3401 Market building was central to Oakwood’s business climate
Family photo contributed the Nolin's granddaughter, Peggy N. Laborde, of Hamburg, LA
Neva Howard Griffen (1896-1991) had this photo among her keepsakes from her youth. She identified this rare photo as: “On left, Oakwood post office 1916 Link's Grocery on right.” After research conducted by Neva’s grandson, Richard Griffen, and by Mary Lou Montgomery, it has been established that this building was located at 3401 Market Street. The accompanying story lists some of the merchants who operated businesses in this building, and an Oakwood postmistress. The photo was among the family data collected by Lynne McGee Tutor, (1951-2023) who was also Mrs. Griffen’s granddaughter.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
During the early hours of Easter morning, Sunday, March 23, 1913, a person or persons with ill intent broke into the frame building housing Oakwood’s post office and T.L. Nolin’s general store, located in Oakwood, to the west of Hannibal, Mo. The store and post office were located directly across Market Street from the Bank of Oakwood, which was located at 3400 Market St.
The safe within the post office was blown open; and taken was $45 in cash and $20 in postage stamps.
From Nolin’s general store, which he operated in partnership with his then 23-year-old son, Walker T. Nolin, several dollars worth of unspecified merchandise was reported missing.
The business block containing the bank, post office and Nolin’s general store was an important one in Oakwood; a business district located at the intersection of Price Avenue and Market.
Surrounded by residences filled with blue collar workers and their families, nearby to the railroad roundhouse operated by the MK&T, and in close proximity to family farms located to the south and west, Nolin’s store at 3401 Market served as more than a grocery outlet; they also carried shoes, notions, groceries, grain, feed and fuel, woven wire fence, barbed wire and bale ties.
Thomas Louis Nolin was born circa 1859, the son of John L. and Martha Williams Nolin. In 1880, he lived in Cuivre, Pike County, Mo.. Among his siblings were Martha, Elizabeth, James and William M. Nolin.
He exhibited a spirit of entrepreneurship from an early age.
In 1888, at the age of 29, he was a traveling representative for Stark Nurseries, making stops in the state of Kansas.
In 1896, he accepted the manager role for the White House grocery store in Columbia, Mo. Within a few months, he returned to Louisiana, Mo., in order to open his own retail grocery establishment.
In 1902, he went to Owensburg, Ky., with his family, in order to take over temporary management of the Henderson Telephone and Telegraph Company. When the previous manager returned to good health, Nolin and his family returned to Louisiana, Mo.
In 1905, T.L. Nolin of Louisiana, Mo., purchased the land agency for Shelby and Monroe counties from the Terre Bonne Land Co. T.L. Nolin ’s brother, W.M. Nolin, lived in Shelby County, Mo.
In 1907, T.L. Nolin purchased a farm near Lawton, Oklahoma.
In 1909, T.N. Nolin was on the charter board of directors of the Farmers Bank of Oakwood, then located at 3400 Market, directly across the street from his store.
In 1910, T.L. Nolin sold the former 200-acre Billie Davis farm near Ocean Wave, two miles south of Oakwood, to R.E. Haycraft and Clyde Phillips.
In 1910, T.L. Nolin bought the stock of general merchandise from Haycraft and Phillips, contained within their store at 3401 Market, and took over management of their store.
In 1914, Nolin and his son, Walker T. Nolin, were conducting business at the general store at 3401 Market, and they lived at 3500 St. Charles, Oakwood.
In 1914, T.L. Nolin of Oakwood purchased a 1,235-acre plantation in Hamburg, La., from Claude C. Lyons, in exchange for Nolin’s property in Missouri.
Lyons, in exchange, took over operation of the Nolin store at 3401 Market.
In 1915, Claud C. Lyons filed a lawsuit against T.L. Nolin, hoping to negate the exchange of land. In July 1915, the District Court of Avoyelles, La., sided with Nolin, and he retained the plantation in the state of Louisiana.
T.L. Nolin managed his farmland in the state of Louisiana. During World War II, Walker T. Nolin served in France for 18 months, before returning to the plantation. In 1924, T.L. Nolin sold the plantation to his son.
W.T. Nolin grew the business throughout his lifetime, producing seed for wholesale distributorship. The Weekly News of Sept. 21, 1967, noted that Mr. (W.T.) “Nolin is probably best known for his selection and growing of ‘Nolin’s Improved’ Louisiana white clover seed. He is one of the largest clover seed growers in the nation. He had very successfully combined seed growing with beef cattle production and has several thousand acres devoted to this operation in Avoyelles Parish. He has one of the finest herd of grade Hereford cattle in the country.”
He ultimately acquired three plantations, Hamburg, Yellow Bayou and Wayside.
Walker T. Nolin died in 1987, and the land is now in the hands of his daughter, Peggy Laborde. In the 1920s, agronomists from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge used part of the Nolin land for experimental plots. The Laborde connection to the university continues to this day.
Thomas L. Nolin died in 1945.
Businesses located at 3401 Market
1907: Albert L. Link and Alfred K. Miller (Link’s brother-in-law) grocers and general merchandise, Oakwood
1909: White and Bier real estate and loans, to Clyde Phillips
1909: R.E. Haycraft and Phillips
1910: T.L. Nolin
1913: T.L. Nolin and postoffice
1914: T.L. Nolin and son, groceries, 3401 Market; lived 3500 St. Charles
1915: Claude C. Lyons
1916: Claude C. Lyons
1918: John A. Owens, flour, feed, grain and grocery, 3401 Market
1920: C.H. Lennox, flour, feed and grain
1922: Jones L. (Frances) Brooks, grocer; C.H. Lennox feed
1923: Jones L. Brooks, groceries, 3401-03 Market
1925: Jones L. Brooks, 3401-03 Market, groceries
In 1916, the postmistress at the Oakwood facility was 20-year-old Miss Annie Tillitt, daughter of James H. and Elizabeth J., Tillitt, who resided at 3911 Market. (Note, that address would later be the long-time home and office for Dr. Phillip J. Reichmann, previously featured in this history series.)
Miss Tillitt was soon married to James Carter, a machinist for the railroad. By 1920, they were living in Sheridan, Wyoming, and eventually moved to Chicago, where Mr. Carter continued working for the railroad. Mr. Carter died in 1944, and Mrs. Carter died in 1967. They are buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Note: The occupants of the building at 3401 Market Street were culled from city directories, obtained through the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website; from newspaper clippings from Marion, Ralls and other counties via newspapers com., from Ancestry.com, and from Community History Archive, accessed via the Quincy, Ill., library’s website.
Richard Griffen took this photo in 2023 of the location of the former grocery store building. Note in both photos, on the far right-hand corner, you can see the corner of the brick building which once housed the Bank of Oakwood. In recent years, a beauty shop has been located in that brick building. The old grocery store across the street has long since been demolished.
Thomas L. Nolin advertised his Oakwood business in the Ralls County Record on Jan. 27, 1911. newspapers.com
T.L. Nolin advertised his business in the June 24, 1914 edition of the Ralls County Record. newspapers.com
W.T. Nolin, pictured in a veterans feature in the Marksville, La., Weekly News, March 3, 2016 1st Sergeant, Army, Co. G. 1890-1987. newspapers.com
In 1912, the T.L. Nolin family lived in this house at 3500 St. Charles in Oakwood. The Lyons family obtained this house in a property trade between T.L. Nolin and C.C. Lyons in 1915. In 1916, Harold E. Lyons and Miss Sarah Lyons occupied this house. Photo contributed by Robert Spaun.
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. Books available on Amazon.com by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’ the newest book, Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.firstname.lastname@example.org Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com