The History of our Home

When we purchased our home in 2005, we had no idea how its roots reached deeply into the history of our area & country.

Often called The John Snyder Home, our research would suggest that this may be a bit of a misnomer.

During Somerset’s early years, the uptown section suffered three great fires (1833, 1872, & 1876).  Our home had been spared from each of these disasters, making it now the oldest standing structure still used as a residence in the borough.

The earliest county records suggest that Adam Schneider*, who helped lay out the town, was the original owner of this property. He was born in Germany in 1747, immigrated to this country at age 26, and operated the first store in Somerset.

In 1797, Schneider sold the property to Abraham Morrison, Esq, and his wife Mary. Abraham Morrison was the first attorney in the town[1]. It is unlikely that there was any structure on this ground when the Morrison’s took possession of the property. Research published in 1915 revealed, “we have no knowledge as to how many houses were in Somerset in 1795.[2]

The Morrison’s held the property for nearly 34 years. Although unconfirmed, it is hard to believe that the Morrison’s would hold the property for so long without framing some type of building upon it. However, we aren’t able to demonstrate that they had constructed any house here. Attorney Morrison’s office stood where the nearby post office is now located.

Mary Morrison held Bible studies in her husband’s office and helped begin a women’s Christian society. It was said she “had dark hair, soft black eyes, the mildest, gentlest voice, an excellent thing in a woman, and sang most sweetly.”[3] She and Mary Ogle would soon hold the first Sunday School within the County.

Abraham & Mary Morrison would move his law practice to Johnstown, PA. In June of 1831, Attorney Morrison sold the property to Charles & Emily Ogle.

Charles Ogle
Charles Ogle

Charles Ogle was a congressman and “Whig” leader. He was born in Somerset in 1798 and became a successful lawyer. It was said that he had “no equal as a stump speaker.” His “golden spoon” speech was printed and distributed throughout the nation and was said to have been a large factor in the election of President William Harrison. At his death in 1841, Ogle owned more than 33,000 acres of land in Somerset County. [4]

There is good reason to believe that the Ogle’s either built this house or improved upon one that had already been standing. Their efforts resulted in a 1 ½ story home with three sleeping rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs. A one-story kitchen wing had been built on the rear.  Late historian, Ken Halverson, wrote that this house may have been constructed as early as 1835.

A photograph taken in 1892 of the cemetery above our home shows that a barn had once stood behind our house in the lot near where guests can now park. The barn does not appear on a 1924 map of the town and must have been removed by that time.

Guest bedrooms #s 2 & 3 are part of the home’s original bedrooms. In each of these rooms you will note the original, wide-planked floors held together by handmade nails. In guestroom # 2, you will note the slanted ceiling, which followed the slope of the first roof. You can see this slope in the bathroom of room #1. Much of what the Ogle’s had built is still visible.

As a side note, the Morrison and Ogle family, who had been associated with this home in its early years, were influential in starting a local movement that would eventually become First Christian Church of Somerset.  Long after the Morrison’s and Ogle’s passed, the congregation that they had begun would build a large church in Somerset. Ironically, Dane & Cynthia attend that church and Dane was ordained there in 2022.

Also noteworthy, in 2019, Dane & Cynthia acquired several heavy oak doors from the First Christian Church and brought them “home.” They now open and close in the same house of the people who had been responsible for the movement, which had given them purpose for so many years. These sliding doors can be seen in the dining room.

Charles & Emily Ogle joined with the growing congregation of the Christian Church. This house would soon become a “welcome home to preachers.”[5]

Sadly, Charles & Emily’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hurst, who may have spent her early years in this house, died in the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889. She was working as a librarian. Her body was never found.

In 1847, after Charles Ogle had died, Emily sold the house to John & Lucretia Neff for $550. John Neff, Esq. was a Justice of the Peace, borough tax collector, tanner, & saddler (making or repairing horse equipment). His wife, Lucretia was a homemaker. Lucretia’s father, Cpt. John B Webster, had operated an inn in the center of town, which was destroyed by the 1833 fire. John & Lucretia had at least three children.

In 1865 the property was transferred to German immigrant Hertz Keiser and his wife, Elizabeth. The Keiser’s owned the property during the great fire of 1872.  Hertz Keiser was involved in fire-relief efforts and was appointed to distribute food and supplies to Somerset’s citizens, which he did from the courthouse[6].  Upon his death it was written, his wife [Elizabeth] accompanied the funeral from Somerset to Berlin, where the family long lived. She was then in feeble health, and while in Berlin became entirely prostrated. She was never able to return to Somerset and died in Berlin[7].

In 1881, the house and property were sold to Charles F & Annie E Uhl for $3,500. Charles was a Greek & Latin scholar and a local merchant. Annie began her career by making children’s hats and bonnets and eventually opened a millinery store on the Diamond in Somerset, known as Uhl’s Dry Goods Store. There it was advertised that a lady could purchase ready-made dresses.

Annie Uhl’s Dry Goods Store

Annie Uhl would become one of Somerset’s most prominent businesswomen. The store’s name was a household word amongst the townspeople.

The Uhl’s had five children. Two died in their first year and one died at age 11. Their son Charles, Jr. would become a prominent local attorney as well as a US District Attorney, and their daughter, also named Annie, would grow also to become a successful, local businesswoman like her mother.

It would seem that soon after purchasing the property, the Uhl’s launched a major construction and remodeling project to this house. They added the front-facing dormer that now includes guest bedroom #1, and extended the back of the house by adding three additional bedrooms. The center bedroom would eventually become a bathroom, though this was not likely until sometime after city water became available in 1894.

A new, higher, hipped and gable roof was then built over the top of the former wood-shingled roof. The original, wood-shingled roof is still visible in the attic. The front porch was likely added at this time.

On June 20, 1893, young Annie Uhl, married druggist, John N Snyder, who operated an uptown pharmacy.

John Snyder Pharmacy

John moved in with the Uhl’s. The newlyweds gave birth to young John in 1894 and Katherine was born to them in 1902. These two families made up 7 persons living in the home. Both the Uhl and Snyder names were well-known in town.

Charles Uhl, Sr. died in the home on March 02, 1914. His son-in-law, John Snyder, died three years later, leaving the widowed mother and daughter, and the two young children.

As earlier noted, this home is often referred to as the John Snyder home. However, it would probably be better to say that John Snyder moved into the Uhl residence since one of its owners outlived him, and he never actually owned the home.

In 1928, widowed Annie Uhl transferred the deed of the home to her widowed daughter, Annie Snyder. Annie Uhl died in 1930. Her obituary suggests that her funeral was held in this home.

Annie Snyder, and her son, John, continued to operate the John Snyder Pharmacy. John also served as the Borough Health Officer. Stricken by polio, John walked with a pronounced limp and his speech was compromised. He slept in what is now guestroom # 2. John & his mother operated the pharmacy until it closed in 1934.

In 1932, Annie transferred the deed of this house and property to her son & daughter, John & Katherine. Annie Snyder died in this home on March 27, 1936.

In 1947, John & Katherine’s widowed-aunt, Florence Snyder Herr, moved into the residence after injuring her hip in a fall. She had once served as the county’s registrar of vital statistics. Her husband was a Civil War vet. In 1949, Florence suffered a stroke and continued to live with her nephew and niece in this house. She was described as an energetic, positive woman, who only had a few streaks of gray. In January of 1955, her 92nd birthday party was held at the house. Her bedroom was the large, unnumbered room at the back of the second floor. Guests came in to see her and enjoy the cake Katherine provided. She died a few months later.

Katherine “Subby”Snyder          – 1942

Katherine “Subby” Snyder lived alone in the house for over 50 years. She was a school teacher and a well-known host, throwing famous parties and holding the Friday Bridge Club gatherings in the house for many years. During one Christmas Eve party at the house, she had over 100 guests. “Subby” loved to travel and in 1930 spent two months visiting Europe. It was said that she always traveled with a suitcase full of books.

Subby slept in what is now guestroom #3. This room has a door which leads into an adjacent room; which was her walk-in closet. She was described as lovingly eccentric.

Katherine Snyder died in August of 1987. The home and property were then sold to local real estate figures, Ken & Rita Halverson. They reconfigured the home to operate as The Heart of Somerset Bed & Breakfast. They converted one of the original upstairs bedrooms into two bathrooms, one of which is the ensuite bath for guestroom #1. The Halversons filled the rooms with antiques and created a quiet, relaxing space.

The B&B was first managed by Cindy Horn. Cindy lived in the downstairs bedroom, while guests could rent any of the second-floor rooms. A continental breakfast was served in the dining room. Former Vice-President Walter Mondale’s brother once stayed in the bed and breakfast.

The Heart of Somerset Bnb

In 1991, Hank & Phyllis Vogt became the new managers. They resided in an apartment next door at 122 W Union.

The bed & breakfast didn’t do as well as had hoped and the Halversons eventually put it back on the market. In 1994, Dr. Linda Moran purchased the home to live in and to operate a private office for her psychiatry practice. She redecorated the home to give it a Cape Cod feel. She dubbed the home the Fo’c’sle, which is a reference to the living quarters located in the bow of a ship.

Dr. Moran painted all of the hardwood floors battleship gray, and drew either horizontal or vertical lines on the walls to leave the appearance of wooden planks. An elaborate nautical-themed mural was painted on the then kitchen wall and she had its tile floor shipped in from Italy.

Eventually, Dr Moran relocated, and the old house stood vacant. We first toured it in 2005. Dane was unimpressed; Cynthia was ready to move in. The roof needed replaced, the exterior needed painting, the old, single-pane windows leaked heat. and the front and rear yards had been overtaken with wild vegetation.

We purchased the house and began the immensely tiring job of sanding, painting, repairing, replacing, and even demolition. In 2005, we removed all of the single-paned windows and installed new ones. We also blew insulation into the attic.

Dane & Cynthia – 2005


In 2008, Cynthia designed and planned an addition on the back of the house, which would become a spacious kitchen.

In 2010, the front porch was replaced, and the old white house was wrapped in red vinyl siding. In 2011, a front retaining wall was built. In 2012, we built two retaining walls in the backyard. In 2013, the living room was gutted and rebuilt with the addition of window seats and accompanying cabinetry. In 2017, the staircase handrail leading to the second floor was sanded and restored and new treads and risers were installed. The old wood spindles were removed from the rail and replaced with custom-designed metal work from a local welding shop.

In 2010, the front porch was replaced, and the old white house was wrapped in red vinyl siding.

In 2011, a front retaining wall was built. In 2012, we built two retaining walls in the backyard. In 2013, the living room was gutted and rebuilt with the addition of window seats and accompanying cabinetry. In 2017, the staircase handrail leading to the second floor was sanded and restored and new treads and risers were installed. The old wood spindles were removed from the rail and replaced with custom-designed metal work from a local welding shop.

In 2019, the dining room was also taken back to studs and rebuilt to include built-in bench seating and a coffered ceiling. Cynthia made sure the old “plate rail” that had encircled the room for decades was updated and preserved.

As our children entered their teen years, we began to host foreign exchange students.  Eventually others, who temporarily needed a place to call home for various reasons, moved in and then out.

After our children moved on to college, the halls of our home quieted again.  Unsettled by the vacancy, an idea emerged to take in guests once again, and fill the bedrooms and living space with the everyday sounds of life.

In January 2016, we opened our first bedroom to guests through Airbnb.  The second bedroom became operational in August, and later that same month we went live with our third room.

In 2020, we were expanding the patio once again when we uncovered a 31’, hand-dug well in the back yard. The open well had been covered with slabs of rock and had been completely covered with sod and grass. No one knows when the well had been dug, but it is suspected to have been part of the home’s pioneer days. Guests can see the remnants of the well in the rear patio as it’s been incorporated into the décor.

In the backyard guests can see four of the original shutters that had hung on the large, front-facing windows. These heavy shutters had swung on pins and were used to close the windows. Two of the old single-pane windows that had been in the bedroom facing Union St are now on display in the dining room.

The dilapidated privacy fence in the rear was taken down and replaced. An old wood door that had been part of that fence is on display in our dry rock bed beside one of the original window frames of the home.

A new, textured metal roof is to be installed this summer and a picnic pavilion is being constructed at the rear

We have been pleased with the overwhelming reception our home has had among the many guests we have entertained. It has been rewarding to share this historical space with our new friends, who can enjoy these old bedrooms and fill them with the echoes of life once again.



* Adam Schneider, Charles & Emily Ogle, John & Lucretia Neff, Charles & Annie Uhl, John N Snyder, Annie U Snyder, John U Snyder, & Katherine U Snyder are all buried in Union Cemetery located on the hill behind our house. Take a walk up there to see if you can find their grave markers!

[1] The Daily American, Somerset, PA Oct 08, 1965

[2] The Republic, Meyersdale, PA May 27, 1915.

[3] Tale Of a Pioneer Church, Peter Vogel, pg. 68.

[4] The Daily American, Somerset, PA Sept 29, 1945

[5] The Daily American, Somerset, PA 12 April 1958

[6] The Somerset Herald, Somerset, PA June 05, 1872

[7] The Somerset Herald, Somerset, PA Aug 19, 1885



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