Forrester Tatlow, the son of one of Marion County’s earliest settlers, followed in his father’s footsteps, operating and engineering new systems for steam grain mills.
But there was much more to Tatlow than innovation and engineering.
He was an astute observer of human nature.
When he took a wife in 1866, he moved from Palmyra to Hannibal, where he and the former Belle Donah would live out their years. He acquired a wealth of knowledge about mill operation, expanding upon his father’s foundation and building a milling empire of his own. His wife gained notice as a master at the art of homemaking, living with her husband and young son at 830 Broadway, and later at 919 Church.
Wherever his work would take him, Forrester Tatlow remained an astute observer.
During the early 1880s and beyond, Forrester Tatlow – under the penname of "Tat" or "Fos" - was writing stories for newspaper publication utilizing his keen sense of observation. These stories can still be found sprinkled amidst the archives of newspapers in Hannibal, Palmyra and Quincy, Ill. By the 1890s, he was focusing his career away from milling and to the field of his passion — journalism.
One such story, first published in the Hannibal Journal where Forrester Tatlow was working as a journalist, and later reprinted in the July 27, 1893 edition of the Palmyra Spectator, brings to mind the people who worked near Main and Broadway circa 1880, when Tatlow was a younger man working at the Hannibal Milling Co., located at the foot of Broadway.
The story, in its entirety, follows. The timeline that accompanies this story will help today’s readers follow in the footsteps of these notable Hannibal citizens who built the foundation for today’s Hannibal business climate.
Fos Tatlows Reminsences.
July 27, 1893: Palmyra Spectator, page 1, newspapers.com
"Once on a time, as the old school book poetry used to put it, Jack Settles’ clothing store, at the intersection of Broadway and Main Streets, was called ‘Democratic Headquarters.’ Yet, notwithstanding the name, such good Republicans as Col. Evan Jones, David Dubach Esq., and Capt. Chamberlain, et. al, regularly assembled there to talk over the issues of the day. About that time there was a good deal of friendly rivalry between Col. A.W. Pettibone and Hon. A.J. Settles as to which was the heaviest man from a standpoint of avoirdupois. Now, really, the Honorable ‘Jack’ had the ‘edge’ on Col. Pet by about five pounds, and he was as proud of it as a colored citizen is when carrying a brass horn on Emancipation day, and he never lost an opportunity to ‘gig’ him about it.
"Well, one evening after supper, when it was about time for the sages to meet at headquarters, Col. ‘Pet’ peeped in and was hailed with the familiar expression: ‘Come in; it’s about time to call the roll.’ The Col. knew that if he entered the Hon. Jack would banter him to weigh. So he said ‘I’ll be in presently, and then went off to fix himself by going up to John Farmer’s hardware store and putting ten pounds of bar led in his boot tops. Then he returned to headquarters, and, sure enough, soon after he entered the Hon. Jack bantered him to weigh. To this, of course, the Colonel demurred until the Hon. Jack proposed that they go up to Al. Thompson’s on Broadway and test the scales, and the lightest one set ‘em up five dollars worth.
"Finally the Colonel consented and to the scales the crowd went. The Honorable Jack stepped on the platform and ‘kicked the beam’ at one hundred and ninety. Then Col. Pet quietly took his place on the platform and the beam-weight had to be pushed five points further to the right to hold him in a balance.
" ‘Dog-on-it,’ said Judge Settles, ‘Pet, you’ve been fattening up right smart.’ And they went off and took their lemonade and such. All told the treat didn’t cost a ‘fiver, and when the Colonel handed back the change to the Hon. Jack and drew the lead from the boots, it created a laugh that cracked the ice on the Mississippi river." – Hannibal Journal.
1827 A.W. Pettibone born in Vermont.
1827 Andrew J. Settles born in Marion County, Mo.
1853 A.J. Settles represented the Hannibal dry goods firm, Marienthal & Block
1856 Forrester Tatlow’s father opened a new steam mill near Palmyra.
1857 Settles & Wolfstein dry good store, corner Main and Hill streets
1859 A.J. Settles, first ward councilman
1864 A.W. Pettibone moved to Hannibal, associated with the Hixon & Co., lumber dealers.
1866 (A.J.) Settles & (Cyrus T.) Helm dry goods store, NW corner of Broadway and Main
1866 Forrester Tatlow married Belle Donah.
1870 A.J. Settles, second ward councilman
1871-1873 Settles & Bowles dry goods store, NW corner Main and Broadway
1875-1884 Settles and (James) Plowman dry goods store, NW corner Main and Broadway
1877 J. Al. Thompson hardware, 218 Broadway
1879 J.O. Farmer hardware store 208 N. Main
1879 A.J. Settles, member of the state legislature
1880 Story told about Pettibone, Settles, memories of Fos Tatlow (Published in 1893)
1880 A.W. Pettibone lived at 307 North Fifth Street
1880 J. Al. Thompson had a hardware store at Third and Broadway
1881 Foss Tatlow, miller, Hannibal Milling Co. foot of Broadway
1884 A.W. Pettibone and wife moved back to Wisconsin. Their son, Wilson, remained in Hannibal to look after family milling operations.
1884 Forrester Tatlow invented and patented an automatic feed roller for flouring mills.
1885 Drescher store had moved to the Settles location; A.J. Settles store closed.
1887 A.J. Settles, County Court judge
1888-1902 Forrester Tatlow was an editor/journalist
1892 A.J. Settles lived at 221 N. Maple
1895 Mrs. A.J. (Helen M. Doyle) Settles died in Pasadena, Calif., where she had gone for her health.
1899 See photo of Drescher store; replaced old Settles store building.
1892 Tatlow voted Democratic for Adlai Stevenson for president.
1892 Humrich & (Andrew J.) Settles (drug store 211 Broadway)
1893 Forrester Tatlow was baptized at the Hannibal Christian Church.
1895 Drescher dry goods, 101-103 N. Main (NW Corner Main and Broadway)
1895 Settles Hall, NW corner Main and Broadway (upstairs)
1897 Milton Strong, prominent Hannibal businessman and brother-in-law of Forrester Tatlow’s wife, died at Hannibal.
1902 Judge A.J. Settles died Jan. 8 at his home.
1909 Belle Tatlow, wife of Forrester Tatlow, dies at her home.
1915 A.W. Pettibone dies, Wisconsin
1922 Forrester Tatlow died at the Marion County Infirmary.
Mary Lou Montgomery is a writer, speaker and researcher with a specialty in history. She is the former editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post.