‘Overland’ vehicles popular with Marion County drivers


The panoramic photo shows Overland car dealers in Hannibal on Sept. 24, 1919. The participants are posing in front of a newly constructed building (which still stands) on the northeast corner of Broadway and Ninth. Louis G. Wilhelm was the Overland dealer in Hannibal at the time. Photo courtesy of Steve Chou.

MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

In 1915, Louis G. Wilhelm of Hannibal made a daring move for a retail grocer doing business in Hannibal’s Wedge neighborhood; he traded his work apron for a business suit, and his shop keys for the keys to his future occupation: An automobilist.

Wilhelm opened his first automobile shop circa 1915 – Hannibal Overland - near the intersection of Market and Broadway, 1222 Market. This storefront had a rear entrance to Broadway, and previously housed a diner, and later would serve as workspace for a shoe repair shop.

This location was temporary, however. On Oct. 15, 1916, the business moved into a newly constructed garage building (which still stands) on the northeast corner of Broadway and Ninth streets.

“Overland Day in Hannibal” would be marked on Oct. 21, 1916, with all owners of Overland cars invited to participate in a parade in the afternoon, followed by a banquet at the Mark Twain Hotel in the evening.

J.H. Cooper “the Knight Motor expert,” was to provide a lecture at the garage, open to the public.

The Quincy Daily Whig described the new building on Broadway in Hannibal: “This garage is the finest and largest in this section of the country, two stories in height, ninety foot front, and the second story is accessible on the side street without the use of an elevator. The first floor will be used for show rooms and offices, and the service and storage departments will occupy the second floor.”

Wilhelm was president of the Irwin-Overland Co., and in December 1917 he purchased all of the company stock. C.E. Strode, F.V. Hedges and John Stevens were associated with the business.

Overland success

In 1916, the Willys-Overland company was recognized as “one of the three most successful automobile manufacturers in the low-price field,” according to an article written by John Bentley for AmericanAutoHistory.com.

The first of the Overland brand of vehicles was produced in 1903, and following a series of acquisitions, consolidations and plant relocations, in 1916-1919, the most popular styles of Overlands were selling for less than $1,000.

County fair honors

The Overland won all the ribbons in the automobile contests at the Marion County Fair at Palmyra in late September 1917. The Hannibal Overland dealer won first prize of $25 for its display. In addition, Mrs. L.G. (Ethel) Wilhelm of Hannibal, driving an Overland, won the premium for best woman driver.

Change of allegiance

In mid 1920, Wilhelm switched his business franchise to the Buick brand, and John Shelburn, a noted Hannibal mechanic, supervised the repair shop.

Pete J. Kelly of Quincy, Ill., formerly of Edina, took over the Overland franchise in Hannibal, locating his business at 501 Broadway.

Wilhelm ancestry

Louis Garret Wilhelm was a son of German-born P.P. Wilhelm, who had settled in Hannibal prior to the Civil War. The elder Wilhelm fought for the Union, and then returned to Hannibal, making a name for himself as a hard working, industrious citizen.

P.P. Wilhelm’s death notice in the Quincy Daily Whig on April 25, 1909, was reflective of his citizenship:

“As a leaf flutters from the tree, P.P. Wilhelm, one of Hannibal’s oldest and best loved citizens, passed into the world beyond at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. Death occurred at his residence, 209 Fourth street, South Side, while surrounded by loving friends and was due to old age, completing and rounding off a long and well spent life. Mr. Wilhelm was 81 years six months and 12 days of age.”

In addition to L.G. Wilhelm, P.P. Wilhelm’s surviving children in 1909 were: Mrs. J.H. Snell, of Frankford, Mo.; A.F. Wilhelm of Center; Leonard Wilhelm, of Busch, Mo.; Mrs. W.M. Peters, of Hannibal; W.A. Wilhelm, of Hannibal; and Miss Martha Ann Wilhelm of Hannibal.

Business locations

1925: Wilhelm Motor Co., autos, 721-25 Broadway; service station 101 Broadway.

1927: Wilhelm Motor Co., 113-119 N. Third.

1929: Wilhelm Motor Co., Buick, Cadillac, LaSalle, Marquette Automobiles, 113-117 N. Third.

1935: Wilhelm Motor Co., Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac and LaSalle, 804-08 Broadway

1937: Wilhelm Motors, Buick, 808 Broadway

1939: Salesman for Harrison Motors

Murphy ties

In June 1922, Miss Lyle Clote of Edina, Mo., was united in marriage to a young mechanic from Kansas City by the name of William E. Murphy. The wedding took place at St. Joseph’s Church in Edina, and the couple announced plans to live in Kansas City. Prior to her marriage, Miss Clote worked for her brother-in-law, Peter J. Kelly, at his new Overland franchise, the Kelly Overland Company at 501 Broadway in Hannibal.

By 1925, William and Lyle had resettled in Hannibal, where Mr. Murphy was managing the Overland Service Station at 414-422 Collier.

By 1937, they were operating Murphy Motors at 111 South Eighth St., Hannibal. The address in the 1959 Hannibal City Directory was 123 S. Eighth.

They had two sons, Richard and William. William (Bill) would remain with the family business, eventually relocating it to 422 North Main Street in downtown Hannibal, after the Eighth Street property was purchased to allow the construction of the Federal Building in the 1960s.

Overland owners

Marion County residents, as listed in the Palmyra Spectator on Jan. 3, 1917, owners of Overland vehicles.

L.W. Ackereon, Hannibal

W.W. Abright, Hannibal

T.S. Ballard, Philadelphia

H.J. Baxter, Palmyra

J.B. Drake, Hannibal

Dora Bittleston, Palmyra

John Bier, Palmyra

G.H. Bower Hannibal (two)

Phillip Bross, Palmyra

E. Burch, Hannibal

Wm. Brinkmeter, Hannibal

W. Bradley, Hannibal

J.D. O’Bryan, Warren

S.S. Cobb, Philadelphia

G.F. Crim, Hannibal

J.F. Culler, Palmyra

E.H. Disselhorst, Palmyra

A.W. Durand, Maywood

W.E. Dunn, Philadelphia

C.M. Eisenberg, Taylor

A. Eichenberger, Hannibal

G. Elsden, Hannibal

R.V. Evans, Hannibal

P.W. Fletcher, Hannibal

D.C. Feaster, Withers Mill

G.F. Ferguson, Palmyra

Henry Fleischman, Hannibal

Mrs. M.K. Fritz, Hannibal

W.D. Foster, Hannibal

G. Frankenbaugh, Hannibal

Mrs. M.E. Gentry, Hannibal

W.W, Gibbons, Monroe City

Bert Gibbons, Hannibal

B.J. Graham, Hannibal

A.N. Gray, Oakwood

B.L. Gash, Palmyra

C.L. Goodman, Hannibal

M.L. Happel, Palmyra

O.L. Hartley, Hannibal

J.E. Hitch, Palmyra

A.E. Holdcroft, Woodland

L.I. Juett, Palmyra

B.C. Kerrick, Maywood

D.W. Koenig, Palmyra

J.M. Krieder, Palmyra

K.L. Laswell, Hannibal

A.C. Leonard, Hannibal

F. Lehenbauer, Hannibal

John Lefever, Palmyra

J.W. Ling, Hannibal

E.N. Loomis, Hannibal

Minor Bros., Hannibal

J.A. Miller, Hannibal

J.F. Moss, Ely

T.B. Morris, Hannibal

J.G. Mudel, Hannibal

C. Nill, Palmyra

J. Rouse, Palmyra

O.G. Sanford, Palmyra

L. Sanford, Maywood

W.H. Scott, Palmyra

M. Shoemaker, Taylor

C. Sievers, Hannibal

Wm. M. Smith, Hannibal

B.F. Snyder, Maywood

Chas. Sykes, Hannibal

J.M. Sosey, Palmyra

J.E. Snyder, Hannibal

D.M. Strong, Hannibal

V.T. Strong, Hannibal

R.L. Snodgrass, Hannibal

G. Terrill, Philadelphia

J.D. Vincent, Woodland

J. Voepel, Woodland

G.L. Wallace, Hannibal

C.T. Waedler, Hannibal

H. Walterman, Hannibal

T.F. Welch, Hannibal

Chas. Weller, Palmyra

This illustration, published in the Quincy Daily Whig on June 13, 1920, accompanied the announcement that P.J. Kelly would be the new Overland dealer in Hannibal. “Pete and the Overland make a combination that Hannibal will just have to notice!”

L.G. Wilhelm hosted an event at his garage, 808 Broadway, to introduce the new line of 1923 model cars. This advertisement was published in the Marion County Herald on Oct. 25, 1922. Newspapers.com

The Wilhelm Motor Company advertised new Buicks on May 15, 1929 in the Palmyra Spectator. Note that the dealership was at 115 N. Third, Hannibal. Newspapers.com

Circa 1910, L.G. Wilhelm was a 33-year-old retail grocery merchant, doing business at 142 Market St., Hannibal. He and his young family lived upstairs over the store. The business was across the street from Hofbauer Bros., drug store. Landau Bros. (the Landau building is still standing, housing Carpet Bagger Antique, owned by Ray DeLaPorte) operated at 152-54 Market Street. Wilhelm later became a dealer for Overland cars. Steve Chou photo

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 www.maryloumontgomery.com

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