A cow, an idea, and investor cash: The start of Bluff City Dairy
City Dairy was located in the building at left, and across the street, to the right, is the former Kempker upholstery shop. Photo by Mary Lou Montgomery.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
In the 1920s, as the story goes, Herman Long and Jimmie Jamison worked together at the shoe factory. Herman had a cow. He milked the cow, and sold the milk. Jimmie had an idea. 'Why don't we gather up more dairy farmers and buy up their milk and sell it?'
That idea, according to the family legend told by Herman's grandson, Nick Long, combined with some investor money, was the start of Bluff City Dairy.
Now, close your eyes for a moment and let’s remember what once was.
The scene is Market Street, where so many Germans settled during Hannibal, Missouri’s early years. There, each merchant eeked out a living along the corridor that dates back a century and a half. Market Street was where dust kicked by horses and mules adhered to every surface, and men quenched their thirsts with beer brewed in the neighborhood.
At the intersection of Lindell Avenue, Market and Gordon, there was the Wedge House, the Rendlen home, grocery and brewery, and a series of small frame buildings housing mom and pop and blacksmith shops. Most buildings are gone now. But today, to those of a certain age, the act of closing your eyes tightly might bring these buildings back into focus.
Driving east into this intersection, you may rekindle a memory of the west wall of one particular building, faced with brick, with a faded image - a mural in today’s terminology:
Bluff City Dairy.
The company, started circa 1925 by Paul W. Jamison and Everett J. Bier, brothers-in-law, was originally located in a wedge-shaped building at 2313 Market.
From the teens until circa 1925, the building where the mural would later be painted was a meat market operated by Charles David Lavoo, a son of Hannibal, and his meat business successors, including Robert L. Hawkins, Charles S. Gruber and Dave Ewing.
When the meat market vacated the space a year after Jamison and Bier went into business, they made the decision to move their dairy operation into Lavoo’s building at 2300 Market.
Bier, a prominent dairyman from rural Palmyra, and Jamison, a relative newcomer to town, were married to sisters: Mary E. Bier and Nadine G. Schroder, daughters of David Z. and Susie E. Newlon Schroder, residents of Hubbard Street in Hannibal.
By 1927, Bier left the firm, and Herman E. Long, 32, partnered with Paul W. Jamison.
Long, married to Agnes, had four children, Francis, Agnes, Herman and John, and they lived at 717 Olive.
Jamison and his wife, Nadine, had three children, daughters Rosemary, Frances A., and Virginia S. Jamison. They lived at 2912 Garfield.
The partnership continued until circa 1950, when William C. Garnett joined the firm. He became president; Paul W. Jamison was vice president; and Herman E. Long served as secretary-treasurer. At that time, Bluff City Dairy Inc., added a second location, 2903 St. Mary’s Avenue.
In 1953, William C. Garnett was president; H.R. Ellerman was vice president; and Herman E. Long was secretary-treasuruer.
Etta Treaster, behind the counter of Treaster's Dairy, 2300 Market. Contributed by Linda Treaster Rhodes.
By 1955, the Market Street location was operated as Treaster’s Dairy, by Richard and Etta Treaster. Richard Treaster was a long-time employee of the dairy, working as their “boiler man.”
Linda Treaster Rhodes, the youngest of the Treasters’ eight children, remembers her mother working behind the counter at Treaster’s Dairy, serving chili in the winter, and hot dogs and hamburgers year around.
Her father made the ice cream himself, and in the summer they served soft-serve ice cream, called Velva Cream. “He made it fresh, chocolate chip … white house cherry.”
As a young child, her parents let her set up a playroom in the back, a former ice box room with a big latch on the door.
End of an era
Everett J. Bier died in 1986, and Mary H. Schroder Bier died in 1989. They are buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Palmyra.
Herman E. Long died in May 1956, and his wife, Agnes, died in 1968. They are buried at Holy Family Cemetery.
Paul W. Jamison died in 1970, and his wife, Nadine, died in 1973. They are buried at Grand View Burial Park.
William C. Garnett died in 1998, and his wife, Hazeldel, died Oct. 11, 2007. They are buried at Grand View Burial Park.
Richard Treaster died in 1979 and his wife, Etta, died in 2004. They are buried at Grand View Burial Park.
Milk bottle from Bluff City Dairy. Kim White’s collection.
Herman Long, and his wife, Agnes, are pictured in April 1956. Mr. Long died one month later. Herman was a partner in Bluff City Dairy beginning around 1926. Photo contributed by Herman’s grandson, Nick Long.
Charles D. Lavoo advertised his meat market in the 1920 edition of the Hannibal City Directory. Accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website.
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,” and “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’” 47 stories of the Market Street Wedge and on west to Lindell Avenue. Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.email@example.com Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com