Recently my wife and I traveled to Potter County in Pennsylvania to visit family, three cousins on my father’s side to be precise. They are Susan who I met while researching my family a few years ago, the second Joseph whom I knew about but never met, and the third Kelly was a very recent discovery via DNA findings at ancestry.com. I only had a short time to spend (less than two full days) with them, and we will be getting together for a longer visit in the near future.
My cousin Joseph Metcalf is the grandson of Henry Joseph Moore. Henry Moore was the brother of my grandfather Frank Moore, so Henry is my great uncle. From what I know about my grandfather Frank, and the type of man he was, it is hard to believe that the two men were brothers. Both men were to face very difficult times in very different ways. Frank was to crumble under pressure and, his family was scattered to the winds of cruel indifference. The crucible came for each man during the 1918 Flu epidemic when they both were to lose their wives to this disease. This will be Henry Joseph Moore’s story; I will deal with Frank at some point in the future.
Henry was born June 4, 1875, and he was one of nine children that were born to Henry and Clarissa Peterson Moore. While he could read and write his formal education was to stop at the fourth grade. His life was to be one of hard labor finding employment in the following fields; Farming, Railroad, state highway labor, with most of his work being done in the Lumber and Tannery industries.
On March 23, 1909, Henry’s brother Douglas died of what was called Camp Dysentery on his death certificate. The death left a widow Lottie Luella Peterson Moore and four children all younger than ten years of age. The 1910 census shows the family living with her father in law Henry Moore Sr. However Lottie’s health was to take a turn for the worse in September 1911. I found this notice in “The Potter Enterprise” on September 28, 1911.
Is Very Ill
Lottie Moore of Portage, widow of the late Douglas Moore is now a county charge. She is very ill with typhoid pneumonia. She is 32 years old, and the order of relief was sworn to by Henry Moore Sr. and Henry Moore, Jr., father and brother of the dead husband,…
If that was not bad enough on September 30th, the Austin Pennsylvania Dam broke killing scores of people and leaving a path of destruction that would sweep away their shared home. In Paul W. Heimel’s book “1911 The Austin Flood” I found the following account from Lettie Moore Clark, the daughter of Douglas and Lottie, who was 11 years old at the time.
Our family home was swept away by the flood, but we were warned and were all able to escape. My mother was sick in bed and was placed in a rocking chair and carried to safety. The whole thing is like a hideous nightmare.
I recall watching the recovery of a number of the bodies from the wreckage. I remember seeing the body of one man who was so mangled that they couldn’t identify him. I also remember seeing the body of a large, white horse way up in the branches of a tall tree after the flood passed.
I was able to find a newspaper article that listed the money paid out to the flood victims. Henry Sr. and Lottie received a combined total of $200. That would be a little over $5000 in today’s dollars.
After three years of helping and looking after his brother’s widow, Henry Moore Jr. married Lottie which made for a ready made family of four children. Henry and Lottie had their first child a girl, which was named Clarissa, after Henry’s Mother. However little Clarissa was only to live for three months. Henry and Lottie were to have three more children that were to live into adulthood. The three children were Joseph born 1914, Lottie born 1917, (she was the mother of my cousin Joseph Metcalf) and Arthur born 1918. By all handed down family accounts while not blessed with wealth, it was a happy home. Henry was able to work and earn money, despite the fact that in 1916 he was to lose his thumb and Index finger on his right hand in a work accident while coupling railroad cars. Tragic events were about to visit the Moore home once again.
In 1918 the great world Influenza epidemic took place. The estimated number of the world dead range from 21 million to 40 million. In the United States, 25 million people came down with this disease and about 675,000 died. Lottie was among the many that made up that awful number. Perhaps she was weakened by her pregnancy and childbirth as she died just two weeks after the birth of Arthur. Henry now found himself with six children ranging in ages from 15 years old to only two weeks.
Henry had no time to mourn he had to make hard choices and somehow keep his family intact and healthy. There was no welfare system no safety net. Failure on his part would have meant the end of his family. He did have time to bury his wife near his brother her first husband. He would be buried there himself much later. When I saw Lottie’s grave stone 86 years later the inscription that Henry had put on the stone showed a man who was deeply in love and suffering a great loss. This was the inscription.
A loved one from us is gone. A voice we loved is stilled. A place is vacant in our home which never can be filled.
Arthur was only two weeks old had to be cared for. In a letter to me dated December 15, 2002, his granddaughter Judy said: “Because my grandfather had to work to keep food on the table, Arthur was given over to a family in Austin for care (they never adopted him, just acted as his foster family).” I was able to track Arthur in the 1920 and 1930 census and in each one he was placed within the family. In 1920 with an Uncle and 1930 he was with his brother’s Benjamin wife’s family. Judy also stated in her letter that he kept her mother who was not yet two and Joseph who was only four. She stated, “I can’t imagine how that all worked, but it sure did.” The daily grind on Henry had to be immense. But day in and day out Henry prevailed and took care of his family. Then I found this in the “Potter Enterprise” newspaper dated Thursday, October 4, 1923.
About dusk last Wednesday evening James Huff of this place while driving his Ford along a road to Costello, ran into Henry Moore Jr., and his two children. Joseph aged eight and Lottie aged six, who were walking to Costello. Both children were somewhat bruised and Mr. Moore severely hurt. His injuries consist of a broken rib, bruised shoulder, lacerated scalp and numerous cuts and bruises.
Over lunch, my cousin Joseph Metcalf, Henry’s grandson spoke of this. Henry had either thrown and or pushed his children to safety off the road down a slight embankment. With no time to get himself to safety, he took the brunt of the blow from the automobile. It was his fast action that saved his children from serious injury or worse.
I am sure that at times it must have seemed hopeless, but Henry was a hard man. Henry never remarried. All of his children went on to become good citizens with families that stayed connected. Four boys and one of his girls were to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War two. Speaking with his grandson Joseph I was a little envious of the family stories he was able to share. They were stories from a family that was held together by the strength of one man, Henry Joseph Moore. Joseph had history and family that was not there on my father’s side. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, I began to find little newspaper stories about family parties and celebrations of one type or another. Below is one such article. You will not find this kind of newspaper article from my father’s branch.
I noticed that pictures that Joseph brought to our meeting of Henry in the last years of his life he was always on crutches. I was told he had broken his hip and since at the time it could not be repaired this was the only way he could get around. I thought to myself just one more tribulation Henry had to endure. Henry was not a general who led his troops on a great cause, or a politician to whom people would flock to hear them speak. He had no cheering crowd to hear, as he did his work out of the public eye. History books will never write of him. When I think of what he did he is a true family hero, the man humbles me. Below is my favorite picture of him. It was taken just a couple of months before his death. His manner, his face says and shows he was a person to be reckoned with.
But I will leave the last word about Henry to his granddaughter Judy who said in her letter of December 15, 2002; “My grandfather Henry was a kind man. I have fond memories of him holding me on his lap while, at age 6, read one “Dick and Jane” book after another to him! That’s patience!”