Hosted websites will become read-only beginning in early 2024. At that time, all logins will be disabled, but hosted sites will remain on RootsWeb as static content. Website owners wishing to maintain their sites must migrate to a different hosting provider before 2024 (More info)
Milton David Snodgrass Alaska


and his wife

Margaret Jane (Minis) 1974-- 1972

This is a rough draft of an ongoing research project

Written by Coleen Mielke 2020

Protected by Copyscape Duplicate Content Protection Tool  

[email protected]

Many stories have been written about Milton David Snodgrass and his accomplishments in Alaska from 1907 to 1967. But this story is not about his specific achievements; it is about the genealogy of the Snodgrass family.

This branch of the Snodgrass family descends from Botetourt County, Virginia, pre-1700. Many of them were patriotic farmers who fought in the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Spanish American War.


Milton D. Snodgrass' third great grandparents, were Joseph Snodgrass (1710-1782) and Hannah Vernon (1717-1786); they lived in Tinker Creek, Botetourt County, Virginia and had 9 children: Joseph, Lydia, Isaac Newton, Rebecca, William, Phoebe, Robert, Hannah and Margaret. Quite a few records say Joseph's father immigrated from Tyrone County, Ireland.

Milton's 2nd great grandparents were Joseph Snodgrass (1741-1809) and Mary Bartley "Polly" Walker (1758-1812). Joseph was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. Serving in a Regiment commanded by Colonel Andrew Lewis, he participated in the Siege of York town, resulting in the capture of Lord Cornwallis in 1781. Joseph and Mary Snodgrass had 11 children: John, Joseph, Isaac, Henry, William, Elizabeth, George, Robert, Mary Polly, Bartley and Caroline.

Milton's great grandparents were Joseph Snodgrass (1779-1852) and Catherine Gish (1783-1852). This is the first generation of this family line to leave Virginia; they moved to Kokomo, Howard County Indiana. Joseph and Catherine Snodgrass had 11 children: Samuel, Caroline, George William, Nancy, John, Harriett, Mary Jane, Carolina, Juliana, Clarinda and Newton.

Milton's grandparents were George William Snodgrass (1805-1959) and Mary Zimmerman (1803-1859). They are both buried in Rensselear, Jasper County, Indiana.
George and Mary had 8 children:

1. Newton Virginius Snodgrass 1827-1912
2. Addison Franklin Snodgrass 1830-1891
3. Samantha Snodgrass 1831-1831
4. Walker Lee Snodgrass 1835 -
5. Guilford Dudley Snodgrass 1837-
6. Cynthia Ann Snodgrass 1840-1866
7. George Washington Snodgrass 1843-1910
8. William Henry Harrison Snodgrass 1848-1887     (Milton's father)

Milton's parents were William Henry Harrison Snodgrass (1840-1887) and Sarah Ella Lamson (1853-1941). William and Sarah Snodgrass had 7 children: George, Lula Mae, Milton David, Harley, Archie, Franklin and Birchard. William Snodgrass is buried in Little River, Rice County, Kansas and his wife, Sarah Ella, is buried in Los Angeles, California.

Milton's father enlisted during the Civil War, as a member of Company D 135th Regiment, Indiana Infantry and was seriously wounded during the Battle of Harrisonburg Virginia. His pension application says that he received a gunshot wound to his left thigh and right arm and described how the ball entered his arm, half way from wrist to elbow on the inside on 8/28/1862. He was wounded again on 4/29/1863 near Fredericksburg, Virginia, when a mini ball entered his hand and "shattered his little finger and thumb off at the 2nd joint and portion of thumb".

Milton's Uncle, George Washington Snodgrass (1843-1910) was also a Civil War veteran;  member of Company D Indiana 15th Infantry Regiment and was wounded 12/31/1862 in the Battle of Murfreesboro. His wounds were serious enough that he was transferred to the Invalid Corps by the War Department and later given a pension of $8 a month; he was only 18.


Milton Snodgrass came from humble beginnings. His family moved (by covered wagon) to Little River, Kansas in 1881. Two years later, his father began having heart trouble and died in 1887 (he was only 47).  In 1894, the family packed the covered wagons and moved to Manhattan, Kansas so the older children could attend school at Kansas Agricultural College.

At the end of Milton's first year of college, he was called back to Little River to take over his cousins farm for six months (due to a death in the family). He didn't re-start school until the fall of 1896.

The family was living on Leavenworth Street in Manhattan, Kansas and Milton was working as a post office clerk while he attended school. That is when he met his future bride, Margaret Jane Minis, who was taking a college refresher class so she could continue teaching.

Margaret Jane Minis was the daughter of John M. Minis (1834-1883) and his wife Agnes Isabel Esdon (1848-1940). John and Agnes Minis had five children before John died in 1882: David, Jessie, Margaret, Mary Frances and John.

Margaret's father, John M. Minis (a carpenter) was also a Civil War veteran. He enlisted for 9 months with Company I, 123rd  Regiment for the State of Pennsylvania on 3/3/1863. He was wounded during the war (which rendered him an invalid). He received a pension of $12 a month and died in 1882 at the age of 49.

In 1898, Milton himself saw military duty when he served six months with Company M of the 22nd Kansas Volunteers during the Spanish-American War.


In 1905, Milton Snodgrass and Margaret Jane Minis were living next door to each other in Manhattan City, Kansas. Milton was rooming with three friends (Fred Romig, Lou Romig and Roland J. Kinzer).  Margaret, who graduated from Kansas Agricultural College in 1901, was now working as a librarian at the college and living with her mother and sisters Jessie (a nurse) and Mary Frances (a bookkeeper).

Milton worked full time while he put himself through college; he received a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in animal husbandry in 1906. He and Margaret Jane Minis were married in 1907.

Through his connections at the Kansas Agricultural College, Milton was offered a government job in Alaska, at the newly established (Federal) Kodiak Live Stock and Breeding Station. He started work there on 6/8/1907 and his first assignment was to determine the adaptability of cattle to the Alaska climate.

Milton and Margaret's family grew quickly; they had five children between 1909 and 1917.

1. John Roland ("Rollie") Snodgrass 1909-1983 (born in Oregon) married Alice Sachiko Mikami.                                                      Occupation: Dairy Farmer and former State Direcotr of Agriculture.           
                                  1 son named Jack Snodgrass

2. William B. Snodgrass 1911-1987 (born Alaska)

3. Agnes "Aggie" Isabel Snodgrass 1912-1986 (born Kansas) married Johnny Reed
                                    Owned Reed Hardware
                                    Children: John, Margaret Ann and Sally Jean

4. Margaret  E. "Maggie" Snodgrass 1915-1993 (born Alaska) married Ray H. "Mac" McCartney                                                          Owned Mac's Plumbing and Heating
                                    Children: Michael, Robert, Sharon, Karen and Jackie

5. Mary Snodgrass 1917-1992 (born Alaska)  married (Raymond Verrall) (? Hale)  
                                                             (5 children)

In 1910, Margaret Jane Snodgrass' brother (John Minis) joined the Snodgrass family in Kodiak and taught school at the Baptist Mission (orphanage) on Wood Island.

In 1912, Mt. Katmai volcano erupted and the Experimental Station in Kodiak, was covered with an 18" blanket of volcanic ash. The ash destroyed the stations pastures, leaving nothing for the livestock to eat, so the cattle (70 pure bread Galloway's) were shipped to Washington where Milton Snodgrass cared for them for 2 years. By 1914, the pastures had recovered and the cattle were sent back to the 
Kodiak Live Stock and Breeding Station.

In the spring of 1917, Milton Snodgrass was sent to the Matanuska Valley to choose a good location for the next Experimental Station. He decided on 240 acres in Section 15, Township 17 North, Range 1 East, Seward Meridian for the Experimental Stations base of operations. His report that year said he chose this location due to its proximity to the railroad and its good soil.

Snodgrass was transferred to the Fairbanks Experimental Station in 1917; a position he would keep until his resignation on 6/30/1921.

In 1920, Milton Snodgrass was listed twice on the U.S. Census. The first time he was living on Ester Road out of Fairbanks with his widowed mother Sarah E. Snodgrass. His occupation was listed as Superintendent of U.S. Agricultural Experiment Station.  The second time he was on the 1920 U.S. Census, he was living on Fifth Street in the City of Fairbanks, with wife Margaret and their five children (same occupation).

The 6/17/1921 issue of the Fairbanks Weekly News Miner published the following:
"Mrs. A.I. Minis, mother of Mrs. M.D. Snodgrass, left for her home in the States this morning after a [year long] visit here."

On 6/30/1921, Milton transferred from the Fairbanks Experimental Station to the Matanuska Experimental Station, a position he held until 1929.  On 4/1/1929 he started working as the Alaska Railroad settlement agent; an effort to attract homesteaders to the Alaska Railroad service area. He also served as an Alaska State Senator from 1922-1925.

In 1930, Milton and Margaret moved back to Kansas for a while. On the 1930 U.S. Census, the family was living back on Leavenworth Street in Manhattan City, Kansas with their five children; Milton's occupation was listed as steam railroad agent.

Margaret Snodgrass' sister Jessie Isabel Minis moved around quite a bit. In 1910, she was living in Maryland and the census reported that she was a nurse who owned her own practice. In 1920, she was living in Utah and (according to the census) she was running a boarding house and raising her 3½ year old nephew John (who was born in Utah). According to the 1930 U.S. Census, Jessie was a cook at Matanuska Village and had a 13 year old SON named John R. Minis.

On the 1940 U.S. Census, Milton and Margaret were living on the Experimental Farm Road in the Matanuska Valley; Milton's occupation was listed as farmer, and from 1953 to 1954 he was a member of the Territorial House of Representatives.


Milton David "M.D." Snodgrass' obituary says he was born 3/14/1876 in Indiana and came to Alaska in 1907, but was in Wasilla as early as 1917 mapping ranches for the government. It goes on to say he founded the Matanuska Experimental Station on Trunk Road and was instrumental in organizing the ARR Farming Colony effort in 1929 and the U.S. Government's 1935 Matanuska Colonists. He died in 1967.

Margaret Jane (Minis) Snodgrass' obituary says she was born 6/5/1874 in Hartford, Connecticut and died 11/16/1972 in Palmer, Alaska. It goes on to say the family came to Alaska in 1907 and lived in Kodiak, Seward and Fairbanks before settling in the Matanuska Valley for the rest of their lives. She leaves two sons, Roland Snodgrass of Palmer and William B. Snodgrass of Gold Beach, Oregon and three daughters, Mrs. Agnes Reed, Mrs. Margaret McCartney and Mrs. Mary Hale, all of Palmer. She also leaves 14 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.  

Milton and Margaret are both buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Palmer, Alaska.


NOTE:  I found Margaret Jane Snodgrass' maiden name spelled Minis AND Minnis.   Her father, mother and brothers grave stones spell it Minis, but her father's military records spell it Minnis.

Protected by Copyscape Duplicate Content Protection Tool


[email protected]