In 1920 Hannibal, Angus C. McElroy and his family didn’t stand out from the ordinary. The tall and thin man described in his World War I draft record as a mulatto with blue eyes worked all of his life, with jobs during the years in the cement industry, on the railroad, at an ice plant, as a teamster and as an expressman.

In 1920 Hannibal, Angus C. McElroy and his family didn’t stand out from the ordinary. The tall and thin man described in his World War I draft record as a mulatto with blue eyes worked all of his life, with jobs during the years in the cement industry, on the railroad, at an ice plant, as a teamster and as an expressman.

He lived in and owned the same modest house at 412 North Ninth Street for much of his life, which began On Oct. 15, 1875, and ended March 11, 1933.

He provided shelter for his extended family, including his mother (Louise McElroy) well into old age. Upon his death, Angus McElroy was laid to rest at Hannibal’s Robinson Cemetery.

Angus McElroy wasn’t a law maker or a law breaker. He was just a man who worked hard and provided sustenance for those he loved.

In 1922, Angus and his wife, Josephine, opened a restaurant at 1705 Market Street. That address fails to correspond with any existing building today, because by 1925, the whole block on the south side of Market — across the street from Levering Hospital, had been torn down.

An existing photo from the Hannibal Arts Council collection tells the story of this wedge-shaped portion of Market that once served as a congregate for Hannibal individuals and businesses of African American influence.

 

Walnut Street

Hannibal’s West School, which served as both an elementary and high school, was located at the southwest corner of Houston and Walnut streets, the address being 205 Walnut in 1907. Houston was and still is a north/south corridor, and Walnut was roughly an east/west roadway which concluded at its intersection with Market, in what is now the 1800 block.

The name of Walnut street was ultimately changed to Pearl, so as not to be confused with the Walnut Street on Hannibal’s South Side. The address of the school was listed as 1405 Pearl Street in the 1914 directory.

Circa 1925, the row of buildings to the north of the school, fronting Market Street, was razed, and that block of Pearl Street was leveled and filled in. The land became the school’s front lawn. The current Eugene Field School continues to use the street address of 1405 Pearl, despite the fact that it now fronts Market Street.

When the buildings in the 1700 block of Market Street were torn down circa 1925, along with the debris went a score of Hannibal’s early history.

 

The neighborhood

One door to the east of McElroy’s restaurant was Warren H. Clay’s barber shop. His wasn’t the first business in that location, but it was one of the most long-standing.

The year 1897 found William L. Fry’s second-hand store at the same site, then known as 203 Market. In 1901 and 1903, William Anderson operated a pool room. In 1907, William G. Allen had a grocery store at that site. By 1912, Warren H. Clay used the storefront, now renumbered 1703 Market, for his barber shop. A horizontal barber pole is visible in the photo accompanying this story.

Clay’s barbering business in Hannibal had been interrupted for a few years in 1902, when he was sentenced to a two-year stint in the state prison for the attempted burglary of Tom O’Donnell’s drug store. He pled guilty in exchange for leniency. During the commission of the crime, he was shot in the leg by security guard John J. Cook and was forced to undergo an operation in order to remove the lodged bullet. (Source, Quincy Daily Whig 1902)

Once out of jail, he opened his shop on Market Street and continued a healthy patronage for the next two decades.

 

205 (1705) Market

B.O. (Benjamin) Campbell operated a restaurant at 205 Market Street in 1911 and 1912, a decade before the McElroys opened their restaurant. Campbell lived at 212 N. Eighth. By 1916 the restaurant had evolved into an ice cream parlor, and was still in operation in 1922.

 

1911-1912

A number of people called this block of Market Street home in 1911-1912. One notable resident was John Huff, pastor of the Christian Church. He lived upstairs over 205 Market Street.

Miss Blanch Abbey lived in this block, as did Miss Celia Brown, Eugene Woodson, Fannie Abbey, Alex Russell, Walter Kimbaugh and James Siddles.

 

Late 19th Century

In 1885, the city directory lists a meat market and butcher shop operated by Charles M. Roberts at 203 Market Street.

In 1894, The Maupin and Wilcox second hand store was in business at 203 Market. It was operated by Charles A. Maupin. Bedford S. Turner had a similar shop at 211-113 Market the same year.

In 1895, John M. Stoops had a milk distributorship at 203 Market. Two years later, William L. Fry operated a second hand store in this building.

William G. Allen and his wife Elizabeth operated a grocery store at 203 Market in 1907. They lived at 1222 Center Streets.

 

Mary Lou Montgomery is a writer, speaker and researcher with a specialty in history. She is the former editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post.