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                          HORACE SNOW
       Gold Miner, Writer, Carpenter, Civil War Veteran, Merchant

    While most recipients of the Mariposa Sentinel are familiar with the name of Horace Snow who wrote The“Dear Charlie" Letters while prospecting for gold in California, some little known facts about his colorful life can also be found in the Museum archives.
    Excerpted from a Memorial given at Colonel Whipple Post 49, Tustin, California:
…..“Born at Whitefield, New Hampshire October 2, 1831, died at Tustin, Orange County, California   November 7th 1896…
“His parents 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 Boston…”
    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.  
    Catching the 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 communication.  
    According to 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 paraphernalia.  
Following his 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.  
    In 1861, 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.  
    Immediately 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.
    Five children 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. August 2010

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