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Business card surfaces in county courthouse, hidden for 97 years

Anita Marshall, left, and Harla Friesz hold a business card recently discovered below a hand rail in the Marion County Courthouse in Palmyra. The card is dated 1918. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY


While climbing the stairs to the main level of the Marion County Courthouse in Palmyra on June 12, Anita Marshall noticed something peeking out from beneath the hand rail.

The rail was a little wobbly, she said, and she made a mental note to mention the situation to the maintenance man. But first, her curiosity got the best of her. She pulled on the corner of a card extending from the railing, and found a business card, dated 1918.

It was in actuality an election card for Frank W. Lane, a prominent Marion County Democrat, who ultimately would serve the citizens of the county in various capacities for three decades.

Harla Friesz, current Marion County Recorder, and Anita Marshall, county employee, expressed their amazement at how that card could have ended up in the stairway in the first place, and how it had managed to remain there unnoticed for 97 years.

County servant

Frank William Lane was born in 1854, the son of Palmyra pioneers George W. Lane and his wife, Amanda. The elder Mr. Lane was considered to be one of the best known men in Missouri during his lifetime, and for many years was the proprietor of the Hotel Dudley in Palmyra. His wife died twenty years after her husband, in 1908.

She was survived by eight children, Frank W. Lane, deputy county clerk, of Palmyra; D.O. Lane, Hannibal; D.C. Lane, Palmyra, and Miss Alma Lane, Palmyra; Mrs. W.H. Youse, Hannibal, Mrs. F. De Garis, Hannibal and Mrs. Zwick, El Paso, Texas.

While he spent most of his career in the county clerk’s office, the 1880 census reports that he was a deputy sheriff for the county. By 1900, he was deputy county collector.

The Quincy Daily Whig reported on Jan. 30, 1920, that Frank W. Lane, county clerk of Marion county, was seriously ill in his home in Palmyra. He had been unable to leave his home for two or three weeks.

His wife was appointed to fill the job, and she won election to the post on her own right in November 1921.

Frank Lane died April 24, 1921 and is buried in Palmyra’s Greenwood Cemetery. The following epitaph is in place on Mr. Lane’s findagrave site:

“It is simple justice to the memory of a good man to say that no one could have been removed from our midst who would be so mourned and sadly missed as will Frank Lane. It was as natural for Frank to go to the assistance of the poor and needy as it is for the sparks to fly upward, and his whole life was filled with little acts of kindness that, remembered now that he is gone, bring tears to the eyes in many homes of our people. Such a life, lived among us for all these years, is its own best epitaph.”

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