John and Nelle Snyder

Hi All,

I was able to visit the Minneapolis Public Library where I searched through several area newspapers on microfilm. I found several great articles concerning John & Nelle Snyder. John provided a detailed interview immediately following his arrival in New York, and I hope to post the articles and reflections for all to see.

That sounds really interesting, Eric. I'll very much look forward to reading whatever it is you have to share with us and learning more about the Snyders. I've always liked the photograph of John and Nelle that appears in Don Lynch's 'Illustrated History' and they seem to have been a most attractive couple.
...although even the most cursory of Googles this morning has revealed that John's maternal grandfather, John S. Pillsbury, had been the Governor of Minnesota. I wasn't aware of that.

Furthermore, it seems that John's mother, Susan, who had died in 1891, and her sister, a Mrs Webster, were commemorated in stained-glass windows, depicting allegorical figures of Hope and Faith after designs by Burne-Jones, which were presumably installed somewhere in Minneapolis after being put on display in New York in 1901.
Martin, allow me to take this opportunity to recommend

An annual membership is less than $100 (which is probably about 3 British pounds at this point!)and it has no end of archives from papers going back a couple of centuries, including such local papers as those that followed the Snyders' lives in Minneapolis. It's a fantastic value.

From what I dug up on the Snyders not so long ago, I think they were plain folk who lived fairly quiet lives. John once told a reporter that he and his wife had tried two European trips in their lives - the first put them on the Titanic and the second put them in Europe when World War II broke out. From then on, he was resolved on staying home.

One source - I believe it was his obituary - said that he owned a garage, but coverage from throughout his life showed that his business interests were rather more involved than that. At least one source claimed that part of his motive for a European honeymoon was to investigate the possibility of bringing a Fiat franchise to Minnesota. Several articles on Nelle later in life included a photo of her as an old woman standing next to a Titanic model at some exhibit.
Thank you, Brian, for that excellent suggestion.

It has struck me that 'The New York Times' archive, fabulous resource though it is, will only contain information on the careers of those passengers who were natives of that city or who moved on the international stage, in the European capitals and the fashionable holiday resorts. Which makes it far more difficult to research the likes of, say, Helen Churchill Candee, who was primarily based in Washington, Midwesterners, like the Minahans and the Snyders, and Canadians, like the Davidsons and Fortunes. Which is not to say that any of these individuals WEREN'T socially active in their native cities, just that those activities would not be likely to garner much coverage in 'The Times'.

A decade or so after he survived the 'Titanic', John Snyder was profiled in a survey of prominent Minneapolitans. He was hailed as:

'a representative of one of the oldest and most honoured families of the city...and, well descended and well bred, possessed of sterling personal qualities, he has always maintained his position in social circles, having a legion of friends, who have known him from his boyhood to the present time.'

His business interests are listed - yes, he did own a garage and also operated a truck dealership, besides being Vice-President of the Millers and Traders State Bank. It seems that he and Nelle were married on 22 January, 1912, and had two sons and a daughter. I do wonder if the Snyders might have come across Constance Willard or her family at some point, since it seems that they had connections in Minneapolis and were in similarly affluent circumstances.
Hi Martin,

I wasn't aware either that John's maternal grandfather has been Governor of Minnesota, but then again I also didn't know that John himself served one term in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1927-1929.

I will see what I can find out about those stained-glass windows. That's really interesting. It will give me something to do other than dream of warmer weather!!

Confusingly, the Wikipedia entry for Governor John S. Pillsbury (c.1828-1901) says that he had only one son and one daughter - and SHE married a chap called Edward C. Gale: obviously not the mother of 'our' John Snyder. Yet the 1901 'New York Times' article about the memorial windows, and the 1923 biographical sketch I've mentioned above, both identify John's mother Susan as the governor's daughter. I wonder if somebody, somewhere, has confused women of similar names? I'm inclined to believe that Wikipedia is in error but it would be interesting to know if anybody on the board could shed some light to help unravel the mystery.
John's parents were Fred B. Snyder and Susan May Pillsbury. After Susan's death, Fred married Leanora McElroy. Fred's parents were Simon P. Snyder (born in Pennsylvania) and Mary (born in Ohio). Susan's were John Sargent Pillsbury and Mahala Fiske. John and Nelle had three children:John Jr., Thomas and Susan. Susan married Rowley Martin.
Thanks David...but, again, the 1923 biographical sketch available on-line lists John's stepmother as one Leonora Dickson of Pittsburgh. Apparently, she gave birth to John's half-sister, Mary Stuart.

Sorry if I'm causing confusion here but I confess to being confused myself! Three separate articles have all identified John's maternal grandfather as a governor of Minnesota but this is contradicted by other sources. Which is the more reliable? Do you have any information on John's mother's family, David?
Ummmm...nope, sorry. I just typed in 'John Pillsbury Snyder' and up it popped. The article can be found in 'Session Weekly: A Nonpartisan Publication of the Minnesota House of Representatives', dated 3 April, 1998, Vol. 15, No. 11. Besides the photograph of Snyder himself, and much biographical information, it also contains by far the fullest account of the Snyders' experience aboard the 'Titanic' I've read so far. You were right, Brian - they had been travelling through Italy on their honeymoon but John took advantage of the opportunity to investigate the possibility of opening a Fiat franchise in his garage back home. It even seems that a letter he wrote to his cigar merchant in London on 'Titanic' stationary still survives in a family archive.
The Minneapolis Star published the obituary about John Pillsbury Snydef July 23 1959.
It was mentioned that he was the president of the Snyder Garage, Inc, which was an automobilfirm at 407 S 10th St.which he sold to the Curds hotel in 1955. The business had been on the same site for 43 years. In 1912 Snyder had a trip to Italy to arrange a dealership for Fiat cars.
Eventually information about the survivors, in case any details are not known form before:
His son John, Karel his wife anaother son Thomas S.
A daughter Mrs Rowley Miller, all of Wayzata, one sister Mrs. Crawford Johnson jr. Birmingham, Ala. and 11 grandchildren. The family requested memorials to the Arthriris and Rheumatism foundation or to Northwestern Hospital. I am thankful to the Wayzata Historical Society who worked hard to find this obituary for me. They called the Minneapolis Public Library s local history collection, who found the obituary.
I just returned from another trip to the Minneapolis Public Library. I had more time this visit, so I was able to locate several articles about John & Nelle Snyder. Both provided detailed accounts to the Minneapolis & St. Paul newspapers. I am scanning them now and will upload them onto their respective biographical pages. I understand that it may take several days for them to be accepted, am I right? There are several pictures of the Snyders contained within the articles as well.

Arne, I was able to locate John's obituary with the information you provided. It's quite lengthy and provides a picture of Mr. Snyder from the 1950s.

I will be happy to e-mail any of you with the articles since I am unsure how long it will take to appear on the ET site.

In addition, I was able to locate articles concerning other Minnesota residents/survivors/victims. I will post these as well.