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Local Legacies, 1983: Scenic overlook commemorates Victor Hallows’ gift

By Mary Lou Montgomery

Published in the Hannibal Courier-Post March 5, 1983

A man who loved to farm, hunt and read will long be remembered because of a gift he gave to the state of Missouri. Victor Hallows donated a four-acre plot of land for a scenic overlook on Missouri 79. The park is now known as Hallows Park.

Hallows was born in 1900, and raised on farms near Saverton and Bowling Green. When a proposal to build a highway was still in the planning stages, Hallows offered to donate a parcel of land to be used as a park.

The state of Missouri accepted the offer, and Hallows Park was dedicated as a scenic picnic area overlooking the Salt River bluffs about 12 miles south of Hannibal.

In 1983, several of Hallows’ relatives still lived in the area, including his nephew, Luther Patrick of Hannibal. Patrick obtained first-person accounts of his uncle’s life from Hallows’ two sisters, Bessie Chapuis Hiles of Louisiana and Nettie Sisson of Bowling Green.

Victor Leonard Hallows was born Aug. 21, 1900, on a 40-acre farm in the Salt River community. When he was 2-years old, his parents moved to Buffalo near Louisiana, Mrs. Sisson remembered. He attended a small country school and graduated at the age of 13. He spent the next few years helping his father on the family farm and studying the bible.

When he was 19, his family returned to the Salt River community. Their 80-acre farm was located in the hilly terrain of the river country.

Two years later, he moved into a log cabin on a hilly tract of farmland and accepted a teaching job at Busch, Mo. There he was responsible for the education of 60 children. Hallows never graduated from college, but he took a teacher’s exam each year in order to continue teaching, Mrs. Sisson said.

At one point, Hallows left the farm to become a chiropractor. Chronic health problems, however, forced him to abandon that avocation, and he soon returned to his beloved Salt River area.

After his first marriage ended unsuccessfully, Hallows married Billie Traw. They bought a hilly farm close to the railroad and the Mississippi River when their children were old enough to help with the farming.

Hallows began to hear talk about a highway to be built along the bluffs of the Mississippi. He knew the highway would greatly benefit the area, so he worked to make the project a reality.

He attended a meeting at Bowling Green and addressed the audience, telling them about the corner of the property that he would like to donate for a park.

The state eventually built the highway along the edge of Hallows’ property. Authorities accepted his offer of the land and named the park after him. The state graded the land, built a circular drive, planted trees and installed picnic tables. The area became a comfortable rest stop and picnic area for travelers as well as local residents.

Victor Hallows died Dec. 18, 1953 and is buried at Fairview Cemetery in Louisiana.

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