Monthly Archives: July 2013

More on the Moores Part One: In Which We Meet Our Slave Owning Ancestor

ImageThis is a photo of my great-great grandfather, William St. Clair Moore, often referred to as William C. Moore.  He was born, probably in Kentucky, on December 23, 1796, and died in Boyle County, Kentucky, on August 19, 1867.  This photo is from a tintype given me by his granddaughter, Mary T. Moore Irvine,  He was the son of Reuben and Mary Bird Moore, who came to Kentucky from Shenandoah County, Virginia about 1792.  When he was 38 he married Nancy Jane Owens, the daughter of Jeremiah Owens and Margaret Pittman Owens. (Jeremiah was the nephew of Simon Kenton.)  She was 16.  I have no record of his being married before, nor of any children, so I can’t account for his marriage at 38; however, my dad had several uncles who would have been this man’s grandsons who did not marry for the first time until their 30’s, so it might just have been the Moore way.

ImageThe picture above is of the Moore homestead, which started out as a log structure, on the right side of what you see here.  After we moved to Kentucky in 1974 we found and visited the house and took this picture.  This was where William and Nancy lived.  (The couple on the front porch are Mr. and Mrs. Crow, who owned the property then.)  The house is gone now.  It was torn down about 8 years ago, and someone built a McMansion over it and the graveyard that was to the right of the house.  William, Nancy, and one of their sons, John, and his wife, Julia were buried there.  But I digress.

William and Nancy had 11 children who are listed on the census records.  One was my father’s grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Moore (T.J.).  And yes, William owned slaves.  The 1850 Slave Schedule census lists his as having the following:  1 male age 40, 1 female age 16, 1 male age 10, 1 male age 7, and one male, age 5.  The 1860 Slave Schedule Census lists 1 male age 46, 1 female age 23, 1 male age 20, 1 male age 17, 1 male age 14, 1 female age 6,  and 1 female age 2.  Despite the different ages listed I am fairly certain that the first five listed on each census are the same people.  The other two are probably her children by the older man.  All are listed as black, so I am assuming that the children were all fathered by the older man, also.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of co-mingling of the races.

You will notice, of course, that there are no names for the slaves listed.  Very few owners listed their slaves by name anywhere but on plantation/farm records.  The best way to find slave names is in wills and other probate documents.  I think seeing them listed really brought slavery home to me.

Now, William owned between 5 and 7 slaves in a ten year period, and probably some before that.  The war would have freed them.  How do I feel about the fact that an ancestor owned slaves?  Well, quite honestly, while I don’t approve of slavery, there is nothing I can do about the fact that he owned slaves.  I can only do what can be done at the present time, and move forward with that.  I have been told by many that I should be ashamed of my slave owning ancestor.  Excuse me, but he wasn’t doing anything illegal for the time, and once again I repeat, there isn’t anything I can do about it.

“Moore” later.



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