HANNIBAL | Precisely 159 years ago – in mid June 1861 - two companies of Illinois troops, followed by two regiments of Iowa troops, arrived in Hannibal, Mo., and together with the Home Guard set up camp on Lover's Leap. The following day, at morning reveille, the soldiers fired a cannon as a salute, accompanied by drum cadence.
The Union Army had arrived, and the sound was a welcome one to Union loyalists long accustomed to threats of vengeance from southern sympathizers.
Down in the valley below Lovers Leap lived a family of working-class stature by the name of Mitchick, immigrants within the previous decade from Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. Rodolph Mitchick had been a soap maker in his home country, and married a widow by the name of Maria. Together, they came to America with two young children, Eustina and Joseph, arriving in New York in 1853. Once in America, they would have three more sons together, one born in Ohio, and the other two in Hannibal, Mo.
Believed to have been settled at the time in a small frame house on the southwest corner of Union and what was then known as Sixth Street on Hannibal's South Side, the Mitchick family members would have heard the thunderous roar of the cannon that morning, but likely they wouldn't fully comprehend the effects that the blast would have on their family's future.
Before the Union troops arrived, Rodolph Mitchick served with the Home Guard at Hannibal, Mo., and perhaps participated when the troops rallied at Lovers Leap in June 1861. On the 9th of September 1861, at the age of 36, he enlisted in Hannibal's Company K, 10 Regiment Missouri Infantry. When he left Hannibal with his regiment, he left at home on the west side of Union Street his wife Maria, and five children, Eustina, 13, Joseph, 8, Frank, 7, John, 4, and William Edward, 2. He joined the regiment at the rank of sergeant.
In the spring of 1862, Mitchick was serving with Company E, 22 Reg't., Missouri Infantry. In 1863, Mitchick's nearby Union Street neighbor,32-year-old Michael Shaughnessy – Irish born and a brick maker by trade - enlisted as a private in Company K 10 Regiment Missouri Volunteers. When he left for war, his wife, Mary Crayhan Shaughnessy, and their two daughters, Nell (born in 1856), and Sabina (born 1862), remained at their home located on the east side of Union Street.
Rodolph Mitchick was killed in action following the twoday Battle of Corinth in Mississippi on Oct. 4, 1862. He was 37.
Michael Shaughnessy was killed at the Battle of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tenn., on Nov. 25, 1863. He was about 33 years of age.
Widows and children
Marie Mitchick and Mary Shaughnessy were friends before their husbands left for war; Mary Shaughnessy was present in the Mitchick home when the youngest, William Edward Mitchick, was born on May 1, 1859. The bond between the women only grew tighter as the years progressed. In July 1866 they filed depositions on behalf of each other when establishing their qualifications for Civil War widows' pensions.
The Shaughnessy home was located at 611 Union.
The Mitchick house, located at 601 Union (in 2020 the southwest corner of Union and Cypress), stands today as a reminder of those tumultuous early years in Hannibal. Marie Mitchick lived in the house until her death in 1879, and in her will left the house to her youngest son, William, who cared for her during her declining years. He, in turn, sold it a decade later to Irishborn Timothy H. Ryan for $500.
Timothy H. Ryan, a veteran and later a grocer who had lived and worked directly across the street from the Mitchick family during the post-war years, set forth to expand the former Mitchick house to meet his family's needs. During the course of his ownership, he added a second floor, a front porch and other additions, which expanded the house to its current size. He also added outbuildings to the west of the property, which abated the nearby creek.
His children included: Ellen Ryan, born about 1862 (married Andrew Koch); Anna J. Ryan, (married Arthur T. Cole); Julia Ryan, born about 1870 (married Harry H. Dibble); Catherine Ryan, born about 1872; and Mabel Ryan, born about 1878 (never married).
The house remained in the Ryan family until 1967.
According to Hannibal city directories, Timothy Ryan operated a grocery store on the east side of Union Street between the years 1873-1900. His son-in-law, Arthur T. Cole, operated the grocery store for some years after that.
Rodolph (also known as Oswald) Mitchick, had an older brother who lived in Hannibal from the days before the Civil War until his death in 1893.
In 1866, Ludwig Mitchick worked as a tobacconist. In 1875, Ludwig Mitchick was a watchman for Quealy Car and Iron. Throughout most of his years in Hannibal, Ludwig lived with his family in the 700 block of Lyon. His daughter, Mary A., married James C. Thompson, and Ludwig lived with his son-in-law and daughter at 717 Lyon St., at the time of his death.
Timothy Ryan (died 1917), Marie Mitchick (died 1879) and Mary Shaughnessy are all buried at Hannibal's Holy Family Cemetery.
Source: Civil War description from a June 20, 1861, a diary entry by Ellen Benton while she was staying in Hannibal with her sister and brother-in-law, Sarah Benton and Tilden R. Selmes. Selmes Family Papers, Biographical Notes, www.arizonahistoricalsociety. org Note: The numbers of the houses on the east and west sides of Union Street were reversed circa 1912. The Mitchick house was originally numbered 600, and by 1912 had been changed to 601. The current address of the house where the Mitchick family lived is 601 Union St., Hannibal, Mo.
Note: Spelling variations of the name Mitchick were recorded in different sources. For uniformity, this spelling was chosen.
Thanks to Melanie Wasson for challenging me to write this story about the historic house on Union Street.
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 building blocks for this region's foundation. She can be reached at Montgomery.editor@ yahoo.com Her collective works can be found at www. maryloumontgomery.com