Beginnings: Before Hannibal Was a Town, Occupied by “30 Souls”
Hannibal officially became a town in the mid-1800's. Years before that, there are records that is was an area simply occupied by "30 souls".
It's amazing what you can find when you are just wandering around the internet and this is an example of that. Several decades ago, the old Hannibal Police Station and Jail were applying to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. That application which was dated in 1979 includes some fascinating history of Hannibal and what it was before it was officially incorporated as a town. Check out this brief mention of the families that settled in the land prior to Hannibal really being Hannibal:
The growth of Hannibal was slow at first; until 1826 there were rarely more than three to five families at a time, and few of them were permanently settled there. A record
of 1830 shows "thirty souls" in the town, and Hannibal was not incorporated until 1838 with the formation of the Hannibal Company, trustees who sold the land "at low prices, chiefly to actual settlers.
30 souls? There's also a reference to the original site of the old Hannibal Police Station and Jail getting its start due to a notorious earthquake:
The site was first granted to Abraham Bird of New Madrid, Missouri in compensation for his losses in the New Madrid earthquake of 1811.
How interesting that the site where the building would be built being a result of the quake that destroyed so much of pioneer Missouri.
The Hannibal Old Police Station and Jail application goes on to talk about the burgeoning lumber industry and the other goods that were traded via the river that helped the town become one of the most vital stops on the Mississippi River.
If you enjoy history and would like to see the beginnings of the area thanks to "30 souls", check out the National Register of Historic Places application on the Missouri State Parks website.