TUBERCULOSIS: History: When Hannibal cried for Mollie
If the walls of the old Immaculate Conception Church could talk, they would tell you the happy stories and the sad stories. Probably one of the saddest, and probably most difficult, of these tales would be October 1891. It was the day Mollie Beckley's life was celebrated following her battle with tuberculosis.
The former Immaculate Conception rectory where Mollie Murphy married Hannibal baseball star Jake Beckley. Six months later Mollie passed away. CONTRIBUTED/STEVE CHOU
If the walls of the old Immaculate Conception Church could talk, they would tell you the happy stories and the sad stories. Probably one of the saddest, and probably most difficult, of these tales would be October 1891. It was the day Mollie Beckley's life was celebrated following her battle with tuberculosis. It may sound like just a death by disease and a sad time for all who knew her, but just six months earlier, the 24-year-old was a new bride married to one of the most popular men in town — Hannibal baseball star Jake Beckley. The two were married March 30, 1891, according to the Courier-Post archives, and were married at the rectory of the original Immaculate Conception Church. That church building still stands today at 512 Church St., but the old rectory is long gone. Her parents, Daniel and Alice Murphy, were married in that church 38 years earlier. Father McLoughlin married the newlyweds and following a reception they took off so Beckley could start the new baseball season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But Mollie's health began to decline. She returned to Hannibal and at one point appeared to be on the road to recovery. Yet her condition worsened and Mollie died. Following a wake at the family home on Hannibal's South Side, Immaculate Conception Church filled with mourners for a funeral mass. Off the walls that still stand bounced the religious hymns of sorrow and praise to honor a young woman who was known throughout Hannibal for her music abilities and volunteerism. She was well known for her ability to play the organ, and more than likely, that organ became the instrument used to play songs chosen to celebrate Mollie's life. Father McLoughlin, who had just married Mollie and Jake in March, was the priest for the services. At a time when the big ballplayer was known for his size and strength, the sight of the first baseman in his fourth year of professional baseball is tough to imagine brokenhearted, weakened at the loss of his bride. No records show who gave the eulogy at Mollie's funeral. It could've been a number of people: her widower husband, her sister Katie — who also didn't make it to her 24th birthday and lived in Denver with Mollie to try and get cured — her father Daniel or Father McLoughlin. Pallbearers carried her casket out of the church and Mollie was transported to her final resting place at St. Mary's Cemetery in the Murphy family plot. Her grave is marked by a headstone with a large decorative cross. It was paid for by her husband.
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