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Palmyra contractor’s legacy: Providing housing for the ages

Edward F. Schneider, long-time Palmyra area contractor.Shared on Findagrave by ch47mtp70


Few people leave more lasting legacies than carpenters. They utilize the skills they hone throughout a lifetime in order to build structures that stand well past their own passing.

E.F. Schneider was such a man. Born in 1866, Missouri-native Edward F. Schneider worked as a farm hand in his youth, and later as an apprentice under his father William, who was native of Germany. One of 15 children, Edward set out on his own circa 1896 to earn a reputation as a quality builder. And he accomplished his goal.

A partial listing of buildings he constructed during his career was compiled from notices in Palmyra’s newspapers, particularly the Palmyra Spectator.

In partnership with John Miller, he built Palmyra’s city hall on South Main Street, in 1909, which has since been demolished. The site now serves the Palmyra Fire Department.

A residence for Sheriff W.L. Johnson, which was completed in 1913.

The residence of Squire Benson at Taylor Station, which was erected at a cost of $14,000.

The $5,000 residence of Walter Wright at Taylor Station.

The Jim Cason and L. Loudermilk residences at Maywood.

The Providence church at Withers Mill.

The $4,500 barn of John Hansbrough on the Quincy road.

Tenement houses on the farms of Dr. A. White and Ira Suter in Marion County.

In 1912, Schneider won the contract for a six-room cottage for C.F. Willock, at a cost of $2,500.

In 1912, Schneider was hired to construct a new $6,000 residence for P.E. White of Taylor.

In 1915, E.F. Schneider completed the woodwork on J.W. Read’s dairy barn.

In 1916, Schneider was contracted to build Palmyra’s new button factory at a cost of $2,587.

In 1917, Schneider was contracted to build the Little Union Church.

Also, he built the J.M. Benson home near Taylor.

In 1911, he constructed the Harmon S. Potter home at Palmyra; cost $7,000.

Potter house

The construction of the Potter house in Palmyra gained quite a bit of press.

H.S. Potter was elected county court judge from the Western District of Marion. While maintaining his farm in the Fabius Township, after he was elected he and his wife moved to Palmyra. In 1910, they rented a house from W.R. Anderson, and soon began making plans to build.

They contacted an architect from Quincy, Ill., to draw up plans, and purchased from Frank H. Sosey two lots just to the east of the old Joseph W. Thompson residence, which faced Main Cross Street. The legal description of the land Potter purchased consists in part: Lots 1 and 2, block 22, Palmyra. The Thompson property consisted of lots 3 and 4 – to the west - in the same block.

By July 12, 1911, ground had been broken for the new Potter residence. (The house was built at what is now 706 S. Dickerson.)

In August 1911, Contractor Schneider’s nephew, Joe Helbing, took a bad fall while working on the two-story house. The newspaper reported that the young man was expected to be “crippled up” for some time.

Potter residence

H.C. Potter lived in his new house but a short time. He and his wife both passed in 1915. Mr. Potter left his Palmyra home to his son, Dr. J.H. Potter, with the stipulation that the doctor and his family move from their home in New York, back to Palmyra, in order to care for H.C. Potter for the duration of his lifetime. They fulfilled that commitment.

Following Mr. Potter’s death, his son placed the house on the real estate market, advertising it in the Dec. 1, 1915 Palmyra Spectator:

“House exceptionally well built on corner lots 132x135 feet, one block west of Main street; is a two story pressed brick house 30x43 feet (exclusive of porches) and contains 4 rooms, bath and toilet, on second floor; 4 rooms, pantry and toilet on ground floor, all hard wood finish. Living room is 13x30; front porch is 8x30; back porch (concrete floor) 8x13, with cistern underneath. Has concrete side wall on both streets. Basement 30x43, divided by concrete walls into furnace, fuel and storage rooms. House has electricity, hot and cold water. American Radiator, Ideal Vapor heating system (boiler and pipes jacketed), windows fitted with metal weather strips and hanging screens. Attic 30x43. Blue prints can be seen at house.

“On rear corner is combination stable and garage 20x25, dressed timber and painted.

“Above described property was built by the late Judge H.S. Potter and while one of the finest homes in the county can be had at a bargain. Apply to Dr. J.H. Potter.”

Mrs. J.T. (Matilda) Mays and Miss Martha Hickman – sisters of Mrs. H.S. Potter – purchased the house and moved in during May 1916. Miss Hickman died in 1924. Her will stipulated that Matilda Mays was to retain ownership of the house during her lifetime.

Mrs. Mays died in 1930.

Gray Synder

Attorney Gray Snyder purchased the Potter/Mays property for $4,150 (about half the cost of what Potter originally paid to have the home constructed) at a partition sale in June 1931. At the time of the sale Snyder’s family was still living in Ewing, where he practiced law and where he was serving Lewis County in the state legislature. He had plans to move his family to Palmyra in the fall.

In 1957 Gray Snyder’s daughter, Betty Kate Snyder, sold the house to Barton family in 1957.

Contractor dies

Edward F. Schneider, who served as contractor for the Potter house, died in August 1940, and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Sidenote: Thompson house

In 1925, Miss Pauline Dingle purchased the old Joseph W. Thompson house at 488 Main Cross, Palmyra,

from the First Savings Bank of Palmyra, for $3,500. Her parents, James S. Dingle and Anna Thompson Dingle, continued to live in the house until their respective deaths in 1935 and 1931. Anna Thompson Dingle was a daughter of Joseph W. Thompson.

Note: The timeline for this house and its occupants was primarily culled from Palmyra newspapers via While believed accurate, the transactions were not independently confirmed through the Marion County Recorder’s office. Harla Friesz, Marion County recorder, was able to supply some supporting documentation.

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

The Providence Church, built by Edward F. Schneider, serves as the backdrop for the historic cemetery that provides a final resting place for residents of the Withers Mill in Marion County, Mo. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY 2016

Palmyra’s old city hall is represented in the 1913 Marion County Atlas. Mr. Schneider and his partner, John Miller, built this structure around 1909.

Edward F. Schneider advertised his business in the March 27, 1935 edition of the Marion County Standard newspaper.

Judge H.S. Potter was pictured in the Palmyra Spectator on April 18, 1906.

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