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Cruikshank descendants feel ‘at home’ in Hannibal

Descendants of Gladys Cruikshank Warren gathered together last weekend at Rockcliffe Mansion for a reunion in Hannibal. Gladys was the oldest of J.J. and Louise Cruikshank’s daughters. Photo contributed by John Cruikshank Warren Jr., who is standing, at far left.


Hannibal presented a warm welcome for 16 descendants of J.J. and Louise Cruikshank last weekend, as family members gathered in Hannibal to walk in the early 20th Century footsteps of their ancestors. Those ancestors left a lasting imprint on the Missouri town of Hannibal, located along the banks of the Mississippi River.

The reunion attendees were offspring of Gladys Cruikshank Warren, the oldest of the four daughters of J.J. and Louise Cruikshank, and her husband, Williams A. Warren.

The Warrens had three sons, Williams, John and Roger. It was those men’s descendants who convened in Hannibal last weekend.

Most notable of the family-related places of interest was Rockcliffe Mansion, now owned by Warren Bittern and Juan Ruiz, who are painstakingly restoring it to its early 20th Century grandeur. They operate the mansion as a bed and breakfast and Historic House Museum.

During the reunion, family members - clear down the family line to include great-great grandchildren - posed for photos beside the stately porch columns outside, on the grand staircase inside, and even on the stone wall in front of the mansion.

Those photos replicate family snapshots from years past.

John Cruikshank Warren Jr., grandson of Gladys Cruikshank Warren, served as quasi organizer and host for the gathering. 

Many of the descendants settled in Minnesota, where the Mississippi River courses through the valleys, just as it does past Hannibal. Among those attending the reunion was Georgann Warren McClure of St. Paul.

In a phone interview on Monday, she said that during the visit, Hannibal felt like home.

“St. Paul is a city on a hill overlooking the river; boats going by. My dad, Jack (John Cruikshank Warren Sr.) always would take us kids and we’d go down to the Mississippi about three miles from our house and that’s where I learned to fish. My dad just loved visiting his grandparents in Hannibal, Louise and J.J. Jr., with their cousins. Hannibal is a special place.”

Georgann was particularly impressed by a visit to the mansion during the reunion from Hannibal’s goodwill ambassadors, Tom and Becky (aka Natalie Vandiver, daughter of Josh and Kristen Vandiver, and Mason McIntyre, son of Stuart and Amy McIntyre) who presented a skit for the gathered Cruikshank descendants.

“What fun. We loved their little skit, and they stayed for awhile and we talked to them in character. I had a great time talking to Tom about what bait he was using, and how big a fish we each had caught.”

Georgann took a group of family members to Riverside Cemetery, where they visited the graves of J.J. and Louise Cruikshank, and also the hidden burial site in the hillside, facing the river, of  J.J.’s father, John J. Cruikshank Sr.

“Roger’s daughters, three of them, all came down, Sandy brought her son and his family, guys under 11. They were so excited to see new cousins.

“Nice to see a whole new generation learning about the family. It was a nice gathering for Gladys’ descendants. I’ve dreamed about it for many years, sitting in the dining room and just visiting, and that’s what we did. I still can’t get my head around it. I just feel the presence of Gladys and our grandfather, Williams, and the presence of their sons. I can almost hear them going out of back door.” This was her fifth time to visit Hannibal and the mansion. “Every time I go into the house, it feels like home.”

Judy Warren Brooks, sister of the reunion host, was in charge the gift bags for family members. She requested 20 copies of the Hannibal Courier-Post of April 27, which contained a preview story of the family’s reunion plans. The newspapers were hand delivered by the publisher, Jim Hart. “This thrilled some of the younger generation, who didn’t know about the article. They were surprised to have a copy of the newspaper to take home.”

She presented Juan and Warren with a framed and matted photo of Gladys with her three sons, a photo that accompanied the April 27 newspaper story.

"I never knew my grandmother, she died in early 1960s,” Judy said. “I was probably 2 or 3 when she died; my older siblings remember her.

Suzanne Warren Hamann, daughter of Roger Warren, is Gladys Cruikshank Warren’s youngest granddaughter. She described their experience in downtown Hannibal as “warm and friendly.” They visited the Mark Twain Book and Gift Shop, visiting with the owner, Michelle Huseman. “She was so helpful and entertaining. Each one of us came away with a shirt.”

They visited Java Jive, some ate at Finn’s and at a Mexican restaurant down town, and others ate at Fiddlestiks. “The pottery shop was super duper,” she said. They were pleased to be able to share their stories, and all were hospitable, she said.

“My sisters and I thought we’d all like to come back.”

John Warren expressed his appreciation to Warren Bittner and Juan Ruiz, for the work and investment they have put into bringing the mansion back to its original grandeur.

“The real reason we came to Hannibal is a way to express our appreciation to them for all the things they’ve done to” perpetuate the Cruikshank legacy. “We are deeply indebted to them,” John said.

In August 1923, Cruikshank family cousins posed for a photo on the rock wall to the south of what would become Rockcliffe Mansion. From Left, Roger Warren, 4 1/2; John Cruikshank Warren, 9; Jane, 2; Leslie, 6, and Billie, 7. Photo contributed by John Cruikshank Warren Jr.

Cousins and siblings posed on the rock wall to the south of what would become Rockcliffe Mansion on May 4, 2023. Pictured are, from left, Stephanie Jussila, St. Cloud MN; Sandra Gehrig, St. Paul MN; Suzanne Hamann, Burnsville MN; Georgann McClure, St. Paul MN; Judy Brooks, St. Paul MN; and John Cruikshank Warren Jr., Akeley MN. Photo contributed by John Cruikshank Warren Jr.

Tom Sawyer, aka Mason McIntyre, visits with John Cruikshank Warren Jr., right, and Bill Craigmiles, center, during a reception for Cruikshank descendants Saturday at Rockcliffe Mansion. Photo contributed by Wendy Craigmiles. Mason McIntyre is grandson of Bill and Wendy Craigmiles.


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