John M. Snowden Bio
Title: Centennial volume of the
       First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, PA., 1784-1884. 
Imprint: Pittsburgh : Wm. G. Johnston & Co., Printers, 1884. 
Physical Extent: 259 p. : ill. ; 23 cm. 
This book may be found on line at:

>From pages 200- 203


[ The Rev. Dr. James Allison, a member of the First Church during his course 
of study at the Theological Seminary, and who has good reason for continuing 
his interest perpetually, in view of the excellent life companion he found 
there, (a daughter of that most useful elder and admirable citizen, Judge 
Snowden,) and who worshiped with the church during some years after he became 
editor of the Presbyterian Banner, appeared with the greatest propriety in 
the pulpit he had so well known during the last two pastorates and a portion 
of Dr. Herron's and which he has been always so ready to assist every good 
work, to aid the occasion with the admirable paper which follows:]

The duty of preparing brief sketches of the lives and characters and labors 
the three elders of this church, has been assigned to me. Each one of them 
had a marked individuality. Each one of them occupied a sphere in life, 
different from the one occupied by the other two; but they were, alike in the 
estimation in which they, were held by the people, in their attachment this 
church and in their love to the King and Head of the Church Universal : and 
their memories are precious heritages, not only to this church, but also to 
this community, and should carefully preserved for the benefit of those who 
are to succeed, the present generation.

                            JOHN MORGRIDGE SNOWDEN
(note from John L. Snowden; I have never seen his middle name spelled this
way before, and I feel that Dr. Allison spelled it wrong)

The oldest of them in age and the first one of them connected with this 
church, was the Hon. John Morgridge Snowden.  Shortly after the first 
settlement of Virginia, a large family, by the name of Snowden came to that 
colony. The Snowdens of New York and Pennsylvania are descended from the 
Snowdens who came from Virginia about the year 1663. William Snowden who was 
the great ancestor of John M. Snowden, owned land in what is now Philadelphia 
in 1669, thirteen years before arrival of William Penn. His son, John 
Snowden, was born there in 1685, and was one of the founders of the First 
Presbyterian Church of that city.  Isaac Snowden son of John, was one of the 
founders of the Second Presbyterian Church of the same city. 

John Morgridge Snowden, better known as John M. Snowden, was born in 
Philadelphia, in 1776. His father was a sea captain, and entered the service, 
of the Continental Congress at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, was 
captured by British, and died in one of the "prison ships."  His mother was a 
woman of wonderful energy, of a high order of intelligence, great force of 
character, and most ardently devoted the cause of American Independence. Not 
only did she assume the support of her three sons and two daughters,
disdaining to receive assistance from her Tory relations on the
side of her parents, but she performed a difficult and dangerous part that 
her country, for which her husband bad died, might be free. She was the 
trusted friend of General Washington, and from her he received, by means of 
trusted messengers, his knowledge from time to time, of the numbers and 
operations of the British while they held Philadelphia.

In early life, John M. Snowden was apprenticed to the celebrated Mathew 
Carey, to learn the "art and mystery of printing."  And the influence of Mr. 
Carey was felt by his apprentice during his entire after-life.  Mr. 
Snowden's first, venture on his own account, was in the establishment of a 
newspaper in connection with his brother-in-law, Mr McCorkel, at 
Chambersburgh, in this State.  But in 1798 they removed to Greensburg, 
Westmoreland county, where they published "The Farmers Register," the first 
newspaper in west after the Pittsburgh Gazette.  It acquired a large 
circulation and wielded great political influence.  Here he united with the 
Presbyterian Church, of which Rev. William Speer, father of the venerable and 
beloved Dr. James R. Speer, of this city, was then pastor While in 
Greensburg, he, married Elizabeth Moor, daughter the Hon. John Moor the first 
President Judge of Western Pennsylvania, and who was one of the leaders in 
the organization and defense of Pennsylvania at the time of separation from 
Great Britain.  She was in every way fitted to be the wife such a man. Her 
death took place December 2, 1860.

In 1811, Mr. Snowden removed to Pittsburgh, purchased the Commonwealth 
newspaper, from Ephraim Pentland, and changed the name to the Mercury, the 
office of which was at first on Market street, between Third and Fourth 
streets, and afterwards on Liberty street, near the head of Wood.    

He continued to be editor of this paper, which was widely circulated and 
exerted great power upon the public mind, until 1831.  In the meantime he 
published a number of valuable works, and had a large store. By means of the 
press his sale of books, his social relations, his undoubted integrity, his 
interest in public affairs and his activity in every good work, he was widely 
known and recognized as one of the leading citizens of the State of 
Pennsylvania. He was of medium stature, lithe physical structure, quick in 
perception and decided in action. 

 Coming to Pittsburgh about the time that Dr. Herron took charge of this 
church, he united with it and afterwards was elected one of its elders (in 
1812.) He was strongly attached to his pastor, and his pastor set a high 
estimate upon his sound of judgment and devout piety. The early history of 
this church was written by Mr. Snowden, and is still in existence.  When 
Pittsburgh obtained a City Charter he was elected an Alderman.  He was a 
Director of the Bank of Pittsburgh, Recorder of Deeds under the 
administration of Gov. Wolf, Mayor of this city in 1825, '26 and '27, and 
Clerk of the Orphans' Court.  

His close habits of study, his long and varied experience,his broad common 
sense, and his judicial mind, fitted him, in a remarkable degree, for the 
important duties devolving upon him when he became Associate Judge with the 
Hon. Benjamin Patton.  He was appointed April 16th, 1840, recommissioned 
March 31st, 1841, and held the office at the time of his death. While or 
bench he received high commendations from the public and from the Bar. On 
more than one occasion be differed with the President Judge as to the law, 
and so expressed himself to the jury, as he had a right to do. Several times 
he exhibited an acquaintance with the principles of common law, also of 
statutory law, which surprised old and learned attorneys. When one of the 
most intricate and important cases ever tried in this county was pending, the 
attorneys on both sides agreed, if the President Judge, would retire, to go 
on with the trial before, Associate Judge Snowden. The President Judge left 
the bench, and Judge Snowden tried the case in a way that elicited the 
highest admiration and the profoundest respect.
Mr. Snowden stood high in favor with General Jackson.  He had recommended a 
gentleman to President Jackson for an important office. Shortly afterwards a 
friend of another applicant for the same office appeared before the President 
and denounced the man recommended by Mr. Snowden, as being utterly unfit for 
the place. Old Hickory, with eyes Flashing fire, roared out: "How dare you 
say that? Do you think John M. Snowden would recommend a man unfit for the 
position?  No, never by the eternal!"  Mr. Snowden's man got the office. 

On the 2d of April, 1845, Mr. Snowden died suddenly of disease of the heart. 
Years before he had been told by his physicians that his death would be 
sudden and that it might occur at any time. When the Summons came he was 
ready to obey, The Pittsburgh Post, of April 3d, 1845, said: "There can be no 
move evidence of the high estimation in which Judge Snowden was held, than 
the deep and general concern which is manifested at his death by all manner 
of persons.  Every one seemed to feel that his departure had left a void that 
cannot be filled.  To family and friends, it is useless to say the loss is 

"Mr. Snowden--a man of strong mind and judgment in all things, worldly and 
spiritual, was considered a great acquisition to the eldership.  I have often 
heard my father speak of the efficiency of Mr. Snowden and, Mr. Denny, in 
church courts especially." (Mrs. Smith April,1882.)


Descendants of John Maugridge Snowden

Generation No. 1

JOHN1) was born January 13, 1776 in Philadelphia, Pa., and died April 02, 
1845 in Allegheny City, Pa..  He married ELIZABETH MOOR November 24, 1801 in 
Pa, daughter of JOHN MOORE and ELIZABETH PARR.  She was born February 06, 
1782 in Westmoreland Co., Pa., and died December 02, 1860 in Allegheny Co., 


i.  JOHN MOOR8 SNOWDEN, b. August 14, 1806, Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., PA; 
d. September 26, 1863, Oregon, Ogle Co., Ill; m. ELIZABETH ELLIOTT, November 
10, 1831, PA; b. October 1810, PA; d. August 15, 1864, Oregon, Ogle Co., Ill.

ii. ELIZABETH SNOWDEN, b. November 16, 1804, Pa; d. Abt. 1887, New York, New 
York (Brooklyn); m. GEORGE OGDEN, May 20, 1824, Pa.; b. 1794, N.Y.; d. 
January 29, 1859. 

iii.    JOSEPH SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1808, Pa.; m. JULIA WESTON; b. Abt. 1815, 

iv. SAMUEL SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1811, Pa; d. Bef. March 1861; m. SELINA S. 
GILLILAND; b. 1814, Pa; d. Bef. March 1861

v.  FRANCIS LAIRD SNOWDEN, b. July 18, 1816; d. April 03, 1876; m. (1) ELIZA 
SARAH OLVER, Bef. 1846; b. September 1824, Illinois; d. April 25, 1865; m. 
(2) FRANCES ?, Aft. 1865; b. Abt. 1816, Va..

vi. HARRIET SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1822; m. JOSEPH R. KERR.

vii.    EDMUND SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1824; m. ANNA SMITH.

viii.   NANCEY MOOR SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1826; m. ROBERT ROBB; b. 1820, Pa.

ix. CAROLINE SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1827; m. JAMES ALLISON, November 06, 1856; b. 
September 27, 1828, Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co., Pa..

x.  ELLEN SNOWDEN, b. Abt. 1830, Pa.; m. THOMAS KIDDO WILSON; b. January 08, 
1827, Upper Saint Clair Twp., Allegheny Co., Pa..

xi. WILLIAM SNOWDEN. (died young)

xii.    KATHRINE SNOWDEN.(died young)


For additional information please contact John L. Snowden

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