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Steam locomotive engineer raised family on St. Mary's Avenue

This house at 3000 St. Mary’s Avenue served as home to the W.L and Zoretta Burbank Pound family for nearly two decades at the beginning of the 20th Century. W.L. Pound was a steam locomotive engineer for the Burlington Route until his death in 1921. Photo taken in the spring of 2023 by Mary Lou Montgomery.


Zoretta Burbank and Albert D. Stowell grew up in Polo, Ogle County, Ill., which is located to the west of Chicago. They each became educators in Ilinois and Iowa, and eventually, they would become neighbors some 235 miles southwest of Polo, in Hannibal, Mo.

By 1910, Zoretta Burbank Pound lived with her husband, William L. Pound, on the northeast corner of St. Mary’s Avenue and Hubbard Street.

The same year, as previously described in this column, Albert D. Stowell and his wife, the former Edna Metter, were making their home home on (now numbered 3115) St. Mary’s Avenue, located west of the Hubbard/St. Mary’s Avenue intersection.

In April 1886, when Miss Burbank was teaching at Rochelle, and A.D. Stowell was superintendent of the Creston, Iowa, schools, Miss Burbank and Mr. Stowell each were mentioned in the same Polo, Ill., newspaper, for returning to their mutual home town on spring break.

Coincidences aside, years later - for a decade - these Illinois natives called Hannibal’s St. Mary’s Avenue home.

Zoretta’s husband, William L. Pound (a steam locomotive engineer), died in September 1920, at the age of 57.

A.D. Stowell died a little more than a year later, in December 1921, at the age of 66.

Early railroad

Born circa 1864 and raised in a large farm family in Richfield County, Minnesota, William L. Pound migrated to Missouri by 1889, when he was in his mid 20s. Taking a job with the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, he was instrumental in moving freight and passengers during the steam railroad’s heyday.

In 1890, he was an engineer for the famed Denver Express.


Zoretta Burbank and William L. Pound were married at noon Tuesday, Sept. 10, 1889, at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace C. Burbank in Polo, Ill. Her father was a shoemaker, a trade he practiced until his death in May 1904.

The Ogle County Press, published on Sept. 14, 1889, described the couple:

“The bride, well known to our people, is a young lady of culture and refinement, and a teacher of marked ability and success. The groom, an engineer on the Hannibal and St. Joe RR, is an energetic young man who has struck out boldly for himself and is making a successful fight in the battle of life.”

The newly married couple left Polo by train at 4:30 p.m., on the day of their marriage, departing for their new home in Hannibal, Mo.

During the ensuing decade, the Pound family lived at:

1892: 214 S. 10th

1895: 826 Bird

1901: 413 N. Sixth

1903: Corner Hubbard and St. Mary’s


As is the case with most railroaders of the era, Mr. Pound was involved in a tragic accident, this one taking place in August 1891. John Meyers was killed at Oakwood in mid August 1891. The Palmyra Spectator on Aug. 27, 1891, reported that the corner’s jury determined that Myers’ death was due to the negligence of W.L. Pound, the engineer.

Mr. Pound took a month away from his duties with the railroad, at first going to St. Louis with his wife and his wife’s sister, Nellie, to attend the session of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the IOOF, and then to his home state of Minneapolis, to remain a week or ten days.

In 1900, W.L. and Loretta Pound had been married for 11 years, and had four children, Joseph H. Pound, 9; Jessie Pound, 7; Dorothy Pound, 5; and Katherine Pound, 3. Mrs. Pound’s sister, Nellie Burbank, made her home with the family.


In June 1908, the Hannibal Daily Journal reported on a jury trial in which Mrs. James F. Criswell sued the Burlington Railroad on behalf of her husband. In April 1907, he was reportedly walking near the tracks with his head down, when he was struck by the Denver Express No. 16 (or the Portland Limited Train).

He was taken to a Hannibal hospital and treated by Dr. John J. Bourn, surgeon for the Burlington relief department, but Mr. Criswell only lived for two hours.

Mrs. Criswell turned down a settlement offer, instead choosing a jury trial, seeking $10,000 in compensation. Mr. Criswell was killed near the Star shoe factory in Hannibal in April 1907.

W.L. Pound, who was in charge of the train at the time of the accident, was an important witness for the railroad.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the railroad. The trial took place at Mexico, Mo.

Source of this information, the Mexico Missouri Message, April 18, 1907, and the Hannibal Daily Journal, June 30, 1908, via

Hubbard curbs

A small item of interest was published in the Quincy Whig on April 22,1920, regarding the placement of curbs and guttering on Hubbard Street. Frank L. Hall brought suit against A.R. Smith, Julia Thomas and W.L. Pound, in order to collect a special tax bill to pay for the work. Judge Charles T. Hayes, during a session of the Hannibal Court of Common Pleas, found for Mr. Hall and assessed judgement in each case in the sum of $113.50.

A.R. Smith was an attorney with Mahan, Smith and Mahan, and lived at 3110 St. Mary’s Avenue, on the southeast corner of St. Mary’s and Hubbard.

Julia Thomas was the widow of the Rev. Allen C. Thomas, in 1903 minister of the Park Methodist Church. In 1910 she was a commercial traveler for a toiletries manufacturing company.

In 1914 she lived in the house at 2830 Hubbard with her son, William M. Thomas, who worked for the Cement Plant. When she died in 1934, she was living in Phoenix, where she had relocated circa 1917. In 1920, she was still the owner of the house at 2830 Hubbard.

Final run

William L. Pound, age about 57, was on his railroad run between Brookfield and Galesburg, Ill., on Sept. 29, 1920, when he was stricken by illness and subsequently died.

His wife, who already had family ties to Melbourne, Florida, subsequently moved there, and that is where William L. Pound is buried.

Living at 3200 St. Mary’s Avenue in 1920 were William and Loretta Pound, his sister, Elizabeth Pound, and Loretta’s sister, Nellie W. Burbank.

Pound children

Katharine Pound died in 1902, age 4-5. She was buried at Riverside Cemetery.

Daughter Jessie S. Pound died in 1913, around the age of 20-21.

Daughter Dorothy L. Pound was married to Charles P. Singleton, (1879-1934) who in 1930 was a researcher for the Smithsonian Institute. In 1930, Loretta, Charles and Dorothy were living together in Melbourne, Fla. Later that year, Dorothy died.

Zoretta Pound died Feb. 12, 1941, in Melbourne.

William and Zoretta’s son, Joseph H. Pound, served overseas as a lieutenant in the Army Engineering Corps during the first World War. He joined the faculty at Rice Institute, Houston, Texas, in 1914. He obtained his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering Missouri-Columbia in 1913, subsequently earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. Before his tenure at Rice, he previously served as instructor in the School of the Westinghouse Machine Company. He died May 23, 1942, at the age of 51. He was married to Ruth Robinson in 1919, and she survived, along with three children, John H. Pound, David R. Pound and Mary E. Pound.

Later occupants

In 1922, William C. and Gladys A. Ramsey lived at 3200 St. Mary’s Avenue. He was assistant to the vice president of the St. Louis and Hannibal Railroad.

In 1923-25, Thomas C. and Thirmuthus Mendenhall lived at 3200 St. Mary’s. He was president of Hannibal Music Company.

In 1930, the occupants of the house were James B. Walker, an insurance salesman, and his wife, Leata. Thomas Mendenhall, 70, was a lodger. He died in 1935.

Editor’s note: Throughout my years of studying St. Mary’s Avenue, (beginning in the early 1990s) the addresses on the avenue have been fluid, and often confusing. In the past, I have linked the house featured today at 3200 St. Mary’s Avenue to Dr. William P. Birney and his family. I have learned, through careful study, that the Barney’s lived at 3000 St. Mary’s Avenue. I will be making this correction both online and in my book, “Pioneers in Medicine,” listed for sale on

I apologize for any confusion my misinterpretation of the addresses on the avenue has caused.

100 years ago,

Professor Pound

offered prophesy

The Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, quoted Joseph Horace Pound in its Feb. 25, 1924 edition. Pound, who was born in Hannibal, Mo., in 1890, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1913, and subsequent master’s and doctorate degrees.

At the time of his lecture, he was assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Rice Institute.

The newspaper reported:

Lecturer says auto may lead to serious world complications.

“While the automobile has and is contributing much in the advancement of civilization, it is leading the United States to a position from which international complications may result,” Professor Pound said.

“We produce two-thirds of the world’s consumption of oil at the expense of depletion in our own reserve of at least 5 percent annually. We have already used up 43 percent of the 15,000,000,000 barrels of crude oil which formed our reserve. The situation is serious and it would not be surprising to see embargoes placed on its export or wars fought for its possession.”

The obituary of Zorreta Pound was recently discovered in a scrapbook. It details her life in Hannibal, and her final years in the state of Florida.

Joseph H. Pound, a native of Hannibal, Mo., Rice Institute yearbook, 1939.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style nonfiction 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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