A young man delivering flowers during 1940s remembers home’s unique door
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Dan Griffen, 91, still creating bouquets and making floral deliveries for his family’s business, looks across the street from his shop on St. Mary’s Avenue and makes a casual observation:
The front door to the house directly across the street from the flower shop – located at 3110 St. Mary’s Avenue - is the same door he remembers from his boyhood. He delivered flowers there, and clearly recalls the oval glass in the door window.
It’s memories such as this – the little nuggets of information verbally passed by one generation to the next – that add context to written history. If not recorded, these tidbits of character are forever lost to the passing of years.
So who was this recipient of flowers, delivered by this life-long florist three quarters of a century ago?
In 1925, the frame house with a large tree-shaded lawn at 3110 St. Mary’s Avenue, and now occupied by Rob Robertson and his business, Back 2 Health, was home to Leigh Allison Neeper and her daughter, Lucy.
Lucy Neeper may have been the recipient of a floral bouquet delivered by a teen-aged Dan Griffen on behalf of his family’s business.
Miss Neeper graduated from Hannibal High School in 1924, and continued her education in order to earn teacher certification. By 1935, she was teaching for the Hannibal public schools.
Her mother continued to live at the St. Mary’s Avenue home until the mid 1940s. Sometime during that decade, Lucy married Eldon B. Hollis, who studied at the College of William and Mary, and they moved Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Neeper’s husband, Frederick W. Neeper, was a Hannibal attorney who operated his office at 206 A Center St., until his death in 1918.
Mrs. Neeper died Feb. 26, 1958, and is buried alongside her husband in Riverside Cemetery.
Lucy Neeper Hollis inherited an 1813 quilt hand made by an ancestor, which she proudly displayed during a tour of her retirement home in Green Valley, Ariz., in 1975.
St. Mary’s Avenue
home’s early history
The Hawkins name is prominent in Hannibal, most notably Laura Hawkins, who Sam Clemens immortalized as Becky Thatcher in his popular novel, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
The Hawkins’ family roots extend far beyond Twain’s writings into an expansive neighborhood which extends along the St. Mary’s Avenue corridor from South Levering Avenue and north to Hill Street, where it boarders with Hubbard’s Addition.
Elijah Hawkins was born Oct. 7, 1795, and died Aug 30, 1841, at Hannibal. Married to Sophia Bradford, the family consisted of several children, the oldest being Jameson Fielding Hawkins, born 1819, and the youngest, Ann Laura Hawkins (Frazer) born in 1837, died in 1928.
Jameson Fielding Hawkins, Laura’s brother, died prior to 1886, leaving to mourn him his wife, Sarah Ann Smith Hawkins, and children Elijah, Jamieson, Thetis, Anna, Jennie, Sarah, Mary, Laura, William, John, George and Asa.
A land transaction was recorded On Aug. 19, 1886, in which all of the children deeded their share of their father’s property to their mother, Sarah A. Hawkins.
The land was subdivided into the Hawkins Subdivision. On May 2, 1896, Sarah Hawkins’ son, Elijah Hawkins, filed an amended subdivision plat. He divided the land into individual streets and home lots for the property located south of Broadway to Minnow Branch, and west of Levering Avenue. He also designated lots for a section of Broadway just to the north of Levering Avenue.
Finally, he platted lots and streets for the area to the north of Radcliff Street, to Hill Street (at the time named Jameson Street.)
That neighborhood, which would encompass the land for Mark Twain Elementary School, included a parcel of ground designated as Lot 9. Upon this triangular-shaped lot would be constructed the still-standing house with the oval door.
Rob Robertson believes the house where his business is now located on St. Mary’s Avenue was built by Elijah Hawkins, for either his mother or his sister, each of whom were named Sarah.
This oval glass door window at 3110 St. Mary’s Avenue reflects upon a changing neighborhood, but still maintains its historic presence. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY/FOR THE COURIER-POST