The Snyder-Wilson Connection: WWII and Today

The Roy Snyder family lived along the main road (now Minburn Road) west out of Minburn (near #6 on the map below) in the Raccoon River valley of Dallas County, Iowa. Their son Harold was about the same age as some of the Wilson brothers.

From 1939 on, the Clabe Wilson family lived south of the main road, half a mile on what is now Lexington Lane (near #7). They were tenant farmers, except for Donald who had been in the Navy since 1934. 

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During WWII their sons enlisted in different military services. After Delbert and Donald Wilson were married and attending a Naval School on the East Coast, Harold Snyder was in the Coast Guard was based in New York City. He’d met a girl at a roller skating rink in Brooklyn, and he married her. Harold hauled military freight up and down the Atlantic coast, and stopped one day to visit with the Wilson brothers, which they all wrote home about.

The summer of 1945, the Harold Snyders, with their one-year-old son, came home to see Harold’s folks at Minburn.

The Wilson brothers’ sister, Doris, had married Warren Neal, and they also had a toddler. Warren had been ordered to a base where families weren’t allowed, so Doris and Joy returned to Iowa to stay with her parents, Clabe and Leora Wilson, then living near Perry.

The Wilsons still enjoyed visiting with their former Minburn neighbors, the Roy Snyders.

One day they took photos of the toddlers together. Mom (Doris) had told me about the visit, that I’d lost my balance while holding a wooden block and hit the little Snyder boy (Lee) on the head.

Decades later, Lee’s wife Deanette sent me tiny copies of precious photos taken that day.

Photos taken at the Snyders’ place, summer 1945. The two grandmothers are at the top right, Mrs. Snyder with her arms folded, talking with Leora Wilson.


The Snyders had two sons, Lee and Paul, who married two sisters, Deanette and Carolyn Ritzman, whose father Dean also served in the Army Air Corps during WWII.

Decades later Deanette and Lee Snyder made sure the Wilson family would be remembered with a poster in the Forest Park Museum south of Perry (and north of the acreage which Clabe and Leora bought after all their sons had left to serve).

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Deanette and Lee Snyder
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Lee Snyder fabricated the stand for the Wilson family timeline display board when it was installed at the Forest Park Museum in 2018. Cousins’ widows, Elizabeth Wilson and Chris Scar, visited Forest Park Museum in 2019.

Brothers Paul and Lee Snyder served in the US Marines. They along with their wives, Carolyn and Deanette (who are sisters) were instrumental in making sure the Wilson brothers are remembered on the Dallas County Freedom Rock®, which was dedicated at Minburn in October 2019.

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Carolyn and Paul Snyder, Deanette and Lee Snyder with Paul and Carolyn’s granddaughters. Paul and Lee Snyder are both Marine Corps veterans.



  1. I really enjoyed reading this story of family connections! The toddler pictures are just priceless; you’re so fortunate to have them. From the more recent photos, it looks as though Lee didn’t suffer any long-term effects from that curly-haired girl’s hitting him on the head with a block.

  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of the connections between families sharing life together. I agree..Pictures are priceless. We have albums of pictures telling stories between members of the family and friends.

    • This one is especially poignant since three of the Wilson brothers lost their lives during WWII, and it was the Snyder sons and their wives making sure the brothers aren’t forgotten.

  3. The block injury might explain a lot! Thank you for getting these insignificant moments recorded when they are so precious 70+ years later. Joy, I am always tickled when friends call me to say I should read your book.

    • Oh, thank you for telling me that! I rarely get tears, but that is so dear! I’m also so thankful you sent those little photos. I had one, but did’t know who the little blond boy was! As soon as you sent yours, I remembered the story of causing a little trouble during the visit. You also said they called me the little Wilson girl. lump in throat (I shared this post on a Minburn FB page and also the Dallas County History one. Enjoying the comments!)

    • The Snyders aren’t active on social media, so a lot of what they were doing on behalf of the Wilson brothers was “behind the scenes.” I was amazed when I learned what they’d been up to that certainly enhanced the reception of “Leora’s Letters” when it was published right after the Dallas County Freedom Rock was dedicated. Amazed and humbled.

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