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Inside these walls - Kilian heritage dates back 154 years on 'Palmyra Ave.'

Next door to a convenience store on Mark Twain Avenue is a house that dates back to the Civil War era. I wrote this story for the Courier-Post in 2013. Today, I add to it a photo from the Steve Chou Collection, contrasting the price of gasoline when the photo was taken in 1996, to the historic structure.

Hannibal Courier-Post (MO) - Saturday, June 15, 2013


A relic of Hannibal's past stands almost inconspicuously sandwiched between Mark Twain Avenue's Abel's Quik Shop to the east, and the former General Store to the west. Located on lot 23 in Ruff ners Subdivision of outlots 85 and 86, and right beside an inhabited clapboard house, there exists a brick, twostory house built upon a stone foundation, with double porches facing the Mississippi River. Devoid of occupants since the early 1970s, and now owned by Mark and Roseann Kilby of Hannibal, the former family dwelling serves as a reminder of an early era, when the core of Hannibal consisted of craftsmen who used their brawn and ingenuity to supply citizens with their basic needs. Today, plaster has fallen from the porch lathing and paint is peeling from the ornate railing. But inside this house there is more than knob and tube wiring and wallpaper remnants. Within the brick walls and stone foundation, there exists a family's history. It is unclear exactly when this structure - which overlooks the Mississippi River - was constructed. But the neighborhood and the connection to the Kilian family dates back to as early as 1859, when George Michael Kilian, a butcher, operated stall number 3 at the city's Market House, and his family lived on the south side of Palmyra Avenue, near the soda factory. The Kilians - father and sons - were butchers. In 1877, George M. Kilian had moved his meat market to 114 Palmyra Ave., and lived on the north side of the avenue, just west of Sixth, with his wife Margaret and sons John and Henry. By 1880, George Michael Kilian was a retired butcher, according to census records. He died on April 3, 1885, and his headstone remains intact in the Old Baptist Cemetery. Left to divide his property upon his death were five children, three sons and two daughters: Henry Kilian, Andrew Kilian, John Kilian, Barbara Schnitzlein and Margaret Johann . Margaret and her husband, Peter Johann , purchased the Palmyra Avenue property from the other siblings for $400, and that's where they raised their four children: Maggie Johann , Henry A. Johann , Peter Franklin Charles Johann , and Harry Alvin Johann . Barbara Schnitzlein and her husband moved to Market Street - first numbered 409, and later renumbered 2521 - in 1868. They lived and worked in a two-story brick building. There, they began the manufacture of soap and candles. These resourceful family members made use of available commodities in order to make a living. Animal fats and tallow used in the production of soap and candles - perhaps obtained from butchering done by Mrs. Schnitzlein's father and brothers - were rendered in a separate building located in a ravine known as Prentice Hollow about three blocks west of the factory and north of Market Street. Meanwhile, the Johann men conducted the trade of teamsters, at times hauling lumber by horse and wagon for the Cruikshank Lumber Co. Anna Schnitzlein, a highly regarded Hannibal photographer during the early part of the 20th century, is the granddaughter of family patriarch George M. Kilian, on whose property a house still stands at 908 Mark Twain Avenue. The stone foundation and still-sturdy structure serves as a testament to his strong German work ethic and core family values passed along by descendants of the Kilians, Schnitzleins and Johanns.

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