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.)

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