Biography of Abraham Snethen

Abraham Snethen and his wife, Elizabeth Stewart, were natives of Germany. They emigrated to America and settled in New Jersey, where they had eleven children, of whom the names of only seven are now remembered. They were William, John, Reuben, Polly, Lydia, Elizabeth, and Margaret. William married and settled in Kentucky in 1792, and in 1810 he removed to Ohio, where he lost his wife. He then started to return to New Jersey, but died of cholera, at Hagerstown, Md. John was born in March, 1789, and when he was eight years old his mother died. He was then bound out to a man in Elizabethtown, N. J., to learn the trade of wheel-wright. He remained with the man seven years, and then having had a misunderstanding with his landlady, he ran away and went to Philadelphia, where he embarked on board a ship as a sailor He followed the sea seven years, and during the latter part of that period, while the ship was returning from the West India Islands, with a cargo of sugar and coffee, the yellow fever broke out among the crew and all of them died except Snethen, the cook, and one sailor. They succeeded, however, in bringing the vessel safely into port, and delivering her to the owners, whose admiration of Snethen’s bravery and skill was so great that they proposed to educate him and give him command of a ship. He accepted their offer, but in the meantime paid a visit to his friends in New Jersey, who persuaded him to abandon the sea. He then went to Kentucky, and arrived at Maysville (then called Lewiston) in December, 1799. Here he first heard of the death of General Washington. From Maysville he went with his brother Reuben to visit their brother William, who lived in Estell County. There he became acquainted with and married Susan Box. He remained in that County seven years, and bought several tracts of land, all of which he lost on account of defective titles. In 1808 he placed his wife, three children, and all their household goods and chattels on a two-year old filley and a little pony, and came to Missouri. He settled four miles above Loutre Island, on the Missouri River, where he remained one year. During that time he was visited by a party of French hunters, who expressed surprise that be had settled in the bottom, “For,” said they, “our fathers have seen the water over the tops of the sycamore trees.” He became alarmed at their statement and removed seven miles northward, and settled on Dry Fork of Loutre, where several other families soon gathered about him. In 1812 he removed to Howard County, in company with Muke Box, Elisha Todd, James, John, and William Savage, William Warden and Robert Benton, and their families. They placed their families in Kincaid’s Fort, and joined the rangers, to assist in protecting the settlement against the Indians. Mr. Snethen afterward removed his family to Hempstead’s Fort, which was larger and stronger than Kincaid’s. They remained there until 1814, when they removed to Cooper’s Fort. On the night of the 14th of April of that year, Capt. Sarshall Cooper was killed by some unknown person, who picked out the chinking of his chimney and shot him through the opening as he was seated in his cabin. Mr. Snethen was seated by his side at the time, but was not hurt. In 1818 Mr. Snethen returned to his old place on Dry Fork of Loutre, where he remained until his death, which occurred on the first of January, 1859. He raised twelve children of his own, and twelve Negro children, and there was not a death on his place for forty-five years. He saw eighty-one of his grandchildren before his death. Mr. Snethen and his wife were both members of the Old Baptist Church. Their children were Aley B., John, Jr., Polly, Elizabeth, William, Sally, Reuben G., Muke B., Nancy, Emeline, David S., and Matilda. Aley B. was a Baptist preacher and a physician. He married Caroline Johnson, and had fourteen children. John, Jr., was a merchant at Troy, Mo., for thirty-seven years, but has retired from business. He is an intelligent gentleman, and can give a vivid portrayal of the dangers and trials of pioneer life. He went to school with Kit Carson in Cooper’s Fort, and received most of his education while they were living in the forts during the Indian war. He married Euphemia Wells, a sister of Carty Wells, by whom he had six children. Mr. Snethen clerked in the store of Charles Drury, at Loutre Lick, from 1824 to 1826. Polly Snethen married John Cundiff; and they had fourteen children. Elizabeth married William Clam. William married Susan Groom and they had eleven children. Sally married Holland Whitesides. Reuben G. was married three times; first, to Rebecca Dixon; second to Catharine Hunter, and third to Lucinda J. Sallee. He had twelve children in all. Mike B. married Julia A. Leavell, and they had five children. Nancy was married first to James Russell, second to Alfred Windsor, and third to Newton J. Hunter. Emeline married Toleson Hunter. David S. married Keziah Felkniff. Matilda married Benjamin F. Clark. Reuben Snethen, brother of John, Sr., married a Miss Smith, and settled on Duck River, in Tennessee. Abraham, another brother, was married twice, and lived in Callaway County.



Bryan, William Smith A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri: With Numerous Sketches, Anecdotes, Adventures, Etc., Relating to Early Days in Missouri. Also the Lives of Daniel Boone and the Celebrated Indian Chief, Black Hawk, with Numerous Biographies and Histories of Primitive Institutions. Bryan Brand & Company. 1876.

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