History Blog 

Thurston Miles, born a slave, built a land legacy for his descendants

This photo illustration shows the area to the east of Fulton Avenue in 1899. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Surely, nobody ever told Thurston Miles that life would be easy. Presumably born into slavery in Gallatin County, Ky., circa 1850, and brought to Northeast Missouri sometime before slaves were given their freedom following the conclusion of the Civil War, Thurston Miles worked hard all of his life. He stumbled along the way, but kept getting back up. Through the sweat of his brow, he died a landowner. The land he bought and worked throughout his adult life was in an unlikely spot for a man of color: Atop the river bluff just to the east of Fulton Avenue, roughly in the area that now hosts the old

Respectful of their past, volunteers clean cemetery

A group of volunteers came out on Saturday morning, Sept. 17, 2016, to clean storm debris from historic Robinson Cemetery. Volunteers have launched a fund drive aimed at raising funds to hire a grounds keeper next summer. Respectful of their past, volunteers clean cemetery MARY LOU MONTGOMERY On Saturday afternoon, on the seventeenth day of September 2016, under the shade of an old elm tree and just a stone’s throw from the bank of Minnow Branch, a community gathered. Four generations of descendants of those buried at Robinson Cemetery came together for a celebration of sorts. Hot dogs and brats, provided by Tinya Williams, were on the grill at Xavier and Rhonda Hall’s home, and the celebrat

Dr. Fred Vernette left a unique legacy when he passed in 1904

This photo, taken by Anna Schnitzlein, shows what is believed to be oil drilling operations on Dr. Fred Vernette’s property circa 1902. The creek in the foreground would have been Minnow Creek, long before the construction of U.S. 61. Near the center of the photo can be seen a triangular oil drilling rig. On the horizon of the hill is the outline of the Vernette home, which was also used as Elmwood Sanatorium. The hillside toward the right of the photo would be where the Fair Oaks Subdivision now exists. The eastern side of the hillside was later carved out for the construction of U.S. 61. Dr. Vernette owned a 5 acre tract of ground fronting James Road. PHOTO / STEVE CHOU COLLECTION MARY LOU

Was Dr. Fred Vernette’s testimony in Stillwell murder case in 1895 the truth, or revenge?

Nearly hidden by trees during the summer, this grand structure stands on the hillside on the northwest corner of U.S. 61 and Route MM in Hannibal. Believed to have been built in the 1870s, the structure was used by Dr. Fred Vernette at the turn of the 20th Century as a sanitarium. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Part One of a two-part series. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY It was a reasonably clear night, in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 1888. Dr. Fred Vernette, arriving in Hannibal from St. Louis on the 1 a.m. the “K” line, walked from the railroad depot toward his office, located at 700 Broadway. He walked alone along the north side of Broadway. The intersection of Fifth and Broadway was illuminated by ele

From the archives of the Hannibal Courier-Post, June 3, 1981: Willie Wright, Phil Haag create a mini

Willie Wright made this doll house for his granddaughters during the 1980s. His daughter, Penny Wright Wiley, still has the house on display in her home. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Big hands are creating small details on dollhouses designed for adults MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Published in the Hannibal Courier-Post June 3, 1981 Some doll houses are for children, others are constructed by and built for adults. Willie Wright and Phil Haag, both of Hannibal, are adults building their own miniature worlds. They have worked together for the last six months, sharing the secrets they have learned from experience. “When you first start you don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Wright, who is now working on h

Woman with Hannibal ties played a pivotal role in D.C.

At right: Florence Calvert Thorne, Leavenworth (Kansas) Times, Sept. 22, 1919. Newspapers.com MARY LOU MONTGOMERY In 1918, Florence Calvert Thorne was assigned to inspect work conditions in the war industries in connection with her role with the U.S. Department of Labor. She was charged with determining the standards that should be maintained, and adopting rules and means for enforcing these standards. She was appointed to this post by W.B. Wilson, U.S. Secretary of Labor. With the country in the final months of what was coined by President Woodrow Wilson as “the war to end war,” Thorne’s state-side appointment was particularly noteworthy. With men at war, women were increasingly tapped to f

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