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Leonard family lives long, along St. Mary’s Avenue

The white house, at right, and the two story brick, at its side, were houses owned by the Leonard family during the early population years along St. Mary’s Avenue. The house at right was occupied by members of the Leonard family up into the 1940s. By 1951, Albert Haug and his wife had purchased the property. 2024 Photo by Mary Lou Montgomery.


Thirty-one lots were measured out of the Tylee Shepherd addition in 1906, by developer W.J.A. Meyer. Lots 1 through 10 fronted St. Mary’s Avenue, and the remaining lots were to the west, on newly developed streets named for Meyer’s two children, Scott and Helen.

A unique aspect of this development was a grove of hard maple trees that Meyer planted upon the lots before development began.

The Hannibal Courier-Post, of Dec. 13, 1910, described the scene: “People laughed at him, saying that it was a waste of time and money. The plat of ground that was formerly a vacant lot is now known as Maple Park, and is the prettiest residence section in this city.”

After putting in streets and granitoid sidewalks, Meyer - a local real estate developer - started selling lots in June 1906.

Among the early lot buyers were:

Walter Leonard, lot 3 (later numbered 3257 St. Mary’s);

his sisters, Minnie and Mollie Leonard, lot 2 (later numbered 3255 St. Mary’s);

Mr. Claypool, lot 5 (later numbered 3303 St. Mary’s);

George Gipe, lot 9 (later numbered 3327 St. Mary’s) and

George R. Scott, lot 8, (later numbered 3317 St. Mary’s).

Lighting the way

In 1909, efforts were under way to improve the recently annexed St. Mary’s District, including the installation of street lights.

The Hannibal Courier-Post, on Nov. 19, 1909, described the scene:

“St. Mary’s Avenue District Citizens rejoicing over the installation of electric lights.

Last Monday night the street lights were turned on for the first time in the St. Mary’s Avenue district and that part of the city was almost as light as day. Some of the citizens were so rejoiced that they remained up until midnight watching the lamps burn.

“Eleven tungsten lamps have been installed in that district and they light up every street and alley. It is one of the greatest improvements that has been made there and now most of the residents will have electric lights installed in their houses.

“Hannibal is marching to the front with rapid strides.”


Despite the night lights, a disturbing act of vandalism occurred in mid February, 1910, which would shake residents of the neighborhood.

One or more vandals took knives to about 20 of the trees along St. Mary’s Avenue. The trees were skinned and slashed, and in some cases broken over. Some of those neighbors losing trees to the vandals were residents living in the Maple Park neighborhood. The trees measured 5-6 inches in circumference.

Among those along the avenue who lost trees was Walter Leonard, who had a nice two-story home on the southwest corner of St. Mary’s Avenue and Scott Street, (later numbered 3257 St. Mary’s Ave.) Living with Walter in this comfortable home were members of his family.

Interesting family

Nancy J. Wilson Leonard, born circa 1846, was the widow of Civil War veteran Charles H. Leonard, who died circa 1899. In 1903, Nancy Wilson Leonard lived with her adult children at 301 1/4 S. Fourth, (later renamed Sycamore) in South Hannibal.

By 1909, Mrs. Leonard had moved with some of her adult children across town, to the corner of Scott Street and St. Mary’s Avenue. This would remain the family home until sometime in the 1940s. (By 1951, Albert and Nettie Ahler Haug owned 3257 St. Mary’s Ave.)

The adult Leonard children included:

Arch O. Leonard, born 1873, served on the Hannibal police force for 15 years, and was elected Marion County Sheriff after the passing of Sheriff A.E. Turner. Leonard’s term as sheriff began on Jan. 1, 1931, and he was subsequently elected to a full term. He also served as chief of detectives for the Hannibal Police Department, and ultimately was named police chief. His wife was Lettie Leonard, and he was survived by one son and two daughters, Ray Leonard, Mrs. Lovice Rybolt and Mrs. Anna Belle Chaney. Arch Leonard died Jan. 4, 1940.

Walter A. Leonard, born in 1874. Walter was a veteran of the Spanish American War, and worked for Starr Shoe Co., and later the Burlington Railroad. He purchased Lot 3 in Maple Park subdivision. In 1917, he was married to Annie Horstmeyer, who died in 1927. He died July 22, 1957, at the age of 81. He was living, at the time of his death, at the Mark Twain Rest Home, 1220 Lindell, operated by Mrs. Mattie Kurz.

Nannie Leonard, born 1878, died June 5, 1961, in Waco, Texas, where she had moved pre 1950, to live near her sister, Mollie Caldwell. She was the last surviving child of Nancy and Charles H. Leonard. As early as 1909, Nannie worked as a saleslady for the Milton Strong Dry Goods company in Hannibal. She remained single, and was close to her siblings. Nannie and family members, including Jessie and Mollie Caldwell and Walter and Annie Leonard, spent the Fourth of July 1916, at a picnic at Clear Creek. She was buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Waco.

Myrtle Leonard, born in 1882, was a seamstress and dressmaker. In 1901, she was a junior at Hannibal’s high school. Classmates included Bertha Seibel, Albert Ayres and Frances Robinson. In 1901, she went to work for the dress making-establishment of Miss Annie Foley, at 201 1/2 Broadway. Also employed in the shop were Miss Elizabeth M. Foley and Miss Mary G. Foley. The Foleys lived with their widowed mother, Elizabeth, at 309 Third St., South Hannibal. Myrtle was married to Bert E. Scott in 1907, who it is suggested on his death certificate that he was for a time a professional baseball player. He was also a veteran of the Spanish American War. Myrtle and Bert were divorced in February 1914, and she reverted to using her maiden name. She returned to the dressmaking profession from 1914-1916, then trained to become a registered nurse. She was working as a nurse as early as 1920.

In 1936, she was working at the Marion county infirmary in Palmyra. Circa 1940, Myrtle headed north, to San Haven, N.D., where she went to work for the San Haven State Hospital, known as a tuberculosis sanatorium. The facility was located 2.5 miles northeast of Dunseith, Rolette County, N.D. Myrtle died there in 1941.

Mollie Leonard Caldwell, born 1885.  In 1918, Mollie and her husband, Jesse, were owners and occupants of property identified as Lot 2, Maple Park Subdivision, with the address of 3255 St. Mary’s Ave. It was next door to the south of the family’s homestead. At the time, Jesse was employed as a bookkeeper for the Atlas Portland Cement Co. Jesse, Mollie and their family moved to Waco, Texas, in 1928, where Jesse worked as auditor for the Universal Atlas Cement Co. Jesse Caldwell retired in 1944, after nearly 40 years with the company. They had two sons, Jesse J. Caldwell Jr., and Edwin L. Caldwell. Jesse Caldwell Sr., died  Dec. 9. 1944. Mollie Caldwell died Sept. 21, 1959. They are buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Waco, Texas.


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