Mary E. Snell (1848 or 1849 - May 14, 1908) was one of the earlier pioneering educators in the State of California. In 1878 she founded Snell Seminary, a school for young woman in Oakland, California.
Born in New York, her family moved to Iowa where Mary Snell graduated from Iowa State University in 1868.
Moving to California from Iowa in 1870, Snell opened a private school in San Bernardino. She relocated to a Benicia seminary where she taught 'classics' and became principal of Benicia High School in 1874 for four years. 2
She continued Snell Seminary in its Oakland location until illness forced her to close the school in 1897. Mary Snell later reopened the seminary in Berkeley.
Considered a "very loveable woman" ... "Miss Snell had the distinction of being the first woman graduate of the Iowa State University for the degree of A. B. Later she was granted her master of arts degree. ... In recognition of her great services to education, she was given an honorary membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor scholarship society from the Iowa chapter." 1
In spite of illness, Mary Snell worked at the seminary up until a month before her death May 14, 1908, teaching Latin and Greek. The location of her burial is unknown ... "The interment will be private." 1
Her brother Richard Snell served one term on City Council. Her sister Edna Snell was married to Dr. Peter W. Poulson, the eccentric of Peterhof Castle.