Section 9: The Philadelphia Years

A restored historical house on Second St., Old Philadelphia

Extensive research by a professional genealogist has produced a large body of data about Christian Schneÿder. We have learned that besides his role as a shopkeeper and a trader, he may also have been an innkeeper on Second Street, Philadelphia. A notice in a local newspaper on 14 Nov. 1751 refers readers to “Christian Sneider, tavern keeper in Second Street, Philadelphia”. This could mean he was operating a tavern when Jacob and Maria Magdalena were married in New Goshenhoppen on Nov. 12, 1751. And an administration document signed by Christian Schneÿder in 1741, reads: “Christian Sneider of Phil, Ink”. Was this an abbreviation for “Innkeeper”? A 1753 newspaper ad mentions “Second Street where Christian Schneider formerly lived.”

Contemporary sign on Sassafras (Race) St., Old PhiladelphiaSassafras Street was in Mulberry Ward, and tax records, city directories, etc., prove that both Christian and Frederick lived there. In 1756, an article in the Pennsylvania Gazette instructs victims of a theft of household property to apply to Christian Sneider, Constable of Mulberry Ward living in Race Street, to claim their goods.

A Loyalist flag hanging from an 18th century refurbished house in Elfreth's Alley in the Old City. Second St. 
and the tavern was just around the corner, according to a newspaper ad from the period.There are many other instances of rewards being paid by Christian Schneider for runaway servants, or for estate sales advertised by Christian Schneÿder the administrator. He appears to have been a visible, resourceful, and industrious individual, who also invested in land, which he turned over to various buyers.

One of those was Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, a well-respected Lutheran clergyman. Online Land Records of Pennsylvania show that Christian owned land in Reading, Berks Co. Rev. Muhlenberg purchased land in Reading, and referred to business meetings with “Mr. Christian Schneider” concerning such purchases: “Friday, Oct. 26, 1764: In the forenoon I went to the land-office with Mr. Christian Schneider about his house lot in Reading. Sat. Dec. 29, 1764: Also gave to Mr. Christian Schneider 9 pounds on commission for a house lot in Reading.”

We believe the Schneÿder family attended St. Michael’s and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philadelphia in the early years, and we know they were pewholders later at First Reformed Church of Philadelphia. We now have proof that Christian Schneÿder was a member of the congregation in 1763. But where was the family between 1727 and 1737 when Christian applied for a land warrant in Old Cowsehoppen? Perhaps on that piece of the Proprietor’s land in “Fredrick”.

St. Michael’s and Zion have acknowledged some of their early records have been missing since the mid-1800s. Among them were baptisms before 1742, so it is possible the missing records included Schneÿder church events.

Commemorative Plaque in Franklin SquareThe first German Reformed congregation in Philadelphia built a church in 1747 at the southeast corner of Fourth and Sassafras [now Race] streets. Christian Schneÿder and his family lived on Sassafras Street for many years, until his death in 1784. The first burying ground for the congregation, mentioned earlier, was in what is now known as Franklin Square [1741-1835]. A commemorative booklet states that 3,000 persons connected to the church were buried there. When the square became a park, some bodies were moved, but most of the gravestones were laid flat and buried beneath the soil. It is quite likely this was the burying place of Christian Schneÿder and his family. We have his burial date from First Reformed Church records: April 4, 1784.