Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

John Snowden (1890-1919)
MSA SC 3520-13632


John Snowden was born in Annapolis on June 10, 1890, to Henry and Anita (nee Jasco) Snowden.1 On October 19, 1917, Snowden appeared before the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, and was formally charged with the murder of Mrs. Lottie Mae Brandon.2 Brandon was murdered in her home on  Second  Street in Annapolis on August 8, 1917.3  Snowden, who worked on an ice delivery wagon in her neighborhood, endured hours of questioning and physical abuse at Baltimore City Police headquarters.4 Due to the publicity and controversy surrounding the case, it was moved to Baltimore County, where Snowden was convicted of first degree murder on January 31, 1918, and sentenced to death by hanging.5 Snowden was denied a new trial, and the Court of Appeals refused to overturn his conviction.6 Lawyers, including George L. Pendleton, appealled to the U.S. Supreme Court, who refused to hear the case.7 The community, including 11 of the 12  jurors from Snowden's trial, petitioned Governor Emerson C. Harrington to commute his death sentence, however, their efforts were unsuccessful.8 Snowden was hanged at the jail in Annapolis on February 28, 1919, with the city under martial law. Snowden was given one last chance to confess to the murder, but said "I could not leave this world with a lie in my mouth." He was buried March 2, 1919, at Brewer's Hill Cemetery.9 The following day the Capital published an anonymous letter claiming responsibility for Brandon's murder.10 A memorial was dedicated to John Snowden at his grave site on June 10, 2000.11 Citing inconsistencies in the Snowden case, Governor Parris N. Glendening granted him a posthumous pardon on May 31, 2001.12

1.    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Death Record, Counties) John Snowden, 28 February 1919, Anne Arundel County [MSA S1179, 2-56-1-7]
2.    ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Docket) John Snowden, Volume GW July-Oct 1917 Page 264 [MSA T1100, 1-5-11-17]
3.    "Young Wife Found Murdered In Home." The Baltimore Sun, 9 August 1917.
4.    "Negro Under Arrest In Murder Mystery." The Evening Capital, 14 August 1917.
5.    BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Criminal Docket, Removals) John Snowden, Volume JB 1 pp. 98a-98b [MSA T692, 0-33-6-12]
6.    "Snowden Refused A New Trial!!." The Afro-American, 17 January 1919.
7.    "Snowden Case Goes To United States Supreme Court." The Afro-American, 21 February 1919.
8.    "Governor Refuses Any Clemency For Snowden." The Evening Capital, 24 February 1919.
9.    Mohsberg, Margot. "Honor At Last?" The Sunday Capital, 11 June  2000.
10.  "Anonymous Letter Written Says He is Brandon Murderer." The Evening Capital, 3 March 1919.
11.  Mohsberg.
12.  SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Carl Snowden and John Snowden Memorial Committee Collection) Copy of John Snowden's Pardon, signed by Governor Glendenning on May 31, 2001, MSA SC 5389.

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