Saturday, April 1, 2017

Active Irving Snow (1849-1938)

Portrait from the January 3, 1911 Kennebec Daily Journal.

   Certainly one of the more humorous names you'll find amongst the vast annals of the Maine legislature, Active Irving Snow was a Brunswick based grocer and merchant who served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Born in Harpswell, Maine on November 16, 1849. Active I. Snow was the son of Active and Mary Ann Toothaker Snow. Sadly, I have no interesting tidbits as to how (or why) both Snow and his father were bestowed the name "Active", and, if you were like me, the name Active Snow immediately conjured up images of a severe blizzard!
   Mentioned as having been educated at schools in both Harpswell and Portland, "A.I." Snow (as most sources list him) removed to Brunswick, Maine in 1880. He would spend the rest of his life in that city, excepting a three year stay in California (his dates of residence being unknown at this time.) Snow married in Brunswick on June 28, 1892 to Emma Florence Brigham (1868-1921) and later had four children, May (died in infancy in 1893), Austin Irving (died in infancy in 1895), George Active (born 1896) and Raymond (1902-1974.)
    In the years following his removal to Brunswick A.I. Snow established himself as a grocer, and in the succeeding years his store would become a hub of activity in that town. Snow's store received prominent mention in Marjorie Standish's 1996 work Keep Cooking--the Maine Way, which notes that his business employed several clerks. This same work also relates that Snow was an inveterate checker player, and could often be found deeply engrossed in a game, a habit that sometimes necessitated a wait for customers in the event Snow's clerks were busy!
   As a man "deeply loved and respected" within the Brunswick community, Snow was eventually induced by his fellow townspeople to venture into politics. In 1898 he made his first attempt at public office, being nominated by Brunswick democrats for a seat in the Maine legislature. Attesting to his being an "honest, upright citizen", the Bath Journal noted that Snow was
" In every respect worth of the position. He is a temperance man and no doubt will poll a large vote for the political party he represents."
From the Bath Independent Journal, July 20 1898.

   Although unsuccessful in his 1898 legislative run, Snow made another run for the Maine state house in 1910 and was this time successful. Taking his seat at the start of the 1911-12 session, Snow would serve on the committees on Mercantile Affairs,  Insurance and Inland Fisheries and Game. Curiously, Snow's fellow Cumberland County representative during this session was Alvah Snow (1851-1921), who, coincidentally, also hailed from Brunswick. The men aren't believed to have been related, as Alvah Snow had been born in Penobscot County.
   At the conclusion of his term Snow returned to his grocery business in Brunswick, and in 1924 won a second term in the legislature, serving in the session of 1925-26. Snow was elected to his third term in the house in 1926, and by the conclusion of that term in 1928 was nearing 80 years of age. Widowed in 1921, Snow continued to reside and work in Brunswick until his death at age 88 on July 20, 1938. He was later interred along with his wife Emma at the Cranberry Horn Cemetery in East Harpswell, Maine.

From the Kennebec Daily Journal, January 11, 1909.

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