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Long-time Market St. butcher became bank president in 1890

This undated sketch of the American Trust Company bank at 135 Market Street is taken from a matchbook cover in Steve Chou’s collection. Note the building was shaped to fit the landscape along Market Street. The building was constructed in the early 1900s.


If success is measured by civic accomplishments, then Wm. Derwin was a success indeed.

As the new century dawned in January 1900, the 65-year-old could have been seen relaxing upon the expansive wooden front porch attached to his fine brick home, located on the southwest corner of South Maple and Church streets, Hannibal, Mo. There, he could reflect upon the progress he had made since settling in Hannibal during the pre-Civil War years of the late 1850s.

During the 40 years following his arrival in Hannibal, he worked in turn as a laborer, a carpenter, a butcher and business owner. Now, he was president, and among the founders, of the West End’s first bank, in 1900 known as the German American Bank. (Later renamed American Trust Company.)

The progress of raising his family in Hannibal hadn’t been easy: By 1900 he and his wife Harriet had four children at rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Two more children survived to adulthood, and were married and successfully settled.

Like many New Englanders of his generation, as a young man Derwin, born in Pennsylvania, looked to pre-Civil War Hannibal along the banks of the Mississippi River and saw opportunity. Rail passage had just opened across Missouri; flour mills were flourishing; land was cheap; river trade made Hannibal a key port; and the population of the town was rapidly growing.

Meat markets

As early as 1873, Wm. Derwin operated a butcher shop on Market Street.

The first shop recorded in Hannibal’s city directories was that same year, located between Arch and Bates streets.

1875: Derwin and Cook, 120 Market

1877: Derwin and Cook, NW corner of Market and Arch.

1879: W. Derwin, on Market Street.

1881: Derwin meat market, 108 Market.

1885: Wm. Derwin meat market, 124 Market.

1888: Derwin and Co., meat market, Wm. Derwin and Charles L. Hixson, 105 Market and 122 Market.

Barnum circus

On Aug. 29, 1877, P.T. Barnum brought his “New and Greatest Show on Earth” to Hannibal. Wm. Derwin and his partner James G. Cook won the contract for supplying the meat for the carnivores. Derwin and Cook’s butcher shop was located on the northwest corner of Market and Arch.

The circus menagerie included:

100 Arabian horses; ponies; elephants, camels, enormous serpents and lions. A circus poster for 1877 boasted that this was the largest collection of living wild animals that ever traveled.

There was also a hippopotamus from the River Nile; sea lions from Alaska; giraffes; a lioness and her cubs; and a special feature: 6 jet black Trained Stallions.

(An estimated 3,000 people attended the evening show in Hannibal, and many more were on hand for the afternoon show.)

Bank’s founding

At the beginning of the 1890s, Derwin turned his attention to banking. As a long-time business man, he and his contemporaries recognized that the nearest bank to the Market Street Business District was a mile to the east.

He worked with other investors and they established the West End's first bank, originally named The Fidelity Bank. It was organized in mid February 1890, with $20,000 in capital stock. The first officers were:

William Derwin, president;

Fred Stohr, vice president; and

Ulysess G. Osborn, cashier

The name of the bank was soon changed to The German American Bank.

Within two years, the bank moved into the east half of the newly constructed building at 135 Market.

The bank’s stockholders, along with the number of shares they held, were listed in the Feb. 7, 1895 edition of the Marion County Herald. Note that the Derwin family members were extensive shareholders, including his wife, Harriett, son, H.D., and son-in-law, W.B. Jones. These combined shares left the Derwin family as the major share holders, with 26 total.

Adams, Ed, 11

Albertson, C., 20

Canada, P.A., 10

Chamberlain, A.L. 5

Chamberlain, W.F., 15

Clark, John, 5

Davenport, D.R., 10

Derwin, H.D., 1

Derwin, Mrs. H.A., 2

Derwin, Wm., 17

Dodd, J.W., 5

Elliott, Robert, 20

England, 2

Graham, R.H., 2

Heather, H.C., 5

Helton, A.C., 5

Hoffbauer, D.J., 2

Humphrey, Mrs. C., 1

Jones, W.B., 6

Kespohl, J., 2

Latimer, W.A., 5

Meyer, J.F., 5

Nerlich, H.G., 2

Northam, C.H., 2

Orr, J.H., 2

Osborn, U.G., 15

Pierson, Mrs. Jno. 5

Priest, H.J., 5

Raible, J.C., 2

Schanbacher, W.F., 5

Schulzs, Herman, 3

Williamson, J.F., 3

Total shares, 200

In 1894, the officers of the German American Bank, 135 Market, were: Wm. Derwin, president; Ulysses G. Osborn, cashier; and directors: Wm. Derwin, U.G. Osborn, E.T. Albertson, J. C. Raible, D.J. Hoffbauer, C.H. Northam and Wm. Schanbacher. (Source: 1894 Hannibal city directory, accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s web site.)


While the German American Bank (as it would be known until 1918, during World War I) was long located at 135 Market, this was not the original location.

On Feb. 12, 1890, the new bank’s directors met at the office of Hopkins and Libbe on Market Street. (Possibly the real estate, insurance and loan office of John T. Hopkins, 115 Market St.)

The directors settled on the name “Fidelity” for the new bank, and agreed that the location of the new bank would be in the Foss Building (commonly known as the National Hall building,) at 155 Market.

At that same meeting, officers were elected:

Wm. Derwin, president;

Fred Stohr, operator of a meat market at 107 Market, vice president; and

U.G. Osborn, from Bethany, Mo., cashier.

In 1895, Charles H. Northam, son-in-law of long-time Market Street businessman Jerome B. Clement, replaced U.G. Osborn in the role of cashier of the bank. Mr. Northam held that job until his death in 1911, at the age of 56.


Wm. Derwin died in late October 1900, after an illness of several months. Just prior to his death, he deeded parcels of property to his wife, including the family home, and to his daughter, Ida Jones.

Harriet Derwin and Ida Jones died within days of each other in January 1904. A double funeral was held at their home on South Maple Avenue. The officiant was the Rev. Henry W. Webb, of the Pilgrim Congregational Church. The music was a choir composed of Misses Ada Schnitzer, GeNorah Roberts, and Messrs. Piper and Gibbs.

William and Harriet Derwin, and their daughter, Ida, are buried together at Mount Olivet Cemetery, along with Ida’s four siblings who died as young children.

In 1888, William Derwin had two meat stores on Market Street. This advertisement is from the 1888 Hannibal city directory, accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s web site.

This photo, taken circa 1909, shows the American Trust Co., building at 135 Market St. R.N. Gilbert had an insurance office on the second floor, while the bank occupied the east half of the building’s first floor. Note to the far left is the side of the Hofbauer Bro’s drug store at 143 Market. That building would later house Whalen Pharmacy. In 1909, the western half of the bank building house W.J.A. Meyer’s wholesale shoe business. 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," "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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