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Dr. Robert H. Goodier, with expertise in infantile mortality, lost two young children to early death

The building on the left, located on the northeast corner of North Maple and Broadway in Hannibal, previously housed offices for local physicians. Dr. John Chamberlain conducted business in this building – which has been structurally altered over the years – until his death in 1891. The next physician to move into the office space was Dr. Robert H. Goodier. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY


In 1894, Dr. Robert H. Goodier, a long-established Hannibal physician, strategically moved his office from a storefront located within the Market Street Wedge, 148 Market, to a more visible and accessible building located on the northeast corner of N. Maple and Broadway, (1050 Broadway.)

The office had been vacated due to the death of its previous occupant, Dr. John Chamberlain. By moving, Goodier might have hoped to claim some of Dr. Chamberlain’s former patients as his own, in addition to moving from Hannibal’s working-class West Side to the more prestigious uptown location.

A reporter from the Hannibal Journal ventured inside Dr. Goodier’s new office in February 1894, and offered the newspaper’s readers a glimpse of the office’s interior during the transition between Drs. Chamberlain and Goodier.

On Feb. 15, 1894, the Palmyra Spectator reprinted a story first published in the Hannibal Journal:

“A reporter for the Journal dropped into Dr. Goodier’s office (formerly occupied by Dr. Chamberlain, deceased,) last night and a glance at the papered walls of the office recalled the peculiar style of the dead physician. On the front room there is only one strip of the same paper and there are about one hundred different patterns.”

The reporter went on to describe the scene: “There is a paper on the room that cost him from a dollar a roll down to five cents. It is also said that the doctor had a room carpeted with various patterns of carpet.”

Over the course of the years, the building has changed in structure as well as street address. The most noteworthy owner and occupant of the house in recent years was George Anthony Viorel, 1128 Broadway. George died Dec. 20, 2014, at the age of 100.

Medical training

Born at Florida, Mo., circa 1862, Robert Henry Goodier received special recognition at the Olympic Theater in St. Louis in early March 1883. As one of the 85 graduates of the Missouri Medical College, his essay on “The Causes of Infantile Mortality” was deemed among the top two written by the members of his class. For this honor, he was a recipient of Prof. J.P. Kingsley’s prize for the category.

After graduation, Dr. Goodier returned to Northeast Missouri, where he would practice medicine for his entire career. The son of a distinguished physician of the same region, Dr. James Goodier, and engaged to the daughter of Judge Henry Dooley, also of Monroe County, his prospects for a long and successful life seemed secure.


Ironically, it was the topic of his senior essay that would ultimately leave the young physician and his wife with a lifetime of heartache.

The couple lost two of their three young children within nine months during 1899. Their infant daughter died of whooping cough in January 1899; and their young son, Jamie, surrendered to meningitis on the ninth day of October, the same year. Their remaining daughter, Elsie, survived into adulthood.

Yellow fever

While serving as president of the Missouri state board of health in August 1905, Dr. Goodier was called to a special meeting in St. Louis to consider quarantining people suspected of having yellow fever.

A growing number of people in the South had contracted this dread disease, and its impact upon the port city of St. Louis was worrisome.

Upon the recommendation of Health Commissioner Snodgrass, a steamboat was secured, and fitted up, on the St. Louis riverfront. “All suspicious cases will be quarantined in the river,” the Columbia Herald, Columbia, Tenn., reported in its Aug. 4, 1905 edition.

Home wedding

It was in the Goodiers’ home at 119 N. Seventh Street in Hannibal that Elsie married Ralph F. Rucker, assistant superintendent of the Atlas Portland Cement plant, on Oct. 12, 1909.

A year later, the Goodiers sold their home and moved to North Maple. The single-family house where they had lived on North Seventh was replaced in 1910 by a double house, numbered 123-125 N. Seventh. Among the first occupants of 125 N. Seventh were William M. Smith, his wife, Nettie Smith, and their young daughter, Virginia. William, an undertaker, and his son Crawford W. Smith, were long-time operators of Smith Funeral Home in Hannibal.

Medical lineage

Dr. Robert Goodier’s father, Dr. James Goodier of Monroe City, died in 1894 at the age of 59. He practiced medicine at Florida, Mo., for 25 years, and at Monroe City for 10 years.

In 1911, Dr. and Mrs. Goodier moved from Hannibal to Stoutsville, where Dr. Goodier continued to practice medicine. He would remain in the Monroe City/Stoutsville area until 1917, when he and his wife returned to Hannibal.

His patients

• In early August 1890, Willie Heiser of Hannibal accidentally stabbed himself in the neck with a knife during a fall. His mother, Lena, answered her 11-year-old son’s screams, and calls went out for medical assistance. Dr. Goodier, along with Dr. Matson, arrived, and found the boy in critical condition. They managed to stop the bleeding from an artery, and later in the day Dr. Hearne was called in to help. He gave the opinion that the boy would recover, but that prediction proved optimistic. Young Willie, the son of Louis and Lena, died Sept. 4, 1890 and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

• During the late summer of 1891, Thomas Harrison had a close call with death. The Quincy Daily Whig made mention of Mr. Harrison’s sleep-walking feat, which led him to crash his head through a pane of window glass at his home on Lindell Avenue. His wife helped him escape from the glass, and then summoned Dr. Goodier’s assistance. The Quincy Daily Whig reported on Aug. 25, 1891: “When the physician reached the house he found Mr. Harrison prostrate on the bed with a gash six inches in length extending almost around his neck, and having hemorrhage after hemorrhage. It was with great difficulty that the physician succeeded in stopping the flow of blood.” Harrison was employed at the Short Line shops.

• The 4-year-old daughter of Mrs. E.M. Miller was badly burned when the child got too close to the burner of a gasoline stove, and her clothing caught fire. Dr. Goodier was called to the scene of the Miller household, on Chestnut Street in Hannibal. The Quincy Daily Journal reported that the doctor “did all that was in the power of man to alleviate suffering and remove danger to life, and the little one is resting as comfortably as could be expected under the circumstances.” (Aug. 3, 1892.)

• David Prewitt went coon hunting with friends near Huntington, Mo., in late October 1915. After the hunt, during a long walk home, he sat down upon a tie along the Katy tracks for a rest. Fatigued, he fell asleep, and was subsequently hit by a freight train, according to the Monroe City Democrat of Oct. 28, 1915. His injuries consisted of a fractured skull and two scalp wounds. Dr. Goodier, who was serving as the railroad doctor, accompanied Prewitt to Moberly, where he was hospitalized.

Death calls

Dr. Robert H. Goodier died in 1932, at the age of 71. He is buried beside his wife, Lula, at St. Jude Cemetery in Monroe City.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) 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

This clipping from the 1885 Sanborn map of Hannibal, Mo., shows the location of the medical office at 1052 Broadway, where both Dr. John Chamberlain and later Dr. Robert H. Goodier practiced medicine for a time. The office is shown just above the oval marking the date and place at Hannibal, Mo.

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