Joseph Judson Snell
Posted By: County Coordinator
Date: 3/11/2009 at 16:22:51
Joseph Judson Snell is the chief executive of Boone and his administration has been so business like and progressive that he has won commendation for a large majority of citizens. He is a lawyer of ability with a keen discriminating mind and analytical power that has enabled him to gain a position of distinction at the bar. Mr Snell was born April 20, 1852, in Leicester, Massachusetts, his parents being Joseph W and Julia A (Potter) Snell. On the paternal side of the family is of German and English lineage, while on the maternal side Mr Snell is only of English descent. Asa Snell, the great uncle of our subject became one of the pioneer settlers in Wisconsin, and later the parents of our subject removed to that state. Joseph W Snell had acquired an excellent education expecting to enter the ministry but during his college course his health failed him and he came west in order to recuperate. He found in the bracing western atmosphere the tonic he needed and developed a strong, robust manhood through the daily exercises of the farm. It was during the boyhood of our subject that he took his family to Wisconsin, settling first in Dane county. He afterward removed to Fort Atkinson and in 1866 went to Ogle county, Illinois, where he spent three years, coming thence to Boone county in February 1869. Here he was widely recognized as a worthy and influential citizen, becoming a leader in public thought and opinion. He was elected treasurer of the county but died before assuming the duties of the office. He had held minor positions, had been township trustee in Wisconsin at the time of the Civil War and was always found a loyal citizen, interested in whatever pertained to the growth and substantial improvement of him community. A man of strong convictions, he was fearless in the defense of his own beliefs and no one ever had to question his position in regard to any issue. He was however, never bitterly aggressive and to a marked degree he inspired and retained the confidence of his fellow men. He never sought office, although occasionally he served, his elections coming in recognition of ht trust reposed in him by his fellow townsmen. His was an open, frank and joyous nature, one that enjoyed al that is noblest and best in life to the fullest extent. His religious faith was that of the Congregrational church and he took a very active interest in its work. He was one of the early settlers on the west side of the Des Moines river and there developed a tract of prairie land, transforming it into a rich and arable farm. His death occurred in 1875 when he was fifty one years of age. His widow still survives him and is now seventy four years of age., making her home with her son, Maro P, who is now living in Jesup, Georgia. With the exception of our subject he was the only child of the family.
Joseph Judson Snell largely acquired his early education under the instruction of his father, who engaged in teaching, and when he had completed a district school course he entered the high school of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. He assisted his father in the cultivation and improvement fo the home farm until he had attained his majority. Having pursued his studies under the direction of his father he passed an examination which admitted him to entrance in the State Agricultural College of Ames, Iowa, where he pursued a four years course. During the months of vacation he acted as a bookkeeper in Ogden. After the death of his father he went to that place and opened a banking business for Sylvester, Huntley & Osborne, conducting the enterprise for four years. In the fall of 1880 he was elected clerk of the district and circuit courts, of Boone county and filled that position for four years, after which he acted as deputy clerk for a similar period. He had previously read law, being for three years a student of jurisprudence in the office of Crooks & Jordan, of Boone. He was admitted to practice by the supreme court of the state and while engaging in the prosecution of his profession he also held the position of cashier of the Boone County Bank for three years. At length the demand of his professional duties became so excessive that he had to abandon the banking business in order to properly attend to the work which came to him through a large and growing clientage. Professional advancement in the law is proverbially slow. The first element of success is perhaps, a persistency of purpose and effort as enduring as the force of gravity. But as in any other calling, aptitude,. Character and individuality are the qualities which differentiate the usual from the unusual, the vocation from the career of the lawyer. As the years passed Mr Snell won advancement and his position is now assured as a leading and representative member of the Boone county bar.
In 1876 was celebrated the marriage of Mr Snell and Miss Mary A Palmer, a daughter of Rev George W Palmer, of Carroll, Iowa. Her father was a Congregational minister of Ogden, Iowa, and the house of worship of that denomination was erected during his pastorate there. Both he and his first wife are now deceased, and Mrs Snell is the only survivor of their three children, but his second wife , Mrs Anna M Palmer, is still living. By her marriage Mrs Snell has become the mother of four children, but Bertha E The second died in 1895. The others are Eloise Winifred, Judith J and Vivian P H. the family all hold membership in the First Presbyterian church and enjoy the hospitality of the best homes of the city. In his political affiliations Mr Snell is a Republican and has been called upon to serve in several offices. Since 1891 he has been secretary of the school board and his efforts have contributed in a large measure to the substantial advancement of educational interests here. In 1901 he was elected mayor of the city and has since served in that capacity, his administration being characterized by a loyal interest in the public good.
1902 Boone County History Book
Boone Biographies maintained by Jan Bony.
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