Ms. Margaret Coone Snowden was born enslaved in Maryland on June 3, 1809. She and her mother, Elizabeth Coone, were enslaved by Mrs. Regina Grandadam. Mrs. Grandadam was a wealthy widow of German or Swiss descent.
When their enslaver died, both the younger Ms. Coone (called Peggy) and her mother were freed through her will. Her father is unknown.
Ms. Coone never learned to read or write. Although not strictly illegal in Maryland, the teaching of enslaved people was discouraged. Even though she was denied an education, Ms. Coone had a very strong memory and good natural ability, particularly with numbers. In addition to English, she spoke both German and Pennsylvania Dutch fluently.
In the spring of 1831 (May 15th), Ms. Coone married a local minister, the Reverend John Baptist Snowden. Together they had 14 children. Four children died young, another two died as teenagers, leaving eight (8) children who lived into adulthood.
Mrs. Margaret Snowden made clothes for her large family from scratch. In the mid-19th century, she would need to plow the ground, sow the seed, pull the flax, thresh it, put it out, break it, spin it, weave the cloth and then sewed the clothes.
Their German neighbors delighted in speaking with her. She often traveled to Baltimore, selling and buying goods for herself and her neighbors.
In his autobiography, her husband described her as a woman of “much force of character and real worth.”
Mrs. Snowden passed away on February 14th in 1870. She is buried with many family members at Ellsworth Cemetery just outside of Westminster, Maryland.
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