Foss first owner of West End icon: Marion House Hotel | Story


Dedrick Foss is a name that should be included among the significant contributors to Hannibal’s early development. A stonemason by trade, he first married Maria Kudel on December 11, 1851, in Marion County, Missouri. In 1858 he married Margaret LaVoo. During the decade of the 1850s, he established his commercial presence on the south side of Market Street, directly opposite what was to become the West End landmark, the Marion House Hotel.

Located on the north side of Market, opposite the intersection of Short Street, the first local reference to the Marion House was found in the December 10, 1858 edition of the Hannibal Daily Messenger.

“Great Christmas Party Saturday, December 25, 1858, at Maison Marion, Hannibal, beginning at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Dinner at 12 p.m. Two omnibuses will run from Virginia House to Marion House. Party tickets $1.00. Omnibus fair 10 cents. Oscar Schmidt, owner »

In 1859 Dedrick Foss’ name was associated with this important West End location.

In 1851, when Dedrick and Mary Kudel married, there was an interesting second marriage. Miss Mary Foss (relation to Dedrick uncertain) and John Gyatt were married July 22, 1851 in Marion County, Mo. In 1859, when Dedrick was living on the south side of Market, across from Marion House, John Gyatt and his wife lived on the north side of the market, next to the Marion house.

Oscar Schmidt, the aforementioned proprietor of Marion House, left employment with the hotel in 1859. On August 24, 1860, John Goytt (sic) was the proprietor.

On March 12, 1862, Dedrick Foss (presumably the owner) published a notice in the Hannibal Daily Messenger, seeking a new owner for the Marion House, to replace Goytt.

“Rent. The Marion house, located on rue du Marché, a two-and-a-half-storey brick building, containing 13 large rooms, well suited for hotel purposes. Apply on site to D. Foss.

Two months later, on Sunday, May 4, 1862, Foss again published a notice in the Hannibal Daily Messenger. Foss operated the hotel itself.

“Maison Marion. We take this opportunity to inform our friends that we will be open next Tuesday, ready to welcome any citizen travelers who may call us. Lunch at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning. D. Foss”

Civil War Ties

“History of Marion County, Missouri, 1884”, by RI Holcombe, contains a Civil War-era publication concerning the Marion house on Market Street.

“Secessionist businesses in the country west of the city – Wash. McDonald’s, Clay Price’s, ‘Hawk Eye’ Livingston’s and others – publicized the capture of Hannibal at one point and, gathering their companies, descended by the plank road to the Bear Creek crossing. Here the command halted, and Livingston advanced alone to the Marion house, in the western part of the town. roof of the hotel, he saw with his sharp but oblique vision that the city was too well guarded by Federal soldiers to be captured then, and the attempt was abandoned and never afterwards undertaken.

National hall

In 1885, Dedrick Foss, the stonemason of the West End, owned two important buildings on Market Street:

The National Hall building, with retail stores on the first floor, located at 155-157 Market; and across the street is the Marion House Hotel at 160-162 Market.

The National Hall building existed as part of the memory of today’s mature Hannibal residents. In 1919, the building, then numbered 1415 Market St., was sold by the Foss family to Robert M. Lewis, founder of Lewis Cleaning Co. (This building housed the business operated by Robert M. and Robert M Lewis Jr., in the 1970s.)

The Marion House, featuring pre-Civil War furnished rooms, existed until the early 1940s. It was operated from about 1919 until the early 1940s by Gustof G. Melling.

Other owners and mentions

In 1877, Josiah Leamon, owned the Marion House.

On July 21, 1887, the Mexico Ledger reported that John Griswell, near Mexico, was in Hannibal negotiating the purchase of Marion House. It is not clear if the purchase was made.

In 1888, Mrs. Emeline Leamon was the owner of Maison Marion.

The Landau brothers, Adolph, Jacob and Otto, were boarders at Maison Marion in 1895.

Early in August, 1903, Miss Fannie Bleigh and Mr. Edward Bell of Philadelphia, Mo., were united in marriage at Marion House by the Reverend Gallaher. They returned to Philadelphia on the noon train.

John E. Darnell was the owner in 1914.

1916 Miss Sarah Waters owned the Marion House.

1918, William O. Gardner was owner.

From 1919, Gustaf G. Melling owned Marion House.

In the 1940 census, the following people were among the occupants of the Marion house:

Edna Melling 22 years old, daughter

Viola Thomas 27 years old, daughter

Walter Thomas 43 years old, son-in-law

Gustaf McReynolds 7, grandson

JL Lundberg, 58, tenant

Edward E. Webb 72, boarder

Zack Taylor Alnis, 60, boarder

Harry V. Fisher, 65, boarder

Charles Mullinix, 59, boarder

Joe C. Morris, 46, boarder

Albert F. Grisham, 42, boarder

Gustaf Melling served as the city’s jailer for several years.

In 1941, Melling entered Hannibal’s prison carrying a basket containing meals for the prisoners. Vincent (Monk) Mahoney later admitted hitting Melling. In exchange for a guilty plea for the assault, Judge John H. Totsch sentenced Mahoney to 90 days in Marion County Jail in Palmyra.

Foss Graves

Dedrick Foss (1828-1907) and his wife, Margaret Foss, (1838-1917) are buried in Riverside Cemetery.

Note: Dedrick Foss’ ownership of both buildings, National Hall and Marion House, was mentioned in a wedding announcement of his daughter, Orinda K. Foss, to John F. Meyer, detailed in the November 30 edition 1877 Clipper Hannibal. Her wedding took place at St. John’s Lutheran Church and the reception, with 200 guests, was held at the National Hall.

Note: This writer was unable to trace what happened to John Gyatt and his family during or after the Civil War. Possible spellings of his surname include: Giatt, Goytt, Gyatt, and Giott.

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 a cornerstone in the founding of this region. Books available on by this author include, but are not limited to: “The Notorious Madam Shaw”, “Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri”, and “The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870”. She can be contacted at [email protected] Her collective works can be found at


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