Roy P. Schwartz built lasting mortuary legacy
Roy P. Schwartz, as pictured in the 1912 Hannibal (Mo.) High School yearbook. Steve Chou collection.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Just one week after graduating from Hannibal High School with the Class of 1912, Roy P. Schwartz performed the grim task of walking alongside a hearse carrying his friend and classmate, Crandall King, from the Fifth Street Baptist Church facing Hannibal’s Central Park, to Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Schwartz was one of six pallbearers chosen to escort the hearse carrying the 16-year-old drowning victim to his final resting place.
It’s hard to imagine what lasting impact that solemn day had on the 18-year old Roy (Pete) Schwartz, who had already set his future plans in motion. During high school he worked for (Wm. M.) Smith and Spalding undertakers and embalmers, at 327 Broadway. Schwartz would soon l
eave for Chicago, where he would study mortuary science, which would in turn equip him to serve as a prominent Hannibal funeral director for the next 3 1/2 decades.
During his career, Roy P. Schwartz would attain a statewide reputation for professionalism, serving for a term as president of the Missouri Funeral Directors Association, and locally as a civic leader.
But in June 1912, he was just a teen on the brink of manhood, bidding farewell to his close friend and fellow high school athlete, both boys having played football for Hannibal High School under the coaching of Morris Anderson.
Crandall King, as pictured in the 1912 Hannibal (Mo.) High School yearbook. King, the son of James E. and Mitchell A. Atteberry King, drowned in the Mississippi River on May 30, 1912, one week after his high school graduation. Steve Chou collection.
Married to Katie Quirk in 1915, by 1916, Roy Schwartz was in partnership with Charles H. Sievers, operating an embalming and mortuary business at 601 Broadway.
Both Sievers and Schwartz ran for Marion County Coroner that same year, Sievers on the Republican ticket and Schwartz on the Democratic ticket. Schwartz won the office, the vote totals 4,318 for Schwarz and 2,937 for Sievers.
That business partnership ended during the World War I era.
At the end of the war, Roy Schwartz was joined in the business by his younger brother, Cecil E. Schwartz, who returned home as a war veteran.
Undertakers and embalmers in 1920, following the war, included:
Roy P. Schwartz, 601 Broadway
Wm. M. Smith, 327 Broadway
W.L. Meyers (col) 1218 Broadway
O’Donnell Bros., 302 S. Fifth.
In the fall of 1924, The Schwartz brothers introduced what they described as Hannibal’s first “motor ambulance.” The acquisition was so unique that it rated a mention in the Quincy Daily Herald on Sept. 16, 1924:
“It is equipped with hydraulic four wheel brakes, balloon cord tires, and disk wheels, and with (an) electric heater and electric fan inside the body of the ambulance.”
The firm ordered the motor ambulance from the Meteor Company of Chicago, which specialized in hearses and ambulances.
“The body is mounted on a 70-horsepower chassis, is finished in gray and black, and presents in every detail, the appearance of an ordinary passenger limousine of conventional type, only the nameplate denoting then fact that it is an ambulance.”
Three years later, the Schwartz brothers made another bold move; they relocated their business from 601 Broadway to 1007 Broadway, the building described as “flats,” and originally constructed and owned by the Frederick Waller family. This funeral home was pictured in an advertisement in the 1927 Hannibal phone book.
It was in this building that the Schwartz brothers conducted a funeral service for Civil War veteran Edward L. Gott, who died Nov. 18, 1927, at the age of 82. Mr. Gott enrolled in Company K, Third regiment, Missouri cavalry, Feb. 1, 1862, and was discharged March 6, 1865, at Little Rock, Ark.
By 1935, the Schwartz brothers had moved to yet another Broadway location, this time across the street to the Queen Anne-style house on the north side of Tenth and Broadway. It was known historically as the Swigert-Dulany House, constructed circa 1868; Daniel Maupin Dulany (1816-1897) buying the house from George Swigart.
Daniel and Mary Burgess Dulany (1826-1911) had one daughter, Ida (1858-1930) who was married to George A. Mahan in 1883. The Dulanys lived out their natural lifespans in this house, as did Ida Mahan, who died in 1930. After Ida’s death, George Mahan continued to live at 1000 Broadway for about two more years. George Mahan, a prominent Hannibal attorney, died in December 1936 at the age of 85.
Roy and Cecil E. Schwartz were sons of Peter (1866-1928) and Louisa (1866-1939) Schwartz, who made their home at 1706 Chestnut in Hannibal. Peter dedicated much of his career to the operation and management of the Hannibal Railway and Electric Company. He served as foreman in 1903, and superintendent in 1919.
Cecil E. Schwartz married Edna Erickson in April 1923, and they had two children, Beverly and Jack Schwartz.
Cecil E. Schwartz was named Hannibal postmaster in 1943. The announcement of his nomination for this post was made by Missouri’s two senators, Bennett Champ Clark and Harry S Truman. Schwartz continued as Hannibal’s postmaster for 25 years, until early 1970.
Roy Schwartz and his wife, Katherine, had no children of their own.
After Roy Schwartz’s death in 1948, at the age of 56, Cecil took over operation of the funeral home, and Cecil’s son, Jack, later assumed the management. Cecil Schwartz died in 1974.
The historic building which had housed Schwartz Funeral Home for nearly half a century, was destroyed by fire on July 4, 1983.
Note: Information on the Swigert-Dulany House was obtained from the Historic Inventory, State Historical Survey, completed in 1982 by Esley Hamilton.
Note: In early years the Schwartz family surname was spelled Swartz.
Note: Roy P. Schwartz was on the high school football squad in 1910, and Crandall King played for the team in 1911, according to the 1912 yearbook.
Morris Anderson, who had played football for the University of Missouri, coached the teams from 1905-1914, and again from 1919-1921, according to Story of Hannibal, by J. Hurley and Roberta Hagood.
Other pallbearers for Crandall King included, from left, Leonard Rubison, Clarence Bender, Reed Pennington, Arthur Jones, and Phillip Bostwick, not pictured. A story about Crandall King’s death was previously published and can be found at: https://www.maryloumontgomery.com/single-post/2018/09/01/decoration-day-celebration-lead-to-tragedy-on-the-river
Schwartz Funeral Home, circa 1927, at 1007 Broadway, Hannibal, Mo. Roy Schwartz and his wife lived upstairs. Photo from the May 1927 Hannibal Telephone Directory, contributed by Robert Spaun.
The historic Swigert-Dulany House at 1000 Broadway, Hannibal, Mo., housed Schwartz Funeral Home for nearly 50 years. The building was destroyed by fire July 4, 1983. Photo taken in 1982. Library of Congress.
During the early years of the 20th Century, Hannibal (Mo.) High School classes designed their own flags to be displayed throughout their high school careers. The class of 1912 is pictured with their flag. The young man standing at left is believed to be Roy P. Schwartz. Steve Chou collection.
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: "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.firstname.lastname@example.org Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com