1920: Easter weekend blizzard left Hannibal area snowbound
Hannibal received a record-breaking snowfall for April on Easter weekend, April 3-4, 1920. It snowed for 27 hours straight, from 2 p.m. Saturday until 6 p.m. Sunday. Pictured is the 200 block of North Main Street, looking south. FRAZER PHOTO/STEVE CHOU COLLECTION.
BY MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Mar. 2, 2013
Ernest and Eva Rissmiller drove to Hannibal in their brand-new Model T Ford on Easter weekend, 1920, to visit her sister, Anna Krigbaum. It would be three days before they could return to their home in rural Frankford.
For years to follow, Eva Rissmiller talked about the Easter weekend storm that brought Hannibal to a halt, and stranded her family at her sister’s house, which was located at 2435 Market St.
Marjorie Jones of Hannibal, the youngest of Eva’s children, remembers her mother’s stories, and throughout her lifetime has wondered about this massive snowstorm, which occurred six years before her birth.
A newspaper account of the weekend describes the storm, which left 11 inches of snow in its wake.
The storm began at 2 p.m. April 3, 1920, and snow fell continuously until 6 p.m. Sunday, April 4. The snow, which at times reached blizzard proportions, was followed by freezing conditions.
Streetcars in Hannibal were delayed while workers shoveled the tracks along the town’s streets. Railroad service from the west was demoralized, the newspaper reported, running as much as 12 hours late. The main line of the St. Louis and Hannibal Railroad was tied up nearly all of Sunday, as a train was snowbound at Cyrene.
The late snow and cold affected the fruit crop. Will S. Hall, nurseryman, told the newspaper that the pear and plum buds were damaged, but that he believed the peach and cherry buds would survive the weather.
Anna Krigbaum’s husband, Bob Krigbaum, was a machinist for the cement plant in 1920. At the time of the snowstorm, Marjorie’s father, Ernest Rissmiller, took care of the cattle on Austin Keithley’s farm at Frankford. Mr. Keithley is the father of Jane Parham, who still lives in the Hannibal area.
“Mother was the youngest of nine children, and she had nieces and nephews as old as she. We had a lot of relatives in Hannibal,” Marjorie said.
In 1921, the Rissmillers moved to the Elzea Addition at Hannibal, and Mr. Rissmiller took a job with the Wabash Railroad. Marjorie, born in 1926, grew up on Lindell Avenue, where her parents purchased a house.