This is a clipping from Hannibal’s telephone book from 1960, the first year the AC 1- prefix was added to local telephone numbers. The New Cab Company’s telephone number was formerly 150 and has been renumbered AC 1-8150.
Two trains collided head-on at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 4, 1964, just west of the Wabash Outer Depot—near 30th Street—in Hannibal, Mo. The intensity of the accident was such that eight diesel locomotives – four attached to each train – were reportedly damaged beyond repair, and nearby houses were noticeably shaken to their foundations.
The house closest to the impact – that of Earl Holman who lived at 2715 Bowling Ave. – was also shaken, but Holman was not alarmed enough to get out of bed to investigate the commotion. Living a few yards from the tracks where frequent changes took place, he assumed it was typical rail yard work and went back to sleep.
It was morning, when he got up, before his eyes fixed on one of the worst railway financial disasters of his life. Damage to the engines alone was estimated at the time at $1 million.
Holman, aged about 56 at the time of the train crash, was the owner of the New Cab Company, more commonly known as the 150 Cab Company, doing business at 1218 Market Street at the tip of “The Wedge”.
The simple description of “The Wedge” is all longtime Hannibalians need to conjure up a visual image of the point at 1200 Broadway where the main thoroughfare veered northwest, and Market Street began and continued to the southwest. Between these two streets were two-storey, triangular-shaped buildings, custom-built to match the topography. On the first floor of these buildings, businesses flourished – operated by locals, black and white. On the second floor, blue-collar families rented accommodation.
The history of The Wedge dates back to the early days of Hannibal, when the business district stretched west of the river along the stagecoach route to Paris, Mo.
Sanborn fire prevention maps from 1885 and 1890 show a snub-nosed building located at 102 Market (later renumbered 1220). By 1899, a smaller one-story building had been constructed at the east end of 102 Market and was identified as a cobbler’s store at 100 Market.
Hannibal’s 1897 Town Directory identifies Nathan L. Saunders as operating a fish market in this small building.
In 1905 George Grimes sold fish, oysters and game from this storefront, and in 1907 it was the tailor shop of Arthur J. O’Donnell. Edward D. Washington, a colored man, had a restaurant in this small building in 1909, and in 1911 Frank Chanette, also a colored man, had a dining room at 100 Market.
In 1912, when the numbering changed from 100 Market to 1218 Market, Martin E. and Earl M. Dunbar operated a paint and wallpaper business. Two years later, Henry Schwartz and J. Kirtley Mason had a saloon in this small space. At the start of World War I, Henry and Nellie Schwartz operated the saloon and, until Prohibition, a soft drink business.
In 1923, Orville D. and Erie S. James operated a grocery store there.
In 1929, John P. Beeth operated a restaurant at 1220 Market, while the Wedge Filling Station operated at 1218-20 Market.
Earl Holman and his brother, Enoch (Buck), born circa 1908 and 1910, respectively, were the sons of JW and Fannie Matson Holman, of Spencer Township, Ralls County, Mo.
Earl’s early career focused on horse training in the 1930s, working for Dr. John W. Opp, a Hannibal dentist and enthusiastic lover of fine horses. Dr. Opp owned stables on Route 61, south of Oakwood. (Opp’s stable was later known as Harris Stables.)
In June 1940, Earl Holman and his wife Irene moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he went to work training fine riding horses at Joy Farm in Milwaukee, which was owned by Allyn H. Tidball. During the war, he worked in an ordinance factory that made long mortar shells in the production of ammunition.
In Hannibal around 1939, Enoch Holman and Wayne Garrett operated the Safe Way Cab Co., in Hannibal, but later Enoch and his then wife, Carleeta, moved to Peoria, Illinois.
After the war, the brothers returned to Hannibal and started the 150 Taxi Company. The 1946 city directory lists Mrs. Carletta Holman, clerk; Earl M. Holman, taxi operator; and James P. Holman, younger brother of Earl and Enoch, and his wife, Rosalie Holman.
By 1950, Earl and Enoch Holman were running the business together, at 1218 Market.
On April 20, 1955, Enoch died of coronary obstruction. His widow, Mary Holman, sold her share of the business, which was then managed by Earl Holman, the surviving brother.
Earl Holman retired in 1969. According to phone records, New Cab Company remained in business until about 1971.
Earl M. Holman died in 1984, at the age of 76. His widow, Irene Mosley Lippencott Holman, died in 1990. They are buried together at Grand View Burial Park. Together they raised a son, Carl Leon Lippencott, who died in 1983.
As Jodie Link explained in a recent “Growing Up Hannibal” Facebook discussion, an extra digit has been added to the previous three-digit phone numbers so that the old numbers will work with the new switching equipment from Southwestern Bell Telephone. Company. In 1950, the telephone number for the New Cab Company was 150. By 1960, the Academy One prefix had been implemented in Hannibal, and digits were added to create a seven-digit telephone number. The New Cab Company’s new telephone number has become AC 1-8150. Hannibal’s long distance prefix was 314.
Patricia Boggs recalls Ross Bentley driving a cab from 1955 to 1960
Thanks to Edith Blight, for information on her father, Enoch Holman. She remembers that Dude Trigg was a driver for the New Cab Company. Over the years, several family members have been involved in running the business.
Thanks to Terry Woodward, for information on his grandfather, Earl Holman
Jim Powell remembers that his father, Jim Powell, and his uncle, Clifford Powell, worked in the company 150 taxis.
Robert Freeman remembers his father, John Freeman, answering the telephone for the New Cab Company, and his wife’s uncle, Sug Owens, driving a cab. Sparkie Charlton was sent there for a long time, Robert said.
Note: Becker Spaun and his father, William B. Spaun, visited the scene of the railroad accident on Sunday morning, October 4, 1964, and took color slides and film. Becker told me that one of the engines involved in the accident was a relatively new GE engine. “The westbound train was sitting in the yards and the eastbound train was coming down the hill. One was supposed to take the siding. The eastbound train thought it had clearance to cross the bridge. The accident happened just before the outdoor depot.
The westbound crew was able to jump off the engine before impact. The crew of the eastbound train received minor injuries.
Information about the train collision was obtained from the Monday, October 5, 1964, edition of the Quincy Herald-Whig.
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 Amazon.com 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 viewed at maryloumontgomery.com.