Articles & Archive
“The Great Hunt for Ewell Moore”
by Dwight “Clint” Moore, President
The Rodeham Moore Descendants Association
May 15th, 2002
Ewell Moore was the 6th child of our dear Rodey and Elizabeth, and has been a very elusive and somewhat mysterious ancestor for many, many, years now. Thus, we have known very little about Ewell or his descendants, until now! This is the story of the “Great Hunt for Ewell Moore”, and the quest for, and discovery of, the connection that brings generations of his descendants into our great American Family.
The last clear “sighting” date that most of us had for him placed him in Missouri in 1840, based upon that year’s census. We knew that he had been living in Hawkins County, Tennessee in the 1830 and 1820 censuses before that, and clearly raising another large family, like his brothers and sisters there, during that time. It’s interesting to note here that Rodey and Liz’s 8 children ultimately produced over 80 children of their own, which gives you a good indication of why our numbers of family members descended from that one couple, exceeds over 15,000 today. However, what made Ewell so difficult to trace, was that there was no known grave, will, or other legal document seen by any living member of our Family Association after that 1840 census enumeration.
Thus, it was of great interest to us to try and solve this great mystery, and thus I headed off to Bolivar, Missouri for the Memorial Day weekend 2001, to see if I could pick up the post-1840 trail of Ewell there in Polk County.
Missouri was a great new territory for America’s westward expansion in the early half of the 1800’s, and especially the area of the southwest quarter of Missouri. Of course, the area across the middle of the State along the banks of the Missouri River had been settled at the early part of the century. Lewis & Clark had made their fateful discovery of its route in 1803, and all the settlers headed up river to farm its fertile river land.
However, the town of Springfield, which is the county seat for Greene County, is farther to the south and was even then, the largest town in the southwest quarter of the state, but far south of the Missouri River settlements. However, the rolling hills, tributary river banks, and good soil attracted many Tennesseeans like Rodey’s children to come west and settle there in Polk County and the town of Bolivar, just north of there. Four of 3rd Rodey son John Moore’s children (John died in Hawkins County, TN. in 1822) came west to the area just to the west of Greene County, which is now Lawrence County, in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s. They all left Tennessee and North Carolina respectively, and all eventually followed John’s widow Elizabeth Williams’s brother, SW Missouri pioneer John Williams, who had migrated there back in 1831.
We know from the first tax rolls in Polk County in 1838 that neither Ewell, Galehew, nor any of their children appear to be taxed in Polk County that year. However by the 1840 Polk County census, which then took in portions of present-day Cedar, Dade, Dallas, and Hickory Counties to the west, there were two new Moore family residents that we know of, one being Ewell and the other one being Galehew Moore. Ewell was the 6th son for Rodey & Liz and born about 1791, and Galehew was the 4th son and born about 1787. Thus, they would have been about 47 and 51 respectively, and considered middle-aged at best, if not old for their time, when they moved to Missouri. Based on census data and legal documents, we believe that Ewell had been living in Tennessee until about 1838-39, as had Galehew been living back in North Carolina, as well. Both had probably been in those respective areas for at least 20 years. However, there is evidence (thanks to Ross) that Galehew may have briefly migrated to Tennessee with brothers Hugh, Cleon, Ewell, and John in the early 1800’s from North Carolina, due to Tennessee militia records for the War of 1812 and afterwards. According to Ross’s records, he paid his mother Elizabeth’s Surry Co., N.C. land tax in 1812, but served with Cleon in a East Tennessee militia for three months in late 1813. However, he must have returned to N.C. to “win the hand” of Rhoda Lawrence, who he marries there on August 25, 1816, and she bears all of their 9 children there for the next 16 years.
Upon the death of their older brother, Rodey’s 1st born son William in 1819, Galehew also became guardian to William’s young children. When William died in 1819, and his wife Jane Hanby having already died two years earlier, they left 9 children between the ages 5 and 20, without parents, including my gr. gr. grandfather, Alfred Cleon Moore. Galehew also served two one-year terms in the North Carolina State Legislature from 1825-27, and was succeeded by my Alfred, who served three one-year terms from the same seat between 1828-31.
In either 1838 or ‘39, both Galehew and Ewell, possibly together with late brother John’s son also named Alfred, went west to southwestern Missouri. They brought all their personal property to Polk County with them, which consisted primarily of the slaves that we see recorded for them in their respective North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri censuses from 1820-1840. Galehew apparently had 22 enumerated with him in Missouri in 1840, and Ewell just two. Since Galehew had apparently stayed in North Carolina at least 20 years longer than Ewell, Hugh, John, and Cleon, and presumably had a greater need for slave labor on his property there, one can understand why he would come west with so many.
Before I headed to Missouri for the weekend, I wrote a letter to the Bolivar County Herald Free Press, in which I was trying to alert the people of the community over there that I was looking for descendants of Ewell and Galehew Moore. Surprisingly enough, they published the letter on the Thursday before I arrived. The letter prompted several people to call me with offers of assistance, and I met with 4 of these local researchers for many hours at the local electric store on Saturday morning. We went over all their papers and books showing a good trail of Ewell, and his alleged son Alexander, especially through the Tax records. What was interesting was that two of my contacts proved to be direct descendants of Alexander Moore, and none of them had any concrete proof that Alexander was connected to Ewell, although they had suspected it for many years.
We picked up the trail there in Polk County, where we found both Ewell and Galehew recorded on the 1841 tax list. By the 1844 tax list, Polk County had been divided into three counties, Polk, Dade, and Dallas, and Galehew is found in the new Dade County but still on the banks of the Little Sac River. In 1844, Ewell is still in Polk County, just north of the town of Bolivar on the banks of the Pomme de Terre River, but now taxed with an Alexander Moore. It is the particular details of this Alexander Moore that leads us inevitably to the conclusion that Ewell and he, are father and son.
The circumstantial evidence of their relationship was now quite significant: 1) the proximity of the land they owned in 1840, and 2) the tax roll positioning next to each other consistently. There is even now a Moore cemetery on that land, and this is where Alexander and his wife Ruth Williams are buried, making it quite likely that this was also the burial place of Ewell and perhaps his wife Nancy Creed. This may also be the burial place of Rufus Moore, Galehew’s first born son, who died there in 1840. Rufus may have been the first burial on that land, since he appears to be the first of their two families to die in Missouri, and his gravestone has never been found either. Alexander's male children are buried there too, but the oldest stone is for a traveling Barker family child in 1843, which was probably before Ewell's death because of Ewell’s 1844 tax roll listing. Still, there has never been a known marker there for Ewell or Nancy, and most markers there were established well after the 1850’s, including Alexander’s in 1893.
Looking through those courthouse records, we noticed that the 1841 tax listing for Ewell, had a spelling error, listing him as “Newell” Moore. Since we have never found another “Newell”, and it was listed right next to an A. C. Moore (also misspelled, as it should probably have been A. “G.” Moore), this is likely to be the 1841 listing of both of them. By 1844, which was the next tax list, Ewell is listed and spelled correctly , and “Alexander” is spelled out for the first time.
Ewell is last seen in those 1844 tax records, because four years later in the 1848 tax list, there is just an “Alexander” listed. That gave us a clue that between 1844 and 1848, Ewell probably died or moved away. However, we know that Alexander ran off to the Mexican War from 1846-47, so we surmise that he would not have done so if Ewell and Nancy were both deceased. By going off to war, we surmise that he would not have left his orphaned brothers and sisters with someone else, so at least Ewell and/or Nancy probably lived at least past his return home in 1847. In actuality, Nancy’s last legal record was her presence in the 1840 census, so she may have even died well before 1847. Alexander might have still gone off to war in 1846, even if father Ewell were still alive, widowed, and raising the children at that time. It is highly unlikely that he would have gone if both were dead, since he’s the responsible head of the household in the 1850 census. Neither Ewell or Nancy appear in any 1850 census anywhere that we’ve ever seen, so we can logically conclude that they both must be dead by then, since Alexander is listed as a single, unmarried head of householder with his brothers, sisters, niece, and young brother-in-law, living under his roof. It is equally, highly unlikely that either parent would have left their younger children with Alexander as head of household, if either one were still alive at that point. Perhaps their ultimate deaths may have even been related to Alexander’s 1847 return home with his illnesses from the war, but we may never know for sure, how and when they died or where they are buried.
In 1851, Alexander marries Ruth Ann Williams, daughter of a James and Sarah Williams, who were landowners just due south of his land on the banks of the Pomme de Terre River. This Williams family looks suspiciously like it might have some connection to our other Williams families that migrated to Missouri with John Moore’s descendants, and settled to the south around Springfield. By the 1860 census, Alexander and Ruth had started a family of their own there. The land grants recorded for Alexander in both 1848 and 1853 are part of the same land north of town that he continues to own until his death in 1893. They are also located in the same Marion Township north of town, where both Ewell and Galehew are enumerated in the 1840 Polk County census.
As to Galehew’s whereabouts, we know he died in Dade County in September of 1854, because a will was filed listing his living descendants there. Galehew sold the land he received in 1853 with a War of 1812 Bounty Land Warrant to his son, William C. Moore in 1854. This tract adjoined land tracts which Galehew son’s Samuel and William C., unmarried daughter Juliana, and his son-in-law Achilles Eastin (married to youngest daughter Sarah) purchased from the Federal government when it was opened for sale. Most of this land is now deeply underwater, covered by the overlying Stockton Lake. No evidence of Galehew, wife Rhoda, son William, or son Rufus’s graves has been seen by the locals, and we visited all the available old cemeteries nearby. Since the Dade County genealogical society people have neatly restored nearly every cemetery on the 1956 USGS topographic map that I used as a guide, I'm not optimistic about finding them in an organized cemetery. My great fear is that Galehew and several of his family were probably buried on the land that was sold to William just before Galehew’s death in 1854, and all their graves are now underwater. On Sunday, I met with several area elder farmers, one of whom was the son of the late monument company owner, and although he is known as the historical expert of the area, he had never heard of either Galehew or William C., or their land ownership. He’s pretty sure that any gravestones with their names on them were not removed in the 1960’s by the Corp of Engineers, prior to filling the lake. A published 1903 landowners plat map shows no more “Moores" on the land, nor nearby either. Actual deed transfer dates, and a will for Galehew’s son William C. Moore, and the Galehew's other children that owned land in Dade County, still need to be researched.
In the end, I left Missouri on Memorial Day 2001, well satisfied that we were not far from a breakthrough in connecting Ewell to Alexander. Little did I realize that just four days later, on Friday morning, June 1st, Ross Cameron would make the historic connection for us. I’ll let you read it here, in his own historic words, from that fateful e-mail, transcribed herein:
…..I did some research yesterday including copying Alexander G. Moore's entire Mexican War pension file (126 pages of photocopies). In one of the documents, he was to record his date and county of birth. However, for some unknown, but for us fortunate, reason, (perhaps because he had already given his date of birth elsewhere even though it was not requested in that part of the document), in the blank were he was supposed to give the date, it says "near Red Bridge" instead. The beginning of this statement is below.
"Applicant declares that he was born near Red Bridge, in the County of Hawkins and State of Tennessee, . . ."
This was not one of the "selected" documents and I suspect the family in Polk County, which has copies of some of this, did not get the full file, and thus did not get this document. At least Clint did not mention that they had a document saying that he was born near Red Bridge, but perhaps they did not recognize the significance of this name.
I think this pretty much cinches that he is Ewell's son. I don't believe that there were any other Moores living at or near Red Bridge except for Rodey's family. This combined with Ewell and Alexander apparently living on or very near the same land in Polk Co. seems almost indisputable to me.”
With that critical piece of century old handwriting on a 1891 pension application for Alexander’s 1846-47 Mexican War service, we found a unique and priceless geographical link of Alexander “back home” to the Moore homeland area of Red Bridge, Tennessee. Since we know that Alexander was not one of Cleon, Hugh, John, or Galehew’s children, it is unlikely that he is anyone other than a child of Ewell, having come from the tiny crossroads of Red Bridge, Tennessee.
The pension application goes on to describe Alexander’s gout and other diseases acquired in his Mexican War service in the territory, now known as the state of New Mexico. Perhaps Ewell and Nancy’s likely death by the time of the 1850 census when young Alexander is head of household of the remaining children, as well as Alexander’s youthful willingness to go off to war in 1846, might suggest that at least Ewell or Nancy lived until his return from the war in 1847. Perhaps sadly, he might have even brought the contagion home with him, that ultimately led to their demise, yet we probably will never know.
In the end, this great quest and hunt for Ewell Moore was a success because of a great TEAM research effort. From local historians Jack Glendening, and new local Moore cousins Bob Franklin and Bob Phillips in Bolivar, Missouri, to Ross Cameron with his breakthrough archives discovery, and facts and encouragement from Joyce Browning and Richard Kesler, we as a family “broke the code” on Ewell’s descendants.
was probably Bob Franklin’s pursuit of Alexander’s pension file that lead Ross
to go to the National Archives and get the missing “smoking gun” page with the
Red Bridge citation on it. With that crucial piece of evidence, Bob brings his
entire descendant line into our family, and in the future history of this great
American Family, those descended from Ewell that come after him, will be forever
in his debt. Hooray for us all!!