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Hannibal, Missouri is the principal city in Marion County, although not the county seat, and portions of the city extend into Ralls County. The first inhabitants of the area that was to become Hannibal were the Mound Builders, as far as is known. Later, the Missouri Indians occupied the area, followed by the Sac and Fox Indians tribes. Father Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first known Europeans to enter the area, in 1673, although it is not known that they left the Mississippi River. Louis Hennipin is thought to be the first explorer to land at the site, around 1680. Salt was discovered there in the 1790s, prompting the first white settlement of the region. Hannibal was named for Hannibal Creek, which itself was named for the historic Carthagenian general. Abraham Bird received 640 acres of land from the United States government in 1811, and the city itself was founded in 1819 by Moses Bates, who platted the town along the eastern banks of the Mississippi and sold lots at low prices. Bates also owned the first steamboat in Hannibal. Hannibal became a city in 1845. During the American Civil War, most Hannibal citizens were sympathetic to the Confederacy, but the city was occupied by Union troops throughout the war. Today, Hannibal is best known as the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, and as the setting for his books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and several local sites relate to the author or his writings. Major General Mayberry Prentiss, who fought on the Union side during the Civil War, spent much of his childhood in Hannibal. Hannibal is northwest of Saverton.


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