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HISTORY OF JONAS HOTEL BY TOM HELD
Written by: Tom Held Corrected by: Jeanne Snyder Miller, 2002 Edited by: Marilyn Miller McIlhenny, 2002
Jonas Snyder was born August 30, 1839, one of fourteen children. The family lived on adjacent sides of the Blue Mountain in Lynn Township and West Penn Township.
Jonas Snyder arrived in New Mechanicsville in 1859, after leaving his farm in Lynn Township, Lehigh County. He was widowed at the time, having been married to Bolly (?) Gerber, who died in childbirth. Jonas met and married Susanna Adams from Penn Forest. They had six children, four girls and two boys. (His two sons, John and Charlie, continued his business.)
The first tract of land he purchased was 120 acres from Mr. Singmaster for $400.00. This plot contained a small comer hotel, sawmill, apple orchard and small mountain stream of consistent strength. Jonas was able to purchase this due to lack of tax payment. Two years later he purchased adjoining tract of330 acres from Daniel Heinly for $600.00. Today this tract is part of Camp Trexler, including the sand spring.
During the Civil War Jonas was drafted; he paid a substitute to take his place in PA Volunteers 176 Regiment Company I. Since he was new to the area, the locals held this against him and threw stones at the hotel and boycotted his businesses.
Jonas Snyder's businesses included lumber, roofing slate from the many quarries near Slatington and Pen Argyl, and farm implements from the Messinger Manufacturing Company in Tatamy. He also loaned money secured by a simple note written on any piece of paper, stating "I promise to pay Jonas Snyder. ..:” Very few failed to repay the note, but when they did he auctioned off their possessions or put a lien on their deed.
Jonas was well known in political circles throughout Monroe County. Many a Democratic judge would call upon him to rally the local men at his tavern, to persuade them to vote a certain way. If you walk into the original courthouse in Stroudsburg and look in the entrance foyer you will see a bronze plaque with three original commissioners listed - Jonas Snyder is one.
New Mechanicsville was renamed Sterners after Jacob Sterner (reason unknown). Jonas Snyder was appointed Postmaster of Sterners in 1899. About the time of Jonas' death in 1905, the Post Office notified John Snyder that there was another Sterner’s in Pennsylvania and the name would have to be changed. For lack of another name (and perhaps jokingly) they submitted Jonas as one of several options. The town has been Jonas ever since.
Jonas Snyder died October 5, 1905. The following is his obituary as it was printed in the Stroudsburg Times.
Jonas Snyder a most highly respected resident of Sterners, died on Sunday afternoon at his home of a complication of diseases. Mr. Snyder was 75 years old and very well known throughout Monroe County. He was proprietor of the hotel where he made his home, a farmer by occupation and by trade a blacksmith, wheelwright, and miller. 15 years ago Mr. Snyder was elected county commissioner and served for 6 years with great credit. The deceased is survived by a wife, 2 sons and 4 daughters, all who reside in Carbon County. The funeral will be held on Thursday from his late residence at 9:30 am and later at the church at Gilbert. 11:00 interment at Gilbert Cemetery.
The two sons who took the business over from Jonas were know for their hospitality, catering to the hunting, fishing and resort trade. Charlie was the bachelor who ran the gristmill and lumber mill. John married Anna Christman, whose family was from the Kresgeville area. The John Snyder and Sons business dealt in the same things that Jonas had, adding home insurance, fire warden, cream separator dealer, piano and organ dealer to the mix.
The present hotel was finished in 1901, according to the cornerstone in the southwest comer of the foundation. The sawmill John and Charlie built cut all the lumber used in the construction of all the buildings. Chestnut was the wood of choice, until the blight killed all the trees. The finished project consisted of the following: hotel, large Pennsylvania Bank barn, large hay barn (which stood in the middle of Rte. 534), ice house, wood shed, smoke house, chicken house, grain barn, cow and horse barn (presently across the street), fertilizer shed, carpenter shop (next to pond), grist mill, blacksmith shop, saw mill (on top of stream) and finally the picnic pavilion (located in the grove).
The hotel itself contained a barroom, post office, general store, dining room, parlor, music room, sitting room and thirteen (bed) rooms upstairs. The basement held a wine cellar. Five large wooden kegs held grape and elderberry wine along with applejack, hard cider, and vinegar.
The roads leading to the hotel from the south and west were lined with mature apple trees, being varieties of Baldwin, Yellow Pippin, Sheep nose, Rhode Island Greenings and Falterwalters. Some of the original trees still stand and produce fruit. Apples were shipped as far as Philadelphia and New York. In the spring the view of these trees in bloom was beautiful, and the smell wonderful. Grapes were grown in the rear of the hotel on several large arbors and on stone hedgerows on the edge of the fields.
The pond that exists today was used primarily as a water source for the turbine in the gristmill. This turbine supplied power to the sawmill and was used to turn millstones for grinding grain. It also sent a drive shaft up and over the pond, then under the road to the basement of the hotel, where it turned an electric generator. The generator was for the hotel lights, which were used very conservatively. Sitting in the barroom one could hear the clunking of the generator, coinciding with repetitive dimming of the lights. The drive shaft left the hotel's basement to go above ground to the large Pennsylvania Bank barn, operating a lift to bring hay up to its loft. A trap door was located in the middle of the road to enable men to grease the joints in the shaft.
The hotel had a unique picnic grove. It was ideal for church socials, band concerts, cakewalks, and camping and company picnics. Many local bands played there, including the Slatington and Kresgeville bands almost every national holiday. The grove had a nice pavilion, which sold beer, soda and ice cream. The stream was used to keep the beer cold. Many people would reserve a spot in the grove and ask that a case of Stroudsburg or Northampton Tru-Blu beer be put in the stream for them. There was a wooden roller coaster built for the children at the upper end of the grove.
To supply the hotel with water they built a reservoir about one half mile upstream. They then proceeded to dig a trench for the water pipe. Since this water supply was higher in elevation than the hotel no water pumps were necessary. Water ran continuously behind the bar for the beer as well as in the horse trough out front.
By the late 1930s and early 1940s most of John's ten children had married and moved on. Most of the activities of the hotel and farm had slowed down because the majority of the labor force was family. John passed away in 1948. His brother Charlie continued to live in the hotel by himself, operating the bar and post office. John's wife Anna moved in with her family, staying several months in each home until her death in 1956.
Paul F. Held of Trexlertown purchased the hotel from the estate. Mr. Held purchased the hotel business along with 60 acres. John's son Ralph purchased the remaining 400 acres from the other family members. Other family members weren't interested in continuing the hotel business because of the beer and liquor sales. Ralph's daughter Linda Snyder still owns 120 acres of the farm.
Paul and Lucille Held owned the hotel from 1950-1960. Leonard and Janet Stauffer owned the hotel from 1960-1970. Charles and Alice Roberts owned the hotel from 1970-1985. Joe Piazza and Freddy? owned the hotel from 1985-1998.
Mike Paadolfo and Albert Cantiello own the hotel from 1999 to present.