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Mainlands’ hilltop mansion: A relic from Hannibal's past

The Mainland mansion, built upon a bluff to the north of Hannibal’s Market Street. The two-story frame house occupied the prominent spot for more than 50 years. Photo contributed by Willie Richmond, a Mainland descendent.


During the first half of the 20th Century, the setting sun would regularly cast its glow upon the the two-story frame mansion situated high atop the limestone bluffs to the north of Hannibal’s Market Street. Built by John Sinclair Mainland circa 1905-1906 for his extended family, the house overlooked the Hannibal Railway and Electric Company Depot.

Influencers of early transportation in a town still dependent upon horsepower, the Mainlands, including John Sinclair Mainland, (1858-1918) and two of his brothers, William Craigie Mainland (1859-1925) and Leslie Craigie Mainland Jr., (1863-1944) assumed operation of the Hannibal Railway and Electric Railroad around the beginning of the 20th Century. For the next two decades, under J.S. Mainland’s management, electric street cars would define public transportation between the individual sprawling burbs that today define Hannibal.

John Sinclair Mainland was the oldest of Leslie C. and Ann Mainland’s eight children, the family heralding from the Orkney Islands, Scotland. The family came to the United States circa 1876, ultimately settling in Somers, Kenosha County, Mich.

Two of John Mainland’s younger brothers, William Craigie Mainland, (1859-1925) Leslie Craigie Mainland Jr., (1863-1944) were entrepreneurs of an amazing sort, early recognizing the possibilities of electricity. They got in on the ground floor of energy production in Midwestern towns, which were literally still in the dark as far as energy consumption was concerned.


A certificate of incorporation was issued by the Missouri Secretary of State for the Hannibal Railway and Electric Company in mid October 1900, with a capital stock of $100,000. (The St. Louis Globe Democrat reported that the company was Incorporated by Herbert J. Beaty, George D. Clayton, John K. Adams and others.)

By 1904, William Mainland, (1859-1925) who made his home in Kenosha Wis., was president of no fewer than seven corporations, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper of Oct. 24, 1904:

The Green Bay Light and Power Company;

The Stevens Point Lighting Company;

The Hannibal Railway and Electric Company;

Union Light, Heat and Power Company of Fargo, N.D.;

Marquette Gas Light company of Marquette, Mich.;

Stevens Point Power Company; and

Monmouth Gas and Electric Company of Monmouth, Ill.

Move to Hannibal

While his brothers managed their holdings from their homes in Wisconsin and beyond, it was John Sinclair Mainland who actually moved to Hannibal and assumed management of the Hannibal Railway and Electric Company.

J.S. Sinclair was a widower when he came to Hannibal; his wife, Margaret Christine Addie Mainland, died in Feb. 25, 1894. She left behind three young children, Sinclair, Anna C., and Leslie J., ages approximately 6, 5 and 2. By 1900, the children were living with their paternal grandparents, the aforementioned Leslie and Ann S. Mainland in Somers, Kenosha County, Wis. Their father, John S. Mainland, was working as a bookkeeper and living with his brother, Leslie Mainland, in Racine, Wis. At that time Leslie Mainland was an undertaker.

J.S. Mainland, age 42, soon moved to Hannibal to take over management of the Hannibal Railway and Electric Company. He settled into a house at 2221 St. Mary’s Avenue, and his children, now young adults, soon followed him to Hannibal, completing high school and taking positions of responsibility within the street car company.

J.S. Mainland was married to Belle Barnes in 1902, and she died 1904.

The house on the hilltop was constructed circa 1905, and was still standing in 1953, according to notes left by J.S. Mainland’s son, Sinclair.

J.S. Mainland’s father, Leslie Craigie Mainland Sr., died in 1905 at his son’s home, presumably at the hilltop house. At his bedside were at least two of his sons, J.S. and William Craigie Mainland. Services were held in Hannibal.

Intertwining Mainland

genealogy lesson:

Sarah Ann Smith and John Rodes Smith were sliblings, children of William Asa Smith (1797-1864) and Ann Rodes Thompson Smith (1799-1872).

Each was raised and married in Kentucky:

• Sarah Ann Smith married Jamison F. Hawkins (son of Elijah and Sophia Bradford Hawkins) in 1841, at Scott County, Ky.

• John Rodes Smith (1820-1884) married Mary Lowry Barnes, (daughter of Catesby and Judith M. Barnes of Woodford, Ky.) in 1852.

Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins moved to Hannibal, Mo., circa 1839. After profiting during the California gold rush, Jamison F. Hawkins came back to Missouri and purchased some 300 acres of land in the area that would become known as St. Mary’s Avenue, and he, and later other family members, divided and sold the land.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith moved to Hannibal circa 1873.

Both the Smith and Hawkins families settled in the St. Mary’s Avenue region, and managed extensive property holdings.

The Smiths had one son, Catesby Barnes Smith, born in Woodford County, Ky.

The Hawkins had at least nine children, including daughter, Thetis Clay Hawkins, born in 1844.

The Smiths’ son died in 1881, leaving his only son, William Barnes Smith, born in 1880 in Hannibal, to be raised without a father. He inherited the bulk of his paternal grandparents’ estate, and lived along St. Mary’s Avenue for most of his adult life. He died in 1948.

Belle Barnes, (estimated birth 1868) niece of Mary Lowry Barnes Smith, is believed to have been settled in Hannibal as early as 1888, teaching school, and living on the south side of Chestnut, near Hawkins Avenue. W.D. Barnes, likely her father (and Mary Lowry Barnes Smith’s brother) was also living at that same address.

The Hawkins’ daughter, Thetis, was married to William Henry Hatch. They had one daughter together, Sallie Rodes Hatch, born in 1866.

Mr. Hatch - longtime Democratic congressman, died in 1896. Mrs. Hatch died in 1923. Sallie Rodes Hatch also died in 1923. They are buried together at Riverside Cemetery.

John S. Mainland, the primary subject of this story, was married to Belle Barnes (estimated birth date 1868) in 1902. She died in 1904, and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Smith’s Park, where J.S. Mainland operated an outdoor theater on St. Mary’s Avenue, described in last week’s story, was on property owned by Mary Lowry Barnes Smith.

Sallie Rodes Hatch bequeathed her family’s farm to the state of Missouri for use as the Hatch Experimental Station.

Family home

After the death of J.S. Mainland in 1918, his family continued to occupy the house on the hilltop.The 1920 census identifies the following as occupants:

Robertus Richmond, 28; and his wife,

Anna Mainland Richmond, 30; and their children:

Robertus M. Richmond, 6, and

John F. Richmond, 3;

Leslie J. Mainland, 28, brother-in-law of Robertus Richmond, and his wife,

Leah Mainland, 24;

Sinclair Mainland, 31, now manager of the street car railroad, brother in law; of Robertus Richmond; and

Mary Uptegrove, 68, housekeeper.

Leslie J., Sinclair and Anna C. Mainland, children of J.S. Mainland, pictured near the time of their mother’s death. Margaret Christine Addie Mainland died in Feb. 25, 1894. Photo, taken in Racine, Wis., posted on Findagrave by Amy Rundle, and reprinted with permission.

Family gathering atop the hill, circa 1905-06. At left, John S. Mainland, and by his knee, the lady dressed in black, presumably his mother, Ann Mainland. Her husband, Leslie Mainland, died in 1905 at the J.S. Mainland house in Hannibal. The identities of the others in the photo are unclear; they quite possibly could include Mr. Mainland’s three children, Sinclair Mainland, far left; Anna Mainland, the young woman standing; and Leslie J. Mainland, seated in the chair. Leslie J. Mainland would have been about 13 at the time of this photo; Anna C. Mainland would have been about 14; and Sinclair W. Mainland would have been about 18. Please feel free to help with identities of those pictured. Photo contributed by Willie Richmond, a descendent of Anna Mainland Richmond.

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,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’ and the newest book, “Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


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