17 Dec 2021, 23 Jul 2023

We found very little information on J. Snell. He was not listed in the Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory. The only records we found were co-partnership notices. On 29 May 1876, Joseph Snell and Frank Giessen dissolved their partnership (1), and then Snell formed a partnership with Margaret Giessen, "for the purpose of manufacturing and selling Mineral Water, Root Beer and Soda Water..." (2). Three months later, on 01 Sep 1876, he dissolved the partnership with Mrs. M. Giessen, and continued the business on his own (9).

Newspaper notice - <i>The Portage Lake Mining Gazette</i>, 01 Jun 1876
Newspaper notice - Jun 1876
Newspaper notice - <i>Northwestern Mining Journal</i>, 27 Sep 1876
Newspaper notice - Sep 1876

The bottle embossing feature only Snell's name, so it may have been purchased after dissolving the partnerships with the Giessons. Or maybe the bottle was ordered during one of the partnerships, but he neglected to include his partner's name on the bottle. He was not listed in the 1875 nor 1877 volumes of the Michigan State directories (3,4), so his business was probably very short-lived, which having only one, extremely rare bottle also suggests.

The notices revealed Snell's first name, but the only Joseph Snell we could find for Hancock was an agent of the Hancock Mine during 1866-1874 (5). It is unconfirmed if this was the same person. Coincidently though, his middle name (7) and his mother's maidan name (8) were Northey, and he was from Cornwall, England (5), similar to Matthew Northey, the bottler in Houghton, but we could not find a direct family relation. Frank Giessen was listed as "clerk in store" on the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, with Margaret being his wife (6).


  1. anonymous. (1876, Jun 01). Dissolution of Co-partnership. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  2. anonymous. (1876, Jun 01). Notice. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  3. R. L. Polk & Co. 1875. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1875. The Tribune Printing Company. Detroit, MI.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1877. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1877. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  5. anonymous. 1883. History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Western Historical Company. Chicago, IL.
  6. U.S. Census Bureau. 1870 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  7. England, Select Births and Christening, 1538-1975 (accessed on ancestry.com).
  8. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
  9. anonymous. (1876, Sep 27). Dissolution. Northwestern Mining Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 3.

J. Snell bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: blob top - applied
maker's mark: A & D. H. C (back heel)
other marks: J S (base)
date: c.1876
rarity: extremely rare