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Ira Vinson "Jack" Birdwhistell

Birdwhistell Revision/Expansion of W.D. Moore Tribute

July, 2007 • Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Ed: We didn't realize this had ever been written until recently.  It expands substantially on a long, printed tribute to the reverend W.D. Moore, Jack's great grandfather. 

HIS LEAF SHALL NOT WITHER(The Life and Ministry of William Dudley Moore)byForest Wyatt ShelyRevised and enlarged , Summer, 2007, by Ira (Jack) Birdwhistell[Mr. Shely’s original words are in brackets]    [A quarter of a century has passed since that tragic day in August, 1935, when an entire community was saddened by the death of “the old country preacher.”  That was the only title desired by Bro. William Dudley Moore, who chose to be a servant among his own people rather than to sit in the seats of the mighty, or to mingle with those who craved high honors in the ministry.    The only child of Hamilton G. and Lucy Ann Moore, Bro. Moore lived his entire life on or near the farm where he was born about four miles south of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.  He was born June 9, 1856.  His father, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, fought at Buena Vista in 1847.    Hamilton Moore died in 1857, leaving his infant son to be reared by the widowed mother.  The father is buried at Old Salt River where his gravestone bears the inscription, “He fought on Buena Vista’s bloody field.”    The young mother gave herself untiringly to the rearing of her son, and even until the time of his death Bro. Moore made frequent mention of “Mother.”  She died at her home in 1901.  She is buried at Hebron.]    We can take now [2006] the family's story back in history quite a bit further.  Lucy Ann Searcy Moore (1830-1901) was the daughter of Sarah (Sallie) Morton Searcy, the daughter of  William (d. 1826) and Elizabeth Moore Morton of Woodford County.  William Morton, a Revolutionary War soldier, had migrated to Kentucky with his parents, John (d. 1810) and Sarah Morton, about 1790.  This family lent its name to the scenic old Woodford County village of Mortonsville.    In the late 1820s, Sallie Searcy married Dudley Searcy, son of Henry and Elizabeth Haynes Searcy.  Henry Searcy died during the cholera outbreak of 1833 at Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.  He was preceded in death by his son Dudley (Sallie’s father), in May, 1831.  Henry and Dudley both show up in the 1830 Census for Anderson County.  In the summer of 1831, then, Sallie Searcy found herself a widow with an infant daughter (Lucy Ann was born July 29, 1830).  She and her daughter and one slave are listed in the 1840 Census of Anderson County, living on a plot between the families of her brother Reuben and the Arthur Moore family.  Anderson County records show her purchasing land in 1849 in the area of Ripyville. In the 1850 census of Anderson County, we find her sharing the household in Ripyville with Lucy, her brother Elijah, and seven slaves, several of whom she had purchased during the 1840s.  Her brother Reuben lived in the neighborhood with his family, including his son William (Will) Morton,  who would prove to be a good friend to young W. D. Moore.      Lucy Searcy must have grown up knowing her neighbor, young Hamilton G. Moore (b. 1822), son of Arthur and Nancy Plough Moore.  Hamilton G.'s young adulthood included service in the Mexican War, 1847-1848.  Several well-written, intelligent letters from Hamilton to Lucy exist.  The couple were married March 23, 1854, by Rev. Jordon Walker, a local Baptist minister and civic leader.  Things did not go smoothly. By the time their son, William Dudley, was born in the summer of 1856, Hamilton and Lucy were separated.  Lucy Moore’s mother, Sallie Searcy, apparently questioned Hamilton Moore’s ability to support her daughter financially.    One of Hamilton’s letters to Lucy survives, a plaintive request, in light of his failing health, to at least see his new son.  Family tradition has it that one of the slaves took little “Dudley” to Salvisa for the meeting.  Sadly, Hamilton G. Moore died young, May 12, 1857.  W. D. Moore, of course, had no recollection of his father, but in later years respected his name and kept in touch with his father's half-brother, Noel Moore.  In addition, he inherited from his father some land in far Western Kentucky near Clinton.  He spent a lot of time and energy in the 1880s and 1890s trying to figure out how best to make money from this land.    For most of his first ten years, then, “Dudley” Moore grew up on the old home place in a household consisting of himself, his mother, his grandmother Searcy, and the slaves, with other family members in the neighborhood..  The 1860 census of Anderson County lists the little family by name, along with eight slaves.  The peace and quiet of their country life was interrupted by the coming of the Civil War.  In early October, 1862, Union and Confederate armies were on a collision course in Central Kentucky.  Columns of soldiers from both armies marched through Lawrenceburg.  There were skirmishes with the Confederates all along the roads.  Family tradition has it that the decisive battle was anticipated in southern Anderson County, near Ripyville.  The little Searcy/Moore family, including six-year-old Dudley, left the home place in a "two-horse" buggy for a safer location.  However, the battle took place farther to the Southwest, near the town of Perryville.    In the early months of the Civil War, on October 26, 1861, Lucy Moore had been baptized near Salvisa by Rev. Frank H. Hodges, becoming a member of Salvisa Baptist church.  A letter written by W. D. Moore to his mother while he was in college recalled that he was upset at the baptismal scene--as a little fellow he thought the preacher was trying to drown his mother!  Later, of course, he himself would baptize dozens, if not hundreds.  Many letters written by Lucy Moore survive, revealing a strong-minded, capable, intelligent woman, who was a loyal Baptist.  She had a powerful influence on her son as long as she lived.    [The lad attended the one-room rural school near his home.  Like many other small boys, he was not at all fond of school.  Not infrequently did he insist (successfully) that his mother bridle a favorite horse and take the youngster to school.  The apt pupil, however, was not long in becoming adjusted, and he learned rapidly.    Later he attended the Lawrenceburg Seminary (the term 'seminary' in this period did not imply preparation for ministry), a private school which was discontinued about 1875.  The talented and ambitious young people of those long-past years made heroic efforts to secure an education, and their efforts did far more good than the average citizen of today can realize.  Real pioneers in any field deserve our deepest gratitude . . .     Brother Moore was converted under the preaching of Bro. P. S. G. Watson during a revival in October, 1872, at Abbott’s (Stingy) schoolhouse.  He was baptized by Bro. Watson in Abbott’s Pond on November 1, 1872.  He became an active member of Salvisa Baptist Church, but continued to spend long hours working on the 200-acre farm.  In 1876 he preached his first “real sermon.”  This was at Abbott’s schoolhouse.]    The Anderson County Census of 1870 reveals a household of Sarah Searcy, 65; Lucy Moore, 40; Dudley Moore, 14; and blacks Nancy Searcy, 5[3]0; Susan M. Searcy, 26; and John M. Searcy, 18. Black neighbors were the families of Aaron Searcy, wife Walsy, and seven children, along with a hosehold of four black Meauxes. As a young adult, Dudley worked hard on the farm, side by side with the former slaves whom he clearly viewed as his friends.  This would have been the time he attended schol at the Lawrenceburg Seminary.  He joined in the occasional parties for young people held in the neighborhood and took a normal interest in the girls.  He also became very involved in the cause of Temperance, the campaign to prohibit the sale and use of alcoholic beverages, an interesting position in light of the importance of distilleries for the economy of Anderson County.     The next period of W. D. Moore's life centers around Georgetown College, where he enrolled as a student in the second semester in January, 1877.  He was a twenty-one year-old freshman, which was not unusual in the nineteenth century, since there were so few public high schools to prepare students for college.  While at Georgetown, Dudley Moore corresponded with lots of people.  He wrote his mother at least once a week; he wrote his younger neighbor, John T. Hedger; he wrote a lady friend who was a student at Daughters College in Harrodsburg; and he wrote his Lawrenceburg friend, J. M. B. Birdwhistell, who was a student at Centre College in Danville.    Living in a newly added-to mens dormitory, Pawling Hall, W. D. Moore entered full bore into the life of the college.  He took his studies seriously; he became part of Tau Theta Kappa, one of the college's two prestigious debating societies; and he took part in religious and church life in and around Georgetown.   He made friends with his fellow students and among the faculty, many of whom he kept in touch with even after he left Georgetown.    His letters to his mother are consistently upbeat and informative.  Her letters to him reflect her concern over his health, how much she and her mother, "Grandma Searcy," miss him, along with news from the neighborhood.  Transportation from Ripyville to Georgetown was always complicated, so he came home only during the longest holidays.  During his Georgetown years he did quite a bit of preaching at nearby churches, especially the Baptist church at Corinth in northern Scott County.  Most of his travel was by horse and buggy, with an occasional train ride.      In the school year of 1879-1880 John T. Hedger (1858-1889), Moore's younger friend, neighbor, and the son of Elder James Thompson Hedger (1819-1898), joined W. D. at Georgetown College. (J. T. Hedger was a typical self-taught Baptist "farmer preacher," who preached and pastored at several locations in Central Kentucky, most extensively in Nelson county as a "missionary" for the Baptist organization in the state. Elder Hedger was the grandson of John Rice, one of the pioneer Baptist preachers in Kentucky.)  The presence at Georgetown of his Anderson County friend was a major plus for Dudley Moore; a major minus was a persistent lung ailment which hindered his progress at Georgetown and eventually led to his decision to leave college for good, after having spent weeks under a doctor's care in Cincinnati.  His letters never name the disease (which sounds like tuberculosis), but once he returned to Anderson County, it rarely bothered him again.    There was a major change in life in Ripyville while Dudley was at Georgetown, the departure from the household of the former slaves, most of whom moved to Kansas, near Topeka.  Many black Kentuckians joined this migration, known now as the "Exoduster" movement.  The widows Searcy and Moore had been able to maintain their farm because of the labor of the slaves until the end of slavery, after which the former slaves remained in the neighborhood and continued to work for "Miss Sallie" and "Miss Lucy."  The central figure was "Uncle Aaron" Searcy, whose departure for Kansas in 1879 was a real blow to the "Misses" as well as to W. D. Moore.    When Dudley Moore arrived back in Ripyville for good, he renewed his friendship with Alice Vincent Hedger Williams (b. 1850), the sister of his friend, John T. Hedger. A bright and attractive young woman, Alice had married A. C. Williams, a thirty-five-year-old native of Richmond, Virginia, at her father's house on August 26, 1873.   Williams had held several posts as a Baptist "missionary," first in Louisville, then in unchurched areas of Eastern Kentucky.  At the time of the marriage, Williams lived in Wolfe county.  Two children were born to the Williamses, Mary (b. September 28, 1874) and Walker (b. March 11, 1876) .  At some point, the little family moved to Montgomery County, where, in 1878 or early 1879, Rev. A. C. Williams died.  The widow Williams and her children then moved back to Ripyville near her parents.    Even while W. D. Moore was at Georgetown, he had received several charming, intelligent letters from Alice Williams.  They reveal a well read, deeply Christian, deeply Baptist, young mother of two.  At some point their friendship turned "serious", and they were married on January 4, 1881, in Anderson County by Moore's friend, Rev. A. S. Pettie, who later became an influential pastor in Mayfield, Kentucky.  W. D. was twenty-four; Alice was thirty.  Clearly Dudley Moore had not discussed this step with  his mother and grandmother! In fact, a remarkable postcard survives which he mailed to Ripyville from a steamboat headed down the Ohio River toward Clinton, where he says to his mother, "I suppose you heard I got married."  In a letter he relates that the couple’s horse (attached to their buggy) had “run off” after the wedding, but neither was hurt.      Evidently the newlyweds planned to set up housekeeping for a time on the land near Clinton which W. D. Moore had inherited.  By the time Alice was able to join him there, however, W. D. Moore had become very ill.  After she arrived in Clinton, Alice had to write a letter to Ripyville assuring "Miss Sallie" and "Miss Lucy" that she was taking care of him and he would be all right.  Their plans for a life in Clinton never worked out.  By the summer of 1881 the new family, including Alice’s children, had moved into the home place, along with W. D.'s mother and grandmother.  (The venerable Sarah "Sallie" Searcy died "full of years" in September, 1884.)       The couple's first child, Hamilton Forrest (named for W. D.'s father) was born on October 18, 1881.  Eight more children would be born to the couple, two of whom, Alice Dudley (b. 1883) and Willie (b. 1892) did not survive their first hours.  The other six, however, were remarkably long-lived:  Hamilton Forrest (1881-1972); Sallie Searcy (1883-1981); Martha Florence (1885-1967); Lucy Katherine (1887-1974); John Foster (1890-1966); and Ophelia Lewis (1893-1981).  In Mr. Shely's words, "Alice, as she was fondly called, as manager and housekeeper of a spacious home, . . . proved to be a true help-mate to the ever-busy husband, who was destined to become one of the best-loved ministers in central Kentucky."   But at the time of their marriage, he was not a minister.    [In 1886 at the age of thirty W. D. Moore made full surrender to his long-felt call to preach.  Early that year he accepted the call of the Fellowship (frequently then called Bear Wallow) Baptist Church.  This church called for his ordination.  Bro. Moore was ordained to the gospel ministry on May 26, 1886, at the Salvisa Baptist Church.  Bro J. T. Hedger {his father-in-law} conducted the customary doctrinal examination.  Dr. E. Y. Mullins {later to become President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and one of the world’s most influential Baptist leaders} preached the ordination sermon using 2 Timothy 2:3 as his text.  Others participating in the service included Bros. E. G. Shirley, J. T. Sampson, B. F. Adkins, and W. J. Holtzclaw.     Immediately after his ordination Bro. Moore accepted the call of Old Goshen, then meeting at Lyceum schoolhouse in Mercer County.  He served this church for twenty-three consecutive years (until 1909) and again became their pastor in 1927.  He was preaching "full time" at Goshen when the accident resulting in his death occurred in 1935.    Shawnee Run in Mercer County also claimed the services of Bro. Moore for more than thirty years. As a memorial to their beloved pastor this historic church has a lovely stained-glass window bearing his name and a favorite text.    Other pastorates included Bethel, Salvisa, Sand Spring, Camden (now Glensboro), Friendship, Mt. Pleasant, Hopewell, Bruner's Chapel, Wilmore, and Salt River (in Boyle County).  An impressive monument to his memory stands in the church yard at Sand Spring.  Many friends of Bro. Moore contributed funds for the erection of this memorial.    With the exception of the later years at Shawnee Run and at Goshen., the churches were only "quarter time" or "half time".  Few of the churches were far from his home, yet the drive {or train} to Wilmore required long hours, and Bethel, Salt River, and Bruner's Chapel were each a full half-day's journey for the preacher as in a steel-tired buggy he jolted his way over rough but little-traveled roads.  A passenger train then made its way through Lawrenceburg, and Bro. Moore was a familiar occupant.  The church of Shawnee Run presented the pastor with a Model-T Ford.  Bro. Moore accepted it with gratefulness and immediately gave it the name of “Old Danger.”  He never felt as safe behind the wheel of “Old Danger” as he did while holding the reins behind “Old Filly,” a favorite mare whose death, at the age of 36, brought grief to a host of friends to whom she had become almost as familiar as the preacher himself.    [Another favorite horse was named Grant.  This splendid and faithful servant lived to be past thirty-one.  Bro. Moore loved all his farm animals, especially the horses.  He never ceased to thrill at a buggy ride, and seldom tires of the long rides through open country to his field of service.]    W. D. Moore was one of a noble breed of Baptist pastors who made possible the Baptist domination of the Kentucky landscape.  In modern terms he would have been called "bi-vocational;" that is, he made his primary living somewhere else than from the church.  In this era "pastor" meant primarily "regular preacher," with few if any of the many administrative tasks required of the modern pastor.  During his lifetime, especially in rural Kentucky, few churches met every Sunday and fewer had genuinely full-time pastors.    [Following the custom of that period, Bro. Moore was frequently "met" by some faithful member who took delight in going to the pastor's house (or meeting him at a nearby train station) and taking the preacher to "meeting."  There was usually a Saturday afternoon business meeting and a Sunday morning service.  If the miles were many or the weather rough, the preacher found a hearty welcome in a member's home.  The "front room"--with its little-used feather-bed, its large wash bowl and pitcher, its treasured family Bible, . . . its coal-oil lamp with newly-shined chimney . . . was always available for the pastor of any "old country church."  Folks were glad to have him come.    [Financial remuneration during these years (1886-1935) was very meager.  Heated discussions among church members relative to a fixed salary for pastors were common.  While many people were beginning to lean heavily toward better training and more pay, there were others who regarded the salaried pastor as nothing more than a "hireling."  Factions arising in the middle of the nineteenth century were much alive during the first half of Bro. Moore's ministry, and disturbances involving doctrinal differences prevailed in some of our best educational centers.  For these, and perhaps other reasons, Bro. Moore, though well-educated for his generation, never demanded nor received a fixed salary.  He did, however, at times receive a fair compensation.  His farm continued to be a productive one, yet well-meaning and appreciative members at times felt inclined to be generous with their "abundance of good things to eat."  One church at the close of a revival gave him thirty-five gallons of blackberries.  (The record does not say that they were already canned.  Neither did it say that "Alice" was delighted with this bounty.)  Upon many other occasions he returned home with undeniable evidence of rural prosperity.  Perhaps it was a "lean year" upon his farm when upon one occasion the church of Shawnee Run presented him with a wagon load of corn . . . .  The church at Shawnee Run presented the pastor with a Model-T Ford.  Bro. Moore accepted it with gratefulness and immediately gave it the name of "Old Danger."  He never felt as safe behind the wheel of "Old Danger" as he did while holding the reins behind "Old Filly," a favorite mare whose death, at the age of thirty-six, brought grief to a host of friends to whom she had become almost as familiar as the preacher himself.    [A servant of the people, regardless of their creed, Bro. Moore made his way through winter storms and summer heat to be near those who needed his presence.  Even such occasions as the “big snow of 1917" could not keep him from traveling miles into the country to comfort the distressed or conduct a funeral.] Bro. Moore’s ministry during the great influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 is undocumented, but must have been extensive. [Funerals in those days were frequently held in the homes–occasionally in the church–seldom at a funeral home.  It is believed that Bro. Moore conducted as many as one thousand funeral services.    [His home became the Gretna Green of Anderson county as scores of couples anticipating matrimony sought out “the country preacher.”  A much-used ceremony by Bro. Moore began with quoting Genesis 2:18, “And . . . God said, It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him an help meet.”  A list of 928 marriages has been prepared by the Anderson county Historical Society.  The first known couple married by Bro. Moore was that of E. H. Highbarger and Mrs. Mary Pebly, July 6, 1886.  The last ceremony performed by him was that of Robert Spalding and Margaret Roark, July 27, 1935.  Copies of this list have been given to the Kentucky Historical Society and to Southern Baptist Seminary.        [Perhaps the number of persons baptized by Bro. Moore would equal or surpass that of his weddings.  The first person he baptized was Harrison Cinnamon.  The trend for country folks to seek a city baptistry is fairly modern.  It is not known that “the country preacher” ever baptized more than once or twice in a baptistry.  However, many a farm pond, creek, and river have been scenes of huge gatherings where, with stick in hand to lend support, the preacher has wadeds into baptismal waters.  Inconveniences then experienced would generally be considered just cause for “indefinite postponement” today.  The oft chilly, at times icy, water, the quick walk to some sheltered place to change clothing, and the slow journey homeward made a baptismal service quite different from that of today.  Yet the sameness of the service–its purpose, its design, its meaning–was the challenge which kept Bro Moore ever anxious to keep the march into baptismal waters a continuous one.    [I have referred to Bro. Moore as a preacher and as a pastor.  May I now remind you that he was an educator.  The home of Bro. Moore was never without good books and magazines.  The young preacher taught a number of “subscription” schools.] Families would “subscribe”, or pledge, so much money a session so that their children could receive the basics of education.  This was long before the existence of public schools. [One of these was taught in the upstairs rooms of the large country home.  Others were taught at Bind’s Mill and Salt river.  Ambitious students from far out in the country attended these schools.  Some even boarded in the neighborhood in order to receive instruction from so able a teacher.  From 1891 until 1901 Bro. Moore served as Superintendent of Anderson County schools.  The task then did not carry heavy responsibilities, and Bro. Moore found time to visit frequently in the many small one-room schools of the county.  He always delighted to hear the children read and recite little things they had memorized, but best of all he enjoyed a good “spelling match.”  He usually gave “a little talk,” as he called it, which carried a definite lesson in classroom behavior and Christian conduct.  He succeeded in collecting a sizable number of books for an “office library.”  These books were used to great advantage to supplement the meager facilities of the classrooms.  His salary as Superintendent was $400 a year.  Upon many occasions Bro. Moore was called upon to speak at “The Institute.”  He responded cheerfully to every call when he could lend any help to the schools of Anderson County.  One of his “Institute” lectures was recorded on a cylinder record.  The playing of this record proved a novelty to admiring teachers and others.  He was perhaps the first recorded voice of an Anderson County resident.] Wouldn’t it be great to still have this old cylinder record?    [And “the country preacher” was a prolific writer.  In fact, he was for a brief period editor of The Anderson News.  However, long before this time, and even for years later, he made interesting contributions to the News.  These articles contained much of human interest and would be enjoyable to present day readers.  His many contributions to the Western Recorder {the Kentucky Baptist weekly paper} reflect a wide range of interests and deep concern for the progress of denominational causes.  Bro. Moore’s wide acquaintance among church leaders was a source of great happiness to him, and his contribution to their success can scarcely be exaggerated.  He numbered among his friends many of the distinguished leaders–but to him every honest man was a distinguished man.    [Some of Bro. Moore’s messages are preserved in the Minutes of Baptist Association.  They make plain his soundness of doctrine, his steadfastness in “contending earnestly for the faith,” and are valuable in their dealing with divisive issues facing our people during the post war [World War II}.    [Bro. Moore was a traveler.  In 1904 he visited the battle field of Buena vista {Mexico], where his father fought in 1847.    [He was a frequent messenger to the Southern Baptist convention, and he was able to give informative and interesting accounts of both the “sights” and the proceedings.  “Down in dixie” was the title given his newspaper account. Of the trip to Chattanooga when the Convention met there in 1896.    [In 1911 he spent three months on a tour which included several European cities and the Holy Land.  His lectures concerning the trip were given hundreds of times.  His weekly letters to The Anderson News kept scores of readers both entertained and informed while the traveler was abroad.    [Despite small salaries and a large family, Bro. Moore was able to display an unusual business ability.  He was a good judge of livestock, made safe investments, and left an estate at $40,000.    [Above all else Bro. Moore was a preacher who loved the Lord, loved people, and loved to preach.  He had his favorite texts.  Among them were “ . . .  Now commandeth all men everywhere to repent,” and “whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”  He kept many notes which show his personal concern for his members.  He was a long-time leader in Baptist Association.  He preached the annual sermon at Hopewell in 1897, again at Hopewell in 1901, Mt. Pleasant in 1901, Salvisa in 1919, and Mt. Pleasant in 1930.    [On August 8, 1935, people gathered from all sections of Kentucky, in what was probably the largest funeral ever held in Anderson County.  The funeral was held at “the old home place.”  Bro. M. D. Morton presided.  Bro. E. N. Perry preached the sermon.  Others participating were Bro. E. W. Summers, Bro. Clarence Walker, Sand Spring Quartet, and Bro. Vertner Saxton.  The body was laid to rest in the Hebron Cemetery.    [An estimated 800 automobiles with approximately 4,000 people made up the funeral procession.  The Anderson News in giving the account of the service said, “People morn the loss of this grand old gentleman.  They feel they have lost something that can never be replaced.  And they have.”    [Bro. Moore was indeed a man of many parts, a pioneer in many fields, a man whose “leaf shall not wither” so long as Christian influence is felt; and around the firesides of generations yet unborn his name shall be remembered.  “A tree planted by the waters” continues to live.]  

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