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Little frame house located along historic route: State Road to Paris

At the beginning of the 20th Century, this house (still standing) was home to Margaret O’Marraugh, her son-in-law and daughter, William Andrew Hays and Katie O’Marraugh Hays, and the two Hays daughters, Alleen and Margaret. The house, at 713 Paris Avenue, was located on what was historically known as the State Road to Paris. Steve Chou collection


Long before the old Baptist Cemetery north of Mark Twain Avenue - made famous in Samuel Clemens’ writings - became a popular burial ground for residents of Hannibal, Mo., a cemetery existed atop Rock Street hill at its intersection with Seventh Street. Originally platted in the 1830s as a designated burial ground, by 1859, it had long been abandoned for burial purposes.

An anonymous letter to the editor of the Hannibal Daily Messenger, published March 30, 1859, described the state of the old cemetery:

“Said lot is now exposed to the public, unenclosed, with here and there a grave scattered over it, and the public has long since ceased to bury their dead therein.”

The letter writer proposed enclosing Out Lot 84, which fronts Seventh Street and the State Road to Paris (later renamed Paris Avenue), and building a small hospital on the ground. The burial grounds, the writer then suggested, could be used to “bury those who are strangers and have no friends here to take care of them, when they died in the hospital.”

The vision that the letter writer had for the property never came to fruition.

Childhood memories

Thomas H. Bacon (1839-1908), a noted Hannibal attorney and judge, was of the generation to remember the old, abandoned burial grounds. He wrote, in “Mirror of Hannibal” in 1905, that land designated and used for cemetery purposes had been subdivided and used for residential lots. The purchasers “dug their cellars without regard to the early grave yard.”

Mr. Baon continued:

“As a boy the writer was wont to harbor in the purlieus of the unfenced, deserted burying ground.”

Early cemetery

The cemetery itself dates back to Hannibal’s earliest days, when the town was platted. In addition to the three acres of Out Lot 84 designated for burial grounds, land for Central Park was established between Fourth and Fifth Streets, and Broadway and Center.

In the settlement of Stephen Glascock’s estate in June 1857, partials of land in both Ralls and Marion counties were sold at auction.

This parcel was sold on Aug. 3, 1857 at the courthouse in Palmyra. In 1858, when Hannibal’s population was about 6,000, Turner Subdivision was platted into 31 lots.

The names associated with the development of this subdivision, as transcribed by Harla Friesz, Marion County Recorder of Deeds, from this original 163-year-old document, appear to be: Able Turner, Charles Turner and Silas Turner.

Irish widow

Margaret O’Marraugh, widow of Michael O’Marraugh, was born in Ireland, 1825. She came to the United States in 1855, and by 1888 she was living in a small frame 2-bedroom house, located in the “suburbs of Hannibal”, along with the youngest of her five children, 20-year-old Katie O’Marraugh.

To support herself and her daughter, she worked as a laundress.

Their home was located along what was once known as the State Road to Paris, later renamed Paris Avenue.

The house address would become 713 Paris Avenue, located on the south side of the road, to the west of the intersection of Seventh and Rock streets, on land historically designated as the Old Cemetery. Specifically, the O’Marraugh house was located on Lot 3, Turners Subdivision, of Out Lot 84. The house is still standing.

There have long been tales of bones uncovered during construction projects in this area.

Next generation

Daughter Katie O’Marraugh was married to William Andrew Hays, a Hannibal contractor, in April 1893. They continued to live together in this little house, bringing two daughters into the family, Alleen and Margaret Hays, born circa 1895 and 1898. At the time of the 1900 census, Mrs. O’Marraugh made her home with this young family.

Circa 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Hays and their daughters moved to 343 Palmyra Avenue, later renumbered 407 Mark Twain Avenue. William Andrew Hays died in March 1933. Catherine Hays died in 1937. They are buried at Barkley Cemetery. It is unclear when Mrs. O’Marraugh died, or where she was buried.

Alleen married William E. Mahaney, who died Nov. 20, 1969. Alleen died Jan. 14, 1972. They are buried at Grand View Burial Park.

Margaret Hays married James S. Francis, and for a time they made their home a 407a Palmyra Avenue.

Mrs. Francis worked at a clerk for the O’Donnell Pharmacy, 501 Broadway, during the 1950s. She died in July 1979 and is buried with her husband at Barkley Cemetery, New London.

The house on Mark Twain Avenue was located on the south side of the street, to the west of where Fourth Street intersected. It was removed to make way for the widening of Mark Twain Avenue in the 1950s.

Town’s incorporation

In 1836, Stephen Glascock filed an extended plat of Hannibal, which added a tier of blocks on the north, south and west of the original plat. In 1839, he filed his plat containing the remaining blocks to 53. On March 1, 1839, the Town of Hannibal was incorporated, with boundaries of the area inclosed by Rock Street, Seventh Street, Bear Creek and the river. (Source, Mirror of Hannibal.)

Granitoid sidewalk

Note the sidewalk and “coping” in the photo on this page. At the turn of the 20th century, “granitoid” became a popular replacement for old wooden sidewalks in Hannibal. This author previously wrote a story about granitoid sidewalks and coping (the foot-tall border around the property, as shown in this photo). William Hayes was a contractor at the time this photo was taken, suggesting that he may have been a granitoid contractor. To access this story:

This is a copy of the City of Hannibal map, 1854, which was surveyed and published by Hart and Mapother, civil engineers, New York. Steve Chou collection

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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