Josiah Snelling

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Josiah Snelling (1782-1829) - born in 1782/3, Boston, Massachusetts, died in Washington, D. C., 20 Aug 1829.

After his first wife died in 1810, he left his son in the care of relatives and dedicated himself to the military. He was rewarded with a commission as a captain at Fort Detroit in August of 1812.

Shortly after his arrival there he married his second wife, Abigail Hunt. Just days after that, he became a prisoner of war when the fort surrendered during the War of 1812. He was paroled by the British and served the next two years in a noncombatant role. Even while not fighting Snelling advanced quickly through the ranks, becoming first a major, then a lieutenant colonel, and finally a brevet colonel on 12 Apr 1814.

Col. Snelling on 1 Jun 1819, was ordered to the confluence of the Mississippi and the Minnesota rivers to begin construction of a fort which he completed in 1824. He gave it the name of Fort St. Anthony, which was changed by General Winfield Scott to Fort Snelling in honor of its builder and commander. He served there until his death in the late 1820s.




  • Unknown (-1810)
  • Abigail Hunt (abt 1798-) married 1813, Fort Detroit


  • William Joseph Snelling (1804-1848) born in Boston, Massachusetts, 26 Dec 1804; died in Chelsea, Massachusetts, 24 Dec, 1848
  • Henry Hunt Snelling (1817-) born in Plattsburg, New York, 8 November, 1817


  • () He joined a rifle company in the war with Tecumseh,
  • (1808) commissioned Lt., Fourth Infantry
  • (1809) Capt. (Jun 1809)
  • (1811) served with credit at Tippecanoe, 7 Nov 1811
  • (1812) Maj. (9 Aug 1812) brevetted major for services at Brownstown
  • (1813) assistant inspector-general on 25 Apr, 1813
  • (1814) Lt. Col. (21 Feb 1814), Fourth rifles
  • (1814) Col. (12 Apr 1814), inspector-general
  • (1815) Lt. Col., Sixth Infantry
  • (1819) Col. (1 Jun 1819), Fifth Infantry

Personal Description: Height: Build: Hair Color: Eye Color:



  • "A Newly Discovered Diary of Colonel Josiah Snelling," by Helen Dunlap Dick. In Minnesota History, vol. 18, no. 4 (Dec. 1937): pp. 399-406. MHS call number: Reading Room F601.5 .M66 v.18.
  • "Abigail Snelling: Military Wife, Military Widow," by Janis Obst. In Minnesota History, vol. 54, no. 3 (fall 1994): pp. 98-111. MHS call number: Reading Room F601.5 .M66 v.54:3.
  • Snelling: Minnesota's First First Family, by Barbara K. Luecke and John C. Luecke. Eagan, Minn.: Grenadier Publications, 1993. MHS call number: F605.1.S667 L83 1993
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