Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - "The Nickel That Grew Up" *




Women shoppers at Mrs. Snyder's Candy shop
South Michigan Ave 1927
credit Pintrest
The theme for week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “ strong woman”. How do I begin to choose who to write about? I come from a long line of strong women, immigrants who ventured to a new country, widows who raised large families with grace, women who left their families to become Sisters in the Catholic Church and teach the children of others, or those who remained un-married to help other family members are the possibilities I am faced with.

My husband and his sister often reminisced about visiting their grandmother and going to a candy store where they could eat candy for free. In exploring this memory, I found that the store was owned by their great-aunt who founded the store that would become a Chicago institution.

Aurora Henrietta Hanson was the seventh child born to Oloff Hanson and Mary Hepke. She was born in Michigan City, LaPorte, Indiana 12 Mar 1876.[i] She was baptized in the Lutheran church there and shortly after her birth the family moved to Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Perhaps her father, Oloff, a fisherman, felt that the larger city would provide a better market for his daily catch.

Aurora’s mother died in 1881 due to childbirth. [ii] Her large family was left to cope with the loss. Aurora was only five at the time, but her older sister Lizbet married two years later and may have taken Aurora with her until her marriage in 1894 to William Allen Snyder.[iii]

The 1900 census shows Ora (Aurora) and William living with their daughter Edith and his parents George and Mary on Ellis Ave in Chicago where William is working as a bookkeeper.


The Atlantic, Chocolate Dipped: The Popularity of Custom Candy in 1940s Chicago
SHANNON PERICH  JAN 29, 2012 

In 1909, with only a cup of sugar and an egg white, using only five cents worth of ingredients, Ora began making candies in her kitchen to sell to the school children after school. This was necessary to support her family after her husband became too ill to work. At a friend’s suggestion she took her candies to downtown Chicago where they were much sought after.[iv]

By 1920 the Snyders were the owners of a confectionary factory according to the census and by 1925 she owned 8 stores and in 1931 she was elected the first continued woman president of Associated Retail Confectioners of the United States.[v]

Ora Snyder continued to watch her business grow and by the time of her death in 1948 she owned 16 shops, one of which was a 7-story building. In the 1960s Mrs. Snyder’s Candies and its 15 stores was purchased by Fannie Mae Candies there by ending an era.

Ora was a strong woman who found a way to support her family and created a business using her skills and determination to succeed. "I can't make all the candy in the world, so I just make the best of it." [vi]


* The Green Book Magazine, Volumes 21-22, pages 87-88,Story-Press association, 1919, from     the University of Michigan, Digitized Oct 22, 2009 Google Books

[i] Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
[ii] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iii] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
[iv]   The Atlantic, Chocolate Dipped: The Popularity of Custom Candy in 1940s Chicago
SHANNON PERICH  JAN 29, 2012 
[v] Ibid 
[vi] The Green Book Magazine, Volumes 21-22, pages 87-88,Story-Press association, 1919, from     the University of Michigan, Digitized Oct 22, 2009 Google Books