First Woman Pioneer in Omaha
Rachel Snowden (1831-1898) came to Omaha on July 11, 1854. She was 23, and the 'city' had a population of two adults, Rachel and her husband, William, and their three young girls.
Eventually, they had seven children, six who survived to adulthood.
When the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the Territory of Nebraska for settlement, the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company needed someone to establish its 'town site claim' on the other side of the Missouri River in present day Omaha, Nebraska. William and Rachel Snowden were employed to manage the claim house, which they cheerfully named the 'St. Nicholas Hotel.' It was a log cabin near present day 12th and Jackson Streets, consisting of one main room and an attached kitchen. They hosted travelers and provided temporary living quarters for early settlers. The first church service was held there, using Rachel's brass kettle as a call-to-meeting bell. They also hosted dances and public meetings.
William, who in his long life became known as 'Uncle Billy,' held a series of public jobs, including sheriff and marshal. He also worked as a carpenter, auctioneer, and doorkeeper in the new territorial Capitol. He was not , by nature, a moneymaker. During these years Omaha's economy experienced many ups and downs. Through it all, Rachel stayed. She stayed through the good times and bad, reportedly a hard-working, kindly, and caring wife, mother and citizen. She died at age 67, and is buried at Prospect Hill, Omaha's early cemetery.