William L. Garrett: The ice cream man
William Leonard Garrett, his wife, Lillie Aleda Krans Garrett, and their son, William Harold (Bill) Garrett, circa 1920, when they relocated to Hannibal, Missouri, to own and operate an ice cream manufactory. Photo courtesy of William Harold (Bill) Garrett's son, William Robert (Bill) Garrett.
A tin plate advertising Garrett’s Quality Ice Cream, made in Hannibal. Contributed by Annie Garrett.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
William Leonard Garrett was an industrious businessman with an eye toward trends of the future.
As the country adapted to post-war prohibition in 1920, he wagered his future on the notion that housewives could be swayed from the task of churning ice cream for their families during the summer months, to the luxury of buying quality manufactured ice cream year round.
While living in Centerville, Iowa, during the years which included the first world war, he worked beside Thomas J. Bryant, a veteran in the ice cream manufactory field.
In 1920, Bryant sold his established business in Centerville, and Bryant and Garrett partnered in the purchase the ice cream factory of C.L. Goodman, located at 613 Broadway in Hannibal, Mo.
Goodman and his wife, Minnie, continued to conduct the retail establishment at that address, but the two newcomers from Iowa took over the factory’s operation, located in the rear of the same building. (In 1959, the Mary Ann Sweet Shop was located in this store front.)
With the move came the expansion of the facility to a production capacity of 1,200 gallons of ice cream per day. The firm operated under the Quality Ice Cream Company name.
Thomas J. Bryant’s residency in Hannibal would be short-lived; his 17-year-old son, Hugh Russell Bryant, contracted tuberculosis in Hannibal, according to his Iowa death certificate, and died eight months later, on April 25, 1921, in Appancoose County, Iowa. Thomas Bryant - business partner of William L. Garrett, subsequently left Hannibal and moved back to Iowa.
William L. Garrett continued the ice cream business in Hannibal, with the assistance of his wife’s family.
When Garrett made the move to Hannibal, it had been no small venture.
Along with him came his wife, Lillie Aleda Krans Garrett, born 1868 in Sweden; their son, William Harold (Bill) Garrett, born December 1914, and the members of his wife’s extended family:
Lillie’s father and mother, Carl Peter Krans (born 1861) and Betty Krans, (born 1853) who immigrated from Sweden in 1894, settling in Centerville, coal mining region of Iowa, where Carl worked as a coal miner.
Sigrid Krans, born in Sweden in 1884.
Eaver Reinhold Krans, born in Sweden in 1886.
Helgie Runo Krans, born 1897 in Centerville, Iowa.
Erna Krans, born in 1900.
The Saturday Evening Post of Feb. 18, 1922, contained a large advertisement for a new and growingly popular product, Eskimo Pies, made under the license of the Russell Stover Company. A total of 800 ice cream manufacturers in the United States were authorized to produce Eskimo Pies, which were white ice cream bars dipped in chocolate and wrapped in foil. Among those manufacturers was William L. Garrett’s Quality Ice Cream Co., of Hannibal.
(Popular for more than 100 years, in 2020 the name of the still-popular ice cream treat was rebranded Edy’s Pie.)
The extended Garrett family settled in at 704A Broadway, which in 1925 was located upstairs over Midwest Tire and Sales Company.
Eaver R. Krans managed the Purity Ice Cream Parlor at 1805 Market.
Erna Krans was bookkeeper for Quality Ice Cream Co.
Sigrid Krans was a clerk for the Imperial Candy Company, managed by John G. Palos at 207 South Main.
Two year later, Helgie R. Krans was a clerk for the CB&Q Railroad, and Sigrid was manager of the Imperial Candy Co., still located at 207 S. Main.
Move to 112 S. Seventh
In 1929 - the year of the great stock market crash - there was big change on the horizon for the Garrett/Krans family.
First, they moved from the apartment above the tire store on Broadway, to a rambling single-story house around the corner, located at 114 N. Seventh, (still standing) previously occupied by Miss Marguerite Solan, Hannibal school teacher.
Also in 1929, William L. Garrett relocated his ice cream manufacturing plant, from the rear of 613 Broadway, to nearby 112 S. Seventh. This building (still standing) had previously housed the plant for Jas. J. Shackleford’s Hannibal Creamery Co.
When the census taker came to call in 1930, 43-year-old William L. Garrett seemed settled in his Hannibal lifestyle. His wife, Lillie, 40, and son, William Harold (Bill) Garrett, 15, were healthy and happy, as were the members of the Krans family: Carl, 69; Betty, 75; Sigrid, 46; Eaver, 44; Helgie, 32; and Erna, 30.
But soon, as it does for all families, things began to change. After hunting with friends in the afternoon, and going for a drive with his family on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 20, 1933, William L. Garrett settled in for the night. The next morning, his wife Lillie found him, dead in his bed. He was just 46.
The family of Swedish ancestry turned to William L. Garrett’s son, 19-year-old William Harold (Bill) Garrett, a graduate of Hannibal-LaGrange College, for leadership.
Bill, along with his mother, filled his father’s shoes and took over operation of the business for a few years. Erna Krans continued to manage the bookkeeping.
In 1937, William Harold (Bill) Garrett and his wife, Virginia, were managing the ice cream company, according to a city directory entry.
By 1939, Erna Krans was managing the Quality Ice Cream Co., 112 S. Seventh, and his nephew William Harold (Bill) Garrett was working as a special deliveryman for the post office.
William Harold (Bill) Garrett left Hannibal at the onset of World War II, serving in campaigns in Central Europe, Rhineland, Ardennes, Normandy and North France, earning five Bronze Stars.
By war’s end, Christian J. Menzel, operating the Menzel Ice Cream company, was manufacturing Frozen Gold Ice Cream at the former location of the Garrett company, 112 S. Seventh, and Erna Krans was employed as bookkeeper.
William Harold (Bill) Garrett resumed work at the post office upon his discharge, working his way through the ranks. He was named postmaster in 1970.
The Krans family relocated to the four-plex at 220 S. Sixth, (still standing) where they would live out their respective lives.
One by one, members of the extended Garrett and Krans family passed.
Eaver R. Krans, long-time operator of an ice cream parlor at 1805 Market - two doors to the west of the DeLaPorte Shoe Store - died at 3:25 p.m. Oct. 7, 1938, at Levering Hospital. He was 52.
Carl P. Krans died Aug. 19, 1939, at the age of 78.
Betty Krans, wife of Carl P. Krans, died Aug. 26, 1942, at the age of 88.
Sigrid Krans, who operated the Imperial Candy Company at 501 Broadway in 1937, died May 8, 1963, at Levering Hospital. She was 78.
Lillie Krans Garrett, widow of William L. Garrett, died June 30, 1968, at the age of 78.
Erna Krans died May 17, 1971, at the age of 71. In later years he worked as a bookkeeper for the Bolin Gulf Oil Distributor.
Helgie Runo Krans, clerk for the CB&Q, died in January 1972, at the age of 74. When he registered for the draft prior to World War II, he was 5-foot-4 and weighed 135 pounds.
William Harold (Bill) Garrett died Sept. 1, 2015, at the age of 100. His wife, Virginia Garrett, died July 21, 2009, at the age of 93.
They are all buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Hannibal, Mo.
Thanks to Annie Garrett, Bill Garrett’s daughter, for invaluable assistance with this story.
Lillie Aleda Krans, born 1868 in Sweden, married William Leonard Garrett on Jan. 8, 1914 at Centerville, Iowa. She lived in Hannibal from circa 1920 until her death in 1968. Photo contributed by Annie Garrett, their granddaughter.
The Quality Ice Cream Co., of Centerville, Iowa, 1915. At this time, William Leonard Garrett, a newlywed, worked for Thomas J. Bryant, owner of the company. Contributed by Annie Garrett.
Advertisement for Eskimo Pies, 1922 edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The Quality Ice Cream Company of Hannibal was among the manufacturers licensed to make the ice cream treats.
1922 advertisement for Quality Ice Cream Company, Hannibal city directory, accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s web site.
1935 advertisement for Garrett’s Quality Ice Cream. Hannibal city directory, accessed via ancestry.com.
Harold (Bill) Garrett is pictured in 1932, the year before his father, William L. Garrett, died. Garrett would be named Hannibal postmaster in 1970.
William Harold (Bill) Garrett is pictured as a toddler. He was the only grandchild of Carl Peter Krans (born 1861) and Betty Krans, (born 1853) who immigrated from Sweden in 1894, and lived in Hannibal from circa 1920 until their respective deaths. Photo contributed by Annie Garrett, his daughter.
William Harold (Bill) Garrett is pictured while serving during World War II. He was named Hannibal postmaster in 1970. Photo contributed by Annie Garrett, his daughter.
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