Edwin Snow was the youngest son of Joseph Snow, the self-made man whose numerous children populated what became known as Snowville. Like his father, who built a gristmill and sawmill on Snow Brook to augment his farm income, Edwin was an inveterate wheeler-dealer who was eternally on the lookout for another means of earning money.
As the youngest of the boys, Edwin may have enjoyed a little favoritism. Around 1850, his father sent him to the Parsonsfield Seminary for a formal secondary education. He was not yet 20 when, in 1856, he and some of his older brothers opened a store on the road from Eaton Center to Brownfield. Barely a week after his 21st birthday he married 15-year-old Helen Maria Perkins, and by the age of 23 he had bought out his brothers’ interest in the store. Through advantageous trading he accumulated hundreds of acres of land and dealt heavily in livestock. Eventually, he took over and expanded his father’s sawmill, making shingles and barrel staves and shooks, as well as dimension lumber and boards.
At 27, Edwin was elected to a seat on Eaton’s board of selectmen and held the post for a dozen years, serving as chairman for all but the first two years. Later, he spent eight years in the state Legislature, capping his political career by winning a term in the state Senate in 1891. He was a Democrat, and that party affiliation may have been common in the Snow family, because none of the five Snow males who were of military age during the Civil War ever enlisted.
Edwin built a big house for himself — or perhaps had his carpenter-brothers build it — just up the hill from the store where he made his start. He was a frugal man, of course, and avoided frills. He spared no expense for his only son, sending him to Fryeburg Academy and Dartmouth, but his home remained plain and unadorned.
Then, in November of 1902, 14 years after his wife died, he married again. The very next spring, carpenters added an ornate piazza to the front of the house, the completion of which may have been the occasion for the party depicted on the circa-1903 postcard image here. The “Snow House” sign would imply that he had started taking in summer boarders, but even in old age Edwin never needed money that badly. With Snows on all sides of him (his brother John’s house stands in the rear of the photo) it might seem a little presumptuous to identify his home as “the” Snow house, but that little affectation may also have been meant to please the new Mrs. Snow.
Edwin Snow died on February 15, 1907, having reached his allotted threescore and ten. The house burned down in the middle of December 1940, but the barn was saved, and appears to have been converted into a home, the driveway to which now passes over the site of the house.