Monday, September 24, 2012

Mug Book Monday: Reuben Wohlford SNOOK (1833 - 1912)

"Mug books" are collections of biographical sketches usually found within county histories of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, particularly in the United States. Each Monday, I'm highlighting ancestors or relatives who were featured in these mug books.


     "REUBEN W. SNOOK.--Born in Center [sic - Centre] county, Pa., June 27, 1833, and reared and educated in that sturdy old commonwealth, Reuben W. Snook brought to Forsyth, Mont., the qualities of industry and frugality for which the people of his native state are distinguished, and has put them to good and productive usefulness. His parents, Levi and Margaret (Wohlfort [sic]) Snook, were born in Pennsylvania and they there died; the former in 1879 [sic - 1889] and the latter in 1881 [sic - 1882]. Their ancestors on both sides of the family came to the United States with a Germany colony in 1684, and settled near York, Pa., where they were profitably engaged in farming for generations. [Correction: The SCHNUCH family came to Dutchess County, New York c. 1736 and the WOLFARTH family came to Berks County, Pennsylvania sometime before 1730. Reuben's maternal grandfather, Phillip WOHLFARTH, I did immigrate to York County, Pennsylvania from Berks County.] Reuben Snook remained at home working on the farm and attending the district schools in his neighborhood as he had opportunity until he reached the age of maturity. After leaving school he learned the trade of a carpenter. He worked in his native state as a journeyman and railroad bridge builder until 1883. In the spring of that year he brought his wife and children to Montana and located at Forsyth. There he followed the business of contracting and building for eight years, and erected most of the frame buildings that were put up in the early growth of the town--about forty in all. In 1893 he quit working at this trade and homesteaded a ranch on the Yellowstone which he sold soon after and removed to his present ranch, one mile from Forsyth. This ranch, compromising 168 acres, was purchased by Mr. Snook in 1890, and is devoted to horses, cattle, farming and dairying. Mr. Snook also owns valuable town property in Forsyth. In politics he is a Republican, and has rendered faithful service in various official stations. He was a justice of the peace for a number of years, was appointed public administrator in the spring of 1901, and was census enumerator in 1900 for district No. 104, then in Custer county.
     "Mr. Snook was married in Center [Centre] county, Pa., in 1858, to Miss Mary Walker, a native of that state, who died there in 1873 [sic - 1870]. He contracted a second marriage in 1874 [sic - c. 1871], at the same place, being united on that occasion with Miss Margaret [sic - Elizabeth] Nearhood, also a Pennsylvanian by nativity. They are the parents of seven children: Annie, wife of W. H. Armstrong, a stockman near Forsyth; William, living at home; John and Howard, cowboys; Edward, an Alaska miner; and Lizzie and Maggie, living at home. The children of the first marriage are: Austin, married and living at Johnstown, Pa.; Emma, wife of Amos Fehl, a tanner at Clearfield, Pa.; Helen Martha, wife of Ira Blumgard, a farmer in Center [Centre] county, Pa.; Rebecca, wife of Rice Westerby [sic - George Rice Westaby, II], living at Forsyth, Mont., and Sadie, wife of J. H. Kenealy, a dairyman, near Forsyth."


Reuben Wolhford SNOOK was my children's 4th-great-grandfather on their father's side. The above biography, while giving a detailed description of Reuben's life in Montana, is an example of how such biographies can be riddled with simple errors such as spellings and dates which are off by a few years, as well as gross errors such as the completely incorrect background on the immigration from Germany to colonial America. While I'm still sorting out Reuben's children by both wives, I do believe several children are missing from the lists detailed here. There is also a family story that says the Snooks first went to California from Pennsylvania, before heading to Montana, but so far, I've found no documents to back this up.

Forsyth, Montana was originally a part of Custer County. In 1901, Rosebud County was formed from part of Custer County with Forsyth as the county seat.

This biographical sketch was taken from Volume Part II of Progressive Men of the State of Montana, published in Chicago by A. W. Bowen and Company, c. 1902. Reuben's sketch was found on pages 1815 and 1816. This county history, along with many others, can be found at the Internet Archive.

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