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Jupiter’s Historian: James D. Snyder


If you go to a reading or presentation at one of Jupiter historic or cultural sites sooner or later you will meet Jim Snyder. If you don’t meet Jim during a local “reading” you might find him paddling his kayak on the upper reaches of his beloved Loxahatchee River.

Snyder was raised in Evanston, IL and grew up dreaming about a baseball career "until I realized that the Big Leagues had no interest in a 145-pound outfielder." In 1958 he graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Then it was off to the nation's capital where he began as Washington editor of a trade magazine while earning a master's degree in political science from The George Washington University.

In 1964, after a two-year interlude as a White House communications officer specializing in national security affairs, he formed an independent Washington news bureau to serve publishers of business and medical magazines. The firm, known then as Snyder Associates Inc., soon became the largest independent editorial organization in Washington, representing more than 40 national periodicals. Snyder also wrote for Parade, Smithsonian and The Harvard Business Review.

In 1985 the company was renamed Enterprise Communications Inc. and began publishing its own business magazines. In rapid succession, ECI launched Financial Product News, Employee Benefit News, Veterinary Product News, Environment Today and Corporate University Review. Conferences soon followed, and one of them, Benefits Management Forum & Expo, remains the nation's largest annual exposition for human resources and employee benefit managers. In 1997 ECI was acquired by Thomson Reuters Corp.

By then Snyder had already moved his family to Jupiter and had become a "long-distance commuter" to Washington. Says Jim: "Selling the company was a watershed event for me, because it freed me to resume my first love, which is writing."

His first two books were the culmination of decades-long research on early Christian history. The novel All God’s Children (1999) and a history, The Faith and the Power (2002) illuminate the murky forty years following the crucifixion of Jesus by taking into account Roman, Jewish, Greek and Christian writings of the first century. The Faith and the Power was runner-up for the Benjamin Franklin Award for the best book on religion in 2003.

Meanwhile, Snyder had become active in local environmental work and curious at finding so little written about early life along the Loxahatchee. In 2002 he authored Life and Death on the Loxahatchee: The Story of Trapper Nelson, a book that has captivated South Florida and won the Silver Medal in the Florida Authors and Publisher’s Association book-of-the-year awards. His fourth book, published in November 2003, is a pictorial history of Jupiter-Tequesta entitled Five Thousand Years on the Loxahatchee.

Subsequent books include:

Black Gold and Silver Sands, A Pictorial History of Agriculture in Palm Beach County (2005). Published by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, the book tells of the courage of farm families over 150 years as they braved frosts, floods, hurricanes and the Great Depression to create one of the nation’s most thriving agribusiness counties.

A Light in the Wilderness: The Story of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the Southeast Florida Frontier (2006). It begins when no one at all lived in Jupiter and describes how a lone lighthouse became a magnet for settlers, a railroad link to Palm Beach, a U.S. Weather Bureau post and a flourishing steamboat trade.

A Visitor's Guide to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, (2009), a 96-page guide to the 11,600-acre park's history, flora, fauna and guest activities. Written on behalf of Friends of JDSP.

A Trip Down the Loxahatchee, (2015), a colorful coffee table book in which a fanciful boat trip from the river's headwaters to Jupiter Inlet is described through the works of 52 leading painters and photographers.

Today Snyder lives in Tequesta on the Loxahatchee River and is active in several organizations devoted to preserving its history, environment and unique character. He was board chairman of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum during its 150th year celebration. He served on the board of Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park for 20 years, has held a governor's appointment to the Florida Historical Commission and in 2012 was elected a commissioner of the Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District.

Jim’s books are available at most local attractions such as JD State Park and the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, at local book stores and from online retailers such as Amazon. The books are also sold in Kindle and ebook formats.

To learn more about Jim Snyder and his books, go to www.pharosbooks.net