Journalist chronicled important milestone in Hannibal’s history
Employees of the Hannibal Morning Journal newspaper gather outside the building on East Broadway circa 1900. This building was known as he RoBards Building. It would be razed in the 1960s. John F. Stichman, who would have been in his early 20s at the time of this photo, may be included among the employees. STEVE CHOU COLLECTION/BLUFF CITY MEMORIES, HANNIBAL, MISSOURI
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
John F. Stichman of Hannibal went to work as a 16-year-old, learning the printing trade in the typical manner: via hands-on instruction from those experienced in the craft.
Three years later, in 1896, young Stichman – the son of a Hannibal cooper doing business on Lyon Street, near the intersection with Market – was granted a conditional membership in the Typographical Union chapter 88 at Hannibal, for completing three years of work in the field.
Working for the Hannibal Morning Journal in both the front and in the back shop, he learned how to operate and maintain the newspaper’s new linotype machine, which utilized the latest technology in the industry. The leading manufacturer of the day was the Mergenthaler Linotype Company. The typesetting machine, consisting of a hot metal typesetting system that cast blocks of metal type, utilized a 90-character keyboard.
Rural Free Delivery
One of the many history stories written by Hurley and Roberta Hagood and subsequently published in the Hannibal Courier-Post focused on the first Rural Free Delivery route to the west of Hannibal. On the monumental day in 1901 when rural Marion County residents first received delivery to boxes installed on the road near their homes, representatives of the Hannibal Morning Journal accompanied the delivery.
Two members of the press rode in the horse-drawn regulation mail wagon along with the driver, Tom B. Jefferies. One newspaper employee was John F. Stichman, described as the newspaper’s artist. He took pictures of interesting subjects along the route, the Hagoods explained. The other journalist was Parks C. Archer, city editor.
The two chronicled the events of Feb. 1, 1901, beginning with delivery to Withers Mill, and arrival at the West Ely Road turnoff at noon. A feast was prepared at the home of Col. Joseph E. Rowe. The route was 25 miles in length.
An excerpt from the February 1901 Morning Journal story of the RFD startup: “The Journal artist was kept busy during the entire trip, and the news obtained included pictures of the home of Daniel Ashmore where the first delivery was made; residence of Settles Brothers. W.F. Chamberlain, John B. Shepherd, Claude Dudley, Mrs. K.C. Gentry, Stephen Glascock, Samuel Withers; views of Colonel Joseph E. Rowe’s farm; the post office and W.F. Tetterman’s store at Withers Miller; German school and district school at West Ely; post office at West Ely, and a view of the town of West Ely.”
The 1901 Hannibal City Directory lists the following employees of the Hannibal Morning Journal:
John A. Knott
Joseph A. Lavoo, pressman
Miss Margaret K. Sullivan, bookkeeper
Burt E. Turner, printer
Herbert Wilcox, mailing clerk
Elmer E. Hewett, foreman
Eugene Ellis, col., works Journal, lives at 610 N. Sixth
Charles Conrad, superintendent delivery
Lawrence Cherry, paper carrier
Benjamin F. Brown, vice president and business manager
Fred A. Atkins, foreman, Journal, res. 1321 Lyon, wife Annie
Parks C. Archer, city editor
John Stichman’s youngest brother, George Peter Stichman, died at the age of 20 in March 1901, of diabetes complications. He had been employed as a bookkeeper at the First International Bank in Hannibal.
Just 12 days later, German born Henry W. Stichman – John and George Stichman’s 59-year-old father – died. Both are buried at Hannibal’s Riverside Cemetery.
John Stichman, who worked for the Hannibal newspaper from roughly 1896 through 1901, gained valuable linotype experience which added to his marketability. By the time he tendered his resignation at the Morning Journal, he was in charge of the linotype machines for the Hannibal newspaper, which was doing business at 111-113 Broadway.
That marketability lead him west, to Independence, Montgomery County, Kansas, where he went to work for the Independence Daily Reporter. There, he erected one of the new linotypes at the newspaper office in 1903, and operated it for several months thereafter, before taking a long hiatus from the newspaper industry.
Stichman was drawn to Independence, Kansas by a relative, Henry Baden, who had previously established a successful wholesale dry goods business there. Prior to moving to Kansas, Henry Baden had settled in at Hannibal, which was already home to his brother, Diedrich, who came to American in 1868 and was employed in the tobacco industry at Hannibal until his death.
Stichman worked for the Baden company in Independence for the next 14 years.
Returns to newspaper work
John Stichman, by 1918 married to the former Miss Nola Beatrice Stone, and the father of two children, Thelma and John, decided to return to newspaper work. In September 1918, he joined the Independence Daily Reporter staff as advertising manager.
In June 1921, he took a leap of faith, moving his family to Mound Valley, Kan., where he purchased the weekly newspaper, the Mound Valley Journal.
That association was short lived, and by 1925, he and his family were back in Independence, where he held the job of secretary for the chamber of commerce.
John Stichman made several trips back to Hannibal during his years as a Kansas resident. First and foremost, he and his bride took the midnight Santa Fe train to Hannibal following their September 1907 marriage. Here, they visited his friends and family, including his mother, Margaret Stichman, still residing at the family home, 1240 Lyon Street.
He also was called home in 1912, during his mother’s final illness. She underwent surgery for cancer at Levering Hospital, but a month later it was determined that her condition was grim. She died May 10, 1912, and was buried beside her husband at Riverside Cemetery.
Stichman’s surviving brother, Harry, remained in Hannibal and lived in the Lyon Street neighborhood of his childhood. He was employed as an electrician for the Burlington Railroad. He died in 1947, and is buried at Riverside Cemetery.
John W. Stichman, who captured an important part of Hannibal’s history through his work at the Morning Journal, died Feb. 23, 1941, and is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Independence, Kansas.
The Quincy Daily Whig published a sketch of their new linotype machine on May 6, 1897.
This postcard of Penn Avenue looking north in Independence, Kan., shows the Baden dry goods store on the right, where John F. Stichman worked for some 14 years. PHOTO OBTAINED FROM PUBLIC FILES ON ANCESTRY.COM