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Neighbors in life and death

This photo was found in a 1950s-era book produced by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company. It was promoting undeveloped industrial areas with access to the Burlington Lines. The property was bounded on the east by U.S. Route 61; to the north by the Paris Gravel Road and to the south by the CB&Q Railroad tracks. This photo was taken prior to the construction of the Bear Creek Dam. The railroad lines and Paris Gravel Road were relocated to make way for the dam’s construction. Western Printing Company was originally constructed on this industrial site. The land now hosts the General Mills plant. The arrow is pointing to what is believed to be the Aydelott/Evans homestead. John Hampton’s property was just to the northeast of this photo. Photo contributed by Robert Spaun.


A Hannibal jury was called upon in October 1905 to determine whether the will of Virgil Evans was valid. Two heirs, who received minimal bequests, charged that the long-time Missouri farmer was incompetent when he penned his will on Sept. 10, 1904. The jury ultimately disagreed and allowed – after a three- or four-day trial - that Virgil Evans’ will was, indeed, valid.

Evans was an aged and respected resident of Oakwood, which in his day was considered a community of its own just to the west of Hannibal.

During his lifetime he had amassed as estate valued at more than $10,000, including at least two farms located on Paris Gravel Road, one of which was intersected by the tracks of the Hannibal and St. Jo Railroad.

Just ten years before his death, Evans had watched with interest as the relatives of his long-time friend and neighbor, John A. Hampton, staged a court battle over the latter’s assets.

In an attempt to prevent the same from happening to his estate, Evans put a stipulation in his will noting that anyone who challenged it would be disqualified from an inheritance. But that didn’t stop the heirs from trying.

Evans and Hampton

Nearly each morning for some dozen years during the 1880s and early 1890s, Virgil Evans and John Hampton met at the gate leading to Hampton’s hilltop home on the north side of Paris Gravel Road. There, they passed the time of day.

The curious thing about this road is that for a portion of the east-west corridor, the road serves as a divider between Marion and Ralls counties.

And that was the case in Miller Township, where both Evans and Hampton lived during this time.

Evans, who operated a milk dairy in the 1890s, and Hampton - a gentleman farmer - discussed the weather, mutual friends, their families and agricultural-related topics of the day.

Evans and passed by the gate daily during the commission of his usual business affairs.

“I had a conversation with him nearly every day when he was at home,” Evans told a jury during a challenge of his friend’s will in 1894.

“I was going to work, he stopped and talked very often. I passed right along by the gate every morning, and if he would be out in the road, he would stop me.”

Sons of Kentucky

Evans and Hampton were both sons of 1820s Kentucky. Evans and his family migrated to Missouri as early as the 1820s, while Hampton moved north circa 1850.

In 1880 and until the men’s respective deaths in in 1904 and 1892, Hampton’s home was located on the hilltop where Dean Poage Chevrolet Buick is now located, on the northwest corner of the intersection of U.S. 61 and Paris Gravel Road.

Evans lived with his family on Paris Gravel Road, at the point where Red Devil Road intersects. Virgil and Ury Aydelott Evans lived in the two-story frame house, which was her family’s homestead, fronting the north line of the Paris Gravel Road.

Evans married Ury Aydelott (the daughter of John O. Aydelott) prior to 1880, and they had two children together, Robert V. Evans 1883-1935, and Sadie Elizabeth Evans Gibbons (1888-1953.) Interestingly, Robert and Sadie Evans married siblings: Robert’s wife was Bessie Flemming Gibbons Evans, and Sadie’s husband was Bert Gibbons.

After her husband’s death in 1904, Ury Evans deeded the 40-acre farm and homestead to their son, Robert V. Evans, “for one dollar and love and affection.”

The gravesites

If you’d like to visit the graves of those mentioned in this story, you’ll find them at the Hydesburg Cemetery, located directly behind the Hydesburg UM Church, 53349 Hydesburg Road, in Ralls County.

Like in life, these neighbors reside in close proximity to each other:

John O. Aydelott and his wife, Nancy; their daughter and son in law, Virgil Evans and Ura Aydelott Evans; and their neighbors, Dr. John A. Hampton and his wife, Susan Hampton.


John A. Hampton is the father of Doras Hampton, the subject of this author’s book, “The Notorious Madam Shaw” available on

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Her collective works can be found at

In 1913, Robert V. Evans and his wife, Ury, were the owners and residents of the 40 acre farm where Virgil Evans operated a dairy operation until his death in 1904. Source: The Standard Atlas of Marion County Missouri 1913. Shown: Sections 35 and 36, Township 57 North, Range 5 West. The Paris Gravel Road served as the divider between Marion and Ralls Counties. Illustration: Mary Lou Montgomery

The 1875 Illustrated Historical Atlas of Marion County, Mo., shows Sections 35 and 36, Township 57 North, Range 5 West. Note the Aydelott farm; the farm was later owned in part by Aydelott’s daughter, Ury, and her husband, Virgil Evans. The next in line of succession was Ury and Virgil’s son, Robert V. Evans.

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