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1875: Coal oil lamps light Market Street

Shown is the replacement of the sidewalk in front of Levering Hospital in 1967. Looking straight ahead are buildings that were once occupied by by the J.B. Clement family, early Market Street pioneers. The first building, with the Hoffman sign, served as Charles H. Northam’s drug store in 1894. Northam was married to J.B. Clement’s daughter, Lois. Further to the left, at the corner of Market and Arch, was the J.B. Clement grocery store. This building has a sloped and pointed roof. Further to the left, across Arch street, in this two-story white building, was J.B. Clement’s grocery store in the early 1870s. Photo by Otis Howell, Steve Chou collection


In the pitch of blackness on a cloudy, moonless night, neither man nor horse can calculate direction for travel. That is, until July 1875, when the city of Hannibal authorized the installation of an avenue of lighting along Market Street, from the toll gate (at Market and Lyon) to the Wedge House (at Market and Lindell.)

A series of coal oil lamps, hoisted onto polls, were installed in order to light the way along this growing commercial and residential trail. The lamps were not only important to those living and working in this neighborhood, but to the many who used this long-ago planked road in order to go to and from their rural homes outside of Hannibal’s environ.

Hannibal’s leaders, while investigating the possibility of such a venture, selected a committee of three, called the committee on gas, to study the feasibility of such a lighting project.

The committee’s members, William O. Flavell, W.P. Carstarphen and Evans Fritz, came back with the recommendation of using lamps and poles already owned by the city to light the way. In addition, they recommended that the city contract with Mr. K. O’Daniels, who would subsequently clean, trim, light and extinguish the coal oil lamps in this area, included within Hannibal’s Fifth Ward. His agreed-to fee would be $1 per lamp per month, with the city furnishing the oil.

The committee also entered into an agreement with Mr. Jerome B. Clement, a Market Street businessman and fellow council member, who agreed to supply good quality oil to the city for 22 1/2 cents per gallon.

Clement family

The name Clement was important in 1875 Hannibal.

Born in 1815, Jerome B. Clement, a native of New York, migrated during his young manhood to Bourbon County, Ky., where he met and married Elizabeth Respess. Mr. Clement engaged in the merchant tailoring business at Maysville, Ky., until the Gold Rush in 1849 tempted him westward.

He moved to California with his growing family, where he accumulated enough wealth to put himself in a comfortable financial situation. The family subsequently moved to Wisconsin, where he once again engaged in business. Moving south during the Civil War, he landed in the important shipping port and railroad hub of Hannibal, Mo., where he would forever more make his home.

His first business venture in Hannibal was the establishment of a grocery store in the 800 block of Broadway. In anticipation of the prospect of serving customers who lived beyond Hannibal’s confines to the west, he moved his grocery to a double building on the northwest corner of Arch and Market streets.

Circa 1876 - soon after the roadway was lighted - Clement commissioned the construction of a new brick building on the northeast corner of Arch and Market, and moved his grocery business there. Throughout the next two decades, J.B. Clement would partner at times with his two sons, William J., and Augustine R., before eventually retiring and turning over business matters to the next generation.

First born

At the beginning of the Civil War, when the Clements were still living in Wisconsin, Augustine R. Clement, first son born to Jerome B. and Elizabeth Clement, enlisted with Company G, Second Regiment, Wisconsin volunteers. The troops were moved to Washington, D.C., where they participated in the first full-scale battle of the Civil War, dubbed Bull Run, in Fairfax County and Prince William County, Va. Clement was injured during that battle, and was mustered out of the Union Army on May 15, 1862, due to disability.

Augustine, born circa 1842 in Kentucky, was a “gentleman of fine literary abilities and a good writer.” He entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where in 1869 he was a student in the medical school. Returning to Hannibal with his wife, Achsah, the young family first settled in Saverton, Ralls County, Mo., and later moved with his parents on the second story of the family’s building on Market.

In 1877, he partnered with his father in the grocery business, and at that time they announced a planned business expansion.

Augustine and Achsah Clement were parents to three children, Clara, born in 1875; Bertha and Augustine Jr.

Tragically, Dr. Clement died June 15, 1880, at the estimated age of 38. He was laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Jerome B. Clement died in September 1894. His wife, Elizabeth, died in May 1900. They are buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery near their son.

In 1894, when their grandfather died, two of Dr. Clement’s children survived, Augustine R. Clement Jr., and Mrs. Clara Lawrence, who was married to Issac E. Lawrence.

Only daughter

Lois M. Clement, born circa 1861, was married to Charles H. Northam. He had previously worked as a druggist in Camp Point, Ill. At the time of his father-in-law’s death, in 1894, Mr. Northam was operating a drug store in another one of the Clement buildings, this one located at 135 Market, on the northwest corner of Market and Dowling. In his will, J.B. Clement bequeathed this building to his daughter, and her husband would continue to operate the drug store until 1895, when Mr. Northam was named cashier for the German-American Bank.

They had one daughter, Neva, who was married to John Richard Durmont of Omaha, Neb., in 1909.

Mr. Northam died in 1911, at the age of 56. His wife died in January 1946 at the age of 85. They are buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Second son

William J. Clement, who took over the operation of his father’s grocery store, closed out of the grocery business on Market Street by the turn of the century. In 1912, he was operating a grocery store and living at 3216 St. Mary’s Avenue. This house, still standing in 2022, is a one-story frame house that sits on a bit more than a half acre of ground. William and his wife, Anna, had no children. He died in 1920, and his wife died in 1922. They are buried at Palmyra, Mo.

Note: Civil War information from the Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, and the American Battlefield Trust.

Note: Dr. Clement’s description as “gentleman of fine literary abilities and a good writer,” was published in the Feb. 10, 1877 edition of the Hannibal Clipper newspaper.

Map, traced from a Sanborn fire prevention map, locates a few historic spots along Market Street. Illustration by Mary Lou Montgomery

Map Key

1 Wedge House

2 Clement’s second grocery

3 Northam Pharmacy

4 Clement’s first grocery

5 DeLaPorte shoe store

6 Block of Market, demolished 1925

7 Eugene Field (West) school

8 Civil War era home of Dr. Grffith

9 Levering Hospital

10 Market Street fire station

11 Schanbacher meat market

12 Dr. Griffith house, Civil War era

13 New Cab Company

14 Marion House and toll gate

15 Landau Store

16 German American Bank

17 Rendlen Grocery

18 Western Brewery

Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," and "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870." She can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


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