Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.] p. 907-909 transcribed on May 8, 2001.


William D. Snell

WILLIAM D. SNELL. - Within the pages of this work will be found represented many of the leading members of the Wyandotte county bar, and it will be noted by reference to the various individual sketches that on the roster are names of those who have been contributed by many of the older commonwealths of the Union. The well known attorney and counselor whose name initiates this article and who is engaged in the successful practice of his profession in Kansas City, the metropolis of the county, claims the fine old Empire state as the place of his nativity, and through his character and services he has honored both that commonwealth and the state of his adoption. He is essentially one of the representative members of his profession in Wyandotte county and thus it is specially consonant that in this publication be entered a brief review of his career.

William Duncan Snell was born in the village of Volney, Oswego county, New York, on the 23rd of January, 1863, and is a son of Orville H. and Betsy (Ball) Snell, both of whom were likewise born and reared in New York state, where the respective families were founded in the pioneer days. The lineage of the Snell family is traced back to the staunchest of Holland Dutch stock and representatives of the same were found numbered among the original Knickerbocker settlers in New Amsterdam, the nucleus of the great national metropolis. Orville H. Snell is a cooper by trade and he followed this vocation for many years. He is now living retired at Volney, New York, at the venerable age of eighty-one years, and the gracious evening of his life is idealized by the companionship of his cherished and devoted wife, who has passed down the pathway of life by his side and proved to him a veritable helpmeet, as well as a devoted mother. Both have been residents of the Empire state from the time of their nativity to the present and both are held in affectionate regard by all who have come within the compass of their kindly influence. To them were born five sons and two daughters, and of the number four sons and one daughter are now living, the subject of this review having been the third in order of birth. Orville H. Snell gave distinctive evidence of his patriotism by his valiant service as a soldier of the Union in the Civil war. He served two years, as a member of a New York regiment, and he has perpeuated[sic] the more gracious memories of that period of his career through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic. He has ever been a staunch advocate of the principles and policies of the Democratic party but has had no desire for the honors or emoluments of public office, though ever mindful of all civic duties and responsibilities. Both he and his wife are zealous members of the Universalist church.

William D. Snell duly availed himself of the advantages of the public schools of his native town and supplemented this by a course in the Falley Seminary, at Fulton, New York. In 1880, when seventeen years of age, he engaged in teaching in the schools of his native state, and he thus continued to be successfully identified with the pedagogic profession for a period of three years. He then, in 1883, came to Kansas and located in Jefferson county, where he continued as a successful and popular teacher in the public schools until 1890, when he was elected county superintendent of schools, of which office he continued incumbent for two terms, of two years each, he having been re-elected in 1892 - a definite assurance of his efficient work and the popular appreciation thereof. Upon retiring from this position Mr. Snell was matriculated in the law department of the University of Kansas, at Lawrence, where he completed a two years' course and was graduated as a member of the class of 1896, duly receiving his well earned degree of Bachelor of Laws. Prior to entering the university he had prosecuted the study of law under effective private preceptorship and he was admitted to practice in the courts of Jefferson county in 1895. After his graduation Mr. Snell came to Kansas City, and here he has been continuously engaged in the practice of his chosen profession since the summer of 1896. His well matured technical powers and strong intellectuality have been fortified by close application and the result is that he now controls a large and substantial clientage of representative order. As a trial lawyer he is resourceful and versatile, and he has won many noteworthy victories in connection with important litigations in both the state and federal courts of Kansas. He has a deep appreciation of the dignity and responsibility of his profession and is a close observer of its unwritten ethical code, the while his personal integrity and insistent honesty of purpose are beyond cavil.

Reared in the faith of the Democratic party and strongly reinforced in his convictions as to matters and systems of public polity, he has never wavered in his allegiance to the organic principles of his party, in behalf of whose cause he has given yeoman service. He has been a valued campaign speaker and has been an influential factor in party councils in the Sunflower state. He was appointed auditor of Wyandotte county in 1909, for a term of two years, and he has given a most excellent administration of this important office, to which he was reappointed in the spring of 1911, for a second term of the same duration. Mr. Snell has completed the circles of both York and Scottish Rite Masonry, in the latter of which he has attained to the thirty-second degree, and he is also affiliated with the Knights of Pythias.

In the year 1895 was recorded the marriage of Mr. Snell to Miss Alta I. Wade, daughter of James E. Wade, a representative citizen of Elroy, Wisconsin.



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