crowded with people, and a notion wagon man from Topeka, was stationed just south of Harter’s drug store, selling his goods to all who wished to buy.
Mr. Snyder, an old resident of the county, who has lived on a farm about seven miles south of Winfield, on the Walnut, for the past eight or nine years, came to town this morning with a load of millet seed, which he expected to sell. He brought with him his wife and their baby, a little boy about sixteen months old.
Upon arriving in the city he walked down to the corners, as the crossing of Main street and Ninth avenue are termed, and was standing just at the rear of the notion wagon, listening no doubt to the man’s speech to the crowd. The notion man stood in his wagon in his shirt sleeves, his coat lying in the front end of the wagon upon a box, which it is supposed contained articles of some kind for sale. He went to this box, apparently, to take something out, and taking his coat in his hand returned to the rear end of the wagon and laid it down upon another box, when his pistol fell out of one of the coat pockets and to the ground, striking the hind wheel of the wagon as it fell, and was dis­charged.

There were perhaps three hundred people standing within range of the pistol, and all looked surprisedly around to see who, if anyone, was shot, but for a minute or more there seemed to have been no one hurt, when Mr. Snyder clasped his hands upon his breast and started around the wagon, staggering as though he was going to fall. This was the first sign of anyone being hurt, and those standing near, seeing the old gentleman reel, caught him, just as he was in the act of falling. He was lowered to the ground, the blood gushed from his nostrils and mouth, and inside of three minutes he breathed his last. On an examination it was found that the ball had entered his body near the point of his breast bone, and supposed to have passed upward through the heart. For minutes the surging crowd was uncontrollable, and the news flew through the city by telephone and word of mouth, and horror-stricken citizens could be seen coming and going in every direc­tion.
We can scarcely imagine anything which would so thoroughly shock our citizens and wring from one and all such general expressions of sympathy as did this shocking accident. To make the scene all the more effecting, just as the unfortunate man was breathing his last, there came through the crowd a woman—yes, a woman, bearing in her arms a child. The crowd, which had stood firm and dense, anxiously trying to get a glimpse of the dying man, parted as she approached, and she passed through to where he lay. It was his wife, and the child in her arms was his baby, its little tongue, not yet able to speak, lisped the word “papa.” This was a moment to try the strength of one’s nervous system. Brave men bowed in silence, and for a few moments the sight which their eyes fell upon was one long to be remembered.
That horror-stricken wife, with her child on one arm, knelt down in the blood and dust by the side of him to whom she has for years looked to for support and counsel, and gently raising his head, held it and respectfully kissed the mouth from which the blood was gushing. The poor woman was raised by strange hands and born away, and the crying child was taken charge of by a kind lady who was standing by.
The Coroner was there by this time, a jury summoned, and the body born to the office of H. G. Fuller, over the Post Office where an inquest was held. After hearing the evidence of a number of gentlemen who were present, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that Mr. Snyder came to his death from an acciden­tal shot fired from a pistol belonging to W. H. Wood, a traveling salesman. Mr. Wood was placed under arrest, but after the verdict of the jury was rendered, he was discharged.
It is a sad affair and has cast a gloom over the entire city and community.
John Wesley Snyder was born in Franklin County, Indiana, in December, 1835, and was at the time of his death 46 years old. He was the father of eleven children, six of whom are living and five dead. He has been a member of the Christian church for twelve years. He came to Cowley County about eight or nine years ago, and has ever been respected by all who knew him.
Cowley County Courant, April 27, 1882.
Saturday was a fated day for Winfield. Between eleven and twelve o’clock, Mr. Snyder was accidently shot and killed. About five o’clock, a young man whose name we were unable to learn, let his team run away, and he was thrown from the buggy and seriously injured. Then just after dark a man named Wm. McLain, a brick mason of this city, while standing in a grocery store that does not advertise, suddenly fell to the floor, in an unconscious condition. Dr. Wells was called, and after administering stimulants, brought him to, and he was taken home. The Dr. pronounced the attack palpitation of the heart. Moral: People should not carry pistols, drive runaway horses, nor fool around stores that do not advertise.
Winfield Courier, April 27, 1882.
                                                        A SAD ACCIDENT.
                               One of Cowley’s Old Citizens Shot Through the Heart.
                         John Wesley Snyder, of Pleasant Valley Township, the Victim.

Our streets were the scene of one of the saddest accidents on Saturday, that has ever happened in the county. A street peddler by the name of Wood, from Topeka, had opened out his wares on the corner of Main Street and Ninth Avenue, and was selling them from the wagon. There was quite a crowd of people in town, and as usual those who had finished their business gathered around to see what the peddler had to say. Before commencing to sell he pulled off his coat and laid it on the front end of the wagon. Afterward, finding it in the way, he picked it up, carried it to the back end of the wagon and laid it over a trunk. As he threw it over the trunk a five-barreled revolver fell from the inside breast pocket, dropped over the side of the wagon, the hammer struck the hub of the hind wheel, and the weapon was discharged. The wagon at the time was surrounded by a dense crowd. After the report the peddler asked if anyone was hurt, and receiving no answer, proceeded with his selling. When the pistol dropped, John Wesley Snyder was standing just back of the hub and about two feet from the hind wheel of the wagon. Those standing nearest to him noticed that immediately after the report he brought his hand up to his breast, but made no remark. In a moment he turned, walked around the back end of the wagon to the south side, and sank down on the ground, the blood gushing from his mouth in torrents. Drs. Emerson and Mendenhall were on the ground in a few moments and pronounced the sufferer beyond the reach of human aid. In a few minutes they pronounced him dead. Just as he breathed his last, his wife was led through the crowd with a little baby clinging to her skirts. Her anguish as the terrible reality flashed upon her mind cannot be described. Added to the terrors of the scene were the frightened cries of the little child, just old enough to lisp its father’s name. Strong men were unable to control their emotions and turned away. After a time the wife was quieted sufficiently to be led away, the body was picked up and carried to the Coroner’s office where an inquest was held. Upon examination it was found that the ball had entered the body about four inches below the left nipple, ranging upward, cutting several of the larger blood vessels near the heart. The peddler was placed under arrest, but upon the rendering of a verdict by the Coroner’s jury that “deceased had come to his death by an accidental shot from a pistol belonging to W. H. Wood,” he was released.
Mr. Snyder was a resident of Pleasant Valley Township, and lived on the old Brane farm, near Odessa Schoolhouse on Posey Creek. He formerly lived in Fairview Township, northeast of Winfield, and has been a resident of the county for about eight years. He was forty-six years old and the father of eleven children, five of whom are dead, a member of the Christian Church, and one of Cowley’s most respected citizens. His taking off is a calamity that is deeply felt by neighbors and friends.
Arkansas City Traveler, May 3, 1882.
At Winfield, W. H. Wood, a North Topeka notion man, while selling goods from his wagon, accidentally dropped a revolver, which was discharged. The ball struck Wesley Snyder, a bystand­er, above the navel, ranging upward through the heart, killing him instantly. The coroner’s jury rendered a verdict of acciden­tal shooting.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, March 12, 1885.
Nancy Johnson has made report of real estate to the Probate Judge, in estate of John Wesley Snyder.
                                                    JUDGE GANS’ GRIST.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, April 30, 1885.
John D. Pryor was appointed guardian for the estate of the minor heirs of John W. Snyder, deceased.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum