Articles & Archive
Tribute to Merle D. "Sir
Elmer" Moore by Ross J. "Duke" Cameron
for the Reunion of the Association of Descendants of Rodeham Moore,
at the Home Place, Mooresburg, Tennessee, 18 October 2003
My first contact with Sir Elmer was when I opened an email from him a little
more than five years ago on August 4, 1998. He had sent it late the evening
before. Though I had not noted it until I was preparing these remarks, I think
that it was significant that my first direct contact with our Founding Father
was on my own father's birthday. Furthermore, it would have been my dad's 83rd
birthday and the first of this month would have been Merle's 83rd birthday. My
last email from Merle was on my birthday earlier this year.
I had been put in contact with Merle eventually through my response to an email
posted by Bill Woodard to the Grainger County, Tennessee, mailing list (to which
I have been subscribed almost from its inception). Sure enough we were related
and thankfully Bill put me in email contact with several other Rodeham Moore
family researchers including Merle.
It was after that that I received the first message from Merle:
"From: "Stonehead" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Ross Cameron" <email@example.com>
Date: 8/3/98 11:52PM
I am the culprit that has caused all this hunting, confusion, exasperation, joy
and revelation. Never in my wildest dreams did I think when I started work on my
Moore ancestors forty eight years ago it would come to so many lost kin found.
Expensive and time-consuming as it has been I would rush back into it blindly
again for the sheer joy of discovery.
The buck stops here. I call this group of dedicated researchers "The Gleaners."
Whatever they produce runs thru my fingers into this computer. There has been en
toto about 29,000 entries including kith, kin and collateral relatives. A lot of
The book Rodeham Moore of Patrick County VA, his descendants and kin is out of
print since about 1986. There has been a copy floating around the USA which
people make their own copies of. I do not charge, nor have I ever charged, for
any of my work. Folks have copies made at their own expense and forward the copy
back to me. The only charge is refunded postage.
The book (hereafter called Rodey) is massive, humongously out of date and is
dog-eared and loose pages in a three ring binder format. I can send it to you
for your perusal but I am however trying to get an updated edition out by the
Mooresburg, TN national meeting time. It will be much more extensive and
I sent to Clint today via snail mail the updated Alfred Cleon Moore descendants
of which he is one and the updated data that is now in my data bank relative to
the descendants of John Moore s/o Rodey and Liz. I had previously printed three
proto copies of The Descendants Of John Moore for circulation to several
pertinent kin researchers. The descendants' chart in that book was 33 pages
long. The one I sent to Clint today (the updated John Moore data) was sixty some
pages long and "longing." Perhaps you would like to contact Clint relative to
copies of this data. It is the latest I have and perhaps you could place your
personal connective data into the "Form" I suggested he circulate. It makes my
work much easier and accurate, i.e. if I can read the printing that people send
me. My greatest typo mistakes are made trying to read what was printed. You may
be surprised what is known about your background in a broken line to about 840
Let me know the course you take or what you decide. I will add you to my very
active list. I would really like to add you to Rodey and the rest of your
compadres in the "Gleaners Gang." Those data need be in my hands ASAP as I will
have to prepare it for processing and have it finished no later than 15 Sept.
Looking forward for your reply.
Merle D. Moore"
As much as anything, I think that my first message from Merle expresses so well
his character, his dedication, and his love for history, genealogy, and people,
especially his extended family, including we Moore cousins. From the greeting
"Kind Sir" addressed to someone that he had never met nor spoken to before, but
a Moore cousin, to the closing "Looking forward to your reply" expressing his
sincere desire to receive whatever I might be able to contribute to the "cause"
sums up his courteous and inquisitive nature. It tells his story of researching
our Moore ancestors and their families -- the frustrating questions, the
surprising finds, the conflicting information that must be sorted through, the
mistakes that are made and the corrections. It tells of his more than fifty
years of adding names, dates, places, faces, and fascinating stories to our
Moore heritage and his tireless efforts to continue that search and to tell
others what he had learned -- to pass it on to the next generations.
I first met Merle and his bride Grace almost a year later, at the end of July
1999, when they drove over to Camp Shenandoah one day to meet me and my son,
James. Merle brought some maps and other records and we had an hour or so to
chat and talk about our history and genealogy. He was the same in person as he
was in his emails, kindly sharing the mountains of information that he knew and
listening carefully to what I had to say.
That fall I got to know Elmer, Grace, and April, too, better when I rode to the
1999 Moore Reunion in Mount Airy with them. Merle and I rode in the back seat so
we could talk genealogy. I will not forget that time together, though I wish
that I had had a tape recorder running for the entire three days because I do
not remember everything that was said. We toured the places where our ancestors
were born, married, raised their families, earned a living, enjoyed life, died,
and were buried. Listening to Merle tell their stories brought to life their
times in those places. We researched in the records and also learned from
talking with others and walking the land.
Two years ago I joined them again for the drive to the 2001 Moore Reunion at
Mooresburg, my first visit to Hawkins County where my Moore and Williams
ancestors lived over two hundred years ago. This was also a great trip with an
extra couple of days for research before the Reunion. In addition to touring
numerous Moore sites in Hawkins County, we also visited several cemeteries in
Grainger and Hamblen counties, one of which we had to find the hard way, and the
courthouses in Morristown (Hamblen County) and Dandridge (Jefferson County).
Our primary research interest on that trip was to find the homeplace and graves
of Peregrine and Elizabeth (Moore) Yoe that were near Russellville in Hamblen
County based on earlier research. When we arrived in the area, we went straight
to Russellville, where Jay Moore joined us to be our local area expert and
contact. We drove around Russellville and went to the courthouse where Jay’s
contacts helped us narrow our search. We found the approximate spot but ran out
of time to do more. Merle and Grace later returned and pinpointed the location.
We visited other cemeteries on the way to Rutledge to search the Methodist
Church cemetery for the grave of Robert P. Moore, husband of Mary Ann Moore,
daughter of Hugh G. Moore. We did not find a stone for Robert, but Merle did
locate the place where he believed Robert was buried. Mary Ann was buried at
Moore – Dickson Cemetery, but two of their daughters – one married and one who
died young – were buried at the Rutledge Methodist Church cemetery as was
Robert’s second wife, some of their children, and Robert’s third wife, Melvina
Blackburn, daughter of Burwin B. Blackburn and Elizabeth (Williams) Moore,
John’s widow. We, also, found the “lost” and overgrown Livingston Cemetery where
Elizabeth (Gallahue) Moore’s half-sister, Jane (Rowland) Taylor and her husband
Daniel are buried, my great, great, great, great grandparents. Thomas Cocke, the
grandfather of some of our Moore relatives, through his illegitimate daughter,
Marjaner (Creed / Cocke) Moore is also buried there. That is another of those
long stories that Merle and I finally were able to piece together from his
information from the “old Heads” and my research in paper records.
Over these less than five short years, Merle and I exchanged over 800 emails
which usually, but not always, contained some questions, answers, comments or
research strategies for our quest to learn more about Rodey, his descendants,
and their lives. I greatly miss his knowledge, wisdom, and guidance, but will
strive to continue adding much to the genealogy and history of the descendants
of Rodeham and Elizabeth (Gallahue) Moore. I share with him that sheer joy of
discovering other “lost” relatives and learning more about their lives. I wish
that I had his ability to weave the stories into the basic facts and bring them
to life as he did.
In conclusion, I would like to paraphrase the obituary of my great, great,
great, great grandfather John Moore as a memorial to my dear friend, Merle D.
"Sir Elmer" Moore.
"Departed this life, at his residence in Winchester, Virginia, on the 16th May,
2003, Mr. MERLE D. MOORE. The death of a more valuable man is but seldom
recorded. Mr. Moore has, for some time filled, with exemplary conduct, the
office of Genealogist and Historian of the Association of the Descendants of
Rodeham Moore, and gained by a course of strict integrity & attention to the
obligations, he had laid himself liable to his fellow Moore descendants, their
warmest and most sincere esteem. -- As a genealogist and historian, he ranked
amongst the most industrious and enterprising of our country -- and as a member
of society, he was one of its most valuable ornaments; and justly regarded as an
'honest man.' His exit from this transient life was sudden, and truly
deplorable; thus verifying the true maxim, that 'in the midst of life, we are in
death!' In his death, a widowed partner is left to lament the loss of an
affectionate and worthy husband -- an adoring daughter, a kind and tender parent
-- grandchildren and great grandchildren, a loving grandfather and great
grandfather, and a large and respectable circle of friends and relations, a
We will all miss his wisdom, his knowledge, his wit, his unique and wonderful
expressions and nicknames, and his presence. No one can take his place. We will
never forget him nor what he did for us and for our descendants.