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Lavoo brothers unlucky on the rails

At left, Christopher Columbus Lavoo, a Hannibal native, conductor for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, who was reportedly murdered aboard a caboose in 1932. At right are Mr. Lavoo’s son and widow, Charles and Bertha Lavoo. Photos published in the Atlanta Constrirution May 19, 1935.


Drawing a conclusion from studying Sanborn maps and city directories, it is likely that Charles Lavoo’s meat market was the first occupant of the building at 2300 Market Street. Also, based upon the fact that he spent a number of years living upstairs over the meat market/dairy, one could surmise that he was also the owner of the building.

Born toward the middle of a dozen or so children reared by Peter and Mary Hunold Lavoo during the last half of the 19th Century, Charles David Lavoo (1875-1961) had no children of his own, but regardless left an imprint of the community where he lived.

Hannibal, Missouri, situated as it is on the western bank of the Mississippi River, served as a gateway to the west during Charles’ youth. And the home where he was raised - on Broadway extension (the main corridor from the river west) - was in the early years considered countryside, outside of Hannibal proper.

His generation was the first to attend public-funded schools, which were established in Missouri following the Civil War. Those of his generation were also called upon to serve during the Spanish-American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898). Charles Lavoo was among those who stepped up to serve their country, enlisting in Company F, 4th Missouri Infantry. Family information indicates he was wounded during transport home from the conflict.

Railroad career

Like his younger brother, Christopher C. Lavoo, Charles David Lavoo went to work for the railroads. In 1901, while working as a fireman for the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, (the first railroad to cross (east west) the state of Missouri) Charles Lavoo was injured while on duty.

A report in the Oct. 25, 1901 edition of the Chariton Courier, located at Keytesville, Mo., noted that Charles Lavoo fell from his engine, landing on his head. Badly bruised, he remained unconscious for 24 hours. During the next three weeks, his mind remained blank, according to the newspaper account of Oct. 14. “He had been brought home and was walking out in the yard when his real senses came back to him in an instant.

“I was unable to realize my situation at first,” said Mr. Lavoo. “I immediately sought my folks, and for the first time found what had happened to me. I cannot recollect a thing that transpired during the three weeks that lapsed. My case certainly puzzles me.”

Effects from the injury lingered. In early August 1902, the Marion County court ordered that Charles Lavoo be sent temporarily to the Fulton Asylum for care and treatment.


Back in Hannibal in November 1905, Charles Lavoo was caught up in a gambling house raid at Walter Bryant’s saloon at 108 South Main St., south of Broadway and two blocks west of the river.

Policeman William Webb guarded the front exit, and the other officers, George W. Ham, Henry Stuart and T.A. Wallace, entered the gambling room by way of the rear door, just back of Henry P. Long’s drug store, 211 Broadway.

The Quincy Weekly Whig reported on Nov. 16, 1905: “At the time of their entrance the house was pretty well filled with individuals, busily engaged in crap shooting, and one card game was in progress.

“The crowd undertook a miniature riot in their first excitement at the appearance of the officers, but cooled down remarkably quick and quietly accompanied the blue coats to headquarters, where they succeeded i giving bond and were released to again assemble this afternoon at 2 o’clock, with Judge McNeal in the chair.”


Barely scathed by the police raid, by 1910, Charles had trained as a butcher, and was operating a meat market at 103 Lindell (later renumbered 510 Lindell.) In 1916, he had relocated his butcher shop to the aforementioned two-story brick building located at 2300 Market, at the intersection of Gordon and Market. Following his mother’s death in 1917, he made his home on the building’s second story.

There he would operate his business into the early 1920s. Later tenants in the building were Robert L. Hawkins, who operated a grocery store while Lavoo continued selling meat; in 1923 Charles S. Gruber managed a meat market in this locale; and in 1925, Dave Ewing and Sons sold meat on the premises. Four years later, Ewing’s meat market was located at 310 N. Main.

The building, as described in last week’s story, is better remembered today at the former home of Bluff City Dairy.

Charles D. Lavoo died on Oct. 8, 1961, at the U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Danville, Vermillion County, Ill. He is buried at Hannibal’s Holy Family Cemetery.

C.C. Lavoo

Christopher Columbus Lavoo (1879-1932) four years younger than the aforementioned Charles David Lavoo, settled in Pueblo, Colo., where he and his wife, Bertha, raised their family.

Working as a conductor for the Missouri Pacific railroad, his usual route was between Pueblo, Colorado, and Horace, Kansas. At Horace, his routine was to bunk in the caboose.

That’s where he was found murdered on Friday, Dec. 9, 1932.

The Quincy Herald Whig of Dec. 14, 1932, carried a crime scene report:

“It was at first believed that he had been the victim of an accidental shot from a revolver, which he always carried. An investigation by officials at Horace discredited the accident theory upon the grounds that the calibre of Mr. Lavoo’s gun was small while the bullet hole behind the left ear of the dead man was made by a larger bullet.

“The interior of the way car showed signs of a terrific struggle. An automatic found on the floor showed one shot fired and the mechanism jammed. There was a bullet hole in the wall of the way car and the door was locked. Mr. Lavoo always carried a considerable sum of money and wore several diamonds. Neither the money nor the diamonds were taken. It is believed that the murderer attempted robbery, which was repulsed by Mr. Lavoo, and made his escape through the cupola of the way car after becoming frightened by the noise made by the struggle and the shots.”

Despite an intense investigation spurred on by Mrs. Lavoo, a culprit was not convicted of the murder.


Information gathered from newspapers, Sanborn maps, estate papers and Hannibal city directories suggests that the Lavoo family lived in the block of Broadway, east of Division Street, as early as 1875.

The accompanying Sanborn map shows two brick, two-story houses on the north side of Broadway extension, built at a slight angle to the street, numbered 1420 and 1422.

Today, these same two houses remain, and are numbered 1506 and 1510.

It is believed that the Lavoo family lived in each of these houses during times of their residency in Hannibal.

Listed in the 1885 Hannibal City Directory at 1422 (1510) Broadway was Peter Lavoo, the family patriarch, a Hannibal contractor.

In 1923, the family members living next door to the east at 1420 (1506) Broadway included Bessie and Elizabeth Lavoo, who operated a millinery shop at 1700 Market; and their sister and brother in law, Mary and Frank P. McIntyre.

Headline published in the Quincy Herald Whig on Dec. 14, 1932.

Chuck Kuhn posted this photo on Facebook in 2017. In the background there is a white house with a wide wrap-around porch, located on the north side of Broadway extension. Partially visible beside the white house up the hill (to the left) is a second house. Today, these two houses are numbered 1506 and 1510 Broadway. It is believed that the extended Peter Lavoo family lived in each of these houses during times of their residency in Hannibal, which ranged from 1875 or earlier, into the 1960s. Using the 1949-1950 Hannibal High School “Black and Red” for reference, this photo may have been taken during that school year (the uniforms are the same as in the yearbook) and the drum major, pictured, might be Shirley Carter. Circa 1950, Lavoo son-in-law Frank P. McIntyre, 77, (1863-1960) was a resident of this house, along with his housekeeper, Maude Ellis, 58. Mrs. Mary C. Lavoo McIntyre was a patient at St. Vincents Sanitarium, Normandy Township, Missouri. She died in 1964, and Frank McIntyre died in 1960.

The 1906 Sanborn map of Hannibal, Mo., shows the location of the gambling raid in which C. David Lavoo was snared in November 1905. Walter Bryan’s saloon was located at 108 South Main. The police, including George W. Ham, Henry Stuart and T.A. Wallace, entered through the back door of the saloon, located near the rear of Henry P. Long’s drug store, located at 211 Broadway. Library of Congress.

The two houses, circled in white, are the houses historically identified with the Peter Lavoo family, now addressed 1506 and 1510 Broadway. They were both two-story, brick dwellings. This portion of the 1885 Sanborn map shows 1506 Broadway without the impressive wrap-around porch, which was added later. Illustration by Mary Lou Montgomery. Map accessed via the Library of Congress.

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,” and “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’” 47 stories of the Market Street Wedge and on west to Lindell Avenue. Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


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