We did a good bit of planning beforehand, printing out library finding aids, indices to land deeds and probate packets, and information on other local resources. Our plan was to start by finding and copying all the documents (for known members of our Moore family and a few closely associated families) listed on the indices that were not online (Greenville has put images of many of the documents – but not nearly all – online). We also went through a number of books with Greenville and South Carolina information – church minutes, plat books, extracts of marriage and death information from newspapers, and others.
With three of us working from morning until nearly closing time (9:00 p.m.), we were able to get most of the heavy Greenville microfilm work done on the first day (of two days for Paula and Carolyn and three days for me). This was a rich haul of quite a few land documents with some surprising new Moore names and the full estate packet for William Spencer Moore’s brother Bud Mathis Moore.
By mid-morning of the second day, I realized that while Paula and Carolyn were perusing plat books and transcribing some key land documents, I could start working on Anderson County microfilms pertaining to my William Spencer Moore branch of the family.
The William Spencer Moore Estate Packet was at the end of the microfilm roll. I didn’t expect to have many pages to print out.
I scrolled through the now familiar will.
Then the next page came up:
“By A. O. Norris Esquire, Probate Judge.
Whereas, Commodore Moore made suit to me, to grant him Letters of Administration with will Annexed of the Estate and effects of William Spencer Moore.
These are therefore to cite and admonish all and singular the kindred and creditors of the said William Spencer Moore deceased, that they be and appear, before me in the Court of Probate, to be held at Anderson Court House, on Monday the 21st day of October instant, after publication hereof, at 11 o’clock in the forenoon, to shew cause, if any they have, why the said Administration should not be granted.
Given under my Hand, this fifth day of October Anno Domini, 1872.
Published on the tenth day of October 1872 in the Anderson Intelligencer.
A. O. Norris, Judge of Probate.”
Commodore Worth Moore, the third son and middle child of William Spencer Moore and Emily Tarrant, was suing to be made administrator of the estate. Why wasn’t the oldest surviving child, my great-grandfather Harlston Perrin Moore, serving as administrator? Was he too busy running the farm?
This was followed by Commodore Moore’s Bond of Administration, Letter of Administration, Warrant of Appraisement, the appraisal bill of the estate by John S. Harper, Aaron Y. Shirley, and Peter R. Brown, Commodore Moore’s Oath of Administration, Petition to Sell Personalty, the Order for Sale on 8 November 1872, the Sale Bill of the Personal Property of William Spencer Moore (listing items bought, by whom bought, and selling price), and the First Return of Administrator dated 28 November 1872. All well and good; things were moving along in the matter of administering the estate.
The next page that came up on the microfilm machine took my breath away: It was an Affidavit of Plaintiff of Absence of Defendant to support a Petition to Partition. The significance of these documents caused me to stare in disbelief: Commodore Worth Moore was bringing suit against his siblings to be able to sell the real estate – the farm of William Spencer Moore – and split the proceeds from the sale. This was not the family I thought I knew, and the name heading the defendants was the biggest shock of all:
Commodore W. Moore against Preston E. Moore et al.
The phrases from the will – “Share and Share alike” and “Preston E. Moore (should he be living)” – echoed ironically in my mind.
Preston E. Moore, my special “reverse orphan,” did not die in the Civil War.