Recollections About John Claiborne SNEAD

My Father By Roscoe Enoch Snead

John Claiborne SNEAD About 1924
John Claiborne SNEAD
About 1924

In 1925, Roscoe E Snead was fifteen years old when John C SNEAD was laid to rest.

I happened across a letter written December 11th 1977 by my Great Uncle Roscoe Snead, the last surviving son of John Claiborne Snead. 

The words written within are Roscoe Snead’s words about his father

There are no changes, omissions or additions to this manuscript.

W.H. SNEAD  Blog Author


First-My father did not use profanity!

I recall that I never heard him (to my age 15) use a bad word and I asked Luther (Alford). Luther said that he never heard one nor heard (from anyone else)about him doing it neither did we ever hear of him low – rating anybody – with perhaps some exception of neighbors who didn’t like to work – and who didn’t take care of tools, livestock and horses/mules.

  Next – Although it hasn’t been completely checked out it is said that he did not belong to a church. Well my comment is “the Church must have belonged to him.”

One of my most vivid of my recollections is of my going with him to the County Line Primitive (Hard-shell) Baptist on Sat & Sun (AM)at the once a month meetings (They wouldn’t let me, at 5 to 10 years old, join in but I did sit there on the front bench with him as he took part during that foot washing part of the service). I also remember about the singing – the preacher – or Elder – would read a line then all would sing it.

It was later said that I went with him because I was afraid of the organ at my mother’s regular Baptist church nearby.

I “Dunno”? I suspect that perhaps I was a “Daddy’s boy” ?? Anyway we really went to church . – The Mason girls told me some time ago that it was common knowledge that Claiborne would leave his needed Saturday plowing to regularly go to church —-I never saw him work a lick on Sunday – except to care for the “stock and Chickens” – Oh yes my mother, Syrena, went to her church regularly too.

I never heard whether Amanda Smith was active or not.

 Now if a drink a day is an alcoholic my daddy was one!

I clearly remember that after his day of work in the field or his blacksmith or wood shop he would reach way up on top of the 8’ tall hall wardrobe and get down a gallon jug of the best whiskey he could afford and made himself what he called his toddy.

While I do not recall the method of drinking, etc. (sometimes he stirred an egg into it) I don’t believe he took it to his chair and certainly not to the eating table. I never saw him take more than the one – and never on Sunday.

After prohibition (The Volstead Act) come along – or may Georgia became dry – we went to the Stone Mountain Rail Express office periodically to pick up a gallon of Four Roses he had ordered from Kentucky.  

Later, his son-in-laws Herman Mitchell and Tom Puckett, would find the best “bootleg” they could for him (Now Tom Puckett became a Moonshiner himself before Claiborne died – I’ve some more stories about Tom Puckett’s nocturnal endeavors but I won’t recall them here–)

The whole business as far as my daddy was concerned seems to me to be the current comic paper character Snuffy Smith who believes that making and drinking “likker” – (and stealing chickens) aint against the law.

Also as excuse, and by rationalization, my father took the daily whiskey on instruction from his doctor – John Smith – He also took strychnine pills sometimes – he had some kind of a heart problem – and at least neither the alcohol nor heart was cause of death.

 One more item here about “the old man” as a “sot”!

He once told me that he was intoxicated twice during his life. Whether I just don’t remember or whether he told me about one of those I don’t know.

He did laughingly tell me about the time, when he was operating his wood shop principally building furniture.(the shop was on gin creek 1/2 south of later Deshong’s store and then I believe Wallace’s (government) distillery-

A friend fresh from Wallace’s came along with a jug of new, but apparently potent Peach Brandy – as alcoholics & drunkards do – they sat down in the late afternoon to imbibe and to talk – and as per the book – not meaning to drink too much – But, as my daddy told me he found out that he couldn’t navigate the 1/2 mile home when he started – or maybe he was afraid of the wrath of Amanda – he lay down on a pile of his wood shavings at the road side –

Then to his amazement it was about daylight the next morning when he opened his eyes.

He said he arose dusted himself off and went on home – fed the livestock, went in and built a fire in the cook stove, shortly which Amanda got up and came to the kitchen – neither he nor Amanda mentioned his night’s absence and both went along with that day’s activities. (I’m sure he satisfactorily explained it later.)

Some fresh info about Henry Ponder Snead comes from Luther F Alford (stepson of Claiborne) – -In the date range of 1907 or 1908 (plus or minus) Luther hired out to Henry for a year (crop season) for the sum of $100 and “keep”.

Henry then had a blacksmith shop on the road from Deshong’s store to the Mountain and in addition he did some “patch” farming nearby—It would be easily assumed that both of those activities were on the Wallace place – or perhaps little of it rented from the Leverett’s – Luther recollection is that the employer and employee were satisfied with the outcome. Luther did comment that Henry was a fine man. He respected him more than the other brothers.

 Note: S___ will have to correlate the above info with that she receives from Myrt Mitchell – Luther wasn’t clear about dates except saying he was about 16 years old – The best I can tell it will work out OK—–

( Note 2) Conversation with S___12/11/77 indicator that both info re location of Henry’s shop may be correct. He could have started where Claiborne had his wood shop because it was on a 3 acre tract of owned by Simeon Smith – and he later moved over to a place on the road to the mountain (and the Wallace place)

Now Gordon, please try to make inquiry of a Wallace connection and ascertain some info about “Topsy” who was a faithful black woman who was nursemaid to me and many other (Wallace) neighborhood children of 1910+ or – vintage. Can’t write anymore now- so do have (the whole clan) a good Christmas – and everybody come again to see me.

We had a fine day today.

                                                                                    Roscoe 12/11/77


In your research, look for letters from family members.

Letters gave a personal touch about where to look for hints.

One of those hints can solve a riddle,answer a research question or find out more about a family connection.

Just a thought.

Thanks for Reading.

If you should have any questions about this blogpost or just want to say “Hi!” you can reach me at my Contactpage or via E-mail at

Stay Well! William

 Blog Author

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