With the growth of auto sales, a support industry evolved: Scyoc Battery, Electric Co.
Scyoc Tire and Battery, pictured by Otis Howell of the Hannibal Courier-Post in January 1950, located on the corner of Broadway and Eighth. This is the current site of the Hannibal Police Department. By 1952, the business had the Pontiac franchise for Hannibal. Steve Chou Collection.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Americans’ love for their automobiles grew in earnest following the end of the first world war.
With the war behind them and opportunity on the horizon, Americans were on the move in the summer of 1920, packing their automobiles to the brim with suitcases, cooking utensils and camping outfits. Their destinations were as varied as the people contained within the automobiles.
The Palmyra Spectator of Aug. 18, 1920, made mention that each day, travelers passed through Palmyra, loaded to the brim with such necessities to suffice for a long adventure on America’s developing highways.
“We noticed one last week with a double deck platform over the hood that had the capacity of an ordinary dray, and several have passed through with trailers for the excess baggage.”
And while people and their automobiles were on the move, a new skill class and business opportunity was emerging, that of the car repair technician.
J. Robert (Bob) Scyoc (1879-1962) came early to their lucrative new field.
Exempt from serving during the world war because of a childhood affliction, he remained in Hannibal during those war years, tending to farmland just to the west of Oakwood, originally farmed by his grandfather, John Aydelott, (1803-1875) and later his father, David R. Scyoc (circa 1850-1920).
Bob’s first venture into the mechanic business came circa 1922, when he partnered with D.P. Pritchett (an auto mechanic) to open the Hannibal Motor Co.. located at 210 Center St.
That business would be replaced with the launch of the Scyoc Battery and Electric Company at 119-123 N. Third.
By this time, J.R. (Bob) Scyoc’s son, J.R. Scyoc Jr., (born in 1906) was old enough to join the business, and together they specialized in automobile electrical work at the North Third Street location.
A few years later, in 1935, the firm was selling National Batteries and Miller Tires, plus offering both electrical and brake work for automobiles.
During the 1930s, Bob Scyoc (while his son, J.R. Scyoc Jr., was managing the battery shop on N. Third St.,) devoted much of his personal attention to the dairy operation on his family’s land, located on property now occupied by General Mills and other businesses.
His father, David R. Scyoc, had dairy interests in Hannibal as early as 1877, when he purchased the dairying business of Mr. Hafner in February 1877, thus supplying pure milk to residents of Hannibal. (Hannibal Clipper)
In April 1937, Bob Scyoc was the owner of the highest producing cow, as well as the highest producing herd, tested by the Ralls County Dairy Herd Improvement Association.
The average milk production per cow was 376 pounds, and the average fat production was 18.7 pounds.
Scyoc’s highest producing cow produced 1051 pounds milk, and 50.5 pounds of fat.
The 1940s ushered in another threat of war, as well the population’s increasing dependency on the automobile.
The Scyoc partnership moved from its long-standing operation on North Third Street to a new site, at Eighth and Broadway. The business expanded into car sales and service, obtaining the Pontiac franchise in the 1950s. The business would remain at this location until the 1970s, when the property was demolished in order to make way for the construction of Hannibal’s new police station.
Bob Scyoc grew up on the family’s farm in Ralls County, located along the Hannibal to Paris gravel road. He experienced a frightening episode in at 4:30 p.m. July 10, 1895, while moving load of hay on a gravel road near the farm. The Palmyra Spectator reported in its next edition:
“He discovered smoke arising from the hay and an investigation proved it was on fire. He barely had time to unhitch the team and drive it away before the hay and wagon were a mass of flames. Both were destroyed, in spite of the most strenuous efforts of young Scyoc, who had his hands badly burned. It is supposed that the flames originated from friction caused by one of the wagon tires rubbing against a piece of iron attached to the wagon bed.”
In 1900 Bob Scyoc was married to Daisy, the daughter of Zachariah T. (1846-1919) and Rachel (1848-1923) Fielder.
The young couple moved Pontiac, Ill., where their two sons were born, J.R. Scyoc Jr., in 1906, and Fielder Scyoc, in 1909.
The family moved back to Missouri prior to 1911. Bob Scyoc took a turn working as an optician and watch maker, but soon settled back into farming.
In 1918 they purchased the house historically known as the George W. and Edna S. Brashears House, located at 1222 Hill Street.
In November 1930, their youngest son, Fielder Scyoc, died at the age of 21.
Ultimately, Daisy and members of her family remained in the house on Hill Street, while Bob, his son and daughter-in-law, J.R. Scyoc Jr., Allegra Firestone Scyoc, and their young son lived together in a small house located at 2314 Chestnut.
Bob Scyoc died in 1962, and J.R. Scyoc Jr., died in 2005, at the age of 98.
Daisy Scyoc died in 1973, and her daughter-in-law, Allegra, died in 1985.
Note: KHMO Radio is now located at 119 N. Third, where Scyoc Battery and Electric Co., was located in the 1920s and 1930s.
J. Robert (Bob) Scyoc advertised as a watchmaker and optician in the Ralls County Record, Aug. 25, 1911. newspapers.com
Advertisement for the new 1952 Pontiacs, published in the Dec. 17, 1952 edition of the Palmyra Spectator, Newspapers.com.
John R. Scyoc Jr., as pictured in an announcement for political office in the Palmyra Spectator, June 22, 1938. newspapers.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: "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