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Foss early owner of West End landmark: Marion House hotel

The Marion House was located at 160-162 (later renumbered 1500-1502) Market Street, from the late 1850s until its demolition, calculated to be in the early 1940s. It was an important Market Street landmark, mentioned in history books and newspapers alike. Just to the west of the structure was a toll gate, and the beginning of the New London Plank Road. Photo supplied and identified by Steve Chou.


Dedrick Foss is a name that should be included among the important contributors to Hannibal’s early development. A stonemason by trade, he was first married to Maria Kudel Dec. 11, 1851, in Marion County, Mo. In 1858, he was married to Margaret LaVoo. During the decade of the 1850s, he established his business presence on the south side of Market Street, directly across the street from what would become the West End landmark, the Marion House hotel.

Located on the north side of Market, across from where Short Street intersected, the earliest local reference to the Marion House was found in the Dec. 10, 1858 edition of the Hannibal Daily Messenger.

“Grand Christmas Party Saturday, the 25th of December, 1858, at the Marion House, in Hannibal, commencing at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Supper at 12 o’clock. Two omnibuses will run from the Virginia House out to the Marion House. Tickets to the party $1.00. Omnibus fair 10 cents. Oscar Schmidt, proprietor”

By 1859, Dedrick Foss’s name was associated with this important West End venue.

Back in 1851, when Dedrick and Mary Kudel were married, there was a second marriage of interest. Miss Mary Foss (relationship to Dedrick unclear) and John Gyatt were married July 22, 1851, in Marion County, Mo. In 1859, when Dedrick was living on the south side of Market, across from the Marion House, John Gyatt and his wife were living on the north side of Market, next door to the Marion House.

Oscar Schmidt, the aforementioned proprietor of the Marion House, left the employ of the hotel in 1859. On Aug. 24, 1860, John Goytt (sic) was the proprietor.

On March 12, 1862, Dedrick Foss (presumably the owner) posted a notice in the Hannibal Daily Messenger, searching for a new proprietor fo the Marion House, to replace Goytt.

“To rent. The Marion House, situated Market st., a two-story and a half brick building, containing 13 large rooms, well adapted to Hotel purposes. Apply on the premises to D. Foss.”

Two months later, on Sunday, May 4, 1862, Foss again posted a notice in the Hannibal Daily Messenger. Foss was operating the hotel himself.

Marion House. We take this opportunity to inform our friends that we will be open on Tuesday next, ready to accommodate all citizens travelers who may give us a call. Lunch at 10 o’clock Tuesday morning. D. Foss”

Civil War ties

“The History of Marion County, Missouri, 1884,” by R.I. Holcombe, contains a Civil War-era posting regarding the Marion House on Market Street.

“The secession partisan companies in the country west of town - Wash. McDonald’s, Clay Price’s, ‘Hawk Eye’ Livingston’s and others - mediated the capture of Hannibal at one time, and, mustering their companies, came down the plank road to the crossing of Bear Creek. Here the command halted, and Livingston came forward alone to the Marion House, in the western part of town. Making his way to the roof of the hotel, he saw with his keen but oblique vision that the town was too well guarded by the Federal soldiers to be captured then, and the attempt was abandoned, and never afterward entered upon.”

National Hall

In 1885, Dedrick Foss, the West End stonemason, owned two important buildings on Market Street:

The National Hall building, with retail shops on the first floor, located at 155-157 Market; and

across the street, the Marion House hotel, at 160-162 Market.

The National Hall building existed within the memory frame of today’s mature Hannibal residents. In 1919, the building, then numbered 1415 Market St., would be sold by the Foss family to Robert M. Lewis, founder of Lewis Cleaning Co. (That building housed the business operated by Robert M. and Robert M Lewis Jr., into the 1970s.)

The Marion House, offering furnished rooms from pre-Civil War years, stood until the early 1940s. It was operated from circa 1919 until the early 1940s by Gustof G. Melling.

Other proprietors

and mentions

In 1877, Josiah Leamon, was proprietor of the Marion House.

On July 21, 1887, the Mexico Ledger reported that John Griswell, of near Mexico, was in Hannibal negotiating the purchase of Marion House. It is not clear if the purchase was made.

In 1888, Mrs. Emeline Leamon was proprietress of the Marion House.

The Landau brothers, Adolph, Jacob and Otto, were boarders at the Marion House in 1895.

In early August, 1903, Miss Fannie Bleigh and Mr. Edward Bell of Philadelphia, Mo., were united in marriage at the Marion House by Rev. Gallaher. They returned to Philadelphia on the noon train.

John E. Darnell was proprietor in 1914.

1916, Miss Sarah Waters was proprietress of the Marion House.

1918, William O. Gardner was proprietor.

1920 census

Beginning in 1919, Gustaf G. Melling was Marion House proprietor.

In 1920, boarders were:

Roy Brunner 24

Lon Qualls 32

Tempie Qualls 24

L.E. Hoffman 69

1940 census

In the 1940 census, the following were listed as occupants of the Marion House:

Gustaf G. Melling 57

Viola Melling 55

Edna Melling 22, daughter

Louisa Green, 18, niece

Viola Thomas 27, daughter

Walter Thomas 43, son in law

Gustaf McReynolds 7, grandson

J.L. Lundberg, 58, lodger

Edward E. Webb 72, boarder

Zack Taylor Alnis, 60, boarder

Harry V. Fisher, 65, boarder

Charles Mullinix, 59, boarder

Joe C. Morris, 46, boarder

Wm. Rarden, 22, boarder

Albert F. Grisham, 42, boarder

City jailer

Gustaf Melling served as city jailer for several years.

In 1941, Melling entered the Hannibal jail, carrying a basket containing meals for the prisoners. Vincent (Monk) Mahoney later admitted to striking Melling. In exchange for a guilty plea for the assault, Judge John H. Totsch sentenced Mahoney to 90 days in the Marion County jail at Palmyra.

Foss burials

Dedrick Foss (1828-1907) and his wife, Margaret Foss, (1838-1917) are buried at Riverside Cemetery.

Note: Dedrick Foss’s ownership of the two buildings, the National Hall and the Marion House, was mentioned in a wedding announcement of his daughter, Orinda K. Foss, to John F. Meyer, detailed in the the Nov. 30, 1877 edition of the Hannibal Clipper. Her wedding was at St. John Lutheran Church, and the reception, with 200 guests, took place at the National Hall.

Note: This writer was not able to trace what happened to John Gyatt and his family during or after the Civil War. Possible spellings of his surname include: Giatt, Goytt, Gyatt and Giott.


Steve Chou found the follow article in the (likely) Hannibal Courier-Post, Dec. 22, 1904, which dates the hotel back to 1854. Note the name John Guiott, which likely relates to John Gyatt, named in this article:

“This year closes the half century of the existence of the Marion House, the famous hostelry having been built in 1854. It was erected by John Guiott for a country tavern and had a beer garden in connection with it which was largely patronized as a pleasure resort where many a dance was held, the trippers on the light fantastic toe dancing to fiddle music playing such tunes as ‘Sugar in the Gourd,’ ‘Go to The Devil and Shake Yourself, and When You Come Back Behave Yourself,’ ‘Hi, Bettie Martin,’ and ‘Tiptoe Fine.’ And the yarns spun around the fireside by traders and travelers from all parts of the country, north, south, east and west, would rival Longfellow’s poem, ‘The Tales of a Wayside Inn.’ In time the Marion House passed into the hands of Joe Leamon, one of the most prominent citizens the West Side ever had, who was the father of Col. H.C. Leamon, one of the largest owners of the establishment today."

In 1919, Robert M. Lewis purchased the building which previously housed the National Hall. He and his descendants continued to operate a cleaning establishment at this location, 1415 Market St., into the mid 1980s. Advertisement was published in the March 28, 1925 edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post. Montgomery Historical Collection.

1885 Sanborn Map, Market Street, Hannibal, Mo. Note the locations of the Marion House and (across the street) the National Hall. Short Street became Section Street. Map accessed digitally via the Hannibal Free Public Library. Illustration by Mary Lou Montgomery.

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," 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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