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2018 Annual Guide: Orleans

Bonnie Snow Orleans

Bonnie Snow. Photo by Paige Biviano

A day in the life of: Bonnie Snow, historian, volunteer, researcher and member of the Orleans Historical Society Board of Directors

By Deb Boucher Stetson

Bonnie Snow lives and breathes Orleans history. “I just love the history of Orleans. It’s my life,” says Snow, who has served on the Orleans Historical Society Board of Directors for more than 30 years.

Best known for her Main Street walks and cemetery walks, Snow is full of stories about past residents of Orleans, culled from old journals, letters and diaries. “I had a collection of letters from the Civil War era, written to ‘Dear Aunt Ruth’ Sears in Goshen, New York,” she says, “so when I do my cemetery walks I’m able to talk about ‘Dear Aunt Ruth.’ There was a lawyer who had started a school for sea captains in Orleans and it was his wife who wrote the letters.” Snow says she wishes she had the replies because she’s pretty sure she uncovered a murder in Goshen.

“I also got a diary from Nantucket found in the walls of a house being renovated in Orleans,” and through a great deal of research, “I was able to identify each of the 105 people in the diary,” Snow says. “I learned a lot about the families and all their struggles.”

Another find was more than 200 glass plate negatives of photographs taken by Harry Sparrow around 1911, discovered by an Eastham resident who was a neighbor of Snow’s daughter. Again, through her research, Snow was able to identify everyone in the photographs.

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