Sulky Horse Weathervane

Accession Number



SNOW, SubgroupDames/Janes


“As soon as the rising young mariner of Barnstable got his captain’s berth, he began saving for a home; when the home was built, he sat down and pondered what type of weathervane was to go on the barn; and then, with that problem out of the way, married and had children.”*
When her mother passed away in 1932, Miss Ruth Snow inherited what was purportedly a rather remarkable** weathervane (along with the barn beneath it). The exact origins of the jaunty cast-iron racing sulky horse and driver is not known. However, several documents mention the piece twirling atop the Mill Way barn as far back as the 1880s. Racing horses were a popular motif for arts and crafts in the second half of the 19th century and this particular sulky is thought to be patterned after a print by the prominent printmakers Currier and Ives. It is rumored that Ms. Ruth Snow was offered considerable sums for the trotting horse but we know that she turned them down. When she passed away in 1939, Snow’s will directed that her niece, Mrs. Philip C. Wilson, should take possession of the weathervane. We assume that Mrs. Wilson separated the horse from its longtime home atop the barn on Mill Way but this has not been verified. ***
It is not known if Miss Ruth Snow troubled herself with weather predictions or tracked wind direction. She was not a seafaring lady though robust breezes may have impeded her many auto excursions (see SNOW.2.1926/FLIVVER).

* Cape Cod Pilot, by Jeremiah Diggs, American Guide Series, published by Modern Pilgrim Press, Provincetown, MA, 1937. This was a work underwritten by the Federal Writers Project, Works Project Administration (WPA) for the State of Massachusetts
** It earned mention in the above publication and received media attention again when Miss Ruth Snow passed away.
*** In 1930, Ms. Helen Snow (1906-2001) was working as a typist for Light Power Company and living at home with her parents. If she had received the weathervane windfall at this point in her life, she would have had little use for it. By 1940, Helen was married to the autodealer Philip C. Wilson and the couple owned a home in Nahant, which may have been just the place for the jaunty weathervane.

Verification Reference

Daily Boston Globe, August 15, 1940




“Sulky Horse Weathervane,” Institute for Clew Studies, accessed March 24, 2019,