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"The Land of Healthful Delight": Highlights from the Rod and Susan Wilson collection of Rochester History

John James Snook, Rochester’s poet laureate

Portrait of John J. Snook, frontispiece of his book “New Poems and Glad Outings”, 1907

John James (J. J.) Snook was born in 1842, the first child of James H. Snook and Sarah Axtell. The Snook family had come to Michigan in 1836 and purchased 400 acres of farmland. During the Civil War J. J. served in the Twenty-second Michigan Volunteer Infantry. 


After his discharge in 1865 he became a farmer, later acquiring some 170 acres of land in Rochester, which he named Overlook Farm, overlooking the Clinton River (at the southwest corner of Rochester Road and Avon Road). There he grew berries and fruit, developing modern truck farming methods.


J. J. Snook was also a prolific poet and published a book of poetry under the title New Poems and Glad Outings. Most of his poems were inspired by his farm and the Rochester area, as well as his travels and Civil War experience.


He died in 1923 and his tombstone bears the words: "Thinker, Teacher, Soldier, Farmer, Poet, Author."


The Rod and Susan Wilson collection contains the personal papers of J. J. Snook, including many manuscripts and publications.