Miss Link: Venerable assistant to veteran Missouri lawmaker


What was once the back of the old W.Z. Link house, located in Link View addition, Oakwood, is now the front. The house now fronts Edgar Street. In early years it fronted Tilden Street. Photo by Robert Spaun.



MARY LOU MONTGOMERY


Surrounded by modestly priced homes of the 1970s and 1980s in Oakwood’s Link View Addition, there remains a house which serves as a throwback in time. Once nestled into the wooded hillside consisting in part of Lot 1, Darr’s Addition, the house built of native timbers and locally kilned bricks served as home - for a half a century - to William Z. Link, his wife, Maude, and the five children born to their marriage.


Family data reveals that the young couple - he a native of St. Louis and she a product of nearby Ralls County, married in 1891, and by circa 1894 were living in this house perched high upon its southern-facing foundation, offering a commanding view of the passing steam engines and the family’s commercial interests along of the Bear Creek valley.


The first of the children born into this family was Edgar, in 1891; followed in succession by Vivian, in 1896; Mildred, in 1898; Leon L. Link, in 1900; and Robert, in 1908. Tragically, Edgar died following a hunting accident in 1909, at the age of 17; and young Robert died in 1913, at the age of 5, of septic peritonitis.


The surviving children remained close to the nest into the 1920s, when Vivian and Mildred trained as stenographers, and Leon worked as a machinist. Mildred married James E. Briscoe in 1922, and Leon married Alys Darracott in 1940. Vivian remained at home with her parents in the historic home in Oakwood.


Career woman

By 1927, Vivian, who would remain unmarried throughout her long life, was working for an up and coming attorney, Roy Hamlin, his office situated on the third floor of the Hornback building, northwest corner of Broadway and Fifth.

Hamlin was elected to the Missouri State House of Representatives from Marion County, and served from 1933 until his death in 1960. To accommodate her job, she set up seasonal lodging in Jefferson City when the legislature was in session. The remainder of the year she resided with her parents in their Oakwood home.


Historic fire

In early May, 1939, she was a registered guest at the Madison Hotel in Jefferson City, located across the street from the Governor’s Mansion.

The noteworthy hotel served as a political hub for gathering politicians from the 1870s through the 1930s. It’s convenience to the center of lawmaking for the state, the hotel’s stately rooms offered a welcoming respite for lawmakers and their staff, in town for the legislative season.

The hotel’s history ended during a late-night fire, on May 3, 1939. Believed to have started in the lobby, the fire ultimately traveled up the hotel’s elevator shaft, and within hours, all but the hotel’s brick walls was reduced to rubble.

Some injuries were reported among the hotel’s guests, but Vivian Link was not among those listed as injured.

Among the more notable registered guests at the time of the fire:

Sen. W.J. Doran, Democrat, St. Louis.

Judge J.W. Farley.

Rep. Dr. and Mrs E.F. Cook, Democrat, Buchanan County.

Sen. J.H. Brogan.

Sen. Phil Donelly, Democrat, Lebanon.

Sen. and Mrs. C.O. Robinson.

Rep. Max Astosky, Democrat, Kansas City.

Sen. and Mrs. M.E. Casey.

Dr. and Mrs. J.A. Gray, Republican, representative for Atchison County.

D.J. Keating, a Kansas City Attorney, in Jefferson City to attend the legislative session. He was killed in a car crash on May 5, 1939, on his way back to Kansas City.

Among the injured was Fred M. Joseph, attorney and former St. Louis University football player. He was in Jefferson City working as a lobbyist for the city of St. Louis. He served as a member of the 1937 Legislature.


Well known in Jeff City

Vivian Link was well known and respected among the elected officials and office workers in Missouri’s capitol building. The Associated Press published a short story in March 1952, which was picked up by the Kansas City Star on March 20, 1952.

“For years Miss Vivian Link has been an unobtrusive but capable legal right hand for Speaker Roy Hamlin (D) of Hannibal.

“When Hamlin presides over the Missouri House, ‘Miss Vivian’ is generally close by with the rules and constitution for quick reference.

“House members have come to depend on her, too.

“Today Hamlin ruled against Rep. Floyd L. Snyder (D) of Jackson County on a parliamentary question. But Snyder wanted to be sure:

“Is that right, Miss Vivian?” he asked over the public address system.

“The House roared, Miss Vivian blushed, Hamlin had nothing to say.”


Link View addition

Vivian Link’s father, W.Z. (Buzz) Link was responsible for subdividing the property to the north of his family’s home into Link View addition, in April 1909. The names of the parallel, east-west streets in the subdivision are named after four of his children, listed, from north to south: Leonard, Mildred, Vivian and Edgar avenue. He retained Block 1 of the subdivision for his own home and its environment.

In November 1909, W.Z. Link sold Block 5 (the northern most parcel) to John E. Gordon and wife for $2,000.

In 1935, the Link house was addressed 3600 Hamilton.

By 1946, the address had changed to 3600 Tilden.

In the late 1940s, W.Z., Maude and Vivian Link moved downtown, to 210 S. Sixth. It was in that house that W.Z. died March 7, 1950. His wife, Maude A. Link, died the following year, Feb. 11, 1951. Both are buried at Holy Family Cemetery.

By 1950, the historic house, now numbered 3602 Tilden, was owned by Raymond V. Bowden, an engineer for the CB&Q Railroad. He would continue to own and occupy the house until his death in May 1969.

In 1971, Clyde J. and Vera L. Link subdivided Block 1 into individual lots, reserving lots 4 and 5 for the already existing house. As the Links built houses around the existing house, the address changed again, to 3619 Edgar.

By 1975, Ward A. and Janet Shipley took possession, and the property remains in the Shipley name.


Miss Vivian

Vivian Link died Dec. 19, 1981, and is buried near her parents at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal.

Her sister, Mildred Link Briscoe, died March 10, 1993. She is buried at Holy Family Cemetery along with her husband, James E. Briscoe, who died in 1950.

Her brother, Leon Leonard Link, died in 1980, and is buried at Hannibal’s Riverview Cemetery.

Some background information for this story was obtained from “Historically Yours: The Madison Hotel of Jefferson City, 2020, by Elizabeth Davis.





In 1971, Clyde and Vera Link subdivided Lot 1 in Link View Addition. Lots 4 and 5 were reserved for the W.Z. Link house, already on the property. This sketch was obtained from Harla Frieze, recorder of deeds for Marion County, Mo.



This image reflects the Link View subdivision created in 1909 by W.Z. Link. Lot one was the location of the Link home. (Broadway is now named Tilden.) Note that The streets are named after his children, Leonard, Mildred, Vivian and Edgar. In November 1909, W.Z. Link sold Block 5 (the northern most parcel) to John E. Gordon and wife for $2,000. This sketch was obtained from Harla Frieze, recorder of deeds for Marion County, Mo.



A photo of the W.Z. Link house can be found in the Standard Atlas of Marion County, Missouri, 1913. This was originally the front of the house, facing south toward Tilden Avenue. Supplied by Archie Hayden.



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," and "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870." She can be reached at Montgomery.editor@yahoo.com Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com

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