J.H. MOORES. – Among the immigrants who came to the Sate of Oregon in 1852 was Honorable John H. Moores, the subject of this sketch, who deserves more than passing mention for the service rendered by him to the commonwealth during an active business career in the state extending over a period of twenty-eight years.
Among the older residents who played a prominent part in the earlier development of the state was his father, the late Colonel I.B. Moores, Sr., whose love of novelty and adventure brought him as one of the first pioneers to Oregon, where he located in Lane county. He was a man of great energy and activity, and had seen considerable military service, having served in the Seminole Indian war in two campaigns with Jackson in Florida. He also commanded a regiment in the Black Hawk war in 1831, and afterwards in 1846 enlisted for the Mexican war. He came to the Sate of Oregon in 1852, locating near Eugene. He represented Lane county in the legislative assembly, and afterwards in 1857 in the state constitutional convention. He was afterwards, a Republican candidate for state senator from the county. He died in 1861, and is buried in the Odd Fellows Rural Cemetery near Salem.
John H. Moores was born on the 21st of June, 1821, near Huntsville, in Lawrence county, Alabama, where he remained until 1825, when his father, owing to his intense aversion to the system of slavery, and prompted by the pioneer spirit which characterized his whole life, removed from the State of Alabama to Danville, Illinois, where was spent the boyhood and early manhood of his son John H. During that time the subject of this sketch had prepared himself with a view of taking a thorough course in Wabash College, then, as now, a flourishing institution located at Crawfordsville, Indiana. Subsequent events, however, modified his course; and soon after attaining his majority he determined to leave the home roof and his native town and seek his fortune elsewhere. With this end in view he finally located in Benton, Missouri, where he remained for the ensuing seven or eight years engaged in the mercantile business, returning but once in the meantime to Danville, where, in May, 1847, he was united in marriage to Miss Virginia L. Lamon, who survives him.
In 1851 he disposed of all his interests in Missouri and returned to Illinois. There he found his father – who had been an officer under Jackson, and who had seen service in the war of 1812, and in war with Indians upon the frontier – again restless with the desire of change and adventure. In early life he had been a friend and companion of “old Sam Houston;” and that celebrated character, when he became governor of Texas, had urged him to remove to that state, making him very advantageous offers. This had led him to dream of Texas; and for many years his eyes were longingly turned in that direction. But his dislike of the system of slavery, which years before had driven him from the State of Alabama, finally overcame his desire to remove to the Lone Star state; and the subject of our sketch, upon his final return from Missouri, found him burning with the Oregon fever, and at his earnest request joined him in the formation of a party to come to Oregon.
Their plans were soon put into execution; and in March, 1852, the large party organized by them began its tedious eight months’ journey across the plains. Among the number who comprised this train were the late Captain Charles Holman and Joseph Butchel, ex-Sheriff of Multnomah, both of whom valiantly wielded an ox-goad upon that eight months’ trip, without doubt the most memorable one of their lives. After enduring the hardships always incident to the overland trips of that day, this train reached The Dalles late in the fall. Their hardships did not end there; for they were three weeks making their way down the Columbia from that point to Portland, at which place they arrived late in November, 1852. There the party spent the winter of 1852-53.
In February, 1853, Mr. Moores removed to Salem, where he spent the remainder of his life. He immediately began business as a merchant, associating himself with his brother-in-law, Judge R.B. Lamon, now of Washington, District of Columbia. After a few months this partnership was dissolved, Mr. Lamon returning to the East. Mr. Moores, in company with another relative, Mr. J.N. McDonald, then purchased a stock of goods owned by the late Honorable Joseph Holman, and continued the business under the firm name of Moores & McDonald until the death of Mr. McDonald in 1855. By reason of that event Mr. Moores entered into partnership with his brother, Hon. I.R. Moores, Jr., who was associated with him during the ensuing ten years. During that period the firm built the brick block known as Moores’ Block, on a spot which at that time was the extreme north end of the business part of town. In 1865 that firm was dissolved. Mr. Moores subsequently purchased the South Salem Flour and Lumber Mills, and continued that business until the year 1876, when he disposed of those interests and connected himself with the Capital Lumbering Company. He was connected with that company as secretary and manager from that time until his death, which occurred December 15, 1880.
During the whole time of his twenty-eight years’ residence in Salem, – save the last few years, when his health was so poor as to preclude him from active duties, – Mr. Moores was one of the most active and enterprising citizens of the Capital city, especially so in the work of the sanitary cause during the years of the Civil war. The institutions of Salem and the state at large found no warmer nor more liberal supporter, in proportion to his means, than John H. Moores. The confidence of his fellow citizens in his capacity and his integrity was shown by the frequency with which they called him into public service. During his earlier residence in Salem he acted as its postmaster for a long period. He was afterwards, for several years, treasurer of the county. He served the city of Salem for several years as councilman, and for four terms as its mayor.
In 1870 he was nominated by the Republicans of Marion county for the position of state senator, and served in that capacity for four years. In conjunction with Rev. Dr. Geo. H. Atkinson, he served as state commissioner, and in that capacity secured for the state the grounds now occupied by the State Penitentiary, and the State Insane Asylum grounds. He was one of the founders of the Oregon State Agricultural Society, and acted for many years as its treasurer, and was one of it s most active promoters. In the promotion of educational interests he was ever active, performing for several years thankless work as one of the directors of the Salem public schools, and acting for nearly a quarter of a century as a member and officer of the board of trustees of Willamette University.
He was always actuated with the belief that it was the duty of every citizen to bear a share in serving the public, and to have, and act upon, well-defined opinions upon every subject of public interest. It was this that prompted him, as one of the last acts of his life, to leave his room, – as it proved, for the last time, – without the knowledge of his physician, to cast his ballot for Garfield and Arthur for President and Vice-President of the United States. That was the last public act of his life. From the performance of that act he returned to his home and bed, never to go forth again until borne to his last resting-place by the hands of his brothers of the fraternity of Odd Fellows. He died remembered and lamented as a man who during a long and active life had always endeavored to do his whole duty, – one who had not aspired to the highest station, but had accepted and conscientiously discharged the duties of humbler places, where the emoluments were nothing, the honors light and the burdens heavy, and where too often the capacity and responsibility required were equal to that demanded in the highest places.
We can close this sketch in no more appropriate way than by repeating the words of another: “He believed in deeds more than in words. As a business man, not one blot rests upon the name of the departed. Kind, affable, accommodating, honest, he won friends everywhere. As a husband and parent, he was the same kind, considerate, loving man, deeply and constantly devoted to the interests of his family. He leaves a wealth of example, a heritage of love, better than all the gold of California.”