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D.W. Strother played integral role in Levee Township management

The Strother family, circa 1925. Pictured, front row from left, Elmer Earl Strother, Anna Lucy Geist Strother, Violet Lucille Strother, Daniel Watson Strother and Major Watson Strother. Back row, Mable Edith Strother, Ruth Evelyn Strother, Ruby Grace Strother, Ida May Strother and Alice Marie Strother. Contributed by Darla Strother Motley.


Some of Hannibal’s elite invested in the farmlands of Pike County, Ill., during the early part of the 20th Century, and were rewarded with dividends each season as crops were harvested. Another investor in this farmland was someone who Hannibal residents likely didn’t know: Lydia Moss Bradley of Peoria, Ill. She was the benefactor of the Bradley Polytechnic Institute. At the time during the drawing of the 1912 atlas, the Bradley Polytechnic Trust owned an estimated 820 acres in Levee Township - the township bordering the Mississippi River -  much of the land previously owned by C.M. Alger, former postmaster at Hannibal, Mo.

Following the death of her husband, Tobias, in 1867, Mrs. Bradley took over the management of their estate. At the time of her death in 1908, the estate was valued at an estimated $4 million.

A heavy portion of her wealth, during her lifetime, was invested in farmland located around the state of Illinois. Circa 1899, she transferred 1,000 different parcels of property to the trust, presumably including the land she owned in Levee Township.

The proceeds were designated for the construction of, and early operation of, the Bradley Polytechnic Institute, which she helped found.

Mrs. Bradley died on Jan. 16, 1908, at the age of 91. All six of her children preceded her in death.

The Peoria, Ill., college is now known as Bradley University.


Neighboring Levee Township landowners in 1912 included such Hannibal notables as:

William Henry Hatch, The Munger Brothers, R.H. Stillwell, and D.L. Hafner.

This Illinois dirt, believed to be in very early years the base of the Mississippi River, was - and remains - among the richest soil in the Midwest.

Protected by the Sny Island Levee Drainage District since 1875, the land has been saved countless times from the Mississippi River’s overflow.

D.W. Strother

Daniel W. Strother, while not himself a Pike County land owner, was among those who tapped into this rich earth in order to reap a sizable harvest. Circa 1917, he accepted the job as manager of 510 acres held in the Bradley Polytechnic Trust, located in Levee Township, Township 4, Range 8, partial Sections 1 and 12, Pike County, Ill.

He was well qualified for this management position, as farming was a key in his background.

Daniel W. Strother and Ann Lucy Geist were married in 1870 at Baltimore, Md. In 1890 they moved to Illinois, settling at Lexington, in McLean County.

In 1899, D.W. Strother and family moved from Lexington, Ill., to the 240-acre Porter farm, five miles southeast of Weston, Ill. (The Weekly Pantagraph, March 17, 1899)

In October 1902, while still living in Illinois, Strother purchased 27 head of 2-year-old steers for $1093.50, at the William Pritchett and Sons stock sale near Frankford, Mo. (Louisiana Press-Journal Oct. 2, 1902)

Jan. 1, 1904, found the D.W. Strother family in Beulah, Ill. (Weekly Pantagraph, Jan. 1, 1904)

Circa 1907, he moved his family to Pike County, Mo., settling first in Bowling Green, and later purchasing a small farm from M.L. Jones in Peno Township, (Frankford) Pike County, Mo. (31.61 acres fractional part Sections 27 and 28, township 55, 4 west, $1,264.40. Louisiana Press Journal, Jan. 23, 1908)

In 1910, D.W. Strother was not only a farmer, but was overseer of Road District No. 3 in Pike County, Mo.

Once moving to Illinois circa 1917, he worked the Bradley land for nine years. For the remainder of his life, he would work and earn his living in Pike County, Ill.

Missing tire

Not long after taking over management of the Bradley farm, in August 1919, D.W. Strother lost a tire and rim while traveling between Hannibal, Mo., and the Bradley farm at Seehorn, Ill.

He advertised in the Aug. 19, 1919 edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post: “Lost, between Hannibal and Seehorn, Saturday night, 32 x 3-1/2 Goodyear tire and rim, never used. Finder please return to D.W. Strother and receive reward.”

The Key Supply and Repair Company, operated by W.T. Key, located at the end of the Oakwood street car line, 3324 Market Street, sold these tires in 1919. The tire itself sold for $23.35 for an all weather tread, according to an advertisement in the May 14, 1919 edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post.

Sni E’Carte Club

As a boy in the mid 1930s, Max Strother, who was a grandson of D.W. and Lucy Strother, created memories inside the Sni E’Carte hunting and fishing club, located in Levee Township, Pike County, Ill.

While Max (1931-2006) is no longer alive to tell this story, his sister, 87-year-old Darla Strother Motley of Hannibal, remembers him telling the story throughout his lifetime.

“My brother used to tell me there were big rocking chairs in this long room, (which was used) for dancing, or where they served the chicken and fish dinners. He and his first cousin would rock and see who could get across that big room first.”

Darla and Max spent a portion of their childhood living at the Sni Club, when their parents, Major and Hazel Coleman Strother, were the property managers. Before that, their grandparents, (the aforementioned) Daniel W. and Lucy Strother, held this responsible position for some seven years.

While Darla, who was a toddler at the time, has no memories of living at the clubhouse, she has retained a life-long curiosity about the club, which provided fishing and other outdoor opportunities to Hannibal and Quincy residents for more than 50 years.

She explains where the club was located: 

“While driving east” (on I-72) toward Quincy, lll., “where the Sni bends, you can see the Sni from the highway. As you’re making a turn on the curve going to Quincy, after you pass the Schwartz flag, look over to the right, you see water. Just south of there is where (the club) was. It wasn’t that long ago” that people told her that they found a foundation. “I’ve never gotten out of the car to try to find it.”

After Dan and Lucy Strother, Darla’s grandparents, left the Sni E’Carte Club, they were named managers of the Pike County Farm at Pittsfield.

“County farms, each county had one,” Darla said, “before Social Security. If people had no relatives, were mentally incapable of taking care of themselves, they moved to the county home.”

As the years progressed, “the clients were becoming less and less. There were some big brick buildings; that’s where the clients lived. Grandmother cooked for them and my grandfather managed the farm.”

The farm was south of Pittsfield.

Daniel W. Strother, 88, died Nov. 7, 1953, at Shinn Station, three miles south of Kinderhook, Ill. 

His wife, Anna Lucy Strother, 104, died Jan. 16, 1975.

Next week: The Sni E’Carte Club’s early years.

Note: Information on Lydia Moss Bradley was obtained in part from Bradley University’s website, and also from “Forgotten Angel: the Story of Lydia Moss Bradley,” by Allen A. Upton.

Following directions given by Darla Strother Motley, Robert Spaun took a photo of the estimated location of the former Sni E’Carte Club. See the directions contained within the accompanying story. The water is a puddle, and the Sny is in the ditch behind it. This photo was taken in a clearing for the power line. Photo by Robert Spaun.

This undated photo of the Sni E’Carte Club was shared by Hull History Lives, Dixie Ward, prior to her passing in 2019.

This is a portion of the Levee Township atlas, 1895.

The 1912 atlas for Levee Township, Pike County, Ill., highlights the areas, to the east and west, that were owned by the Bradley Polytechnic Trust. In between, is the 160 acres used by the Sni E’Carte hunting and fishing club.

Daniel W. and Lucy Strother, at the time of their 60th wedding anniversary. Published in the Quincy Herald Whig May 7, 1950.

Daniel W. and Lucy Strother are pictured at the time of their marriage in Baltimore, Md. Photo contributed by Darla Strother Motley of Hannibal, Mo.

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 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,’ and the newest book, “Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


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