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History of Jonas Snyder and Jonas Hotel/Hotel Jonas

Published March 19. 2010 05:00PM

Linda Snyder's great-grandfather, Jonas Snyder arrived in New Mechanicsville in 1859. The first tract of land he purchased was 120 acres from a Mr. Singmaster for $400.

This plot contained a small corner hotel, that had been a stagecoach stop since the 1700s, with a bake oven in back, a sawmill, apple orchard and small mountain stream. Jonas was able to purchase this because of lack of tax payment.

Two years later he purchased an adjoining tract of 330 acres from a Daniel Heinly for $600. Today, this tract is part of Camp Trexler which includes the sand spring.

Jonas was one of 14 children who lived on adjacent sides of Blue Mountain in Lynn Township and West Penn Township. Jonas was widowed when he first arrived here.

He had been married to a Gerber; she died in childbirth. Jonas met and married Susanna Adams from Penn Forest. They had 10 children; five girls born first, then five boys.

In 1899 Jonas was appointed postmaster to what was then Sterners, named after Jacob Sterner.

The Jonas Snyder business dealt in lumber, roofing slate, and farm implements. 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 their note, but when they didn't, they auctioned off their possessions or put a lean on their deed.

Jonas was well known throughout Monroe County's political circles.

Many a Democratic judge would call upon his influence to rally local men to his tavern and persuade them to vote a certain way.

When you walk into the entrance foyer of the courthouse in Stroudsburg, you will see on the wall a bronze plaque listing the three original Commissioners - Jonas Snyder is one.

Jonas Snyder died October 5, 1905. Coincidently, at about the same time of Mr. Snyder's death, the post office notified John Snyder, his son, that there was another Sterners in Pennsylvania and they had to come up with another name for the town.

Lack of a name, and perhaps jokingly, they listed "Jonas" as one of several to choose from. Today it is now called Jonas, previously Sterners, and before that it was New Mechanicsville.

The present hotel was finished in 1901, as seen on the cornerstone of the foundation on the southeast corner.

The sawmill they 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 a hotel, large Pennsylvania bank barn, large hay barn, (which stood in the middle of Route 534), ice house, wood shed, smoke house, chicken house, grain barn, cow and horse barn (presently across Jonas Road.), fertilizer shed, carpenter shop (next to the pond), grist mill, blacksmith shop, saw mill (above the stream) and finally, a picnic pavilion (located in the grove).

In the spring, when you approached the hotel from the east or south, you could smell the fragrance of apple blossoms from the orchard permeating the air.

Jonas was also known for his wine, having one of the largest vineyards in Monroe County.

The hotel contained a bar, post office, general store, dining room, parlor, music room, sitting room and 13 rooms upstairs.

The basement held a wine cellar. The pond that exists today was used primarily as a water source for the turbine in the grist mill. This turbine supplied power to the saw mill and grind stones for grinding grain.

It also sent a drive shaft up to the pond and over it, under the road to the basement of the hotel, where it turned an electric generator for hotel lights.

The drive shaft left the hotel's basement to go above ground to the large Pennsylvania bank barn, to operate a lift to bring hay up to the loft. A trap door was located in the middle of the road to enable men to grease the joints in the shaft.

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.

Because the water supply was higher in elevation than the hotel, no water pumps were needed. Water ran continuously behind the bar for the beer and the horse trough located in the front of the hotel.

By the late 30s and early 40s, most of Jonas' 12 children married and moved on. The activities of the hotel and farm slowed down because most of the labor had been provided by family.

John Snyder passed away in 1948. His brother Charlie continued to live in the hotel alone, operating the bar and post office.

Paul F. Held of Trexlertown purchased the hotel and 60 acres from the estate. John's son, Ralph Snyder, purchased the remaining 400 acres from other family members who weren't interested in continuing the hotel business because of the beer and liquor sales.

Today, Linda, Ralph Snyder's daughter, owns 120 acres and the barns you see across from the hotel.

The present owners, Mike Pandolfo and Al Cantiello, purchased the hotel 140 years later due to lack of tax payment in October, 1999.

The name Hotel Jonas was chosen, Jonas Hotel was not available due to previous ownership problems.

The building was in a total state of disrepair and had been empty for a year and a half. It was reopened on December 16, 1999, 15 days ahead of schedule.

It was a monumental task that was performed mainly by the owners with help from friends.

Today they continue to strive for excellence and want the Hotel Jonas to be around at least another 100 years.

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