Joseph Smith Snow (1845-1928)

Joseph Smith SnowBy Glenda Joyce Memmott Black. Edited by Guy L. Black.

Joseph Smith Snow, eldest son of Warren Stone and Mary Ann Voorhees Snow, was less than a year old when members of a mob came to his parent’s home in Lima, Illinois.  They ordered his mother to vacate.  His mother refused to go.  The mob gave her a specified time to “get out” or they would burn the house down with her and the baby in it.  They left promising to return to burn.  His mother vowed the mob would never have the privilege of burning her home as they had done to so many others.  She proceeded to lay kindling just outside her door, ready to light and do the burning herself should the mob return and attempt such a thing.  Later, the family was forced to move into Nauvoo for their own protection.

Joseph’s father was in charge of the first advance when the Saints left Nauvoo on February 13, 1846 so he and his family were among that group.  After some weeks spent at Sugar Creek, Farmington and other camps along the way, they settled at Kanesville and remained there nearly six years.

When Joseph was seven and a half, they left Kanesville and headed west across the plains for the Rocky Mountains.  Once again, his father was captain of the company of fifty wagons of Saints, and they were well outfitted.  They reached their destination on 12 November 1852.  They remained in SaltLake until the spring of 1854, when they removed to Manti, Sanpete, Utah.  Manti was Joseph’s official home for the rest of his life.

While his father served his community and church Joseph and his mother and siblings took card of the farm.  They cleared sagebrush and greasewood, farmed, cut and hauled firewood from the nearby canyons.  Together with other young boys of the town, Joseph herded the village cattle in the foothills, always on the alert for thieving Indians who would drive off their cattle and horses at every good opportunity.  As a young boy he had many experiences with the Indians, one of which is recalled in his own words.

“When I was twelve years old, father bought a horse from the Indians.  We put him in a corral, and the next morning he was gone.  The Indians were camped out where Sterling is now (about six miles south of Manti).  Father sent me out to see if the horse was there.  When I got to the Indian camp a big Indian by the name of Sam had the horse saddled up.  They were all packed up to move-some had started.  I told Sam father had sent me out after that horse.  “No, you can’t have the horse, and you are going with us.  Now come on, you’ve got to go with us.   They were moving south and I was scared.  So he started out with me then, me trying to make him think I was not afraid.  I rode about two hundred yards right among them on the move.  Finally Sam stopped, patted me on the shoulder, and said, ‘Peorche Papoose’ (meaning brave boy) and he turned right around and took me and the stolen horse back to Manti.  He told father I was a brave boy and patted me on the shoulder again.”

In April, 1861 Joseph’s father went on a mission to England for the church.  Joseph speaks of this in his own brief history:

“Father went on a mission to England when I was sixteen and Gard (his brother Gardner) was thirteen.  He left us to support the family, farming, working in the canyon and anything we could find to do.  He stayed three years in England.”

His father, Warren Stone Snow, left them with one ox team and fifteen acres of land to work.  Since Gard was not a robust child, Joseph assumed the greatest part of the responsibility and was his mother’s right-hand man.  He was foreman of her farm from which much of the produce for the hotel came.  He cared for the cows that supplied milk and meat for her table.  He hauled wood from the mountains, chopped and carried in wood to feed the fireplaces and wood-burning stoves in the big rock building.  Thus while his mother ran the hotel he ran the enterprises which supplied it and they prospered. This demanding experience molded him into a resourceful and successful man.  With the encouragement of their capable mother, the boys were able to have the family in much better circumstances upon Warren’s return than when he left.  When his father, Warren, returned home in 1864, it was as the Captain of a company of emigrants crossing the plains.

Warren Snow built a substantial rock house for his wife, Mary Ann, and her family on Main Street, across the road east from the Council House.  In her home, Mary Ann opened a hotel, which came to be widely known as the “Snow House.”  She was a shrewd, extremely friendly, immaculately clean, and excellent business woman and manager.  She set an attractive table and was a very good cook.  She kept a room where “drummers” might display their wares.  The fame of her hotel spread, and the Snow House became very popular with the early traveling salesmen and other travelers.

Joseph was his mother’s right-hand man.  He was foreman of her farm, from which much of the hotel produce came.  He cared for the cows which supplied milk and meat for her table.  He hauled wood from the mountains, chopped it, and used it to feed her fireplaces and wood-burning cook stove at the hotel.  Thus, while his mother ran the hotel, he ran the enterprises which supplied it, and they both prospered.

The year 1865 witnessed the beginning of the Black Hawk Indian War.  Joseph’s father was the General in the SanpeteCounty military district.  He figured prominently in, and won enviable laurels for her role in that conflict.  Joseph, then twenty, joined the Company A Cavalry, and was one of the eighty-four men of that group who fought in the first major battle in SalinaCanyon.  He was an expert horseman, and served by his father’s side in many major battles.  He was an active participant for the first three years of the struggle, and was on call at a moment’s notice to be off after the warring red men, or to guard any settlement where help was needed.

Indian wars were quite different from other wars, and the Black Hawk War was the most severe the pioneers had ever encountered.  Dr. A. L. Neffs summed up the war with the following words:  “Black Hawk and his minions worked havoc during the four years that they were plundering and killing. . . .  Unlike the white men, the aborigine published no declaration of war.  He pounced on his enemy unawares and unannounced, relying largely on the surprise element, the unexpected.  Everywhere and always, he cunningly sought advantage over the attacked, seldom if every meeting an enemy on equal terms.  Furthermore, he did not subscribe to civilized rules of warfare.  Mutilation and massacre often followed capture.  Thus, Indian warfare, or the menace thereof, proved extremely terrifying to the white man, accustomed as he was to humane consideration.”

When Joseph’s father, General Snow, was wounded on September 21, 1865, in a sharp battle fought with the Indians at FishLake, he was taken back to Glenwood in SevierCounty to be cared for.  Joseph’s mother, Mary Ann, learning that her husband had been wounded, prepared immediately to go to him, despite great protests against such action because of the danger of the journey.  Traveling by night, she drove a wagon fifty miles south to Glenwood through savage-infested, unsettled country.  Her seventeen-year-old son, Gardner, was her only companion.  Mary Ann reached her husband’s bedside and nursed him back to health, then returned as she had come, unharmed.

Joseph fell in love with a beautiful dark haired and queenly looking woman named Lucy Ellen Van Buren.  In deciding the date to be married they took into consideration that Black Hawk and his braves usually retired to their winter camps during the worst part of the snowy season.  Therefore November was chosen as the best time to travel from Manti to Salt Lake City where they were married in the Endowment House for time and eternity.

Joseph took Ellen to live in a small rock house he had built on some land he owned.  It is on the northeast corner of Third East and Second North in Manti.  Joseph related these memories to his daughter, Claytie, shortly before he died.

“I wore homespun suits during my life until I was about twenty four years old, and I had my first boughten suit of clothes then, in which I was married.  I had one yoke of cattle and five acres of land.  We had one little room, with a board shanty behind and there was where our first four children were born, with the tall sagebrush all around everywhere, only where it had been broken up and tilled.  We hadn’t much but we were happy; and I freighted for about fifteen years after that, from Utah into Nevada and into Eureka.  Every hundred dollars I would get I would buy sheep with, and I left them in the man’s herd from whom I bought them.  I kept this up until I had 470 head of sheep.  Now I am seventy nine years old and been in the sheep business ever since; and still live on the same corner.”

After the birth of their fourth child the small home was extensively remodeled to include three additional rooms, a pantry and a sizeable porch on the west front with ornamental railings and trim.  A steep twisting stairway was also added leading to three dormer-windowed bedrooms aloft, from which perhaps could be seen the rest of the accumulated attachments which went to make up the balance of that farming community homestead: a large barn, root cellar, milk cellar, granary, stable, buggy shed, pig pen, chicken coop, outhouse, lawn, garden, orchard, fences, water pump, grindstone, etc.

Joseph was a farmer and stock raiser by occupation, but his ready money was made in the freighting business.  He loaded his wagons with flour, oats, bacon, dried vegetables, beans, squash, peas, butter, and anything in the food line which the stores stocked and would carry well.  Then he drove with his team and wagon to the mines in Nevada and Eureka, Utah. The miners paid a good price for the produce and he made a good profit.  There was hardly a man in those parts with a good team and wagon that did not make a trip or two to the mines each year to pick up some ready cash for taxes or incidentals.  These freighters had many exciting experiences, as well as some annoying ones.  They were often attacked by robbers and sometimes lost their money.  They traveled in groups to protect themselves.  Good camping places were scarce.  Horses had to be hobbled and turned out at night to feed and then hunted the next morning.  Their food had to be prepared over campfires.  The distance from place to place was long and the roads poor.  The freighters met up wit all kinds of people from many places, and it was often hard to judge friend from foe.

As Joseph was away from home while he freighted, farmed, and counted his sheep, Ellen bore and reared the children and kept house. She acquainted herself with the whys, how’s, and wherefores of family supply and demand.  Housekeeping was complicated with an endless list of things one needed to know.  Brooms were made of broom corn, water proof baskets made from willow sprouts, wooden baskets and tubs were fashioned from local red pine, bound with hoops of haw berry, black willow, or mountain birch.  Wool was washed in the warm springs south of town before it was carded, spun and woven.  Some folks even raised silk worms, and from their cocoons silk thread was spun and then woven into cloth.  From smoke tanned deer hides some sewed buckskin suits and gloves. Molasses partly satisfied their natural craving for sugar.  Cheeseries and creameries were a big help to housewives.  If folks could not afford to buy their necessities, they made or raised their own- or traded, swapped or borrowed.

Another enterprise which provided income for the Joseph Snow family, as well as work for the children, was the gathering and selling of saleratus, a white mineral which covered the surface of many acres of land a few miles southwest of Manti.  The most productive beds of saleratus in Utah were the profitable possession of the Snows.  This substance was used mainly as a cleaner, or as a substitute for lye in making soap.  The woolen mills in Provo bought tons of this gray grit as a caustic agent for the cleaning of their wool.  The Snows would take their lumber-wagon out to their saleratus beds, where they scraped the mineral into piles, then sacked and loaded it for a trip to Provo.  Here it was exchanged for woolen clothe and knitting yarn.

Lucy Ellen Van Buren Snow was a talented, creative, attractive and very dramatic woman.  She is said to have been high-strung and emotional, with rare sensitivity; –“an individual for whom a large family was a hardship.”  But she was a good mother and loved her children dearly!  She taught them to enjoy the finer things of life and to develop their talents.  She took time out from the labors of her crowded days to teach them to pray, sing, recite, and to make up stories and rhymes.  She bore her husband nine children all born in their Manti home.

Lucy died the day after giving birth to their last child, Elmer.  At the time, our ancestor Sarah Lucille Snow was a little less than four years old.  Eight of Lucy’s nine children were left motherless since her son Samuel F. Snow had preceded her in death when he was only nine months old.  The children’s grandmother Mary Ann Voorhees Snow took the young baby Elmer and cared for him in her home until he died a couple of months after he turned four.

Joseph Smith Snow was a tall, erect, and handsome man with wavy hair. He loved to prospect for ore looking for precious metals but he never found any.  He was active in city irrigation projects, and law enforcement being the captain of police and the jailer in 1887 and the Marshal and jailer in 1891.  During his life he traveled many places.  About town he often drove a one-seated rig drawn by one horse that he controlled with a “Gee! Haw!” and a “whoa Molly”, or a light flip or pull of the reins.  In his later years he was persuaded to buy a new black Ford car that he kept in the buggy shed. He learned to start the car all right, but when it came to stopping—that was another problem.  He often circled the block several times, then, with his hand on the brake and feet on both the brake and the clutch, he would shout “Whoa! Whoa, dern ya!” He finally mastered the car and drove it around town as long as he lived.

According to Retta, his daughter, Joseph was “the kindest father that ever lived.”  We quote from an account recorded in Elaine C. Southwick’s history of her own mother, Jennie Snow.

“Mr. Snow, due to his interest in sheep and freighting, was often away from home.  The children and their care was a constantly nagging worry to him.  Claytie, Jennie, Retta and Lucille cooked, washed, mended, and tried to keep peace as best they could; but it tore his heart to see their little drawn, anxious faces, and watch their childish attempts to play ‘mother.’  One evening, however, he returned home to the aroma of freshly baked bread and apple pie, and the clean acrid smell of Lysol on scrubbed floors and woodwork.  He heard the humming of a busy woman above the whistle of a teakettle, and the sizzling of fresh frying pork.  His heart lifted at the happy laughter of contented children, and he knew that the author of this order must be induced to stay.”

Joseph’s sister-in-law, Esther Snow, had induced Lydia Losee Cox, widow of Frederick W. Cox, to come into the Snow home and help the needful children.  Though Lydia had married children and grandchildren of her own, and was fifty years old, her big heart was touched and she had responded.  Joseph convinced her to marry him a short time afterward, and she proved to be a wonderful blessing to his children and his home.

To “Aunt Lydia” goes the credit for most of Lucille Snow’s early training, as well as much of that of her sisters and younger brothers.  She trained the girls in the household arts and taught them well the moral precepts of life.  When discipline was necessary she administered it with wisdom and love.  Again we quote from Mrs. Southwick’s history:

“The days were crowded with duties: milking, churning, washing, ironing, soap making, lamp cleaning, candle making, stove blacking… The four girls took turns in helping to cook the breakfast of hot biscuits, fried pork, potatoes and gravy.  About daylight each morning, Aunt Lydia would open the upstairs door and call, ‘Daughter, (not knowing whose turn it was) aren’t you going to help me?’  The one previously designated would respond.

“Washday was from sun to sun.  Aunt Lydia was next to godliness, if cleanliness had anything to do with it.  To scrub the clothes on the scrubbing board, through two suds, boil them in lye and soap for thirty minutes; to scrub them again before subjecting them to a lukewarm and thorough bluing rinse was the usual procedure.  A starch made by boiling flour and water together was the final dunking.  The girls rebelled so much at this seemingly endless process that Aunt Lydia finally consented to cut out one scrubbing.  It was the unanimous decision that the clothes looked just as white.

Aunt Lydia introduced another innovation—bottled fruit.  Up until this time the children had never tasted it.  Their mother had made jams and jellies, but since she never had sufficient good lids to cover the bottles (she used old ones and glued them on with pine gum), fresh fruit was out of the question.

“As the boys were usually busy in the fields, the girls took turns milking the cows.  Jennie was fearful of cows because one had kicked her, but Aunt Lydia, showing no favoritism, insisted that she take her turn.  The girls worked laboriously for praise.

“A work day trip into the fields north of town was often a family project.  The children loved to jolt over the rough roads, gulp great breaths of the scent of new mown hay, mock the exuberant meadowlark; and as the shadows lengthened and stretched themselves eastward marking the end of a long day of toil, the brothers and sisters joined in singing haying songs, some of which Jennie had composed.

“Jennie also composed stories.  Often at the close of the tasks of the day in summer afternoon’s coolness of the east of the house, she would gather her siblings about her, and perhaps some neighbor children, and thrill them with stories of her own imagination.”  She did this, as Mrs. Southwick so vividly describes to the “chattering of birds, the buzz of insects, the cackle of a hen, or the kayock of ‘Tuttle’ the peacock’ across the way.

Mrs. Southwick continues: “Jennie’s stories held as much charm in winter as in summer. The potbellied stove dining room was the focal point around which the family listened. So intent were they sometimes the dropping of a coal or the crackling in the stove elicited a squeal from the young children. While Jennie read, the other girls knitted their own and their brothers’ stockings.

“On one such night in November 1889, there was a murder in Manti.  Parlane McFarlane staggered from a saloon in a drunken frenzy and shot and killed H. C. Hansen and W. H. Golden. Joseph Snow, who had been Captain of Police the year before, was the only one who could control Parle when he’d been drinking. Lute Tuttle, a bystander, ran the four blocks to the Snow home, pounded on the door and yelled, “Come quick Joe!  Parley’ s killed two men!” Aunt Lydia bundled up the children and, to get their minds off the tragedy, took them down the block to her married son, Charles, to see her new grandbaby.

“It was post-Manifesto time in Utah, and the children had been warned never to divulge the names or whereabouts of their father to strangers.  Though their father was not a polygamist, their grandfather, Warren Stone Snow, was.  One night in the middle of one of Jennie’s stories two federal officers knocked at the door.  Jennie calmly opened the door, bolted the screen, and asked the men what they wanted, while the other children trembled behind her.

“‘What’s your father’s name?’ they queried.

“‘Joseph Schmutz Schnutz,’ Jennie retorted defiantly and unhesitatingly.  Aunt Lydia, on hearing the conversation from the adjoining room, rushed in to tell the officers what she thought of people who went around frightening children; and the door closed abruptly on the browbeaten men.

The Snow’s were prominent in Manti and lived out their lives there.  After the death of Joseph’s second wife, “Aunt Lydia” as she was called by the family, he was very lonely and spent much of his time living around with children.  He died at the home of his daughter, Claytie S. Riddle, 621 Warnock Avenue, Salt Lake City, on August 3, 1928 of cancer.  He was buried in the Manti cemetery beside those he loved on the old Snow family plot.[i]

[i] Vital Records, Cemetery, and Obituary Sources:  Birth Certificate:  No birth certificate available.  No governmental entities in Utah were required to report births prior to 1898.  All secondary sources but one agree that he was born on January 16, 1845.  His death certificate, grave marker and his own personal letter to his daughter in 1924 (obtained from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum and Library in Salt Lake City, Utah) all agree on the 1845 date.  However, a patriarchal blessing received from his grandfather, Gardner Snow on April 2, 1882, lists his birth date as January 16, 1844.  Marriage License:  No primary source.  Secondary source lists marriage of Joseph Smith Snow and Lucy Ellen Van Buren as having occurred on November 24, 1868 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Virginia C. Keeler, Cheney Garrett Van Buren and His Family (Provo, Utah: Stevenson’s Genealogy Center, 1962), p. 158.  Death Certificate:  Joseph Smith Snow, Death Certificate, State Board of Health File No. 1288 (500 handwritten below, and 2802588 is stamped on certificate), Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Also available at Joseph Smith Snow, Death Certificate, Series 81448, Entry 11773, Utah State Archives Digital Collection, <> accessed 23 August 2007.  Electronic image in the possession of Guy L. Black.  Grave Location and Cemetery Directions:  Grave is located in Manti City Cemetery, Manti, Utah,  Lot 3, Blk 13, Plat 1.  Cemetery is on Highway 89 at the north entrance of Manti, directly across the street from the Manti Temple.  Gravesite is approximately 70 yards due southeast of the southeast corner of the cemetery building.  Obituary: Copy of an obituary was obtained from The Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum and Library in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2007.  The obituary was not accompanied by any publication information or source reference.  However, the text of the obituary indicated that it was a special to the “Tribune.”