Biography of Erastus Snow
Poweshiek County, IA Biographies





ERASTUS SNOW.
Although nearly a decade has elapsed since the demise of Erastus Snow his personality was too strongly impressed upon the community where he had resided for so many years for him to be readily forgotten. A man of rare ability and possessing a high sense of public duty he is remembered as an agriculturist, financier and legislator, but probably best as the citizen who was always willing to contribute both his time and money to forward any movement for the general good of the community. Of Puritan extraction, the early principles fostered in a New England home remained with him throughout life.

His birth occurred in Winchester, New Hampshire, on the 19th of September, 1819. He was reared in the paternal home to the age of twelve years, acquiring his education in the common schools of his native town. One evening after he had passed his thirteenth birthday he was reading the paper by the firelight when his eye was caught by an advertisement which read, "Wanted, a boy in a printing office. Apply here." Being an ambitious lad, he was most anxious to begin his business career and so applied to his father for permission to take the position. Ten minutes later Mr. Snow placed within his pocket a note for fifty dollars, bearing the signature of little Erastus, remarking as he did so that he would always have something coming to him. The mother, however, thought better of her son than that and replied, "That note will be paid." It was to this early confidence reposed in him by his mother that Erastus Snow attributed much of his success in after life. At times when everything looked hopeless and he was ready to give up or was sorely tempted to compromise with right he would remember his mother, and her belief in him gave him renewed courage and enabled him to conquer conditions rather than to permit them to conquer him.

The note, which he had given his father, was to compensate the parent for the lad's time and services up to the time he had attained his majority, which at that period was deemed to be the right of every parent. At the expiration of three years it was cancelled, in confirmation of his mother's trust, although the lad had only received fifty dollars for his first year's service, which sum was doubled the second and tripled the third year. Before he had attained his majority he had lifted the mortgage from the old homestead, thus relieving from anxiety the latter days of his parents. Mr. Snow did not follow his trade for many years, simply using it as a stepping stone to something higher. Returning to his old home he worked in the bank for a while but believing that the west afforded better opportunities for men of limited means he removed to Iowa. Upon his arrival here he first located in Davenport, where he resided for two years, and then removed to Poweshiek county, buying some land east of Grinnell, in the cultivation of which he was engaged when elected president of the First National Bank, following which he came to town to live. He served most efficiently in various public capacities during the long period of his residence here, having been elected to both branches of the legislature as well as to the board of supervisors. The latter office he held at the time when the matter of railroad bonds was being so strongly gitated in the county, but probably 'his most notable service was in assisting the chool district to cancel its early indebtedness. After leaving the First National 3ank, of which he was the first president, he became connected with the Grinnell Savings Bank, subsequently assuming the management of the Granger store for a number of years, while he was also identified with the Farmers Mutual Insurance Company. During the latter years of his life he withdrew from all public activities and returned to his farm, where he resided until December, 1893, although he rented the land. He then removed to Grinnell, where he was living at the time of his demise on the 1st of March, 1902.

On the 17th of October, 1887, Mr. Snow was united in marriage in Boston, Massachusetts, to Mrs. Harriett E. (Haskell) Waterhouse, whose husband had been killed in the first battle of Bull Run. He was a member of Company C, First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. Mr. and Mrs. Waterhouse were living in Minnesota when the war opened but after the death of her husband she returned to the east, settling in Boston. She was a daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Johnson) Haskell, natives of Maine, in which state the father; who was a strong abolitionist, engaged in agricultural pursuits until his demise in 1852. His wife survived until 1872. Three children were born unto Mr. Snow by a former marriage but the daughter passed away when she was twenty four years of age, and the two sons are also deceased.

His political allegiance Mr. Snow ever accorded the men and measures of the republican party, believing its principles were best adapted to protect the interests of the general public, but he favored free silver. He early adopted for his motto the old adage "Be sure you are right then go ahead," which became the governing principle of his life.

From:
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1911


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