Neighborhood grocery supported a long line of early entrepreneurs
Samuel and Clara Magee. Newspaper clipping supplied by Doug Yonce, their great-grandson.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
The year was 1914.
Motorized vehicles were sharing the roadways with horse-drawn wagons. Woodrow Wilson was president as the United States moved toward involvement in a world war. Oxydol laundry detergent was introduced to American households. Cecil B. DeMille directed his first (silent) film, “The Squaw Man,” which was shot in Hollywood.
That same year in Hannibal, Samuel A. and Clara Magee were supporting their large family by selling groceries in a building at the intersection of New London Gravel Road and Market Street. Their oldest son, George, who graduated from eighth grade in Marion County rural schools in 1911, was working behind the counter.
This pie-shaped parcel of land and the associated building had served the neighborhood in grocery sales from as early as the beginning of the 20th Century, when the Link family set up temporary business there following the fire that consumed a number of business buildings in 1901.
The Magee family not only conducted business at this location, but they also lived on the premises, father and mother and all their children.
This living and work arrangement would continue into the 1920s, when the family business offerings expanded to include auto repairs.
The year was 1917
“Miss Vena M. Magee of Oakwood and J.L. Stillwell of Hannibal were married Sunday at the home of the bride’s parents, S.A. Magee and wife, Rev. C.L. Toto pronouncing the ceremony. Miss Laura V. Robinson and George Magee were the attendants. The bride was a former resident of this county. She is an accomplished young lady. The groom is a machinist at the Burlington shops and is a popular young man.” Ralls County Record April 13, 1917 newspapers.com
The year was 1922
Miss Sallie Redman was principal of Tilden School, where the younger Magee children likely attended.
The Magee family and grocery business relocated within the same block, to 3605 Market. George R. Magee, born in 1894, worked as a chauffeur for the Standard Oil Co. Charles Magee, born in 1902, was a mechanic at his father’s shop. Daughter Iva Magee, born in 1904, earned her keep via work at the International Shoe Company.
Robert C. Trigg and his wife, Cassie, moved into the grocery building vacated by the Magees, at 3601 Market.
Down through the ages, the Magees would continue to sell groceries and fix automobiles in Oakwood. Daughters married and mostly moved away. The parents eventually settled at 2920 Market, where their diverse business interests would continue until the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Magee in 1946 and 1947, respectively.
Memories of Samuel A. and Clara Bell Magee come in the form of family stories, told by their second-to-youngest daughter, Nellie, to her daughter, Marjorie. In turn, those stories live on through Marjorie’s son, Doug Yonce, of southern California, who values this living history.
“The stories are primarily my mom telling me about Grandpa, and our trips back to Hannibal in 1959, 1961 and 1963,” Doug, now 72 and a retired school teacher, said.
Nellie Magee Painter, Doug Yonce’s grandmother, died in 1955 at the age of 49. Doug, son of Nellie’s daughter, Marjorie, was just four years old at the time.
“We visited many times in the 50’s and 60’s when I was just a kid, staying with my mom’s Aunt Addie, one of ‘Grandpa’s’ daughters. I loved the ‘hometown’ feel of your special city.
“We’d see the Tom and Becky cave, paddle wheelers, (experience the) small town feel. Great grandpa Magee had a daughter, Inez, who had a daughter Idella, my mom’s favorite cousin. They lived in Pittsfield in a house that Abraham Lincoln had visited, with a water pump and cellar where they had a ringer washer.
“Mom told me she loved visiting every one of the relatives, staying with each of her aunts and uncles, all scattered along the Mississippi River: Quincy, Pittsfield, St. Louis … Charlie lived in St. Louis, and he was huge Cardinals fan. I can remember watching TV, the Saturday game of the week. Charlie said his dad (Samuel A. Magee) was a Cardinal’s fan. In those days, baseball was in its infancy.”
End of an era
When the sun set on Samuel A. Magee’s life in July, 1947, his survivors included his sons:
George Magee of Oakwood and Charles Magee of Hannibal, Route 2; and seven daughters,
Mrs. E.F. Daniels of Canton; Mrs. Ira (Inez) Bonds of Chapin, Ill.; Mrs. John Stillwell of the state of Florida; Mrs. John (Lucille) Bounds, Chaplin, Ill.; Mrs. Stanley Huss of Michigan; Mrs. Elbert (Nellie) Painter of California; Mrs. L.A. (Mary) Bailey of Oakwood; 18 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
At the time of the Oakwood fire in 1901, that pie-shaped piece of land was owned by Madison C. Drake, a 52-year old Kentucky-born Oakwood entrepreneur, with wealth inherited from the estate of his uncle, Dr. John A. Hampton, who died in 1892.
Because the Link family owned much land in Oakwood, and had the resources to rebuild their business establishments - this time out of brick - their occupation of the Wedge building would be temporary.
But later, a line of respected business operators in turn would set up shop in this locale, situated as it was on the border between Marion and Ralls counties.
The address was 3601 Market St.
Charles W. Martz and his wife, Luella, operated a grocery at this location in 1912. In 1910, Martz was a bottler for a soda factory, and his family lived near Robert Evan’s dairy farm on the Paris Gravel Road. After a short stint as a grocery store operator at 3601 Market, he worked as a carpenter, and he and his wife operated a rooming house at 110 S. Sixth.
John O. and Ruth M. Sherman operated a grocery store at 3601 Market. (See accompanying photo)
Frank Manzke operated the Manzke Market at 3601 Market, according to his nephew, Robert J. Manzke. He was assisted in the store by his brother, Carl.
Gloria Powell Murphy submitted this photo of Shermans Market, located at 3601 Market in 1957. The Shermans were Gloria’s grandparents.
Doug Yonce of California shared this photo of his great-grandparents, Samuel A. and Clara Magee, probably taken in the early 1940s. Behind them are some of their children, including Doug’s grandmother, Nellie, who is marked in the photo with a star over her head.
The intersection of New London Gravel Road and Market Street, looking west. 2022 photo by Mary Lou Montgomery
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,’ the newest book, Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.firstname.lastname@example.org Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com