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Snow Hill, Maryland

Treasure of the Eastern Shore 

Judy Johnson, first African American to be admitted to Baseball Hall of Fame

 

Famous Natives and
Residents of Snow Hill

The Town of Snow Hill has to its credit several well-known natives and residents that made life-time contributions that won them a place in recorded history.

Probably the most famous was William Julius Johnson - aka "Judy" Johnson, who was the first African American to be admitted to Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Though Johnson did not remain in Snow Hill, he was born in the area and members of his family still reside in Snow Hill and Worcester County.

Read more about Judy Johnson.

 

 

Other Famous Natives and Residents of Snow Hill

Francis Makemie: (1658 - 1708)  Born in County Donegal, Ireland, became a clergyman and considered to be the founder of Presbyterianism in America.  He was ordained in Scotland in 1682 and sent as a missionary to America arriving in Maryland in 1683.  Makemie founded the first Presbyterian community in the Town of Snow Hill.  The Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church in Snow Hill, rests on the site of the original communities worship area.  Makemie also built a church in Rehobeth, MD (Somerset County) which still stands today as the oldest Presbyterian Church in America.  Makemie eventually went to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and founded a community there, where he died in 1708.

Ephraim King Wilson:  (1771 - 1834) Congressional Representative for the State of Maryland, he was born near Snow Hill on September 15, 1771. Graduated from Princeton College in 1790, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1792.  He opened a practice in Snow Hill and was elected to the Twentieth Congress and reelected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-first Congress.  He resumed his law practice in Snow Hill after a failed nomination to the Twenty-second Congress and continued his practice until his death in Snow Hill on January 2, 1834.  He is buried in the churchyard of Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church.  (He was also the father of Ephraim King Wilson II)

John Rankin Franklin: (1820- 1878)  Congressional Representative for the State of Maryland .  Born in Worcester County, graduated from Jefferson College in 1836.  He then studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1841 and opened practice in Snow Hill, Md.  he was a member of the State house of delegates 1840-1843, and served as speaker one term, then was president of the State board of public works in 1851.  He was elected as a Whig to the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1853-March 3, 1855); again a member of the State house of delegates in 1859.  Franklin was a  judge of the first judicial circuit of Maryland from 1867 until his death in Snow Hill on January 11, 1878.  He is buried in the churchyard of Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Ephraim King Wilson II:  (1821 - 1891) Son of Ephraim King Wilson I.  He was a Congressional Representative and a Senator from Maryland.  Born in Snow Hill on December 22, 1821, he attended Union Academy at Snow Hill and Washington Academy in Princess Anne, MD.  He graduated from Jefferson College in 1840 and taught school for six years.  He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1848 and began a practice in Snow Hill.  He was a member of the State house of delegates in 1847 and presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1852.  Because of ill health he abandoned his law practice in 1867 and retired to his farm. In 1868 he was the examiner and treasurer of the school board of Worcester County and was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-third Congress in 1873.  He declined to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1874.  He was a judge of the first judicial circuit of Maryland from 1878-1884 and elected as a Democrat in 1884  to the United States Senate serving from March 4, 1885 until his death in February 24, 1891. He was also the adoptive father of future Governor of Maryland, John Walter Smith.  He is buried in the churchyard of Makemie Presbyterian Church in Snow Hill. 

George W. Purnell:  (1841 - 1899) Lawyer and soldier of the Civil War, Purnell left his class at Princeton University at age 20 when the Civil War broke out.  He joined the Confederate Army and was quickly promoted to Adjutant under General Lee.  He fought with the South for 3 years until he was taken prisoner.  After Lee's surrender, Purnell refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Union and was held a prisoner until June of 1865 when he was released by pardon.  Returning to his native home in Snow Hill after the war, Purnell became a lawyer of note.  He died in May of 1899  at the age of 58 years and is buried in the churchyard of All Hallow's Episcopal Church in Snow Hill.

Julia A. Purnell: (1843-1943)  Born in Snow Hill as Julia Anne Lecompte, Julia Purnell married a storekeeper and had two sons. At 85 years of age she took a fall and became confined to a wheelchair.  It was during her confinement that she began creating needlework pictures of Snow Hill and Worcester County historical buildings.  She became well-known both locally and nationally for her fine craftsmanship in needlework.  In 1942 Julia and her son, William founded the Julia A. Purnell Museum in Snow Hill, which housed many of Julia's needlework pieces, the tools she used and bits of memorabilia she had collected throughout her life. She died in 1943 two months after her 100th birthday.  Her son William continued her legacy by advancing the museum, which thrives today as the Julia A. Purnell Museum.  It is located on Market Street in Snow Hill and houses artifacts that interpret the history of the town from early civilization to the present day.

Governor John Walter Smith:  (1845 - 1925) Congressional Representative and Senator from Maryland, he was born in Snow Hill February 5 1845 and was the adoptive son of Ephraim King Wilson II - also of Snow Hill.  Governor Smith attended private schools and the Union Academy in Snow Hill.  Later he engaged in the lumber business in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.  John Walter Smith was the president of the First National Bank of Snow Hill and director in many business and financial institutions.  He was elected to the State senate in 1889, 1893, and 1897.  He served as president in 1894 and was then elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-six Congress serving from March 4, 1899 until his resignation on January 12, 1900 when he was elected and served one term as Governor of the State of Maryland.  He served as a Democrat to the United States Senate from 1908 to 1921.  Governor Smith was a shrewd businessman and wealthy landowner with several farms throughout the Eastern Shore.  He built a stately home on Church Street in Snow Hill - now often referred to as "The Governor's Mansion".  Governor Smith retired to private life and died on April 19, 1925.  He is buried in the churchyard of Makemie Presbyterian Church in Snow Hill.

 

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