Mariposa History and Genealogy Research
Gold Miner, Writer, Carpenter, Civil War Veteran, Merchant
recipients of the Mariposa Sentinel are familiar with the name of
Horace Snow who wrote The“Dear
Charlie" Letters while prospecting
in California, some little known facts about his colorful life can also
be found in the Museum archives.
from a Memorial given at Colonel Whipple Post 49, Tustin, California:
Hampshire October 2, 1831, died at Tustin, Orange County,
California November 7th 1896…
were poor and he
early learned the carpenter’s trade. Wishing to have the
advantages of an education he, by great self-denial saved enough money
to carry him through the State Normal School of Massachusetts.
Later he attended Norton College, Massachusetts by working at his trade
In the year
1853, Horace declined an offer of a position as teacher in order to
come to California in search of his brother who had not been heard from
in three years. The journey was a harrowing one, including
a shipwreck from which he barely escaped with his life.
gold fever, however, after arriving in California and locating his
brother, he spent some two years prospecting for gold. It was during
this time that he wrote letters to his friend Charles Fitz in Boston,
Massachusetts. These letters are incorporated into a book entitled The
"Dear Charlie" Letters n
sale at the Museum bookstore, transcribed and
illustrated by the late Muriel Neavin.
Not only are
these letters unique in that they portray life in the California Sierra
in general and Mariposa in particular, but they demonstrate the
ingenuity of people finding themselves in circumstances beyond their
control. As many as four or five letters inscribed upon single
sheets of scarce paper, are superimposed upon each other, written
horizontally and diagonally as well as traditional means of
several of his letters, he and his brother settled in a typical shanty
type house in the Aqua Fria area of Mariposa County. A replica of
such a domicile is shown in the Mariposa Museum, located in the far
left corner of the Daulton Room. It contains miners’ clothing,
various forms of mining equipment, the inevitable whiskey jug and
coffee pot, a grizzly bear trap, a pot-belly stove among other
sojourn in the
goldfields of California, he returned east as far as the state of Iowa,
having accepted the position of Editor of a newspaper there.
Reports show Horace to be a strong abolitionist and his editorials
attracted much attention.
shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in Co. “H”,
18th U.S. Infantry. When his company reached Newport Barracks,
Kentucky he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant of the 45th Regular
Infantry. He re-enlisted upon expiration of his service and took
the position of Quartermaster at Camp Penn, near Philadelphia.
Here he met and married Maggie F. Butcher in 1865.
after marriage the couple traveled to California, locating first in
Vallejo, then Napa and finally Fairfield, going into the mercantile
business with his brother. In 1875 they opened a store in Eureka
where he moved with his family.
On display in
the Mariposa Museum & History Center is a safe with attractive
floral stenciling, carrying the name of their business: “Snow
& Co.” apparently in use at the Eureka store. It was
donated to the Museum by the Snow family in the early 1990’s. In
addition, Horace’s finely scripted letters, known as the “criss-cross
letters” are scattered throughout the Daulton Room displays.
Excerpts from The “Dear
Charlie" Letters may also be found in the Museum
Self Guided Tour for use by visitors.
were born to Horace and Maggie, marked by the tragic and unexpected
deaths of two. Grief for her lost children ended the life of
Maggie, and Horace followed her in death soon after.
Lucille Apcar, Mariposa, Ca.
see more Mariposa Family Chronicles