The Snow Brothers

Mob destroys pro-south Bloomington Times newspaper

Snow Brothers’ Office

216 N. Center St., Bloomington

Location notes: The building no longer stands. The Snow Brothers newspaper office was in this block on 200 North Center Street.

Originally from Maryland, brothers Benjamin and Joseph Snow arrived in Bloomington in the early 1850s, where they enjoyed professional success and social respectability. By 1855, if not earlier, the Snow brothers began publishing The Bloomington Times, and for the next seven or so years they excelled in the art of printed provocation. The Times was a rabidly pro-southern, anti-Lincoln, anti-war weekly paper.

The Times was against the U.S. Civil War, calling it an unnecessary, unconstitutional war which was the result of “wicked and persistent assaults” by radical Republicans “upon the rights and property of their fellow citizens of the South,” The Pantagraph condemned such statements, declaring The Times “fairly reeks with evidences of its editor’s warm sympathy with treason.”

After financial troubles led The Times into foreclosure, it was up and running again in 1862, though not for long. On August 20, 1862, the 94th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry organized on the McLean County Courthouse Square in downtown Bloomington, a ceremony and celebration capped by nearly 1,000 men taking the oath of allegiance.

With martial passions at their height, a squad of soldiers escorted the Snow brothers from their office, placed them on boxes on the Courthouse Square and forced them to take an oath of allegiance to the Union. As the two Snows departed the scene, one of them was said to have remarked that an oath given under duress is no oath at all. This statement infuriated the new soldiers and their rowdy (and assuredly inebriated) friends in the crowd. “A rush was made upon the Times office, the contents thrown into the street and burned.” The mob, according to one account, removed everything “from the coal shovel to the press, not leaving in the office a single piece of property.”

The Snows were successfully run out of town, but soon set up shop in Paris, Illinois. That newspaper also proved unpalatable to the local populace, and another mob sent them on their way. They finally settled in St. Louis, leaving the newspaper business for the quieter realms of real estate and farming.

For additional U.S. Civil War stops, visit Jesse Fell & Abraham Lincoln and Anti Slavery Speech. Or use our map feature to customize your personal Social Justice Walking Tour through downtown Bloomington.