In and Around Hannibal

Rita Hooper


The year is 1865, the American Civil War is ending, and in Hannibal, the Congregational Church and Methodist Church were meeting in their new buildings and the Baptist Church was undergoing extensive repairs.

The Masons were formed with 16 members and had moved into the former Congregational Church building which they had purchased and had moved down to the downtown corner…where parking for Kim’s is now. The official population of Hannibal was 3,322, representing 709 families. The population of the village was 470.

The township had 638 dwellings and 93 miles of public roads. In the last census by the way the town population was 4854, the Village 555. The village had 3.11 miles of roads and the Township 56. Common thinking is that the county and state has taken over some of those original 93 miles of roads.

Hannibal was a happening place. In October of 1866, the first newspaper was published in Hannibal by Dr. George V. Emens, the local dentist. It started as a monthly sheet known as the Hannibal Reveille. Dr. Emens lived on Oswego St. next to the Hannibal Hotel and had his dental business there as well. He also sold insurance, jewelry and watches and held stock in the Hannibal Peat Company…oh he also produced his own toothdrops which he sold at the local drug store. He served in the Civil War and was active in the Masons and Dental Society. He was married three times and had four daughters, death didn’t slow him down as he was buried twice!

In February of 1869, the paper was late and he offered this apology: The month of February is usually the least busy of all the year with us; but this year it has been crowded day and night with work belonging to our profession. During the past month, we have made 18 sets of artificial teeth and filled 56 cavities besides other work which can not be mentioned in this connection. Anyone can see from this report that not much time for editing a paper could have worked in.”

By January 1873, the Reveille was being published weekly and in July of that year it was sold to A.N. Bradt.

Meanwhile, Charles H. Parsons and Clarence B. Brower started the Hannibal News in 1876. In less than a year, Parsons dropped out and N.B. Brower joined his son in the newspaper business.

A.N. Bradt bought the Hannibal News and consolidated the two papers into the Reveille and News, and then he sold the newspaper to his brother who six months later sold it to Clarence Brower. He built it into a 28 columns weekly that represented the businesses and social interests of the town. Within several years, Brower sold the paper to Stewart Guthrie who sold out to a Fulton Newspaper.

Since time immemorial people have always had a need for the news. Some societies “drummed” the news to the countryside and some like the old joke “told a woman.” Our country forebears have seen fit to protect our right of freedom of speech, including the freedom of the media. Those rights protect us from government interference.

On the other side of the coin, media is not to communicate anything that falls into the categories of slander, libel, obscenity, sedition, copyright violation or classified information. Reminds me of the witness stand: the truth and nothing but the truth.

I for one am thankful that I live in a country that has protection for the media. Would we have gotten to the truth of Watergate if it had not been for the press?  I’m not thrilled with the current Snowden happenings but I don’t think he lived up to his half of the bargain on the responsibility side of the issue.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397

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