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Buggy accident on Broadway Extension might have changed the course of Hannibal history

Linda and Jonathan Brocaille have called 117 N. Hayden St., Hannibal, home for the last decade. The house was built by Samuel Richardson for his family during the second decade of the 20th century. Jonathan Brocaille vowed as a child to one day own this “mansion.” CONTRIBUTED

Second installment in a two-part series


As we walk confidently through each day, we must be reminded that life itself is very fragile. There is but a fraction of a second between: “Whew, that was close,” and “Oh, dear God!”

Seconds change the course of history.

Such was the case for Samuel Richardson, a Hannibal contractor, and his son, Gerald, on a stormy Monday evening at the end of July 1919.

They were heading from downtown Hannibal, Mo., to their home on North Haydon Street about 6 p.m., in a horse-drawn buggy. At the intersection of Houston street and Broadway extension, falling tree branches knocked down the street car trolley wire, and the limbs subsequently knocked down the horse – twice.

The two men were injured by the falling branches, barely escaping the full impact of the tree limbs’ force, thus their lives were saved.

Had they been hit, instead of the horse … “Whew, that was close.”

Richardson & Son contractors, builders

When William Richardson and his wife, Mary Hellenberger Richardson, were recorded in the 1870 census at Hannibal, Mo., they were parents of four young sons, Joseph, then 8 years old; Benjamin Franklin, 7; Samuel, 6; and John W., a baby. A daughter, Clara, had gone to be with her maker in 1867, at the age of 7. Another daughter, Linda, was recorded in the 1880 census.

William Richardson, who had trained beside his father, Robert, as a wagonmaker in Conococheague, Maryland, turned his trade to contracting and construction once settled in Hannibal, Mo., at the end of the Civil War.

By the last decade of the 18th Century, he had established himself in Hannibal as a respected contractor, while training his sons – most notably Samuel - to follow in his footsteps.

In the fall of 1895, the Wm. Richardson & Son Co., contractor and builders, were awarded the contract for construction of a large ($4,000) residence for Mr. Arthur Brent Drescher, Palmyra. Drescher, the son of Palmyra dry goods merchant John W. Drescher (wife Belle Lampton), and Arthur’s new bride, Hannibal society belle, Miss Julia B. Scott, moved into the house following their Nov. 14, 1895 marriage. (Note: The Dreschers eventually moved to Hannibal, where A.B. Drescher was a produce broker. A Hannibal King’s Daughters chapter is named for Julia Scott Drescher.)

Cruikshank mansion

But the Drescher job, while important for the Richardsons, paled in comparison to a later project: The supervision of construction for J.J. Cruikshank’s new $225,000 residence atop Bird Street hill in Hannibal, in 1899.

A year later, working together, William and Samuel were named construction superintendents for Marion County’s two new courthouses circa 1900: One at Hannibal and the other at Palmyra.

Failing health

William Richardson’s health began to fail in 1903, and he took a trip west in hopes that a change in climate would precipitate a reversal in his declining condition. Unsuccessful, he returned home, and died at the age of 74, on April 5, 1904. He was survived by his wife and three sons. He was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, near his father, Robert Richardson. The two share a headstone.

Samuel continued the business as Richardson Brothers after his father’s death, partnering with his younger brother, John W. Richardson, and winning important contracts.

Those included the supervision of construction for the Mark Twain Hotel, completed in 1905-06, and Hannibal High School, located on the northeast corner of Eleventh and Broadway in Hannibal, constructed in 1904.

In 1909, Samuel Richardson superintended the building of Hannibal’s City Hall on the northeast corner of Fourth and Broadway.

In 1909, the Richardson Brothers were contractors for the new $75,000 Marion County Infirmary at Palmyra. It consisted of five buildings, including one that served as a “colored ward.”

Personal residences

William Richardson and his wife, Mary, made their home in a large and comfortable house located at 320 Chestnut Street (now renumbered 2000 Chestnut.) Samuel, married to Lillian, built a new house for his family at 117 N. Hayden. Both houses are still standing; the house on Hayden Street is owned and occupied by Jonathan and Linda Brocaille. Jonathan Brocaille, who grew up in the neighborhood, always admired this house (which he calls the Mansion) and while still a child vowed one day to own the house. His prophecy was realized a decade ago. He and his wife, Linda Glascock Brocaille, have valued the house’s history while raising their own family there.

Samuel Richardson’s daughter, Ruth Hennessy, lived next door to the south, and his son Gerald lived on Grace Street, with a back yard adjoining his parents.

The year following the could-have-been-fatal buggy accident involving Samuel and his son – in 1920 - Gerald Richardson married Miss Mary Brown, formerly of Shelbina. The wedding took place at Samuel Richardson’s residence on North Hayden, where the Brocailles now live.

Death of Samuel

Samuel Richardson died of asphyxiation while working on his car in the garage next to his house on North Locust street. The garage was located directly behind his daughter’s house, and she was the one who found him unresponsive. He was 66 years of age at the time of his death.

Note: The Brocailles tore the garage down a year ago.


In 1881, Samuel’s brother, Joseph Richardson was working as a carpenter for A.J. Kee in Hannibal, and lived with his parents on Chestnut, between Griffith and Hayden.

In 1888, brothers Benjamin F., Joseph, John W., and Samuel were all living with their parents, working as carpenters, and living at 316 Chestnut.


B. Franklin, carpenter, worked for J.F. Meyer. His residence was at 1216 Lyon


Benj F., carpenter, 352 Griffith

Samuel, carpenter for his father, 1618 Broadway

William, contractor, 316 Chestnut

Note: Gerald Richardson, son of Samuel and grandson of William, was father to Raymond Richardson of rural New London, Mo., who died on Friday, April 20, 2018.

The timeless hard wood remains in the entry foyer of the Samuel Richardson house at 117 Hayden St., Hannibal. Samuel’s son, Gerald Richardson, was married in this house in 1920. Gerald’s last surviving son, Raymond Richardson of rural New London, died on Friday, April 20, 2018. CONTRIBUTED

This 1913 Sanborn map shows the intersection of Broadway and Houston streets, Hannibal, where Samuel and Gerald Richardson were struck by falling tree branches on their way home from downtown. They were riding in a horse-pulled buggy. CONTRIBUTED

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