The names of James Temple and Ada Troutman are permanently etched in stone just under the soffit on the east side of Scott’s Chapel United Methodist Church, located on the southeast corner of Hope and Griffith streets.
The names of James Temple and Ada Troutman are permanently etched in stone just under the soffit on the east side of Scott’s Chapel United Methodist Church, located on the southeast corner of Hope and Griffith streets. The etching, dated Sunday, Aug. 5, 1906, has linked these two Hannibal youngsters together for the last 111 years.
Who were they?
In recent weeks we have learned that the bricks for the church were made at the construction site by J.H. Huss, a local granitoid contractor. And we know that the church building was constructed in 1906, the same year as the etching. Assumably, the etching was made during the forming of the brick at the construction site.
James Temple and Ada Troutman were the same age, each born circa 1894. At the time the inscription was made on the brick, they were each roughly 12 years old.
Ada Troutman lived just a few blocks from the church in 1906, living with her parents, Henry J. and Lizzie H. Troutman, at 406 Hope Street. They lived in a small, one-story house, the third house on the north side of the street, west of Hayden Street.
Henry Troutman was a carpenter by trade, working at the Cement company.
Around the same time, James’ father, Tavner (Tava) Faulkner Temple, was listed in a city directory as a day laborer, and James lived with his family at 155 ½ Market. Mellie Slifer Temple was James’ mother. She died in 1905, when her young son was just 11. A year after the Methodist Church was constructed, Tava Temple died, too, leaving James an orphan in 1907, at the tender age of 13.
Whether the inscription was the result of a young love or a good friendship is really immaterial, because their names were not destined to be linked for life.
In 1909, at age 15, James Temple was working as a clerk for local grocer Frank W. Mason at 234 Market, and boarding with the Mason family at their home, 1572 Broadway. That relationship continued until 1912, when James Temple changed jobs, working for Adams Express. He apparently continued to board with the Masons, however, as in 1914, the Masons and Temple all resided at 1812 Broadway.
James Temple married Gertrude C. Smith of Hannibal in 1919. During his career he worked as a foreman for the Cement plant.
James died on May 11, 1968. He and his wife are buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery. They are the parents of Kenneth Temple, long-time Hannibal postal employee, who died in 2000.
Henry Jefferson Troutman was born in 1850, and served with the Missouri Calvary in the Union Army during the Civil War. He and his wife, Elizabeth Havens Troutman, had at least four children, including Ada Pearl Troutman, who was born circa 1895.
In 1916, when Ada was about 21 years of age, she married Conrad L. Schmidt, a dozen years her senior, who worked in Hannibal as an accountant for International Shoe Company.
Ada gave birth to two sons, Reid Alfred Schmidt and C. Vernon Schmidt.
Ada and Conrad, plus their two sons, lived with Conrad’s father, William, at 215 E. Gordon (later renamed Terrace Avenue) in South Hannibal.
Victim of a chicken thief
On July 19, 1919, the Quincy Daily Whig reported that Conrad Schmidt had been away from home while performing with the Hannibal band at Central Park. Upon arriving home, he saw evidence that someone had entered his chicken yard and made off with a couple of chickens. This same scenario had become common on Hannibal’s south side, and Schmidt immediately telephoned the night captain of the police department, Thomas O’Day.
The newspaper reported that O’Day arrived at the Schmidt home, bloodhounds in tow.
“The animals followed the scent over the rear hill to Walnut street. The dogs then took the trail to a barn on Union Street where they lost the scent. The authorities have a pretty good idea as to the identity of the guilty party as a result of the work of the bloodhounds, but as yet no arrests have been made.”
When he arrived back home, Schmidt discovered two of his chickens in an adjoining yard. The theory was that the chicken thief got scared and dropped the chickens nearby.
By 1921, health concerns lead Ada Troutman Schmidt to travel to Phoenix, Ariz., where it was hoped that her general state of health would improve. Instead, she died in May 1921, at the age of 27. She was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hannibal.
Her husband moved to St. Louis, where he continued to work as an accountant for International Shoe Company there. He remarried, and he and his second wife raised Ada’s two sons. He died in 1973.
Ada’s older brother, Clarence A. Troutman, born circa 1885, was a long-time Hannibal letter carrier, and died in March 1979.
Mary Lou Montgomery is a writer, speaker and researcher with a specialty in history. She is the former editor of the Courier-Post.