Wednesday, September 4, 2013

R.W. Snyder, Greensburg Photographer

Atlas of Decatur County, 1882.

Robert W. Snyder (Snider) operated a photography studio in Greensburg c. 1879-1890. Snyder, the son of Rev. W. W. (1820-1911) and Elizabeth Catherine (Rager) Snyder, was born in New Albany, Indiana on 14 November 1842. At age 19, he enlisted in the army at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and served in the Civil War for 3 years.

After the war, Robert married Caroline (Carrie) E. Shank (Shenk) on 24 August 1870 in Dearborn County. They started married life in Columbus, Indiana, relocating to Greensburg around 1879. Robert operated a photography studio on the southwest corner of the square before moving to a studio on the east side of the square. 

Carte de visite - back, c. 1880

Cabinet card - back, c. 1885

Robert and Carrie had four children: Robert B. (1 July 1871 – 17 July 1917); Ella Victoria (Charles Downey) (18 April 1873 – 3 April 1948); Frank (9 December 1875 – 11 July 1958); and Jessie, who died at 17 months of diphtheria and whooping cough on 17 December 1879.

Carrie was just 37 years old when she died in Greensburg on 6 November 1885. Robert didn't stay in Greensburg for long after that. In 1890, he began travelling with his 15-year-old son, Frank, to small towns and fairs with a darkroom wagon. He was admitted to the Disabled Volunteer Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, Ohio on 31 August 1891, at age 48. He died on 14 October 1908. At the time of his death, he was working as a clerk at the soldiers’ home. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.

Frank's early experiences learning photography from his father in the darkroom wagon led to a successful career. He settled in Oxford, Ohio in 1895, where he purchased the E.B. Rogers Photography Studio on High Street, which would become Snyder’s Camera Art and Gift Shop. According to Miami University Library, Frank was “probably the leading Oxford, Ohio, photographer during the early twentieth century. He also worked for Miami University during this period, taking many of the photographs that were used in University publications.” After Frank's death in 1958, his family donated over 4000 of his negatives to Miami University. You can view the digitized images online.

Do you have any family photos with an R.W. Snyder imprint? Snyder's short career in Greensburg could help you date these photographs. If you are able to scan your Snyder photos, please do - and email a copy to us. We would love to see them.

Atlas of Decatur County, p. 85.
Obituary, Mrs. Carrie E. Snyder, 6 Nov 1885, Greensburg Standard, p. 1.
Obituary, Jessie Snyder, 24 Dec 1879, DN.
Obituary, R.W. Snider, 23 October 1908, Greensburg Standard.
Obituary, Robert Snyder, 19 July 1917, Greensburg Standard.
Obituary, Robert W. Snyder, Dayton Daily Journal, 18 Oct 1908, v. 46, iss. 78, pg. 19, col. 4.
U.S. National Homes for Disabled Soldiers, 1866-1938, accessed through
Frank Snyder Photograph Collection, Miami University Libraries:

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