Historical Hannibal, Missouri | established in 1819 | America’s Hometown | Mark Twains home
The US Government issued a 640 acre land certificate in what is now Hannibal, Mo. to Abraham Bird after he lost his original land in the powerful New Madrid earthquake of 1811.
Hannibal was officially founded in 1819 by Moses Bates. He and Jonathan Fleming built the first building in town, a log cabin, near the corner of North Main and Bird Streets. Bates also owned the first steamboat in town, the General Putnam. In 1830, the population was only 30. However, when Hannibal became chartered as a city in 1845, James Brady became the town's first mayor, and the city soon grew to 2020. The early industries in Hannibal were pork packing, soap and candle making, coopering, milling of lumber, milling of grain, rope making, and tanning. Flat boats laden with grain and hemp tied up at the waterfront, livestock fattened in the back country were driven to Hannibal to market, logs were floated down from Wisconsin and Minnesota and converted into boards as sawmills flourished. In 1830, the first school was built on the city square. A year later in 1831, the first river ferry boat to the Illinois side, owned by Samuel Stone, was operating. Six years later in 1837, the first newspaper, the Commercial Advertiser, opened for business.
The first railroad to cross the state of Missouri, the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, was completed in 1859. The first run in 1860 carried the Pony Express mail across the state to St. Joseph. It was led by a skillful engineer, Addison Clark.
Well known residents of Hannibal are Samuel Langhorn Clemens ( Mark Twain), born (1835) in Florida, Missouri but lived and grew up in Hannibal from 1839-1853. Molly Brown, who earned her name by surviving the sinking of the Titanic, was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1867, and Cliff Edwards was there in 1902. He was better known as Ukelele Ike, and is best remembered as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney movie Pinocchio and for his recording of When You Wish Upon A Star from the same movie.
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