131 Craven and the Snowden Family

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Note imbricated shingles
within steep pointed gables.
J.P. DILL HOUSE circa 1895 (plaque)
The house would be more accurately plaqued the "Dill-Snowden House," for builder Joseph P. Dill, who lived here for two years, and for the Snowden residents who called this home for about 60 years.

The 1997 Ruth Little Survey of Beaufort described the house: 2½ -story Gothic Revival with steep pointed front gable; side gables treated with imbricated siding and 2/2 sash. House has plain siding, side bay window and ornate porch with chamfered posts and brackets. This is a rare example of this style in Beaufort.


In May 1893, mariner Joseph P. Dill (1846-1895) purchased this lot from Mary and Henrietta Roberson. Three years earlier, Joseph, son of Samuel Leffers Dill and Elizabeth Ann Roberson, married Jennie McRacken in Smithville, NC; they had one child, Sophia. Joseph died in 1895. Widow Jennie married widower Benjamin J. Bell in 1906 and lived at 306 Ann Street. In 1919, Jennie and daughter Sophia Dill Merwin sold this house to Macon and Helon Snowden.

Macon S. Snowden 1879-1935
Macon St. Clair Snowden Sr. (1879-1935) was born in Currituck, NC to Walter D. Snowden and Caroline Brabble. In 1909, 30-year-old Macon eloped with 18-year-old Helon Palmer McPherson (1891-1982); they were married at a hotel in Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County, NC. The couple first lived with the McPherson family in Portsmouth, Virginia, where Macon captained a steam boat. By 1911 they were in Wildwood, Carteret County, when son Ernest Maynard Snowden was born.
Originally captain of a merchant ship, Macon owned and operated a hog and sweet potato farm in rural Beaufort. The 1930 Beaufort census found Macon Snowden Sr. 51, Helon 39 and 6-year-old Macon Jr. After Macon died from a heart attack in 1935, at 56, he left 44-year-old widow Helon and 11-year-old Macon Jr; son Ernest had already graduated from the US Naval Academy. 

Ernest M. Snowden
1911-1975
Helon worked hard and saved every dime. She made ends meet by doing dress-shop alternations and renting the upstairs; she installed the 2nd front door and blocked off the stairway for access. Helon continued to run the farm and ship sweet potatoes by train, documented in newspaper articles as the first North Carolina woman to ship farm goods. 

Sons, Admiral Ernest Maynard "Ernie" Snowden (1911-1975) and Captain Macon St. Clair "Mac" Snowden II (1923-1995), were both Navy pilots, graduates of the US Naval Academy.

Ernest Mayard Snowden was born in 1911 in Wildwood, Carteret County, just west of Morehead City. He was 8 years old when the family purchased the Craven Street house. He attended Beaufort High School and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1932. Admiral Ernest Snowden married Lois Arnold, the daughter of Five-Star General "Hap" Arnold. "Ernie" Snowden retired as a US Navy Rear Admiral. He received numerous awards for his service during WWII, including the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.

Capt. Macon Snowden
1923-1995
Capt. Macon St. Clair "Mac" Snowden (1923-1995) was born in the south corner second-floor bedroom of the Craven Street house. He graduated from Beaufort High School. At 18, "Mac" was unemployed and living at 131 Craven with his mother when he registered for the draft in 1941. He followed in his brother's footsteps, becoming a member of the US Naval Academy Class of 1946. Macon married Velvie Evelyn Grass (1922-1992). Designated a naval aviator in 1948, Capt. Macon served Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron 91, embarked on USS Ranger - the squadron won the Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency Award. He was a graduate of the US Naval Pilot School, the Armed Forces Staff College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and received a Master of Science Degree from George Washington University. He held the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Navy Commendation Medal. From 1971-72 he was commander of USS Guadacanal and afterwards assumed duty as head of Aviation Plans Branch in the Office of Chief Naval Operations. Capt.Snowden was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

About 1952
This was home to Helon Snowden for about 60 years. Sadly, in her 80s she suffered from dementia. In her later years, neighbors observed 6'5" Helon daily "raking" the Ann Street Methodist Church parking lot across the street. She was also seen on the rooftop of the house doing repairs. Eventually, her tenants took advantage of her, not paying rent, coming into her home to make long distant phone calls, while also taking many of her antiques. Helon was finally placed in a nursing home in northern Virginia. She was buried in Ocean View Cemetery, Beaufort, next to husband Macon St. Clair Snowden.

Helon and Macon Snowden in the back yard of the Craven Street house
Helon and son Macon
Macon Snowden in back row