This is the fourth in a series about the sailors who lost their lives on the historic USS Monitor, which was launched and lost 150 years ago in 1862. History buffs and mystery lovers may enjoy the previous articles:
(Another sailor, James R. Fenwick of Scotland, is profiled in the "Skeletons in the Turret" chapter of Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing.)
Daniel Moore was one of the 16 sailors who went down with the USS Monitor on December 31, 1862. A former slave from Virginia, he enlisted in the Navy as a landsman, but would sadly have little time to enjoy his freedom before sacrificing his life in the service of his country.
Forensic analysis suggests that it's highly unlikely that Daniel Moore was one of the two skeletons that were found in the turret when the USS Monitor was brought up from the ocean floor (indications are that both were white and probably European-born), but thanks to the Moore family's impressive paper trail, it would be possible to trace living, maternal relatives to provide mtDNA samples for final confirmation (regrettably, it appears that his Y-DNA or paternal lines have died out).
While African American genealogy can sometimes be quite challenging, the slideshow that follows demonstrates the variety of documents that can contain clues to a family's past. In the case of Daniel Moore, his was a remarkable family that rubbed elbows with presidents and other Washington, D.C. notables, and included a nephew, F.R. Moore, who would become the publisher and editor of a major African American newspaper, The New York Age. It's a testament to the determination and fortitude of this family that Daniel and Fred Moore, an uncle and nephew born into slavery, would contribute to the fabric of our country in such different but meaningful ways.
Daniel Moore never married or had children and had been the primary means of support for his widowed mother, so she applied for a pension for his service. In so doing, she left a paper trail that revealed that her husband, Henry, had died in 1843, that the family had lived at Edge Hill in Prince William County, Virginia, that that her former owner was named Jessie Ewell, and that she had seven children, four of whom were still living. These details represent a treasure trove of information for anyone researching the Moore family. (Image: Civil War pension, National Archives and Records Administration)
This statement, penned by one of Daniel Moore's sisters, reveals that the family was literate at a time when many weren't. "I was born at Edge Hill, Prince William Co., VA, my first child was born I April 1856. I suppose I was about 15 or 16 years of age at that time. I was a slave and all my master's family are dead." Her commentary reinforces what her mother had said and provides additional clues. (Image: Civil War pension, National Archives and Records Administration)
Emancipation took place earlier in Washington, D.C. than in most of the country, and the same legislation that made this a reality also provided compensation for former slave owners. While the dollar signs that accompany such documents make for queasy reading, other details can offer insight into ancestors not readily found elsewhere. In this case, the last owner of three of Daniel Moore's siblings and three of his nieces and nephews, describes each them, including a remark that one of his sisters was "a woman of unusual capabilities." Note the four-year-old named Frederick. This youngster would go on to become publisher and editor of The New York Age. Another man found in this same record set was Philip Reed, the one-time slave who made it possible to place the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about him in "The Slave Who Rescued Freedom" chapter of Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing. (Image: Emancipation of Slaves, District of Columbia, National Archives and Records Administration)
It's a harsh reality of African American genealogy that pursuing your family pre-Emancipation requires familiarizing yourself with the one-time owners. Worse yet, it's essential to search their property records as slaves were treated and recorded as such. This is just one of many resources members of the extended Moore family could use to learn more -- as it happens, digitized and place online by the local library system. (Image: Prince William: The Story of Its People and Its Places, Prince William Public Library, click here for easy reading.
For the sake of posterity, it's certainly helpful to have a newspaper publisher in the family. This is a brief excerpt from the obituary of one of Daniel Moore's sisters found in his nephew's newspaper. One of a number of articles that make reference to the Moore family, it reveals that she was renowned for the way she cooked terrapin -- and incidentally, "she was well known to Presidents, Cabinet officers, Senators, Congressmen, and others of national prominence." (Image: The New York Age, FultonHistory.com)
Several Moore family members were buried in Harmony Cemetery, which is unfortunate. The reason, as I learned when I researched Philip Reed, is that the cemetery was moved to make way for a Metro station. This plaque is all that remains at the original location. While remains were disinterred and reburied, this was done without any marking unless family members responded, and due to the passage of time, many relatives could no longer be located.
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