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Bridal trio photo represents glimpse into Hannibal’s past

Pictured are, from left, three Hannibal brides, pictured near the end of the 19th Century: Lewellen Scott, who wed W.H. Whaley in 1886; Julia Belle Scott, who wed A.B. Drescher in 1895, and Nellie Morris Scott, who wed to W.H. Scott in 1897. Drescher family photo


Yards and yards of luxurious fabric and lace, adorning three charming brides, are represented in a late 19th Century photo passed down through the generations to Hannibal native Julia Drescher Sharpe.

Posed in the photo accompanying this story are (in the center) Julia’s grandmother, Julia Belle Scott Drescher, who married A.B. Drescher in 1895; Lewellen Scott Whaley, (left) married to W.H. Whaley in 1886; and Nellie Morris Scott, (right) married to W.H. Scott, brother to Julia and Lewellen, in 1897.

This photo represents three of the four offspring, born during the post Civil War era, to James Madison and Maria Louisa “Molly” Howell Scott. Mrs. Scott died following childbirth circa 1877, and her extended family - led by the distinguished patriarch, prominent Monroe County attorney William J. Howell (1813-1883) — stepped up to raise the young Scott children to their maturity.

Julia Scott Drescher’s 1895 wedding gown, featuring a high neckline, balloon-style sleeves and a 19-inch waistline, is still cherished and preserved by her granddaughter, who used to “dress up” in the gown as a child.

Julia Sharpe retains an original faded and torn newspaper clipping which includes a description of the gown:

“The bride wore a gown of ivory white brocaded satin duchess, (the bodice) trimmed in pearl passamentrie. High neck and long sleeves; over it all a veil of tulle; veil wrapped with sprays of natural orange blossoms.” The bouquet also included orange blossoms.

The wedding gown represents timeless memories of an era of candles rather than electric lights, fabric, stitched by hand, rather than machine, and letter writing, as opposed to electronic communication. That era is now delegated to fading ink on sometimes brittle paper.

Close bond

Mrs. Drescher died in 1958 when her granddaughter and namesake Julia was 14.

“My grandmother and I were so close,” Julia Sharpe said. “We spent so many happy hours together. She told me so many stories about when she was a girl. She lived in Paris, Mo., with her grandfather, who was an officer in the army in the Civil War.”

Mrs. Drescher was nearly a daily presence in her only granddaughter’s life.

“She died when I was fourteen, and we were just about to write down all of her early memories so I wouldn’t forget. I’m so sorry we didn’t get to do it. She was such an influence in my life. I think of her almost every day.”

The Dreschers

During the years immediately prior to her November 1895 wedding, Julia Belle Scott lived with her older sister, the aforementioned Lewellen Scott Whaley, at the house historically known in Hannibal as the James W. Whaley house, 1101 Center Street. The Whaleys hosted a reception in their home for the newlyweds following the wedding ceremony, which took place at the nearby First Christian Church.

According to Esley Hamilton, who compiled an Historic Inventory for the State Historical Survey and Planning Office in 1979, this Queen Anne-style house was probably built in 1890 by James Whaley’s father, Oliver, who was a prominent Hannibal merchant.

Following the wedding reception, the Dreschers took the midnight train to Palmyra, and boarded with Capt. R.L. Bowles, pending the completion of their new home on Pocahontas avenue. Mr. Drescher was in business partnership at the time with W.B. Markell in Palmyra. Richardson and Son Contractors of Hannibal won the bid to construct the new house for the Dreschers, at a cost of $4,000.

The Dreschers ultimately left Palmyra, moving for a time to the state of Washington, but they eventually returned to Hannibal.

Their final move of their married life was to 300 N. Sixth in Hannibal, where they would make their home until Mr. Drescher’s death in 1949. Mrs. Drescher, now a widow, exchanged houses with her only son, Arthur Brent Drescher Jr., she moving into a small house on the east side of North Fifth Street, directly north of what was once the Hannibal YMCA.

Julia Sharpe remembers:

“My grandmother died when she was 86 years old. She was a wonderful gardener and had a yard full of beautiful flowers wherever she lived. She was in the back yard of her little house on Fifth Street next to the YMCA and was burning leaves or trash and her dress caught on fire. She lived for two weeks in the hospital with 3rd degree burns. I cannot think of her without getting tears in my eyes.”

The Whaleys

After the death of the elder Mr. Whaley in 1891, his widow, Susan, and sons James W. and George S., continued to live in the aforementioned house at 1101 Center St.

In 1901, James Whaley, suffering from health challenges, decided to move his family to Whatcom, Wash., in hopes that a change of climate might help improve his state of health. There he set up in business, and Mr. Whaley’s health did seem to improve.

But a year after arriving in Washington state, in 1902, Mr. Whaley’s young wife, Lewellen Scott Whaley, (sister to Julia Belle Scott Drescher) died, leaving her husband a widower with two young children. James Whaley died in Washington state a decade later, in 1912, at the age of 52.

The Scotts

Wm. Howell Scott was a prominent young Hannibal merchant in November 1897, conducting a furniture store at 309 Broadway. He took for his bride Miss Nellie Walton Morris, daughter of T.B. Morris, proprietor of Hannibal’s Daily Courier-Post. The wedding, witnessed by 100 guests, took place at the Morris home, located at 206 N. Fourth, across the street from Trinity Episcopal Church. Eventually, Mr. Scott went on to serve Marion County as Circuit Clerk and Recorder, a job which took the young family to Palmyra. From Palmyra they moved to Mexico, Mo., where he was in the abstract business for some 18 years. He died at his home in December 1939. His wife, Nellie Walton Morris Scott, moved back to Hannibal in 1965.

Julia Sharpe remembers her well:

“Aunt Nell lived in an apartment on Fourth Street and was a very spry little woman in her 90s. She lived life to the fullest and was a delight. She died in a chair at a beauty parlor getting a permanent at age 95!”

Fourth Scott sibling

John L. Scott, brother of Julia, Lewellen and William H. Scott, lived out his life in the state of Mississippi, where he worked as a railroader. He died at his home in Jackson, Mississippi, in September 1935. His body was brought to Palmyra by rail for burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was married to Miss Mary Lipscomb of Palmyra in 1892, and she survived, along with a son, John L. Scott Jr.

Information and photos for this story were contributed by Julia Drescher Sharpe and her son, Scott Drescher Brown.

The Drescher family is pictured, circa 1947. From left, A.B. Drescher Sr., Grace Drescher, mother to Julia and John Drescher, A.B. Drescher Jr., and at far right, Julia Scott Drescher. Drescher family photo

Julia Drescher Sharpe shared a page from the family bible, noting the marriage information for the four Scott siblings. Drescher family photo

W.H. Scott, brother to Julia, Lewellen and John L. Scott, served for several terms as Marion County, Missouri, Circuit Clerk and Recorder. Palmyra Spectator, Aug. 6, 1913.

During her youth, Julia Belle Scott attended Christian College, Columbia, Mo., now known as Columbia College. The exact years of her attendance are uncertain, but it is known that she was a student there in 1888. Julia’s granddaughter also attended this school for a time. Drescher family photo

A.B. Drescher was married to Julia Belle Scott at Hannibal's First Christian Church in November 1895. Drescher family photo

Julia Drescher Sharpe, left, and Gary Sharpe, right, are pictured with Jill Biden in March 2020. Julia is a life-long educator, previously serving as both teacher and principal at Mark Twain Elementary School in Hannibal. She retired in 2011 as assistant superintendent for the Jefferson City Public Schools. Drescher family photo

John Drescher, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Drescher Jr., is retired from the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Out of high school, he attended Westminster College in Fulton. While there, he was in ROTC and came out of college as a First Lieutenant. The Viet Nam War was in progress and he served as a Forward Observer. While there he was highly decorated and earned Five Bronze Stars. He and his wife Ann live in Bethlehem, Pa. Drescher family photo

John Drescher, grandson of A.B. and Julia Scott Drescher, is pictured during his service in Viet Nam. He now lives in Bethlehem, Pa., after a career with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Drescher family photo

Pictured are John Drescher’s medals from his military service in Viet Nam. Drescher family 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. Books available on by this author: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," and "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870." She can be reached at Her collective works can be found at

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