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Hofbauer name represented integrity and business finesse

The Hofbauer Bros. Drug Store, located at 1401 Market Street, Hannibal, served Hannibal customers for 62 years. The business was sold to Ben Western and Ray Gresham in 1946. STEVE CHOU COLLECTION


Hannibal’s city marshal, August Hofbauer, stood accused of misappropriating $3 in cash and an imitation diamond pin from Leroy G. Stewart.

Stewart had been arrested by Hofbauer on Feb. 11, 1876, after becoming noisy while drinking with friends. At the time, Hofbauer confiscated a revolver, a knife, $3 in bills and the pin, with an estimated value of $20.

Once Stewart paid his fine, Hofbauer returned the revolver and knife, but didn’t return the cash and pin, Stewart maintained.

Eleven months later, Hofbauer, a highly respected citizen of Hannibal as well as a Civil War veteran, stood trial for the charges. A Hannibal jury unanimously acquitted Hofbauer of all charges.

“The action of the jury in acquitting him is almost universally approved by our citizens,” The Hannibal Clipper reported. “That Mr. Stewart lost the money and pin is no doubt true, but it by no means follows that Hofbauer got them and kept them. It is a grave thing to charge an honorable man with such an offense, and all who are intimate with the City Marshal deeply sympathize with him in this matter, and they rejoice that an honest man has been thoroughly and fully vindicated.”

An immigrant

German-born August Hofbauer arrived in Hannibal prior to 1860, first serving as proprietor of the St. Louis Exchange, operating on the south side of Bird between Levee and Main, and later working as a saloonkeeper. He and his wife also operated a boarding house in 1860, where they lived with their two young children, Eva, 2, and David, 1.

Living within that boarding house just prior to the start of the Civil War, were perpetrators of various trades, including a tailor, laborers, a stone mason, a drayman, a barber, a butcher and a grocery clerk. Nations of birth for these boarders included Germany, France, Switzerland, Prussia and Denmark.

As political strife intensified during the angst between the states, August Hofbauer enlisted the same year – 1861 – that his third child, August L. Hofbauer was born. Capt. Hofbauer served his country until the war’s end in 1865, before rejoining his wife, Sara, and children in their adopted hometown of Hannibal.

The Hofbauer children, including youngest Christina, born in 1865, attended Hannibal’s Western School where they maintained stellar attendance records. Capt. Hofbauer went to work in local law enforcement, first as a police officer, and later as the town’s elected marshal. In 1880, the family lived on the north side of Church Street, between Tenth and Eleventh.

In 1877, Capt. Hofbauer was the arresting officer of a suspect in the daring daylight burglary at the home of Col. D.M. Dulany, who lived on the northwest corner of Tenth and Broadway.

Capt. Hofbauer’s oldest son, David, got his start in the retail business in 1875 at the age of 15, working under the tutorialship of Leonard Orynski, who operated a drug store on the southwest corner of Broadway and Fourth.

Ten years later, (in 1884) David and his brother L. August Hofbauer purchased an existing drug store on Market Street, established by Albert Russ in 1867.

Hofbauer Bros.

For the next 45 years, the partnership of Hofbauer Bros., thrived on Market Street. From early on, the Hofbauer brothers applied for and were annually granted dram shop licenses, allowing them to sell packaged liquor at their store. In addition, they harvested and sold ice cultivated from the mouth of Bear Creek.

L. August Hofbauer, his father’s namesake, didn’t marry. He died in 1929. His brother David carried on the business from the time of August’s death until his own death in 1942.

In 1946, David’s widow, Harriett, sold the business to Ben Western and Ray Gresham, owners of Ray’s Pharmacy in Macon, thus ending the operation of Hofbauer Bros. drug store after 62 years.

Gladys Hofbauer

David Hofbauer and wife Harriett had one daughter, Gladys, who was among the 29 graduates of the Hannibal High School Class of 1908. In March 1911, Gladys married Walter B. Weisenberger, also a 1908 HHS graduate, who at the time of their marriage was a newspaper editor for the Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, Minn. A native of Barry, Ill., he previously worked as a Hannibal newspaperman. Walter Weisenberger went on serve as executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers. Prior to that he was president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce. Walter was the son of John E. and Nellie Weisenburger of Hannibal. J.E. Weisenburger was a Hannibal tavern owner of note.


Leapold August Hofbauer (1823-1895) Sara B. Hofbauer (1836-1894) L.A. Hofbauer (1861-1929) and Christine Hofbauer (1865-1939) are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Hannibal. David John Hofbauer (1859-1942) and Harriett Hofbauer (1866-1947) are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, in Hannibal, as are Walter Weisenburger (1888-1947) and Gladys Hofbauer Weisenburger (1890-1965)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mary Lou Montgomery compiled the following story in 1979, as part of her history series known as “Local Legacies.” In includes some interesting data regarding the Market Street business district, in which the Hofbauers conducted their business.

The face of Market Stret

Changes in Market Street over the last century have been dramatic. What was once a thriving business section of Hannibal and Oakwood now houses many abandoned buildings intertwined with the small shows and businesses.

Threatened by road construction and blight, some residents have made efforts to rebuild their thoroughfare. But it is doubtful the early thriving business district will ever be restored.

A story in the centennial edition of the Hannibal Evening Courier-Post, which was published June 30, 1938, tells the story of the important artery linking Hannibal to the surrounding community of Oakwood, along with towns in Ralls, Monroe and Pike counties.

Most of the stores in the 1870s and 80s were located on the lower end of the street, from the Marion House (located at 1500 Market Street) to Maple Avenue, known then as 12th Street. There were also a number of businesses between South Arch and Lindell.

Residents of the area made few trips to town and purchases were usually made to last until the next shopping trip. The businesses thrived until buses and automobiles began to carry much of the commerce to downtown Hannibal.

The road was originally known as the “Plank Road” and was paved with brick from Lemon Street to the Marion House in 1893.

One of the last businesses which operated in the lower part of the street in the 1880s was Hofbauer Drug Company, 1401 Market. The store was established by Albert Russ in 1867 and was purchased by D.J. Hofbauer and his brother, August L. Hofbauer, in 1884.

According to the Courier-Post’s centennial edition, Fred Stohr operated a butcher shop at Market and Lemon streets, which also included a packing plant. John Kenna conducted a grocery and confectionery opposite the Hofbauer building.

A carriage and wagon factory operated by Harry and Charles Hutchinson was located at 1300 Market and Kahl’s Bakery was in a building at the northeast corner of Market and Lyon streets.

Frank O’Mahoney operated a dry goods store in the area of 1406 Market and Eli T. Albertson was proprietor of a dry goods store at 1408 Market.

Other businesses along Market Street in 1885 included a general store and grocery at the corner of Market and Arch streets operated by Herman G. Nerlich. William J. Gwinner operated a bakery, and grocery stores were operated by J.C. Raible; E.S. Bodin; J.E.B. Clement and Son; James G. Cook; David H. Courtney; William DePear; Dick and Huser; Johnson and Swanson; William C. Lachner; Cornelius McKenna; Annie McManus; James C. Pollard; William A. Razor; William G. Rendlen; Egbert C. Robinson and August Van Evercooren.

A baking powder factory was also operated on Market Street by James S. Reynolds.

Blacksmith shops were operated along Market Street by Carl Brown, James R. Ely, Joseph Hotchkiss and Hutchinson and Son. The street also had a book store, conducted by Betty Stone and Mattie Kemper. Shoe dealers and manufacturers were Fred H. Dreyer, A.E. Indorf, John F. Mangels, John M. Painter; Edward M. Porer and C.F. Rannenberg.

D.H. Courtney specialized in the sale of chinaware, glass and queensware and David Whisler operated a glass and paint store.

A mens’ and boys’ clothing store was operated by Morris Marcus, and Mrs. Etta Bloom and Mrs. H. Clemens were proprietors of dressmaking establishments.

Market Street druggists in 1885 included Morrison R. Craft and William B. Humrick. Dry goods stores were run by George W. Armsburg, Hugh T. Brown, Duple Sisters and M.E. Graham. Feed stores include those operated by Balthauser Knoepfel, William De Pear, Hugh C. Mitcheltree and Company, Egbert C. Robinson and the Van Evercooren Store.

William Derwin, Henry Kilian, Charles M. Roberts and W. Scott Shelton conducted meat markets.

Millinery store proprietors included Fannie P. Cook and Mrs. M.A. Gallatin.

Timothy Burns and Julius A. DeLaPorte operated stores specializing in stoves and tinware and Henry C. Hubbard was listed in the directory as a wagon maker.

1401 Market Street, Whalen Pharmacy. In October 1958 Whalen was the owner of what was previously the Hofbauer Drug Store. The drug store is the building behind the automobile. OTIS HOWELL PHOTO/STEVE CHOU COLLECTION

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