Biographical Sketch of Lucy A. Snow and Lavinia M. Snow

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lucy A. Snow, 1832–1912 and Lavinia M. Snow, 1826–1917

By Angela M. Keith
Gorham, Maine

Lavinia M. Snow was born on October 24, 1826 in Rockland, Maine to Captain Israel Snow and Lucy Woodbury Thorndike Snow. Younger sister Lucy A. Snow followed a few years later on January 11, 1832. The Snows were a large, prominent Rockland family; the sisters were among eight children growing up in the clan's grand house on Water Street. The Snow family counted its heritage richly in seafaring—the men were captains and shipbuilders, and Captain Israel and his son Israel Larkin ran a highly successful shipyard responsible for building all manner of vessels, including Navy ships, yachts, fishing boats and schooners, one of which was named after Lavinia.

Though Lavinia Snow remained unmarried and childless in her adult life (indeed, she was long referred to by all as “Aunt Lavinia”), she found adventure aplenty prior to her crusade for women's suffrage, sailing around the world with her family in the 1850s to locales including San Francisco, Panama, London, the Mariana Islands, and China. In August of 1916, at the age of 90, Lavinia asked a reporter from the mid-coast Courier-Gazette to write her obituary and recounted her adventures, along with her doorstep-view of Rockland's metamorphosis from small fishing village to an industrially-modern hub of ship and rail. Though she received little in the way of formal education, Lavinia loved poetry, news and politics, and was a “staunch supporter of the things that make for individual and natural righteousness.” She greatly admired Abraham Lincoln and was fortunate enough to attend one of his speeches in Illinois in 1857. That she could not vote for him in the 1860 election was a sore spot for her. Lavinia outlived many of her siblings, and died on January 12, 1917 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Lucy A. Snow followed a more traditional bent in early adult life than that of her sister. She married George L. Snow on November 20, 1854, and became a mother to seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood. The 1900 Census reports that she was widowed by that year and living with Lavinia (who was head of household), her niece and grand-niece. Lucy died on 1912 in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

As women raised in a house of lauded men, and trussed up in all the trappings their privileged upbringing could offer, the Snow sisters chafed for their right to the vote. In her interview with the Courier-Gazette at the end of her life, Lavinia recalled that, “I was an early advocate of woman's suffrage and am glad to see today the bright light dawning...From early girlhood I felt the injustice that women have suffered in this connection, and I well recall the feeling of degradation that seized upon me when my younger brother arrived at the age of 21. That he, my junior in years, should have a voice and a ballot, while I, at least his intellectual equal, should be condemned to silence and political inaction, was a deep injustice that I never have been reconciled to.”

In 1868, Lavinia and Lucy, along with their younger sister Elvira T. Snow, founded the Equal Rights Association of Rockland, the first society of its kind in the mid-coast. Immediately following, they wrote a letter to The Revolution in New York, the newspaper founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The letter read, in part: “Dear Revolution: A society has just been organized here called the Equal Rights Association of Rockland. It bids fair to live, although it requires all the courage of heroic souls to contend against the darkness that envelopes the people. But the foundation is laid, and many noble women are catching the inspiration of the hour.”

In 1873, Lucy presented a petition to the legislature with the signatures of 83 others from Rockland, furthering the Snow sisters' continued devotion to suffrage in central mid-coast Maine. In 1876, prior to the Centennial Year Convention in Philadelphia, both sisters wrote letters requesting that their names be added to “the centennial autograph-book as signers of the woman's declaration of sentiments.” The Snow sisters continued submitting petitions to Congress and the legislature through 1887, stepping back at the end of the 1880s to allow the new wave of women warriors to take up the cause, but nonetheless “never failed to send good words of cheer and liberal contributions to...National conventions.” Though Lavinia passed away a mere two years before women attained the right to vote, just missing “the bright light dawning,” the Snow sisters' contributions to the crusade will not be forgotten.


"Florida Deaths, 1877-1939," database, FamilySearch( : 9 March 2018), Lavinia M. Snow, 12 Jan 1917; citing St. Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida, reference cn777; FHL microfilm 2,116,887.

"Maine Marriages, 1771-1907," database, FamilySearch( : 10 February 2018), Geo. L. Snow and Lucy A. Snow, 20 Nov 1854; citing Rockland,Knox,Maine, reference ; FHL microfilm 12,045

O'Brien, Andy. “When Maine Suffragists Fought for Their Right to Vote – Justice Demands the Right to Vote!” The Free Press Online, Mid-Coast Maine. (January 3, 2019)

O'Brien, Andy. “The Petitioned, They Protested, They Went to Jail & They Won” The Free Press Online, Mid-Coast Maine. (January 17, 2019)

Risk, Shannon M., "'In Order to Establish Justice': The Nineteenth-Century Woman Suffrage Movements of Maine and New Brunswick" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 181.

History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III, by Various. Chapter XXXIV. [LINK]

"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Lucy A Snow in household of Israel Snow, Rockland, Lincoln, Maine, United States; citing family 844, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 February 2019), Lucy Snow in household of Lavina Snow, Rockland city Ward 6, Knox, Maine, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 151, sheet 1A, family 2, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,595. (online genealogical search)

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