top of page

1933: Lives lost when Roadster collides with angle-parked truck


Judy Cernea of Hannibal supplied this photo, by J.H. Herring, which was taken of July 7, 1933, looking east on Broadway. At 3:30 a.m. on that same day, a Ford Roadster driven by Francis H Tihen collided with a work truck that was parked in front of 1007 Broadway. Two young Hannibal people lost their lives in the accident. 


Robert Ayers angle-parked his work truck in front of his residence the night of July 6, 1933, completely unaware that before daylight, an accident involving his parked truck would snuff out the lives of two young Hannibal residents.

The truck, reported by the Quincy Herald Whig as being owned by the Nicholas Wire and Metal Company, was parked in front of 1007 Broadway, Hannibal, where Ayers is believed to have lived.

The accident, reported about 3:30 a.m. on Friday, July 7, 1933, involved an east-bound Ford Roadster, owned and operated by Francis H. Tihen, husband of the former Marcelyn Mahoney of Hannibal. (The Tihens were married Sept. 22, 1931, in Oklahoma City, OK.)

The driver would later say he swerved when the right side of his auto clipped the end of the protruding pickup truck. He believed, at the moment of impact,  that only his car’s windshield was damaged.

Five people were reported to have been riding in the automobile’s front seat: Mr. and Mrs. Tihen, William Burkey, Russell Dalton and Catherine Weber. Weber is believed to have been seated on Burkey’s lap.

Sitting in an improvised rumble seat in the back were Eleanor Murphy, Russell Dalton and Benton Scheu.

The right side of the car experienced direct impact, and the passengers on the right side were the ones who were injured.

At an inquest on Saturday, July 8, the driver testified that after he stopped the car, the passengers in the rear seat called to him to say that Scheu was not moving.

“Miss Weber got out and walked around,” he said. “During this time the others were attempting to remove Scheu from the car. A few minutes later Miss Weber collapsed and was placed in the front seat of the ambulance while Scheu was placed inside.”

Dr. J.J. Reichman attended to the injured at the accident scene. The accident occurred on Officer George Foehringer’s police beat.

Miss Weber died a few minutes after reaching St. Elizabeth Hospital. She suffered a fractured spine, pulmonary hemorrhage and fractured ribs. 

Scheu died at 9:10 Friday morning. His skull was crushed.

Prohibition was still in effect, and Mr. Tihen testified that none of the party was drinking at the time of the early morning accident, although he did admit to drinking earlier in the evening. He said he was driving about 25-35 miles per hour at the time of impact.

The impact pushed the truck a half a block, the newspaper reported.

A witness to the accident was Roy Eager, an employee of Zimmerman Bakery, who was on his way to work at the time of the accident.

The jury that heard the testimony consisted of Raymond Weaver, foreman; Henry R. Harris, D.M. Humphrey, Edgar Cattle, William Robinson and John Morris. Coroner was Cecil Schwartz and prosecuting attorney was Walter G. Stillwell. 

The jury’s verdict was as follows, according to the Quincy Herald Whig on July 8, 1933:

“The deaths of Benton Scheu and Catherine Weber were caused by improper conduct in riding and driving a car in a crowded condition and improper parking of the truck.

“We further find that conditions exist where trucks are parked on streets in a dangerous condition and that cars are operated in a crowded and dangerous manner, making it unsafe to life and limb of riders.

“We further find no evidence of criminal negligence on the part of the driver of the car or the driver of the truck.”

Moonlight cruise

The outing for the seven young Hannibal friends began on Thursday, July 6, 1933, aboard the Steamer “J.S.” which was chartered for the evening under the auspices of St. Elizabeth’s and Levering hospitals. The steamer featured, according to an article in the Hannibal Labor Press on June 23, 1933, steamer chairs, wicker furniture and canopied ceilings. The moonlight excursion was to begin at 8:30 p.m., and return to the Hannibal shoreline at 11:30 p.m.

The crew was scheduled to be Capt. Verne Streckfus, who was in charge; Captains Hunter and Graham, pilots; Gus Hale, chief engineer; and music was to be provided by Earl Dantin’s 10-piece band from New Orleans.

After leaving the steamboat, the seven piled into Francis H. Tihen’s Ford Roadster and went to McMaster’s Avenue, where, according to inquest testimony, they went to the Dutch Mill, located at the intersection of McMaster’s Avenue and Pleasant Street. This establishment was on the Hannibal Police Department’s watch list for possibly selling liquor to Hannibal’s young people during Prohibition. In fact, Fred York, who was proprietor in 1933, had been indicted on 3 counts of selling liquor during Prohibition in 1930. Those charges were dismissed in 1932.

The friends then went swimming at an unnamed destination. (The Knights of Columbus swimming pool was across McMaster’s avenue from the Dutch Mill at the time.)

Following that, they went for a drive, ending up heading east in the 1000 block of Broadway at 3:30 a.m.

The victims

Miss Catherine Weber, 23, (1911-1933) was a daughter of John C. Weber (1870-1931), a steam locomotive engineer for the Burlington, and Mrs. Katherine C. Weber (1874-1951).  Directories of that era list Miss Weber as a clerk for the Mary Ann Sweet Shop in 1929, and also as a clerk for Menzel’s Candy Shop.

Benton Scheu was the 21-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Scheu. His father was a long-time supervisor for the International Shoe Co., where his son Benton also worked. Benton last worked at the factory on the day before his death.

The driver

Francis H. Tihen was the son of Joseph P. (1873-1915) and Clara Richter Tihen (1882-1962) of Jefferson, City, Mo. Joseph P. Tihen was the brother of Bishop J.H. Tihen, who served as Bishop of Lincoln, Neb., and Denver, Colo., and who died in 1940.

Francis H. Tihen graduated from St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, Kan., Class of 1927. While at the college, he served as a staff reporter for the school newspaper, The Rambler. The Tihen family came to Jefferson City, Mo., circa 1865.

In December 1929, Tihen was assistant bureau manager of the Jefferson City bureau of the United Press. He was transferred to the Oklahoma City bureau, where he was living and working at the time of the 1933 accident.

He left newspaper work, and took a job with the U.S. Brewers Association, where he worked for 30 years and served as state director. At the time of his death, he and his wife, Marcelyn, made their home in Edmond, OK.

A moonlight excursion, under the auspices of Hannibal’s two hospitals, was advertised in the Friday, May 15, 1931 edition of the Hannibal Labor Press. ( Two years later, a group of seven young friends would begin their fateful evening upon a similar cruise.

Before his marriage to Marcelyn Mahoney of Hannibal, Francis H. Tihen graduated from St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, Kan. Yearbook photo,

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," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’ and the newest book, “Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


 Recent Posts 
bottom of page