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Richards earned pharmacy degree; brought expertise back to Hannibal

Frank Richards, 1867-1925. A Hannibal native who operated a pharmacy at 112 Main St., for 20 years, circa 1897-1916. Photo shared by the Farmers & Merchants Bank, where Richards served as vice president of the board.


Frank G. Richards and A.J. Settles, two of North Main Street’s premiere merchants and Hannibal bachelors, were riding in a horse-drawn carriage on Thursday, July 30, 1903, when the horse became startled by a coil of wire in the street.

The horse charged ahead, spilling the two businessmen onto the pavement.

The Ralls County Record reported the next day: “Mr. Richards’ head and face were lacerated and badly bruised, while Mr. Settles’ collar bone was broken, one rib torn loose and his right ankle badly sprained.”

Early years

When Frank G. Richards was born in 1867, his parents, Joshua P. Richards and Linnie (Melinda) Gore Richards, lived on Bird Street, between Fourth and Fifth. By the early 1870s, his father, a Hannibal banker and one of the founders of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, had moved the family to the “western suburbs” of Hannibal. In particular, they moved to a grand Victorian-style house at at what is now numbered 2107 Crescent Drive.

(A photo exists somewhere in Hannibal’s history realm of a horse-drawn wagon heading up the winding lane leading to this historic home’s front porch; the men on the buggy were Hannibal business leaders, including my great-uncle, Robert Robinson.)

Tragically, Linnie Gore Richards died April 9, 1877, at the age of 39, when her youngest son, Frank, was just shy of 10 years old. Her death left a huge void in that large household.

To partially fill that void, by 1880, Roberta Adelaide Green Gore was assisting with the household. She was a recent widow of the late Linnie Gore Richards’ brother, Joshua C. Gore.

Also living in the household in 1880 was Kate Burrows, a 16 year old servant.

Growing up on that rural property, which was likely surrounded by native locust, maple and oak trees, Frank G. Richards was situated close enough to fledgling Hannibal to attend classes at Hannibal High School, located at the corner of Sixth and North, and to earn a public school diploma, circa 1886.

Choosing not to immediately follow in his father’s banking footsteps, Frank chose, instead, to study pharmacy. For six years, the youngest of Joshua P. Richards’ four sons worked under the supervision of Edward and William DeGaris, who were among Hannibal’s most respected druggists, doing business at 407 Broadway.


In 1892, Frank Richards packed up his belongings and headed east to his father’s home state of Pennsylvania. There, his father’s sister, Sarah (Mrs. Isaac) Coates, still resided. (She died the same year as his arrival.) In Pennsylvania, Frank entered a two-year course at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. In 1894 he graduated with high honors in chemistry, “Material Medica” and pharmacy, and returned to Hannibal.

Back in Hannibal, he chose a central location on North Main Street to open a pharmacy, address #112. The building had previously served as a boot and shoe store. At first partnering with William M. Nolin, and three years later branching out on his own, Frank Richards operated the drug store in this building for more than two decades.

The Mirror of Hannibal, C.P. Greene, editor and publisher, describes the business interior as consisting of two floors, “very handsomely appointed, equipped and furnished throughout. The counters and interior fixtures are of carved quarter oak, plate glass, while the soda fountain is of marble with silver trimmings, and is the largest of of this kind in this section.”

There was a seating capacity for at least sixty people, the book narrative continued, “and it is not uncommon sight on Saturday afternoon in July or August to find the store literally thronged with thirsty shoppers and pleasure seekers, who are for the time being intent only upon assuaging their thirst with Richards’ famous cream or soda.”

Family ties

Frank G. Richards was married to Agnes V. Price, daughter of John B. and Susan M. Price, on Sept. 26, 1905, in Chicago. At the time of their marriage, she was 37, and he was 39.

In 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Richards and their two young sons, Frank G. Richards Jr., and John Price, Richards, lived at 201 N. Fourth, along with her father, John B. Price, who was manager of the Park Theater.

Civic duty

Frank Richards played a pivitol role in the establishment of highway markers in 1912. That year, The Hannibal Automobile Association, of which Richards was a member, marked the official highway between Mexico and Hannibal with two rings in orange and white around the telephone poles, the bridges and viaducts. Other members of the marking party were William Ritchie, Joe O’Donnell and James F. Hinton, all of Hannibal.

In 1917, Richards and other Hannibal citizens made a tour of the county, recruiting young men to enlist in the Navy or Marine Corps. Among that party were: Archy C. RoBards, Madison C. Shofield, Ed. Bruns, F.G. Richards, George A. Brown, Lieutenant Berkheimer, Mrs. Nettie Hall Austin, Geo. A. Mahan and Berryman Henwood.

Drug store

Frank Richards sold his drug store to George P. Miller, and in 1915 ran for and won the position of Marion County Collector. By 1924, he was serving his second term with the county, as well as filling the vice presidency of the Farmers and Merchants Bank board, which his father had previously held until his death in 1905.

The Richards family continued to live at 401 N. Fourth until 1924, when they moved into a new, Prairie-style house located at 1100 Center Street.

On April 7, 1925, Frank G. Richards attended the funeral in Palmyra of his deputy collector, W. Lee Gibson. At 5:30 a.m. the next morning, April 8, 1925, he was found dead in his bed at his home in Hannibal. His death was attributed to a brain Hemorrhage. He was 57.

Agnes Richards remained in town until at least 1937, maintaining her residence in the Prairie Style House at 1100 Center St. In the mid 1940s, she was living with her son, Frank G. Richards Jr., in Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio. She died in 1953 and is buried beside her husband in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

The building located at 112 N. Main Street is owned by Kristy Trevathan. While an exact date for its construction is vague, a study of available historic resources suggests that the building could date to 1866, when a boot and shoe store, operated by Henry C. Frost and W.E. Foreman, was located at what was then known as 14 Main Street. According to the Hannibal city directories, assessable via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website, five years later, in 1871, Henry C. Frost operated a boot and shoe business at 112 N. Main.

Other businesses through the years at the same address:

1873: Henry C. Frost, boots and shoes, 112 N. Main

1877: Breed and Pierson, boots and shoes 112 N. Main

1892: New York Clothing and Shoe Co., Sol Leuchter, 112 N. Main

1894: John L. Scott, carpets, oil cloths and curtains, 112 N. Main

1895: William M. Nolin and Frank G. Richards, druggists, 112 N. Main

1901: Frank G. Richards, druggist 112 N. Main

1918: George P. Miller, drugs, 112 N. Main

1920: Woodworth and Green Quality Drugs, Geo. F. Woodworth and Frank Green

This is a rare photo of the east side of the 100 block of North Main Street, circa 1937. In the middle of the block, behind the sign that says "Barkett" is 112 No. Main. At this time, The Green Drug Store was located in this building. Steve Chou collection.

This photo, from The Mirror of Hannibal, shows the interior of Frank Richard’s Drug store, which featured a popular soda fountain, circa 1905.

The Palmyra Spectator published the following news item in its April 15, 1925 edition, following the unexpected death of Frank G. Richards, county collector.

George P. Miller, successor to Frank G. Richards, advertised Trusses in the Aug. 6, 1915, edition of the Ralls County Record.

Frank Richards advertised the deadline for tax payments in the Marion County Herald Newspaper on Dec. 28, 1923.

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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