Hannibal Bicentennial Steering Committee/HCVB | 505 N. 3rd St. Hannibal MO 63401 | Phone: 573-221-2477 | Email: info@hannibal2019.com

© 2019 by City of Hannibal, MO

Fun Facts:

Making a difference...

On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be appointed to the Supreme Court. What does this have to do with Hannibal history? Let's backtrack a few years... Warner T. McGuinn, an African American law student at Yale caught the attention of a benefactor. When learning about McGuinn's financial challenges, this benefactor wrote to the dean of the school on Dec. 24, 1885: ''I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs; & we should pay for it.'' The author of that letter anonymously paid McGuinn's expenses until he graduated. McGuinn eventually moved to Baltimore where he practiced law, served on the City Council, was a director of the NAACP, and became a mentor to a young lawyer who shared an office. That young lawyer was Thurgood Marshall. And that anonymous donor? That was Hannibal's own Sam Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

The First Woman to Vote

On August, 31, 1920, Hannibal resident Marie Ruoff Byrum became the first woman to vote in the U.S. after the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution just 5 days prior. After decades of campaigning by women's rights activists such as those pictured here (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated, and Susan B. Anthony, standing), President Woodrow Wilson had signed the Women's Suffrage Amendment on August 26, 1920. In the meantime, Hannibal had called a special election to fill an open seat for alderman, so Byrum and her friend Nita Harrison engaged in a friendly competition to see who would vote first. The rain was drizzling that morning, and since she lived 15 blocks away, Byrum left at 5:30 a.m. Her husband walked along with her, and they arrived at the polling place located at North and Main by 7:00 a.m. where she signed the register and cast her vote. Harrison was right behind her, voting at 7:01.

Tune in to Hannibal...

Did you know that Hannibal has its own podcast? Rivertown Review is hosted by the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau's Megan Rapp and KHMO's Harold Smith. The topics focus on living in Hannibal and visiting Hannibal, each its own joyful experience. Listen in with Harold and Megan and their special guests to talk about living life in "America's Hometown." Podcast are free and available on iTunes.

Must be something in the water...

Although most people associate Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) with Hannibal, the town can boast many famous residents: Margaret Tobin Brown (aka: The "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, survivor of the Titanic); William Lear (inventor of the Learjet); Cliff Edwards (film star and the voice of 'Jiminy Cricket'); Jake Beckley (Major League Baseball player known as "Eagle Eye"); James Carrroll Beckwith (American artist); Admiral Robert Coontz (Chief of Naval Operations); Helen Cornelius (country singer with Jim Ed Brown); George Poage (first African-American athlete to win an Olympic medal); and Ron Powers (Pulitzer Prize-winning writer).

Jimmy Buffett as Huck Finn...

Jimmy Buffett is a known "Twainiac" and has written several songs about Mark Twain. He also refers to Mark Twain in several of the books he has written. In 2011, he joined other superstars (Brad Paisley, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, etc.) on this benefit project for the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal. The double-CD tells Mark Twain's life in spoken word and song. Jimmy not only provided the voice for Huck Finn, he released the CD on his own label, Mailboat Records. Who provided the voice for Mark Twain? Clint Eastwood! (And, yes, that made our day!) One song from the CD, "Huck Finn Blues" by Brad Paisley, was named Hannibal's official song.

Mighty Mississippi...

When the ice thaws in the spring, the Mississippi River can rise to record heights, especially if there's a lot of rain. Long ago, the downtown portion of Hannibal experienced its share of high water, but in 1993, the 3/4 mile-long levee was built, and now tourists can visit during high water season and see the "mighty Mississippi" at its mightiest. Because most of the city is built on high ground, people can witness spectacular views. There are many vantage points, such as Riverview Park and Lover's Leap. So, try to visit during high water season. It's magnificent!

Tom Sawyer and economic development...

Believe it or not, Hannibal's General Mills plant exists today because of Mark Twain (Sam Clemens). George Seybolt, the president of Underwood Deviled Ham, was looking for a new site in the midwest. Seybolt was a fan of Mark Twain's writings and decided to 'repay' the author by contributing to the economic development in Mark Twain's hometown. On one visit, Seybolt asked if he could spend a night in Sam's boyhood home. The curator granted permission, and Seybolt slept in Sam Clemens's boyhood bedroom. The next morning the curator found a check for $500 as a 'thank you' to the museum. The Underwood plant, established in 1972, eventually became a Pillsbury plant and today is a General Mills plant with 900+ employees. And it all started because one man was a fan of Mark Twain's books.

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