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A matter of time - Committee of Palmyra women raised funds for courthouse clock

PUBLISHED IN THE: Hannibal Courier-Post (MO) - Friday, August 8, 2014

Author: Mary Lou Montgomery

A gala staged at the Palmyra Courthouse on Aug. 20, 1901, served a dual purpose. First and most obvious, the county government was anxious to show off the new edifice, paid for out of county tax dollars. Second, the event served as a fund-raiser. A committee, led by Miss Mary Anderson, ex-city attorney, was challenged with raising $1,000 for the purchase a luxury item for the building, above and beyond the basic courthouse construction. What the early newspaper reports of the day show is that one of the building's most unique features was not, in actuality, original to the building. The citizens wanted a clock installed in the courthouse tower. The Quincy Daily Journal reported on the gala for the consumption of their readers. "The building was formally opened last night," the Quincy newspaper reported. "Hon. Champ Clark being the orator of the auspicious occasion. The handsome new building was a blaze of light, the 300 incandescent globes shedding a brilliancy over the large and happy assembly. The newspaper also reported that prior to the gala, $500 had been raised by a committee consisting of Mrs. F.W. Smith, Mrs. Granville Kellar, Mrs. M.L. Wood, Mrs. W.N. Bates and Mrs. T.B. Sullivan. At the door, 1,250 admission tickets were collected. For the gala, the rotunda was decorated. Refreshments were served in the basement and it was expected that between $200 and $250 was made off of booth sales during the evening. "At midnight the young folks took possession and enjoyed dancing until 2 o'clock this morning," the Quincy Daily Journal reported. "Miss Mary Anderson (committee chair) was awarded the cake offered to the most popular young lady in the building, amid loud applause." Work in progress Neil O'Bryan, a maintenance employee for Marion County, has been tinkering with the clock and bell located in the tower of the Palmyra Courthouse. It is his hope, with the assistance of the Ralls County Clock Company, to get the bell mechanism working so it can once again chime along with the 113-year-old clock. O'Bryan has worked for the county for five years.


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