Veteran Market Street merchant watched as ‘The Wedge’ crumbled
This photo of the 1200 block of Market Street was taken by Charles Doty in 1962. Just behind the Westinghouse sign is Schanbacher’s Meat Market. The double building with the sign, and the single story building in the foreground, were owned and operated by the Hedges family as a hardware and appliance store. Photo from Steve Chou’s vast historic collection.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Floyd “Feathers” Hedges, a cigar-smoking octogenarian, stood in front of the storefronts at 1227-1231 Market Street, parts of which his family business had occupied since the era of the second world war, and watched intently the demolition of the buildings across the street.
It was January 1978. U.S. Rep. Harold Volkmer had just registered in Jefferson City as a candidate for his second term of office. Temperatures in St. Louis hovered around zero in the early morning hours with 1 to 3 inches of snow. And in Hannibal, timber by timber and brick by brick, the buildings contained within the area known as the Market Street Wedge, came down.
“They can’t knock those buildings down as easy as they thought they could,” Hedges told a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. While the reporter and Hedges watched, city crews were at work demolishing the long-standing walls of buildings that had for so long offered a livelihood opportunity for mom and pop shops, and affordable rentals upstairs for blue-collar families.
Those buildings, possibly constructed as early as the mid 1870s when Irving Smashey operated a saloon at 104 Market, were built with native timber and locally processed brick.
The buildings were constructed to last, and in 1978 seemed indestructible to crews charged with the responsibility of demolishing them. But ultimately they weren’t.
In 2022, across the street to the south from what was once “The Wedge,” the buildings which for nearly four decades housed the Hedges’ family’s appliance and hardware store, remain standing, in an island of commerce all to themselves. Nearby the historic building row are separate dedicatory markers to both the “black” and “white” businesses of The Wedge, buildings lost to the wrecking ball some 45 years ago.
Floyd Hedges, tall and slender, was a 1913 high school graduate from Grinnell, Iowa. He first came to Quincy, Ill., where he attended commercial college, and then to Hannibal, not as an appliance and hardware salesman, but as a primary with the Wilhelm-Strode Overland Automobile Company, 806-810 Broadway.
In November 1917, he was united in marriage on Thanksgiving morning to Mary Angela Moore of Hannibal. She was the daughter of the late Garry P. Moore, who had worked as a bartender at the Mark Twain Hotel, and Maude Goff Moore, who after her husband’s death was employed as a sales lady for Reib’s, 106 S. Main, in ready to wear. On the afternoon of his marriage, he went to Quincy to accept his diploma from the commercial college.
Floyd Hedges was called to service during the first world war, enlisting on the 27th of August, 1918, and discharged Dec. 5, 1918.
Back in Hannibal, when the Hedges’ first child, John Floyd Hedges, was born in 1919, the extended family, consisting of Angela’s mother, Maude; and Maude’s sister and brother-in-law, Stella Goff and Andrew J. Settles Jr., was living together at 711 Center St.
A second son, Charles M. Hedges, was born in 1925.
Later business ventures led Floyd Hedges to 115 Broadway, the former home to the Morning Journal newspaper. There, he operated Hedges Auto Supply in 1925; later moving to 108 S. Main, where he was in business under the name Hedges Supply Co. Following that, he moved his business to 1227 Market Street, ultimately acquiring all the buildings to the east in the block, from 1231 to 1221 Market.
In April 1933 Floyd Hedges served as president of the 10-team Diamond indoor ball league, with games played at Clemens Field. Floodlights were installed on the field, with games to be played four nights a week. Special entertainment was scheduled for opening night, including political speeches, an orchestra and an exhibition by the American Legion drum corps.
Floyd V. Hedges was born Dec. 6, 1894, to Ora M. and Myrtle Woods Snare. His birth father was killed in a mining accident Aug. 27, 1897, at What Cher, Iowa. The area, in Keokuk County, was a major coal-producing region from the 1870s to the early 1900s. (Wikipedia)
Myrtle Snare was married to Charles Milton Hedges in 1903, who later adopted Floyd.
Ora Snare is buried at Sixteen Cemetery, Thornburg, Keokuk County, Iowa.
Myrtle Hedges died in 1936, and Charles M. Hedges died in 1961. They are buried at Grinnell, Poweshiek County, Iowa.
Note at the beginning of this story, Floyd is referred to as “Feathers” That was a nickname given to him by his grandchildren, who had trouble pronouncing “Grandfather.” The nickname stuck, said his granddaughter, Mary Michael Hedges Dreier.
Floyd and Angela Hedges had two sons, John F. (Jack) Hedges, born in 1919, who married Patricia A. Burke in 1943; and Charles Milton Hedges, born in 1925.
John Floyd (Jack) Hedges ultimately took over operation of the Hedges store on Market Street, and his sons subsequently worked at the business as young men. The store closed in the mid 1980s.
Mary Angela Hedges died Aug. 28, 1957.
Floyd V. Hedges died in August 1978.
Jack Hedges died July 15, 2006.
Charles M. Hedges died Nov. 25, 1971.
Patricia Angela Hedges died March 5, 2005.
All are buried at Holy Family Cemetery in Hannibal, Mo.
Those leaving Hannibal for service to their country on Aug. 27, 1918, as named in the Quincy Daily Whig: Tandy E. Hayes, Palmyra; Chas. W. Valentine, Hannibal; Russell J. Phillips, Palmyra; William Arthur Strothers, Hannibal; Felix M. Jones, Hannibal; Earl R. Chatfield, Palmyra; George W. Edwards, Hannibal; James F. Kanaley, Hannibal; Emery Campbell, Palmyra; Loren M. Mills, Hannibal; James Branch, Warren; John Thomas Tribe, Farber; Charles McCabe, Hannibal; Floyd Herman Hedges, Hannibal; Able Rollo Edler, Palmyra; and William Wesley Gilkinson, Palmyra.
Thank you to Mary Michael Hedges Drier and John Hedges for sharing photos and memories of their grandfather for this article.
The occupants of buildings in the 1200 block of Market Street are listed in the 1950 Hannibal City Directory, accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website.
Floyd and Angela Moore Hedges. Photo contributed by Mary Michael Hedges Dreier.
Jack Hedges and his son, John Hedges, standing, and Floyd Hedges holding his great-grandson, Dan Hedges. Photo contributed by Mary Michael Hedges Dreier.
Floyd Hedges, holding a cigar. Photo contributed by Mary Michael Hedges Dreier.
Floyd Hedges, as pictured in the Grinnell, Iowa, High School yearbook, 1913. Ancestry.com
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.firstname.lastname@example.org Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com