507 East Pierce Street – Judge Samuel B. Snyder

by | Historic Homes

Judge Samuel B. Snyder established the first juvenile court in Iowa, holding sessions on Saturday. He considered this his most important work. His story is taken from his obituary, published January 1, 1950 in the Daily Nonpareil.

Judge Snyder, one of the oldest attorneys in Iowa, died at his home at 507 East Pierce Street. He was 95 years of age. He came to Council Bluffs 62 years ago to practice law. He was city attorney for four years and for 12 years was judge of the old superior court. It was during this period that he established the juvenile court.

He was born in 1854 at Slippery Rock, PA, one of thirteen children. Educated at Grove City College near his home, he later studied law in an office at Butler, PA.


He was district attorney at Butler in 1882 and 1883. He married Mary McGlaughlan of McKeesport, PA, in 1885. She died in 1945, just a month after celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

They came to Council Bluffs in 1887 “when things were tough going” to practice law. He was city attorney from 1906 to 1910 and judge of the superior court until about 1922. He retired from the law practice in 1929.

Judge and Mrs. Snyder spent the ensuing 11 years traveling. “I have been every place in this country”, he once said.

His hobby was fishing. He “loved to fish, whether I caught anything or not.” In 1931, while visiting at Corpus Christi, TX, he caught a fish that weighed half as much as he did and then went out and repeated the act.

During his lifetime in Council Bluffs he had lived in but two homes. The first was at 311 East Pierce Street. Since 1896 he had lived at 507 East Pierce Street. According to the 1950 obituary, “The house is over 100 years old, having been built by a Mormon elder.”

Judge Snyder was the oldest member of the Pottawattamie County Bar Association and was an elder in the First Presbyterian church for more than half a century.

The Snyders are buried in Fairview Cemetery. They had two sons and one daughter.

In addition, not included in the obituary: Judge Snyder’s brother, Dr. M.B. Snyder, also came to Council Bluffs in 1887. Dr. Snyder married Susan McGlaughlin of Pittsburgh. They entered the medical college of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduated in 1887, and began their practice of medicine in Council Bluffs. They practiced together for 28 years at 121 South Seventh Street.

Dr. Snyder was the 39th mayor of Council Bluffs (1914 to 1918), served on the school board and as a trustee for the First Congregational Church. Drs. M. B. and Susan Snyder are buried in Fairview Cemetery.

Source Material

Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research.

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