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Southsiders petitioned to name new school in Stowell’s honor

A portrait of A.D. Stowell hangs in the entryway to Stowell School, 500 Union, which opened in 2007. Photo contributed by Steve Chou.


Albert David Stowell was a good-looking bachelor in his mid 30s when he arrived in Hannibal circa 1890. He already had a dozen years of experience in the education field under his belt.

After graduating from high school in Polo, Ill., in 1874, he went to work as a teacher and later an administrator in his home county of Ogle, Ill., (located north and to the east of Davenport, Iowa) then moved further north to Geneva, Kane County, Ill., where he served as deputy county superintendent.

After making an unsuccessful bid for county superintendent of schools for Ogle County in 1888, and after serving as secretary for the planning committee of the summer school of science in 1889, he left Illinois behind.

His move brought him to Hannibal, where he ultimately would assume the post of principal for the South School about the time that a new school building on the corner of Clay and School streets opened circa 1890. This building replaced the school building located at 711 Birch, where Helen M. Reynolds served as principal circa 1881-1888.


Love was in the air on the South Side that fall, and in September 1891, A.D. Stowell was united in marriage with Annie E. Buchanan, daughter of Henry Charles Buchanan and his wife, Armilda Amanda Buchanan. The newly married couple moved in with her parents, who lived in a two-story, pre-Civil War brick house located at 808 (later renumbered 813) Union Street.

The house was within eye sight - just a few blocks away - from the school where Professor Stowell worked, making his access to the school and his home an easy commute.

During Christmas break, 1891, Professor Stowell proudly escorted his bride back to his hometown in Ogle County, Ill., to meet his family and friends.

On Aug. 8, 1892, Annie Stowell gave birth to a daughter whom they named Annie Genevieve Estell Stowell. Tragically, just two days later, on Aug. 10, 1892, Mrs. Stowell died, at the age of 32. Burial followed at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

A.D. Stowell and his infant daughter continued to live with the Buchanan family at least until 1895.

On Aug. 12, 1896, he was united in marriage with Edna Mettler, in a ceremony in Ogle County, Ill., and they settled first at 620 Walnut in Hannibal, then 315 Fifth, South Side, before moving to St. Mary’s Avenue in 1903.

Buchanan history

Robert Buchanan (father of H. Charles Buchanan) was considered among the richest men in Marion County at the time of his death in 1875. He was survived by his wife, Rebecca M. Buchanan, and children, Lethenia (Mrs. Charles W.) Curts, Henry Charles Buchanan, Joseph Eliza Buchanan, Frances E. (Mrs. Alexander) Velie and Robert Holman Buchanan.

The oldest son, Henry Charles Buchanan, was a tinner by trade, operating a shop in Hannibal until his father’s death in 1875. That year, he was named executor of his father’s estate, the management of which became his full time job.

H. Charles and his wife, Armilda (Millie) Buchanan, had three children:

Anna Buchanan, born in 1860;

William Buchanan, born in 1862; and

James R. Buchanan, born in 1865.

It was Anna Buchanan who caught the eye of the young educator, Professor Stowell, in the late 1880s.

Union Street house

H. Charles Buchanan and his family (including Anna) lived in a two-story brick house on the west side of Union Street, just as the hill begins its incline. The house is still standing today. Three lots south of O’Fallon Street, (originally named Eighth Street) the house was at first numbered 808 Union. The address has since changed to 813 Union. It is possible that this house, believed to have been built circa 1850, was the original Buchanan house, occupied by the parents of Lethenia Church (Mrs. Charles W.) Curts, Henry Charles Buchanan, Joseph Eliza Buchanan, Frances E. (Mrs. Alexander) Velie and Robert Holman Buchanan.

The 1906-era illustration accompanying this story shows the proximity of the house at 813 Union to the South Side Public School, where A.D. Stowell was principal. The school building that is shown was replaced by a newer building circa the mid 1920s, and was named A.D. Stowell, in honor of the long-time principal. This building was ultimately closed and sold in recent years, and in 2007 a new Stowell School opened at 500 Union Street.

St. Mary’s Avenue

Addresses along St. Mary’s Avenue in the past can be confusing to navigate. Street numbers where the Stowell family lived from 1903-1911 included 2611, 2601, 2607 and 2613. Finally, circa 1912, the numbering stabilized, and the family was settled at what was then - and is now - 3115 St. Mary’s.

According to the Marion County Recorder’s real estate office, this two-story frame house was was built circa 1900.

In 1910, the family living there consisted of :

Albert D. and Edna Mettler Stowell;

Annie T.E. Stowell, 17, Albert’s daughter;

John D. Stowell, Albert’s 80-year-old father;

Mary R. Mettler, 81, Edna Stowell’s mother; and

Miss Gilmer C. McDonald, 18, a native of Louisiana, Mo. (Miss McDonald was married to Charles Wesley Collins on May 31, 1913. She died Nov. 11, 1918, of influenza complicated with pneumonia.)

In 1914, the Hannibal city directory (obtained via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website) shows that Armilda (Millie) Buchanan, (mother of Mr. Stowell’s first wife) was living with the Stowell family at 3115 St. Mary’s.

H. Charles Buchanan died in 1904, and his wife, Millie Buchanan died in 1918.

Education highlights

In April 1903, A.D. Stowell was unsuccessful in an election bid for School Commissioner of Marion County. A.H. Foreman captured the post by a slim majority of 46 votes.

In September 1911, an annex wing to the South Side school was completed.

Sept. 1918

After 25 years with the Hannibal public schools, A.D. Stowell resigned in order to accept the position as superintendent of the Brookfield, Mo., school district. After two years there, he and his wife moved back to Hannibal, and accepted positions at Marion County’s Turner School.

Returning to their home on St. Mary’s Avenue, they commuted to Turner School, located along West Ely Road, by “conveyance,” according to notice in the Tri-County Press, Polo, Ill.

In December 1921, Mr. and Mrs. Stowell were teaching at the Turner school house in Marion County, Mo. That morning he didn’t feel well, but thought he would be OK to teach. “He arrived at the school house, when he began to feel much worse, and crossed the road to the home of Charles Stone, where he succumbed.”

Mr. Stowell was 66 years old at the time of his death.

At this time, his daughter, Miss Annie E. Stowell, was head of the domestic science department of the public schools in Sandusky, Ohio. She previously taught school in Hannibal. (She died in February 1892 at Jefferson City, Mo., at the age of 92.)

Note: As editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post, this writer covered a fire at 813 Union Street in September 2013. At the time the house had boarded up windows. A man, who had been sleeping inside the house at the time of the fire, escaped. The cause of the fire was listed as “smoking materials,” accidental. The 1,775-square foot house has since been renovated and is now occupied.

South Side schools

There have been at least four public school buildings serving south Hannibal:

• South School, 711 Birch, circa 1875-1890.

• South School, Corner Clay and School streets.

• Stowell School, 700 Fulton Avenue, phase one completed in 1924; named in honor of A.D. Stowell following his death in 1921.

• Stowell School, (current) 500 Union, opened in 2007.

Note from Steve Chou:

“So popular was Professor Stowell in his old Fourth Ward that a petition was passed around while they were building the new South School, to rename it for him in his honor. That petition got further than one near about the same time to rename North School after the late Amelia Kaley, principal of that school for 31 years.”

At the turn of the 20th Century, Professor A.D. Stowell lived with the H. Charles Buchanan family at what is now 813 Union St., in Hannibal, Mo. Stowell was married to Buchanan’s daughter, who died two days after giving birth. This house is pre-Civil War era, believed to have been built circa 1850. It has been renovated in recent years, following a fire in 2013. Photo by Meryle Martin Dexheimer.

Circa 1903, Professor Stowell and his second wife, Edna Mettler Stowell, moved to St. Mary’s Avenue. They lived at 3115 St. Mary’s for at least a decade. 2023 photo by Mary Lou Montgomery.

This 1906-era illustration based upon the Sanborn fire prevention map of that year, shows the proximity of the house at 813 Union to the South Side Public School, where A.D. Stowell was principal.

H.C. Buchanan advertised his tin, copper and sheet iron business in Hannibal’s 1859 city directory, accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website.

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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