Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Death of a Noted Character - William Snively

The Marietta Register, December 19, 1878

Last week, at his home, on the Little Muskingum, near the small post-town of Bloomfield, Washington county, there died one of the most noted characters of this part of Ohio, William Snively.  He located on the Little Muskingum over fifty years ago, and took up one hundred and sixty acres of land, all of which with the exception of a small potato patch is uncleared, and as wild as when he first located it.  A man of great mechanical genius, he built a forge, and was noted among the honest class of people as a splendid blacksmith and gun-maker.  But his talents were not entirely devoted to a legitimate avocation, for he, in a very few years acquired a reputation as one of the most skillful counterfeiters west of the mountains.  He was too smart to attempt the passage of the spurious money, but his location was known to every counterfeiter and horse thief in Ohio and West Virginia, who made his house and the many secret hiding places he had scattered around through the woods, a rendezvous to get counterfeit money, and hide stolen goods. 

Of a very miserly and avaricious disposition, he was never known to spend a cent of money for the commonest necessaries of life.  He has been known to eat a frugal meal of corn bread and milk, in the morning and walk to Marietta and back, a distance of twenty-two miles each way, and carry back with him fifty or a hundred pounds of iron, and without breaking his fast.  For the last fifteen years he has added largely to his hoarded gains by the illicit distilling of liquor. 

He died at the age of eighty-five, after an illness of but a few days, and what is the most harrowing to his relatives and has aroused the curiosity of the community, is that he went into eternity without revealing where his hoarded wealth was stored, the lowest estimate of which is $100,000, and up as high as $250,000.  For many a year to come treasure hunters will be found at the dead hour of night digging into the bowels of what as once his land, in the remote hope of securing and enjoying the counterfeiter-miser's ill-gotten wealth.  [Cincinnati Commercial.]

All but the $100,000.  A man of that kind would be satisfied with saving 25 cents a day, and no interest entering into the count, it is easy to see how fast he would accumulate.  He may have had $2,000 or $3,000 hid away.

The Marietta Register, December 26, 1878:

William Snively Again.

Last week, we published an interesting extract from the Cincinnati Commercial, giving certain statements regarding Mr. Snively, of Bloomfield, that need correcting in some things.  A gentleman, who knew him well, says the charge of his harboring horse-thieves, and being such an adept counterfeiter, is groundless.  He died Nov. 26th, aged eighty-five years, and was living at that time with William Pool, his grandson, to whom he deeded his land and all his property, some two years before, in consideration that Pool should care for him during his lifetime.  He had five grand-children in this county, named Girts, to whom nothing was given.  The stories of his great wealth must be attributed to a lively imagination.

The Marietta Times, January 2, 1879:

Mr. Snively Again.

Bloomfield, O., Dec. 17th, 1878.

Editor Times:

An article appeared in the Noble County Republican, of Dec. 5th, which purports to give the biography of a deceased citizen of this place, Mr. Snively.  The writer of that article was certainly ignorant of the facts in the history of the deceased, or else maliciously sought to cast undue reproach on the memory of the dead, and to inflict a lasting and stinging wound on the relatives and friends of the deceased.

That Mr. Snively was a strange character, no person will pretend to deny.  That the public may rightly understand why his character was strange, we will givea few facts i the history of his life:  He was a German by decent, and came here from Belmong county, O., over fifty years ago, and entered 160 acres of land, built a comfortable house, planted a good orchard, cleared about twenty acres of land, which for some years, he cultivated with skill and judgment.  He reared a family of four daughters, all of whom are dead.  He was once a man of great genius, activity and power of endurance.  He has been known to walk a distance of 60 miles in a day.  About thirty years ago his mind became engrossed with the idea of perpetual motion, and for several years he labored to invent it.  About this time he conceived an idea that with the aid of the wings of a turkey he could fly, and it is said that he made several attempts to accomplish his wild fancy.  He has frequently been known to start on foot to Baltimore to learn how to salt pork.  for the last twenty-five years he has been considered insane by all who knew him, and allowed to pursue his wild fancies at will.

He never was accused until accused by the Republican of being in any way connected with horse thieves or secreting stolen goods of any kind.

We acknowledge ourselves under obligations to the Republican for information concerning that enormous sum of money buried by this poor old man.  The citizens of this locality might have remained ignorant of it had it not been for the Republican.  We do not know any treasure hunters who feel in the least inclined to search for it, and perhaps the bowels of the earth may remain undisturbed for years unless that Noble Sluet will give more definite information about it.


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