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Energy on the Christian B. Snyder and Joseph Snyder Farm and the Waterloo North CSD, North Waterloo, Ontario

Figure 1a. Joseph B. Snyder and two oxen pulling stumps on Lot 63, CA MAO Digital 94, Mennonite Archives of Ontario. Used with permission. Joseph B. was given the easternmost section of Lot 63 (217 acres) by his father Christian B. Note: the oxen appear to be hauling cordwood or lumber, not pulling stumps, in this photo.

The Snyder farm in Ontario’s Waterloo North region is an example of a large and highly productive Mixed Animal Husbandry Agroecosystem with Extensive Family Labour Supplies. In 1871, Christian B. Snyder (b. 1824/d.1897) was head of the Snyder farm on Lot 63, German Company Tract.[1] Christian B. was married to Barbara Bauman (b. 1825/d.1914), and the couple had 10 children.[2] Christian B.’s grandfather and grandmother (“Old” Christian Schneider and Elizabeth Erb), both born in Pennsylvania, had immigrated with other Mennonite settlers to Waterloo Township, Ontario, in 1806. “Old” Christian acquired Lots 42, 63, and 83 in the northern part of the German Company Tract; however, his first homesteading was done on land in the southern part of the Tract near Doon.[3] By 1807, “Old” Christian had erected a two-story log house in the Doon area.[4] “Old” Christian’s son Joseph (b. 1796/d. 1874), who was Christian B.’s father, built a two-story log house on Lot 63, in 1839.[5] It was 40 feet by 44 feet, two stories, and made of logs 8 inches by 24 inches, all hand hewn.[6] This is the same land subsequently occupied by Christian B. Snyder and his family in 1871, which the census enumerator reported to be 440 acres (178 ha).[7] Schedule 3 of the 1871 census shows that Christian B.’s total land in the Dominion, however, was 659 acres (267 ha).[8] This additional 219 acre (88 ha) parcel or parcels would not have been located in the same census division as the 440 acres he occupied, but they were probably close by.

At the time of the 1871 census, Christian B.’s father Joseph still lived on Lot 63, but in a separate house with his second wife, Catherine Snyder (nee Weicker). Joseph also reported a few livestock in the census: therefore, for the purposes of this farm energy analysis Christian B.’s livestock numbers are rolled together with his father’s smaller herds. Christian B. eventually divided his land into three farms. In 1872, the eastern section (217 acres or 88 ha) was given to his son Joseph B. (who appears in Figure 1a). Joseph B. (b.1854/ d.1938) drew elm, basswood, oak, cherry, and pine from the woods of his farm, fully cleared 100 acres of woodland, and sold many hundreds of cords of wood to local mills. Sixteen years later, in 1888, Christian B. gave the central section of his farm (80 acres or 32 ha) to his son Franklin. That same year, 1888, he gave the western section with the old buildings (148 acres or 60 ha) to his daughter Lovina and her husband Israel B. Gingrich.[9] This is the same year that Lovina and Israel were married.[10] Christian, Barbara, and their youngest son Jared lived with Lovina and Israel, and by 1890 it was a three generation household again with the arrival of baby Helinda.[11] Thus, over the course of 82 years since the arrival of “Old” Christian and his wife Elizabeth from Pennsylvania, Lot 63 had changed hands between family members three times and had been divided into three farms.

Figure 1b. Christian B. Snyder and Barbara Snyder (nee Bauman). The couple were married in 1848. Photograph credit: Gingrich family, Waterloo. Used with permission.
Figure 1c. Location of Lot 63, German Company Tract. Credit: County Atlas Project, McGill Digital Library.

Figure 1d. Google Map of Waterloo North with red pin marking Lot 63.

Farm Energy Funds

Christian B. Snyder’s 178 hectare parcel was 46 percent cleared in 1871 which was 20 percent less than the amount of land cleared by other farmers in Waterloo North (66 percent cleared). Perhaps this was because Lot 63 was in the northern reaches of the German Company Tract which was developed later than the southern region. This means Snyder had a greater percentage of woodland (54 percent) available on his 178 ha than did the Waterloo North CSD (33 percent), and it reinforces the narrative that Christian B.’s son Joseph began to clear 100 acres (40 ha) after receiving his 217 acre share of the farm in 1872. In 1871, Christian B. divided his cleared or improved portion of his 178 acres (80.9 ha), into the following four divisions and proportions: 59 percent crops, 20 percent pasture, 17 percent hay land, and four percent gardens or orchards. For the Waterloo North CSD, however, land use was 64 percent in crops, 13 percent pasture, 19 percent hay, and 4 percent gardens or orchards. The Waterloo North CSD also had a very small amount (.2 percent) in dyked marshland, most likely along the Grand River. Therefore, proportionately, Snyder’s 178 hectare farm had more woodland and pastureland, but less hayland and cropland, than their neighbours in Waterloo North. The average-sized farm in the district was 36.5 ha, or only about 20.5 percent of Snyder’s 178 ha farm.[12] Therefore, we assume that Christian B. Snyder’s farm was one of the largest farms in the Waterloo North CSD in 1871. It may be that because the patriarch “Old” Christian had purchased three lots in the northern part of the German Company Tract but had left them for future development while he lived in the southern region of Doon, Lot 63 was not as developed, nor had it yet been divided amongst the first Mennonite settlers’ descendants, as were other farms in the CSD.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of Christian B. Snyder’s farm in 1871 showing his two parcels of land (266 ha) combined. The 88 ha parcel that was outside his specific division (but was probably in one of North Waterloo’s other three divisions) is in light grey, and the 178 ha that was part of his division is represented by the coloured polygons. Fifty-four percent of the farm’s 178 ha parcel was unimproved, meaning it was in woodland. The remaining 46 percent was in pasture, hay, crops, and orchards or gardens. Given that the 178 ha farm was five times the size of the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD, and despite his large woodlot, Snyder had ample cleared land for his livestock and crops.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization of all 425 farms in the Waterloo North CSD, North Waterloo, Ontario. Proportionately, Waterloo North had significantly less woodland available (20 percent less) of its agroecosystem than did the Christian B. Snyder farm. Moreover, 64 percent of the CSD’s improved land was in crops, with the remaining 36 percent in pasture, hay, garden and orchard. A very small amount (.2 percent) was dyked marshland.

The Snyder farm’s livestock intensity was 15.2 livestock units per km2 (LU/km2) on their 178 ha parcel, and the grazing intensity was 2.04 ruminant units per ha of pasture. This was lower than the Waterloo North CSD which had a very high livestock density of 28.2 LU/km2 and 2.19 ruminants per ha of pasture. The Snyders had 100 cords of firewood on hand in 1871 (50 per household), compared to the 7,530 cords of firewood produced in the Waterloo North CSD, which averaged to 17.71 cords of firewood per farm. One can assume that when Christian B.’s son Joseph cleared 40 ha of woodland and sold hundreds of cords of wood to local mills (after he received his 217 acre share of the farm in 1872), he was following in his father’s footsteps (Figure 1a). Perhaps, Christian B. had sold large quantities of cordwood to local mills before his son Joseph took up the wood business.

Farm Energy Flows

The Snyder farm is one of the few in the Farm Energy Profile project that produced more energy from a human edible crop (wheat) than from feed crops. In 1871, the Snyders produced 250 bushels (bu) of spring wheat, 100 bu of fall wheat, 170 bu of barley, 600 bu of oats, 280 bu of peas, 360 bu of potatoes, 2,500 bu of turnips, 3 bu of mangel-wurtzel, 1,500 bu of carrots, 90 bu apples, 4 bu plums, pears, or other fruit, 4 bu of grass or clover seed, and 800 pounds of maple sugar. The Waterloo North CSD grew the same crops, plus rye, corn, grapes, and small quantities of rye, beans, buckwheat, hops, and tobacco. Waterloo North farmers produced 56,621 pounds of maple sugar, or 133 pounds per farm. Snyder’s 800 pounds of maple sugar indicates that he was using his woodland in more ways than drawing out wood to be sold to local mills. He also benefited greatly from the annual flow of maple sugar coming from his woodland.

In terms of energy flows from fodder, the Snyder farm consumed much larger amounts of feed than the average farm in Waterloo North. However, their mix of pasture, hay, and residues was quite similar to the township’s, proportionally. The Snyder farm’s residues were 4.26 times greater than the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD. However, when considering that Synder’s 178 ha farm was roughly five times the size of the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD, there is not a great difference in residues proportionally. The Snyder farm and the Waterloo North CSD also had very similar ratios of pastureland to hayland. Additionally, both reused 100 percent of their biomass (see figures 4a and 4b).

In 1871, Christian B. and his father Joseph Snyder reported having five horses over three years old, three colts or fillies, four working oxen, 14 milk cows, 19 horned cattle, 80 sheep, and three swine. They also produced 1,000 pounds of butter, 100 pounds of cheese, 300 pounds of wool, and 300 yards of homemade cloth or flannel. Given the 300 pounds of wool that was on hand, his homemade cloth was probably wool flannel. They slaughtered or sold for export two swine, six cattle and 20 sheep. The Snyder farm exceeded the average farm in Waterloo North in all of these categories, except swine. The average farm in the Waterloo North CSD had six or seven swine and slaughtered or sold for export five or six. Snyder’s most notable farm productions were, perhaps, his butter and cloth. Whereas Snyder had 1,000 pounds of butter, the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD had 270, and, whereas he had 300 yards of cloth, the average farm had 4.5. In fact, Snyder’s 300 yards of cloth represented 16 percent of the 1,886 yards of cloth reported for the Waterloo North CSD. It may be that he had a small enterprise on his farm for wool flannel production. Farms in Waterloo North also reported producing honey and linen, where Snyder did not.

Both the Snyder farm and the Waterloo North CSD had feed and litter deficits. In terms of total energy deficits, Snyder’s animals were short by 1,065,510 MJ of feed and 334,588 MJ of litter. Figures 3a and 3b do not include peas in the feed balance, so it is likely that a tenth of Snyder’s feed deficit was satisfied by the farm’s pea harvest. The average farm in the Waterloo North CSD had only about a 290,267 MJ feed deficit and an 86,299 MJ litter deficit. The feed and litter deficits on Snyder’s much larger farm were 3.67 and 3.88 times greater than the average-sized farm in the Waterloo North CSD. Given that his farm was roughly five times the size of the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD, his feed and litter deficit was proportionally not as large. Snyder’s butter, cheese, wheat, maple sugar, cordwood, meat products, and cloth must have brought him enough cash to pay for his shortfall in feed and litter.

Conclusion

Christian B. and his father Joseph Snyder’s farm was five times larger than the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD. Fifty-four percent of their 178 ha farm was unimproved, or in woodland. This gave him the opportunity to develop a farm energy strategy that diverged slightly from the Waterloo North CSD. He made good use of his sizable woodlands by supplying cordwood to local mills and by tapping the annual flow of maple sugar. He had moderate dairy production, producing milk, butter, and cheese. He also had wheat, cloth, and meat products to sell from his farm. Noticeably, although he had a much larger farm he had far less swine proportionally than the Waterloo North CSD in 1871. This helped to keep his livestock numbers low, resulting in a lower livestock intensity than the Waterloo North CSD. Because of his lower livestock numbers, proportionally his feed and litter deficit was not as great as the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD. Snyder’s approach and farming strategy made extensive use of his woodlands while at the same time keeping his livestock numbers low and focussing on ruminants that supported his dairy and cloth production.

Figure 6a.”Old” Christian Schneider’s home was built about 1807. The house was situated in Beihn’s Tract, Unnumbered Lots, Doon, Waterloo County, Ontario. The Kitchener Public Library has the original photo.
Figure 6b. This plaque honours “Old” Christian Snyder who immigrated to Waterloo, Ontario, from Pennsylvania in the first years of the nineteenth century and his son Joseph who built a two-storey home from hand-hewn logs drawn from the land of Lot 63 where the Snyder farm was situated. In 1972, the log house was taken down, log by log, and moved to St. Jacobs Farmers Market. Because many of the logs were rotten, the new structure is much smaller and only one-storey. The original house was over 3,500 square feet. The Gingrich connection comes from Israel B. Gingrich who married Joseph’s granddaughter Lovina. The couple lived in the house with Lovina’s parents, Christian B. Snyder, his wife Barbara Snyder (nee Bauman), and their youngest son, Lovina’s brother Jared, probably from 1888, the year that Lovina and Israel were married.

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[1] “Christian B. Snyder,” 1871 Census of Canada, RG31, C-9944, LAC.

[2] “Christian B. Snyder,” Christian Schneider, Waterloo Region Generation, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, https://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/getperson.php?personID=I16900&tree=generations

The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding actually lists 12 children, but it appears that two of the children who are listed are repeated.

[3] Ellis Little, “Snyder’s Corner: The History of G.C.T. Lot 63,” Waterloo Historical Society, Vol. 90 (2002): 21.

[4] “Christian Schneider,” Waterloo Region Generations.

[5] “Joseph Schneider,” Joseph Schneider, Waterloo Region Generations, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding,  https://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/getperson.php?personID=I16900&tree=generations

The Waterloo Region Generations website notes that the plaque is erected on a one-story log structure located at St. Jacob’s Farmers Market but the logs were moved from a two-story log house built on German Company Tract Lot 63 by Joseph Schneider.

[6] Little, Snyder’s Corner, 24.

[7] Historians have concluded that his main farm was actually 448 acres. Little, Snyder’s Corner, 25. The German Company Tract, some 60,000 acres, was divided into sections of 448 acres each. Therefore, each of “Old” Christian’s Lots, 42, 63, and 83, were 448 acres. The 1871 Census of Canada indicates that Christian B.’s father Joseph, who the enumerator put down as a Gentleman, was living nearby his son when the census was taken. He was listed as a tenant living with his second wife Catherine Snyder (nee Weicker). Catherine was from Germany and was 57 years old.

[8] “Christian B. Snyder,” 1871, LAC. Schedule 3 also lists three dwelling houses, three barns or stables, four carriages and sleighs, eight cars, wagons, or sleds, five ploughs or cultivators, three fanning mills, and one each of reapers or mowers, horse rakes, and thrashing machines.

[9] “Christian B. Snyder,” Waterloo Region Generations. These numbers–217, 80, and 148–do not add up to either the 440 acres reported by the enumerator when the 1871 Census of Canada was taken, nor do they add up to the 448 acres that historians agree was the size of Lot 63.

[10] “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S., Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014,” s.v “Israel B. Gingrich,” Ancestry.com.

[11] Helinda was one and a half years old in 1891. “Christian B. Snyder,” 1891 Census of Canada, RG31-C-1, T-6374, LAC.

[12] The average farm in Waterloo North was only 13.5 percent the size of Snyder’s much larger 266 hectares of land (including the additional 88 ha he had that was situated on a neighbouring division).

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