Marion County Towns and Villages

Palmyra, the County Seat

Palmyra is the county seat. Situated somewhat east of the center of the county in the celebrated Elmwood district, it is one of the best built and most beautiful cities in the state. It has fine homes, stores, mills, hotels, colleges and all other conveniences. Its people are well educated, highly, intelligent, contented, prosperous and progressive. Palmyra is leading in building fine gravel roads. Already many miles of gravel roads center there and many more are contemplated and under construction. It has a splendid commercial club, always at work and very effective. It has two newspapers, the Spectator being one of the oldest in the state, and fine railroad facilities, being in direct connection with all the large cities, ports and markets of the world. In addition to its colleges, Palmyra maintains one of the best public school systems in the state and has constructed excellent public school buildings. Its church edifices are especially commodious and attractive, while the water and electric light systems are as good as can be constructed. There is no better place in Missouri in which to live and be contented and happy than at Palmyra.


Hannibal, the metropolis of Marion County and Northeast Missouri, bears the distinction of being one of the largest ports on the Mississippi and a manufacturing center of prominence. It has always been able to hold its own against larger rivals, making gains in the number of its industries, as well as in the population, and nearly every year finding some means of planting a new and pretentious industry. Hannibal has the spirit that makes great cities, and, with the resumption of steamboat traffic on the world's principal waterway, it should rise to higher rank in manufacture and commerce. It has one of the best commercial clubs in the state, which is always at work for the advancement of Hannibal.

Some of the advantages that Hannibal has are:

The best shipping facilities of any city on the Mississippi, except St Louis.
The best railroad center in the Mississippi Valley.
Trunk facilities in all directions.
Abundant supply of clear water, 20,000,000 gallons daily.
Population of 20,000.
Free sites for factories in all parts of town.
First class fire department, well equipped and ably directed.
Two thousand miles of river transportation.
Low tax valuation, 25 per cent, and low tax rate, 2.5 per cent on $100.
Fifty-four passenger trains daily, thirty-four regular freight trains; handsome union station.
Ten railroads, one east, two northeast, two north, two west, one southwest, two south.
Three shoe factories, daily output of 10,000 pair of shoes.
Three strong banks, one strong trust company.
The largest railroad shops in the west, the Burlington.
One hundred and ten factories.
Four thousand factory and railroad employees.
$4,000,000 annually paid to labor,
Municipal electric light and power plant.
The cheapest electric power.
The largest Portland cement plant in the world.
The largest shoe factory outside of St. Louis.
Twelve cigar factories, output of 15,000 cigars daily.
Three large flour mills.
Four large grain elevators.
Two large breweries.
First class electric railway system.
The largest brick works in Northeast Missouri.
Cold storage plant of large capacity.
Inexhaustible deposits of commercial limestone, 99 per cent pure lime.
The finest building stone in the Mississippi Valley.
Unlimited supply of natural resources for Portland cement.
Ten hotels.
First class public library.
Ten public school buildings.
Modem hospital.
Protestant, Catholic and Hebrew churches.
One orphans' home.
Largest car-wheel foundry in the West.
Stove foundry turning out 60,000 stoves and ranges annually.
First class theater.
One of the largest printing and book manufacturing concerns in the West.
Center of winter wheat production in the United States.
Surrounded by prosperous farming settlements.
Within twenty-four hours of center of com production.
First class public school system.
Two modem daily newspapers.
Fast mail facilities to St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Kansas City and other places.
Center for lumber and high grade millwork.

The future of Hannibal cannot be overestimated. As a commercial center, no city between St. Louis and Minneapolis and St. Paul has such bright prospects. Raw material, adapted to industrial or mercantile purposes, is a necessity for any place aspiring to leadership, and this Hannibal possesses. The eminent modern town is the one that manufactures, or produces. The conspicuous success of the great cement works, the shoe factories, the stove foundries and other large industrial plants furnishes demonstrations from experience of the city's capacity in manufacture.

When the hydro-electric transmission line of the Keokuk water-power system is put into commission, in May, 1913, the position of Hannibal will be strengthened. There will be available any quantity of electric power desired, and at a remarkably low price. Factories will have a more emphatic incentive to locate in Hannibal, where they will be sure to have, besides, the most favorable labor conditions, an agreeable environment and unsurpassed transportation facilities.

Hannibal is the foremost jobbing center of Northeast Missouri, and it will undoubtedly increase its already large business as a distributing point. It is a logical procedure in business that the big manufacturing and wholesale houses of St. Louis, Chicago, New York and other metropolitan centers should have branches in Hannibal and use the special conveniences afforded by this city for distributing their wares throughout northern Missouri, a part of Iowa and a part of Illinois.

Great cities, like St. Louis, have more railroads than Hannibal, but they are not, relatively, better provided than this city with transportation facilities ample for all demands. Hannibal has the Wabash, the Burlington, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, and the St. Louis & Hannibal, with three lines to St. Louis and points to the South and Southwest; one line to New York, Boston, Detroit and Eastern points; two lines to Chicago, Milwaukee and the Northeast; two lines to the North including Minneapolis and St. Paul, and three lines to Kansas City, St. Joseph and points in the West.

Hannibal has the advantage of the Mississippi for marine transportation. It is a certainty that an immense volume of freight, now hauled by the railroads, will in the future move by boat or barge. It is a reasonable certainty that the towns on the Mississippi will soon be, to all practical purposes, seaports. Already Hannibal is in the advance, with a barge line that is hauling a large quantity of freight. Boats operating on the Mississippi have access to the Gulf of Mexico, ports on the Ohio and ports on the Illinois, and the time is not remote when they will find their way, past Chicago and past Minneapolis and St. Paul, into the Great Lakes and thence into the Atlantic. Already, a barge line, the Atlas Transportation Company, has its home office in Hannibal and is very successful in handling articles in that city.

Marine transportation means as much to Hannibal, and thereby to Marion County, as it does to any port. There will be numerous mercantile opportunities in the development of traffic by river.

Hannibal has always displayed a lively public spirit in behalf of enterprises which might benefit city or county. The people of this city have contributed large funds in the support of the railroads penetrating the country, and to the construction of gravel and rock roads, and I doubt whether there is any railroad line operating here, with the possible exception of one, that has not been benefited with money given by the city. This public spirit Hannibal is manifesting at present in the efforts to get more factories, especially by offering free building sites and similar inducements, and it is bound to be a factor in the greater progress just begun.

The Business Men's Association is the potential body that is striving energetically and loyally to promote the interests of Hannibal at home and abroad. The rapid increase in population during recent years attests to the organization's conquests, as do also the new factories, business homes and buildings, and the stimulation of an enthusiastic civic pride. The association is giving land and offering other inducements to bring more industrial plants to Hannibal, and it is wide to accept every chance for advancement. It is leading in the construction of gravel and crushed rock roads, not only in the county, but in different sections of the state. Good roads is one of its slogans.

Hannibal is the home of the Federation of Missouri Commercial Clubs. It is becoming widely known as an interesting convention city, and it is growing customary for many state and national organizations to hold their regular and special meetings here. It is a city of beautiful homes and well paved streets, with all the public utilities that give comfort and advantages to the young and the old. It is one of the richest and most cultured towns in the West.


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913