Saturday, December 3, 2016

William Sayer Snook (1826-1911): Oakland City Councilman; Vigilance Committee member

William Snook (Oakland Tribune) and gravesite
PLOT 12

William Sayer Snook was a pioneer businessman, who also represented the First Ward on the Oakland City Council and was an inaugural member of the Board of Education.

He was born in New York City to a father who was a contractor and builder. He arrived in San Franciso on July 1, 1849 aboard the Tahmaroo with his brother George. The two promptly pitched a tent at Kearney & Washington and, instead of heading to the gold country, they went to work. They both eventually went in to the plumbing and gas fitting business. He also became an active member of the Vigilance Committee that maintained law and order in a city riddled with rampant crime and corruption.

In 1854, he married the former Helen Laughan and they had 11 children together. Two of his sons followed him into the plumbing trade. His son Charles founded the law firm Snook & Church in Oakland and served as District Attorney from 1892-1894.

In 1855, he moved to Oakland, where he was appointed to the newly created Board of Education. He was subsequently elected to the office, which began his political career as a Republican office holder. He was instrumental in building the first school house just west of Market Street.

In 1869, he was elected to represent the First Ward on the Oakland City Council, where he served until 1875. He served on the Council with a number of prominent men buried at Mountain View Cemetery, including Nathaniel Spaulding, Enoch Pardee, Benjamin Ferris, Mack Webber and James Larue. 

His brother George Snook committed suicide in 1901 by filling his pockets with rocks and jumping into the bay. William Snook died of pneumonia at his Berkeley home at age 85.

Sources; Oakland Wiki, Oakland Tribune, Alameda District Attorney's Office, San Francisco Call

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