‘New Cab Company’ family roots ran deep at ‘The Wedge’


Earl Holman was pictured circa 1974 in the Hannibal Courier-Post with his mules Kate, 10, and Ella, 11. His story was written by Helen A. Beedle, field representative for the Social Security Administration. For many years he and his team operated a 12-inch walking plow, turning up the soil for gardens in Oakwood. Contributed by Teri Woodward. Hannibal Courier-Post photo by Mark Prout, photojournalist


MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

Two trains collided head-on at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, 1964, just to the west of the Wabash outer depot - near 29th Street - at Hannibal, Mo. The intensity of the crash was such that eight diesel locomotives - four attached to each train - were believed damaged beyond repair, and houses in the vicinity were noticeably shaken on their foundations.

The house nearest the impact - that of Earl Holman who lived at 2715 Bowling Ave. - was shaken, too, but Holman wasn’t alarmed enough to arise from his bed to investigate the commotion. Living just yards from the tracks where frequent switching took place, he assumed that it was typical rail yard work, and went back to sleep.

It was morning, when he arose, before his eyes focused on one of the worst financial rail catastrophes of his lifetime. The damage to the engines alone was estimated at the time to be $1 million.

Holman, about 56 at the time of the rail accident, was the owner of the New Cab Company, more commonly referred to as the 150 cab company, doing business at 1218 Market Street, at the tip of “The Wedge.”


The Wedge

The simple name, “The Wedge” is all that long-time Hannibalians need in order to conjure up a visual image of the point at 1200 Broadway where the main artery veered up the hill to the northwest, and Market Street commenced and continued toward the southwest. In between these two streets were triangular-shaped two-story buildings, custom built to match the topography. On the first floors of these buildings, businesses thrived - operated by locals, both black and white. On the second floors, blue collar families rented living quarters.

The history of The Wedge goes back to Hannibal’s earliest days, as the business district expanded west from the river, toward the stagecoach route to Paris, Mo.

The 1885 and 1890 Sanborn fire prevention maps show a snub-nosed building located at 102 Market (later renumbered 1220). By 1899, a smaller, one-story building had be constructed on the eastern end of 102 Market, and was identified as a cobbler shop at 100 Market.

The 1897 Hannibal city directory identifies Nathan L. Saunders as operating a fish market in this small building.

In 1905, George Grimes sold fish, oysters and game from this storefront, and in 1907, it was Arthur J. O’Donnell’s tailor shop. Edward D. Washington, a man of color, had a restaurant in this small building in 1909, and in 1911, Frank Chanette, also a man of color, had a lunch room at 100 Market.

In 1912, when the numbering changed from 100 Market to 1218 Market, Martin E. and Earl M. Dunbar operated a painting and wallpaper business. Two years later, Henry Schwartz and J. Kirtley Mason had a saloon in this small space. As the first world war came around, Henry and Nellie Schwartz operated the saloon, and up into prohibition, a soft drink business.

In 1923, Orville D. and Erie S. James operated a grocery there.

In 1929, John P. Beeth operated at restaurant at 1220 Market, while the Wedge Filling Station was in operation at 1218-20 Market.


The Holmans

Earl Holman and his brother, Enoch (Buck), born circa 1908 and 1910, respectively, were the sons of J.W. and Fannie Matson Holman, of Spencer Township, in Ralls County, Mo.

Both Earl and Enoch trained horses early in their careers, each working for Dr. John W. Opp, a Hannibal dentist and enthusiastic lover of fine horses. Dr. Opp had horse stables on Highway 61, south of Oakwood. (The Opp horse barn was later known as the Harris stables.)

In addition, Enoch trained horses for Art Simmons in Mexico, Mo., and traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., and Chicago, training horses for wealthy people. His oldest daughter, Mary, was born in Omaha, Neb., where Enoch was training horses at the time.

In June 1940, Earl Holman and his wife Irene moved to Milwaukee, Wis., and he went to work as a trainer for fine saddle horses at the Joy Farm at Milwaukee, which was owned by for Allyn H. Tidball. During the war, he also worked at an Ordinance Plant which manufactured long mortar shells in the production of ammunition.

In Hannibal circa 1939, Enoch Holman and Wayne Garrett operated the Safe Way Cab Co., in Hannibal, but later Enoch and his then-wife, Carleeta, moved to Peoria, Ill.

After the war, the brothers moved back to Hannibal and launched the 150 Taxi Company.

By 1950, Earl and Enoch Holman, along with their father, J.W. Holman, were operating the business together, at 1218 Market. Enoch's wife, Mary, worked as dispatcher.

On April 20, 1955, Enoch died of a coronary obstruction. His widow sold her share of the business, which was then managed by Earl Holman, the surviving brother.

Earl Holman retired in 1969. According to telephone records, New Cab Company remained in business until circa 1971, operated by other family members.

Earl M. Holman died in 1984, at the age of 76. His widow, Irene Mosley Lippincott Holman, died in 1990. They are buried together at Grand View Burial Park. Together they raised a daughter, Shirley Ann Holman Martin, and one son, Cecil Leon Lippincott. They each preceded the elder Holmans in death.


Phone numbers

As explained by Jodie Link in a recent “Growing up in Hannibal” Facebook discussion, an extra digit was added to previous three-digit phone numbers in order for the old numbers to work with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company’s new switching equipment. In 1950, the phone number for the New Cab Company was 150. By 1960, the Academy One prefix had been implemented in Hannibal, and digits were added to make a seven-digit phone number. The New Cab Company’s new telephone number became AC 1-8150. Hannibal’s long-distance prefix was 314.


Memories

Culled from Facebook discussions:

Patricia Boggs remembers that Ross Bentley drove a cab from 1955 to 1960.

Thanks to Edith Blight, for information about her father, Enoch Holman. She remembers that Dude Trigg was a driver for the New Cab Company. Through the years, a number of family members were involved in the operation of the company, she said.

Thanks to Teri Woodward, for information about her grandfather, Earl Holman

Jim Powell remembers that both his father, Jim Powell, and his uncle, Clifford Powell, worked at 150 cab company.

Robert Freeman remembers that his father, John Freeman, answered the phones for the New Cab Company, and his wife’s uncle, Sug Owens, drove a cab. Sparkie Charlton dispatched there for a long time, Robert said.


Note: Becker Spaun, and his father, William B. Spaun, went to the scene of the railroad accident on Sunday morning, Oct. 4, 1964, and took color slides and movies. Becker told me that one of the engines involved in the crash was a fairly new GE engine. “The west bound train was sitting in the yards, and the east-bound train came down the hill. One was supposed to take the siding. The east-bound train thought he had clearance to the bridge. The accident happened just before the outer depot.”

The west-bound crew was able to jump from the engine before impact. The crew of the east-bound train received minor injuries.


Information about the rail collision was obtained from the Monday, Oct. 5, 1964 edition of the Quincy Herald Whig.



Enoch W. (Buck) Holman is pictured upon a chocolate colored five-gaited horse in May 1949. The horse was among those that were to be shown at a horse sale in Hannibal. Courier-Post photo, Submitted by Edith Blight, Buck Holman's daughter.





This is a clipping from Hannibal’s 1960 telephone directory, the first year that the prefix AC 1- was added to local phone numbers. The New Cab Company’s phone number was previously 150, and was renumbered AC 1-8150.




This photo, circa 1977, shows the small building at 1218 Market Street, Hannibal, which housed the New Cab Company, more commonly known as the 150 Cab Company, from just after World War II until the early 1970s. The photo was taken prior to the demolition of the Wedge buildings. Steve Chou collection.



Onlookers watch as repair crews work to re-establish the rails following an early morning train crash on Oct. 4, 1964. The head-on collision occurred just to the south of the home and property of Earl Holman, who lived on Bowling Avenue. Holman was, at the time, owner and operator of the New Cab Company, more commonly known as the 150 cab company. Photo from the collection of Becker Spaun of Hannibal, who took pictures at the scene in 1964 along with his father, William B. Spaun.



This derailed engine was damaged in an early morning head-on crash with another engine during the early morning hours of Oct. 4, 1964. The crash badly damaged eight locomotives, with an estimated damage of $1 million. The crash occurred just yards from the home of Earl Holman, who lived on Bowling Avenue. Photo from the collection of Becker Spaun of Hannibal, who took pictures at the scene in 1964 along with his father, William B. Spaun.


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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