WILLIAM B. SNOW

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 540-541

William Blake Snow, who put on track the first railway passenger coach built in Chicago, is descended from an old American family. The environment of the New England fathers was calculated to develop all that was sturdy in mind and body, and in many of their descendants are found the qualities which enabled them to survive the hardships they were compelled to endure and caused them to prosper in the midst of most forbidding conditions. The spirit of adventure and progress which led to the colonization of New England, still lives in the posterity of the Pilgrims, and has raised up simultaneously throughout the northern half of the United States churches, school houses and factories.

William B. Snow was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, February 13, 1821, and is a son of Solomon and Lucina Snow. His ancestors were, doubtless, English, and early located in America. His paternal grandfather was a chocolate manufacturer near Boston, and his maternal grandfather, “Bill” Blake, established the Bellows Falls Gazette, one of the first newspapers in Vermont. His wife was Polly Wait, of Milbury, Massachusetts.

The subject of this biography passed his boyhood in his native village, receiving his education in the schools there existing. At the age of fourteen years, he began working in his father’s wagon and carriage shop, becoming expert in the use of woodworking implements. For some years he was employed by his uncles in a paper mill. When twenty-two years of age, he set out to make his fortune, going to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he took contracts for carpenter work. From there he went to Seymour (then called Humphreysville), Connecticut, where he was employed by the American Car Company, and moved with that establishment to Chicago in 1852. At this time he had a contract with the company for building coaches, and set up the first one ever constructed in this city This was purchased by the Chicago & Galena Union Railroad, then in its infancy. An account of the origin of that enterprise will be found in this work, in the sketch of John B. Turner, who was its founder. When the American Car Company sold out to the Illinois Central Railroad Company, Mr. Snow was employed by the new proprietor, with whom he continued from 1857 to 1872. His integrity and executive ability had meantime become known to many Chicago citizens, and he was offered a lucrative position by the Pullman Palace Car Company, for which he traveled three years. At the end of this period, he again took employment with the Illinois Central Company, and so continued until he retired from active business in October, 1891.

Mr. Snow has always been a quiet citizen, giving his undivided attention to business, and leaving others to manage their concerns in their own way. He has been a faithful attendant of the Reformed Episcopal Church, with which his family is affiliated, being identified with Bishop Cheney’s congregation. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a demitted Freemason. His early political associations were with the Whig party, and he has adhered to the Republican organization since it came into existence. He has never sought political preferment, but has fulfilled that imperative duty — as well as privilege — of the good American citizen, a vote in every important contest. In 1843 he was married to Miss Orra L. Dyke, of American parentage, and two children have blessed this union. The eldest, Frank Austin Snow, resides in Chicago, as does also the other, Lottie, wife of A. G. Farr, of the firm of N. W. Harris & Company.