Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Samuel Moore, Founder of Mooresville, Indiana

Town Plat of Mooresville, Indiana (1825)
(Click Image to Enlarge)

Mooresville, Indiana was founded in 1824 by Samuel Moore (1799-1889), whose Quaker family moved from North Carolina in 1818 to Washington County, Indiana, settling near the town of Salem. The Moore family found slavery inconsistent with their religious beliefs and moved north to escape the practice. Samuel moved away from his family and settled in Brown Township, Morgan County, Indiana, in 1822.

Samuel Moore was not the first European-descended settler to homestead in Morgan County or Brown Township. Jacob Wetzel became the first white settler in Morgan County (1818), and William Ballard settled in Brown Township in 1820. Moore established the first trading post in Brown Township in 1822. It was situated atop a hill approximately where today's V.F.W. Post #1111 now stands on South Indiana Street, a few hundred feet east of White Lick Creek. Moore made no distinctions based on color, race, or national creed; he traded with Native and European-descended Americans alike. Customers paid for his goods in silver, as well as barter items (primarily deer and raccoon skins, ginseng, bees wax, and buck horn).

As his business flourished, in 1823 Samuel Moore purchased 20 acres of land (at $2 per acre) atop a hill east of White Lick Creek and about a half-mile north of his trading post. He platted the town in 1824, which consisted of four five-acre blocks, with each block containing 16 lots (see original plat at the top of this blog; click-on the image to enlarge it). The plat was recorded on Feb. 21, 1825. The town, however, dates its origin to 1824, and this is the historically accepted date.

Asa Bales constructed the first cabin in Mooresville, and the first wood-frame business structure was built by Samuel Moore on the northeast corner to the intersection of Main and Indiana Streets. Moore conducted business there for 44 years. His goods travelled by wagon and boat across southern Indiana and even as far away as Boston and New Orleans.

In 1828, Samuel Moore married Eliza Worthington, who later founded the Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) Church in Mooresville.  The library has portraits of the couple on display.

Samuel Moore & Eliza Moore (circa 1850)
(Click Images to Enlarge)

Click here to see a flashcard about the couple (photographed in their golden years).

Eliza Moore passed over on December 10, 1873 (see obituary record), and Samuel Moore joined her on March 1, 1889 (see obituary record and newspaper obituary). We have the original copy of Samuel Moore’s last will and testament, executed July 21, 1888, and filed for probate in Morgan County Circuit Court on March 15, 1889. For “moore” information about Samuel & Eliza (and town history generally), see this handout and another handout. For a brief “family tree” of Samuel & Eliza and their descendants, click here. This handout explores the various homes in which Samuel & Eliza (and their family) lived in Mooresville.

What would Samuel Moore think of the town he founded if he could see it today? He would be pleased to find hard-working, conscientious people committed to providing a good life for their families.

Visit the Indiana Room at Mooresville Public Library to learn more about Samuel and Eliza Moore and the pioneers with whom they settled, lived, worked, and socialized.

P.S.  As a bonus feature, we've included an historical reenactment of Samuel Moore's "narration" at the Old Settlers Picnic in August, 1885.  This “narration” has been assembled from various historical records available in the MPL Indiana Room collections. Although Samuel Moore did not actually give this speech, it is based upon accurate, authentic historical records.  (It is likely that Samuel made brief--emphasis upon brief, as he was not prone to long-winded speeches--opening remarks at the 1885 Old Settlers Picnic, and probably at previous gatherings from 1870 onward until declining health marked his last attendance in August, 1888.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Highlights of Historic Mooresville, Indiana Bus Tour (Aug. 2009)

In August, 2009, as part of its staff in-service, Mooresville Public Library provided a bus tour of historic houses, buildings, and sites in Mooresville, Indiana.  Click here to see a handout of this tour.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Snake Pit, by Mary Jane Ward

Our book trailer below features The Snake Pit, by Indiana-born author Mary Jane Ward. Although the book was published in 1946, it is a bluntly truthful and personal narrative exposing the darker practices in mental health care during the middle 20th century. Many of the physical restraints and practices have been replaced by chemical counterparts, but the ultimate effects may be essentially the same.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Old Settlers" Folk Song

Does your hometown have a theme song? As discussed in one of our earlier blogs, Mooresville, Indiana received its unofficial "town song" when the Rev. Dr. Frank C. Huston wrote Mooresville in 1935. It is a fine composition, carefully crafted by a masterful composer who earned a worldwide reputation as a writer of gospel and popular tunes.

Janet E. (née Griffin) Buckley is a native of Mooresville, Indiana. She has spent much of her life living there, and she was intrigued by the idea of composing a song that encapsulated the history and spirit of the community since its founding in 1824. She played clarinet for the Mooresville High School marching band (not quite as long ago as the town's founding), and, in recent years, she has learned guitar. Her spouse wrote the lyrics, upon which she made significant improvements, and her impromptu singing of the words gave the tune its melody line. Since neither received any music theory training, they "guess-timated" the musical notation using Finale software. The result, shown here and here, gives a rough approximation of what the song might sound like. If you can sing, give it a try, and see if it sounds good ("If it sounds good, it is good," said Duke Ellington).  An instrumental version is available here and here.

Following the song's publication, Janet suggested that the refrain lyrics "Left me here to sing you this song" should be changed to "Left me here to sing you their songs," since it is the old settlers' songs (i.e., their life stories) that are being commemorated. Make the lyrical substitution and see what you think.

For professional quality musical compositions, the couple directs readers to the works of Danny Buckley, who will be graduating from Millikin University (Decatur, IL) next Sunday. You can hear his compositions by watching the library's videos on its YouTube Channel.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More Downtown Mooresville, Indiana History

Here are more historical photographs from downtown Mooresville, Indiana.

Mooresville Around Downtown

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Downtown Mooresville, Indiana

Looking to wile away some late spring or summer evening? What better way than to saunter through downtown Mooresville, Indiana and enjoy its historical architecture. Here is a handout to guide you along.

This handout is not exhaustive, of course; rather, it merely skims the histories of these various buildings and their associated businesses over the past 186 years. A comprehensive history would require hundreds of pages, and that's too much to carry around when you're out for a casual evening stroll.

Can't make it downtown?  We've got a virtual walking tour you can see on your computer or mobile device.  Check it out here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mooresville Public Library History

Long-time residents fondly recall the "Carnegie library" near the heart of downtown Mooresville, Indiana. There are probably a few residents who were alive when the library opened in 1916. For them, this was the first "true" library in town; however, Mooresville's library history extends back to the middle of the 19th century.

Click here to learn more about Mooresville Public Library's history.