Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Marie Eugenie Bonnard Snook (Mrs. John Snook), 1865-1936
By Micheline Golden, B.A. History, University of California, Davis, 1985; graduate student, History M.A., California State University, Fresno
President, Berkeley League of Justice; Vice President, California Women's Heney Club; Chair, Berkeley Belgian Relief Society; President, League for the Protection of American Prisoners of War; Member, Berkeley Suffrage Club
Marie Eugenie Bonnard Snook was born in San Francisco in 1865 to printer Francis Bonnard and his wife Margaret. Both of her parents were immigrants, Bonnard from Ireland, his wife from Scotland, and Marie was the youngest of five girls. The family appeared to live a quite comfortable life in San Francisco. In 1870 they were living in a large home on Russian Hill and newspapers reported that both Marie and her older sister Marian, called Mae, regularly summered at Northern California coastal resorts. Marie Bonnard married physician John Snook in 1887, and they made their home in Bakersfield, California until 1903, when they moved to Berkeley. The couple had three children: John, born in 1888, Alice, born in 1893, and Walter, born in 1892. The couple raised their family in Berkeley and stayed there until Dr. Snook's retirement in the late 1920s, when they relocated to Monterey. Marie Snook lived there until her death in 1936 and is buried in the Union Cemetery in Bakersfield, California.
Snook was active in suffrage and women's rights activities in Bakersfield as early as 1892. Upon moving to Berkeley she joined the Berkeley Suffrage Club, and by 1909 was serving as president of the Berkeley League of Justice. She often spoke on women's issues for other organizations, including the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the California Federation of Women's Clubs (CFWC). In addition, Dr. and Mrs. Snook enjoyed an active social life, often mentioned as patrons of the Berkeley Social Assembly.
In 1909 Snook became involved with a San Francisco cause that ultimately led to her break with the organized suffrage movement when she supported federal investigator Francis. J. Heney's campaign for District Attorney in San Francisco. Well known for investigating both land and post office fraud in the early 1900s, Heney ran on a platform to end "graft prosecution" in San Francisco
Snook attended the WCTU Congress of Reform in July 1909, and following the presentation of a paper called "The Larger Home" by Mrs. Elizabeth Gerberding of the Woman's League of Justice, led a discussion on the graft prosecution situation in California. The next month she was elected vice president of the newly formed San Francisco Women's Heney Club, founded to assist Heney's campaign. In her concurrent role as President of the Berkeley League of Justice, Snook sought endorsement of the Women's Heney Club activities from the CFWC at their convention in Stockton, California in October 1909.
Featured as a speaker alongside representatives from the WCTU, the CFWC, and the Berkeley Political Equality Club, Snook presented a paper on "Political Agriculture" on the opening day of the conference, followed by a discussion led by WCTU President, Mrs. Sturtevant Peet. During the three-day conference Snook rallied other women to support a resolution endorsing the Heney Club's activities, thus endorsing Heney, and believed by the closing afternoon of the conference that she had enough backing to carry the vote. However, when the resolution was proposed several delegates objected, citing Heney's lack of support for women's suffrage. Mrs. Lillian Harris Coffin expanded the objection, noting that it was political in nature and not in keeping with the mission of the organization. The vote for the resolution failed 23-18, and Snook was reportedly so angered by the outcome that she removed her suffrage badge, immediately resigned her office in the Berkeley League of Justice, and left both the convention floor and suffrage work permanently. A week later, acting in her capacity as Women's Heney Club vice president, she partnered successfully with Mrs. Peet to garner an endorsement of the club activities at the state WCTU conference, but there are no further accounts of her rejoining organized suffrage activities.
Despite her withdrawal from the suffrage movement, Snook remained civically active in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1914 she organized the Berkeley Belgian Relief Society and chaired the group's activities throughout the entirety of World War I. In 1919 King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium presented her with a medal during their visit to California, acknowledging her leadership in the organization and devotion to assisting the people of Belgium. After the war ended Snook founded the League for the Protection of American Prisoners of War and rose to national prominence as its president. The group initially advocated boycotts of all German goods as protest of treatment of American prisoners of war, but by 1920 had focused on lobbying both Congress and President Woodrow Wilson for the establishment of Armistice Day as a national holiday.
Ninth Census of the United States, 1870
Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900
Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910
Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920
Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930
Congressional Record, June 21, 1918, p.472
Greenberg, Gerald S. Historical Encyclopedia of U.S. Independent Counsel Investigations. Greenwood Press, London, 2000
Bakersfield Californian, October 1, 1909, "Mrs. John Snook Suffragette Speaker," 1.
The Liberator, San Francisco, September 4, 1909, "The California Women's Heney Club," 4
Los Angeles Herald, October 3, 1909, "Suffragettes Choose Heads," 2.
Oakland Tribune, September 17, 1909, "Stockton Mecca of Suffragists," 10.
Oakland Tribune, January 19, 1911, "Exclusive Affair Attended by Scores," 14.
Oakland Tribune, September 22, 1915, "Civic League to Hear Interesting Addresses," 12.
Oakland Tribune, January 21, 1917, "Berkeley Boys Off to the Front," 27.
Oakland Tribune, November 27, 1917, "Society," 14.
Oakland Tribune, October 15, 1919, "Queen Honors Three Women While Here," 13.
Oakland Tribune, October 15, 1919, "King Albert Points to Various Views Which Greatly Impressed Him," 13.
Palo Alto Times, April 10, 1970, "Walter Snook," 18.
San Francisco Call, October 1, 1909, "Women to ‘Do' Plain Politics in this State," 4.
San Francisco Call, October 3, 1909, "Conclave Ends in Wordywar," 17.
San Francisco Call, October 2, 1909, "Two Factions in Convention of Suffragists," 7.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 1909, "Women Discuss Equal Suffrage," 4.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 31, 1920, "Congress to be Asked to Create Armistice Day," 1.