Snowman story intriguing?

Published 2:14 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

I often enjoy reading Mrs. (Joyce) Kramer’s regular column in your paper, but I felt compelled to contact you after reading the latest “Lake Seminole Spring Creek News” (Dec. 29, 2010) about the history of the snowman.

While Mrs. Kramer stated she was uncovering the “facts” about the origin of the snowman, the statement that the first snowman was built by a little girl in Eau Claire, Wis., in 1809 intrigued me. Having grown up in nearby Minnesota, and having had to take Minnesota history in school, 1809 seemed a bit early for Eau Clarie to even be a town.

Further the article stated that the little girl’s name was “Yetty” (sounds a lot like that other famous snowman—the abominable one from the Himalayas) and that the New York Times reported who unearthed this gem of a story was named Hillary “Sherpa” (like the guides in the same mountains) made the whole thing sound like a hilarious hoax.

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A quick visit to the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website ( uncovered an Aug. 5, 1906, Eau Claire Leader newspaper article describing a conversation with a Mr. John Quirk, who at the time was Eau Claire’s oldest known settler. Mr. Quirk stated that 60 years prior (i.e., 1846), “There was just one house built on the land that is now the city of Eau Clarie—a small saw mill operated by two men whose names were Gage and Reed.” If there was just a sawmill in Eau Claire in 1846 it’s hard to imagine that there was a whole neighborhood of houses with yards in which to build snowmen in 1809.

Legend? Fact? Somebody got fooled by a gag that’s getting pretty long in the tooth?

The snowman’s “history” appears to the gift that keeps on giving—anyway, I sure got a kick out of it.

Steve Wann
Bainbridge, Ga.