Main Street shoe store owner called St. Mary’s Avenue home
Pictured are the two houses on St. Mary’s Avenue described in today’s story. At right is the house occupied in the 19-teens by William Pound and his wife Zorretta. The original lot was subdivided, and the house on the left was constructed, then later occupied by John C. and Minnie D. Miller until circa 1926. There is a ten-foot easement at the east of the property at the right to allow access to the house at the left from Hubbard Street. Spring 2023 photo by Mary Lou Montgomery.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Shoes were an important part of Hannibal’s economic well-being in 1912. Faded into memory were the cobblers who stitched one pair of shoes at a time, and now in vogue were factory-made shoes. Hannibal manufacturers and wholesalers stepped up to fill the demand.
In 1912, the Bluff City Shoe Company was at Collier near Maple; the Hannibal Shoe Company was located at 1929A Market; the Roberts Johnson and Rand Shoe Company was at 705 Collier; and the Mense Shoe Company was located in the German-American Trust Co. Building on Market Street.
In 1912, Main Street was the epicenter of retail sales in the shoe shopping district: Peter Essig and Son, 601 S. Main; I.T. Lake, 215 N. Main; Logan Shoe Co., 121 N. Main; Miller West Shoe Co., 109 N. Main; Mason Shoe Co., 105 N. Main; and Ryan Shoe Co., 207 N. Main.
Today’s story focuses upon John C. Miller (1873-1957) who sold shoes on Hannibal’s Main Street beginning circa 1903, when he took a job as a clerk at the Turner Shoe Co., 101 S. Main. George E. Turner and W.F. McElroy were primary officers in this company, and J.C. West (who John C. Miller would later partner with) was secretary and treasurer.
Moving to Hannibal
Miller, who had been a piano dealer in Union, Daviess County, Mo., in 1900, moved his family to Hannibal, taking a job with the Burlington Railroad. Like many other railroaders of the era, he settled into a small frame house in South Hannibal, specifically, 1216 Union. There, he and his wife, Millie, acclimated to the town in which they would live for the next quarter century.
John C. Miller took a leap of faith circa 1907, opening his own shoe store, Miller
Shoe Company, located at 109 N. Main. Main Street shoe stores at that time included Cobb and Co., 200-202 N. Main; Jacob Fuchs, 208 N. Main; N. Hainsfurther, 107 S. Main; Logan Shoe Co., 123 N. Main; Mason Shoe Co., 105 N. Main; Miller Shoe Co., 109 N. Main; A.D. Powers, 111 S. Main; and George Wessel, 214 N. Main.
By this time, the Millers were living in a rental house at 510 Union. It was in that house that John D. Power - a native of Petersburg, Menard County, Ill., - came to spend his final years with his nephew’s family. Power was suffering with Parkinson’s Disease, and died in 1910.
By 1912, Miller and the aforementioned J.C. West had partnered to form the Miller-West Shoe Company, located at 109 N. Main, in Miller’s original shoe building.
St. Mary’s Avenue
At the beginning of the 20th Century, (as described in an associated story by this author) William L. Pound, a steam locomotive engineer for the Burlington line out of Hannibal, lived with his wife, Loretta, and children in a stately house on a large lot on the northeast corner of Hubbard and St. Mary’s Avenue.
They purchased this property circa 1901 from Amelia S. Robinson and her husband, William H. Robinson, and continued to live there until the beginning of the 1920s, when Mr. Pound died.
In 1912, the Pounds divided their large lot and sold the northern portion to John C. Miller, who owned a shoe store located at 109 N. Main St.
The land division began 84.9 feet north from the north line of Hubbard Street and continued northward for 194.1 feet. Mr. Miller, in order to access this new lot, was granted a right of way, 10 feet wide, on the eastern edge of the Pounds’ property, with the driveway connecting to Hubbard Street.
John C. and Minnie D. Miller purchased this property, and the associated two-story frame house facing St. Mary’s Avenue, and lived there until circa 1926, when they permanently relocated to Phoenix, Ariz.
John C. Miller had health issues during his time in Hannibal. In September 1923, he and his wife Minnie, and their 17-year-old son, John D. Miller, packed up their belongings and headed to Phoenix, Ariz., in an attempt to restore his health over the winter months.
Once in Phoenix, his health did improve, enough so that he was able to return to Hannibal for a time.
He closed his Hannibal shoe store circa 1925, and went to work for Currier’s Buster Brown Shoe Store, operated by John R. and Robert Currier. The store was located at 220 Broadway.
Ultimately, Miller and his family settled up their affairs in town, sold their house and moved to Phoenix in October 1926.
In Phoenix, he went to work selling shoes for Korricks Department Store. After retiring in 1933, he operated a citrus grove in rural Maricopa County, Arizona. His son, John Dedmon Miller, followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a shoe salesman.
Their address was 1001 E Maryland Ave., Phoenix, Ariz.
Minnie Ditchler Painter Miller died April 18, 1947.
John Cland Miller died May 6, 1957. At the time of his death, he was blind.
Their bodies were returned to Hannibal for burial at Mount Olivet Cemetery, beside an infant daughter.
Their son, John D. Miller, died in 1967 in San Francisco, Calif., at the age of 61.
Note: Thanks to Steve and Melanie Locke, who loaned the abstract for the John C. Miller property to allow for research.
This is an image of the original Korricks Department Store in Phoenix, Ariz., where John C. Miller, who operated a shoe store in Hannibal from circa 1907 to 1925, worked circa 1926-1933. This image was printed in the Arizona Republic newspaper June 17, 2016. newspapers.com
An alarm was sounded at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, January 12, 1930, signaling the devastating fire in the 100 block of North Main Street in Hannibal. At left was the Famous store, and next door to the right, at 105 N. Main St., was the Bootery shoe store. And at the far right, at 109 N. Main St., was the building that formerly housed the Miller Shoe Company, operated by John C. Miller. Miller had vacated the building circa 1926. Located at 109 N. Main at the time of the fire was Tradehome Shoe Store, operated by Melvin E. Schaffner. Steve Chou photo collection.
This advertisement shows examples of the styles of shoes sold on Main Street in Hannibal, Mo., in 1912. The advertisement was published in the Palmyra Spectator Oct. 2, 1912. newspapers.com
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 Amazon.com 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,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’” and the newest book, “Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.email@example.com Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com