History Blog 

A man of color’s death leads to family’s economic upheaval

This photo of the Marion County infirmary was taken during the early 1900s. Two brothers, Joshua and Clabe Harris, were patients here in 1935, and died three months apart. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY In 1870, Clark Harris was living on the outskirts of Hannibal, Mo., supporting his wife, Martha Allen Harris, and their young family by working as a laborer – a typical occupation for a 40-year-old man of color. Living nearby in this ethically blended neighborhood were Benjamin Kaley, a 64-year-old machinist born in Switzerland, and his wife, Mary, in addition to their three children, Adaline, William and Eddie. Another neighbor was John Young, born in Germany, and his wife, Sarah. While the Harris fami

Prof. Oval Pirkey's tenure at Abingdon College was during unsettling times for Christian churche

Christian University, Canton, Mo., as published in an advertisement for the school in 1901, Mexico Ledger. newspapers.com MARY LOU MONTGOMERY About 1860, organ music gained popularity in many of America’s churches. A great divide came along with that trend, as followers of the Churches of Christ held true to their beliefs that any practices not present in accounts of New Testament worship were not permissible in the church. They could not find any New Testament documentation for the use of instrumental music in worship, so the use of instruments was forbidden. In contrast, as explained in Wikipedia, the followers of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, (referred to as “Campbellites”) believed that

Young shoe factory worker suffered traumatic injury

This is Dr. J.N. Baskett's ledger entries for his treatment of Alice Michaels in May and June 1908. Michael's hair was caught in machinery at the Bluff City Shoe factory in Hannibal. Dr. Baskett was her physician, and performed skin grafts on his 17-year-old patient. Notice the $10 charge for skin grafting. The ledger is the property of Bob and Hong Kilmer of Hannibal. Bob is a descendant of Dr. Baskett. Photo, Mary Lou Montgomery MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Two Hannibal residents, each traumatically injured in work-related accidents during their young adulthood, fell in love and married, following a courtship which consisted of months-long hospital bedside visits. In 1908, Alice J. Michaels was 17

A shotgun and locked doors couldn’t stop a couple in love

This is a photo of the Stephen Glascock house, where Porter Bush sent his daughter, Sarah (Sallie) to stay, in an attempt to keep her from marrying the Rev. J.P. Green of Shelbina in 1895. The Glascock house, until recent years, was located on Centerville Road, west of Hannibal, in Miller Township, Marion County, Mo. Photo reprinted from “Glascocks of Marion County Missouri” by Mary Lou Montgomery and Robert Robinson Spaun. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY The Rev. J.P. Green sent by wire a sad message to friends and relatives in Monroe City, Mo., on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 24, 1908: “My wife died today,” the message read. Her death at Oklahoma City, Okla., was a shock to those who knew and loved t

Lucy Barr’s ‘fortune’ was fleeting

At the time of her death, Lucy Barr was living with the La Cossitt Hendren family in Miller Township, Marion County. The house is now owned and occupied by Robert and Hong Kilmer. This doorway leads to what this author speculates to be the bedroom that Lucy Barr occupied during the last 11 years of her life. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Note, court documents quoted in this story are politically incorrect by today’s standards, but right or wrong, are reflective of the era in which they were recorded. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY The scenario of Lucy Barr’s adult life could be compared to the lot of a slave, except for the fact that Lucy was born after the abolishment of slavery in Missouri. Born to Sam Barr in

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