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John Wheeler Moore, soldier and compiler of the groundbreaking roster of North Carolina troops who served in the Civil War, was born on October 23, 1833 at the Hertford County plantation known as “Mulberry Grove.” He was the eldest child of physician, planter, and state legislator Godwin Cotton and Julia M. Wheeler Moore. He began his education at home before enrolling at Buckhorn Academy in the Maney’s Neck section of Hertford County. In July of 1849 he enrolled at the University of North Carolina where he graduated in 1853. After studying law at home, he was admitted to the bar in 1855 and began practicing in Murfreesboro. In 1856, the Democratic Party nominated him to the state senate. While he lost that election to R.G. Cowper, he did serve as a presidential elector in 1860.
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During the Civil War, Moore was first commissioned as a staff officer in the Second Regiment of North Carolina Cavalry. From there he became a major and was placed in command of the Third North Carolina Battalion. At the conclusion of the war, he returned home to Murfreesboro to continue practicing law. In 1866 his Chowan County home, Anniesdale, burned and he moved with his family to his wife’s former home in Hertford County, Maple Lawn.
From Maple Lawn, Moore, who had always enjoyed history, began to take an active interest in North Carolina history. In 1879, he published a School History of North Carolina followed by “Sketches of Hertford County.” By 1880, he had compiled a two volume state history entitled, History of North Carolina, from the Earliest Discoveries to the Present Time. The historian tried his hand at fiction in an 1881 novel, The Heirs of St. Kilda. That same year Moore was commissioned by the state to prepare a roster of the North Carolina soldiers who served in the Civil War. There were no complete records in the state at the time, so Moore had to travel to Washington where he received permission from Secretary of War to access the archives of the Confederate War Department. Moore completed the project without any aid except that of his daughter, Julia Moore. His was the first attempt of any former Confederate state to list its soldiers.
Moore married Ann James Ward on September 23, 1853. When they were married she had just become the first graduate of [Chowan Baptist Female Institute, A-19). They were the parents of twelve children, five of whom died in infancy. Moore was a prominent member of Bethlehem Baptist Church where he taught a men’s Bible class. John Moore died of a heart attack on December 6, 1906. He was buried at the family cemetery at Maple Lawn.
Daniel Lindsey Grant, comp., Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 301—sketch by James Elliot Moore
Samuel Ashe, ed., Biographical Dictionary of North Carolina, VIII (1917)
Sally's Family Place website: http://www.sallysfamilyplace.com/MapleLawn/MooreJW.html