The Eccentricities of John Livingston Moore III

Posted: Oct. 2, 2017 5:25 pm Updated: Oct. 2, 2017 5:31 pm

John Livingston Moore III of Quincy was a man of eccentricities, not only in the way he lived his life, but in the way he planned his death. In his will, Moore decreed that he should be cremated -- and that his pug dog be cremated with him.

"My remains are to be cremated and for that purpose taken to Davenport Iowa," he declared in his will on Oct. 8, 1900. "My pet dog Honey who loves me (is) to be cremated at the same time that our ashes may mingle, put me and pet into a coffin made of zinc." Honey was the last of four pugs to serve as Moore's pets.

John Livingston Moore III, a 19th century Quincy eccentric, with one of his pet pugs, Honey. | Photo/Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County

Moore was born into a New York family of increasing wealth. His father, Francis C. Moore, developed an interest in the real estate business under his mentor and future father-in-law, Samuel B. Munn of New York City. A dry goods merchant during the American Revolution, Munn in 1796 sold his business to speculate in bounty lands in Central New York Military Tract patents. As Francis Moore's interest in land developed, so did an interest in one of Munn's daughters. Moore married Sarah Ann Munn on April 13, 1819, in New York. John Moore III was born nine months later, the first of six children. In 1833, Moore moved his family to Hillsboro, where he joined John Tillson Sr. to speculate in the bounty lands of the Illinois Military Tract.

As their military tract land acquisitions moved northward, Tillson, Moore & Co. on March 1, 1834, moved its office from Hillsboro to Quincy. Land sales recorded in the Quincy office in 1835 approached 375,000 acres, an increase of 1,000 percent over the previous year. And in 1836, the Quincy office recorded sales of 569,376 acres, the most of any of the 10 land offices in Illinois.

Tillson retired from the business two years later, and Moore and Lloyd Morton, Tillson's brother-in-law, established Moore, Morton & Co. In that same year, with his business well established, Francis Moore built a large home east of the city near today's 24th and Chestnut streets. Elevated above the surrounding property, it became known as Moore's Mound. The family in 1873 sold it to the Citizens Water Works Co. of Quincy, and today it is the site of Reservoir Park.

John Moore found nothing exciting about real estate. He was 14 years old when, shortly after arriving in Quincy with his parents, he left with a small company bound for the unorganized Oregon territory. The company, also little organized, got as far as the west side of the Nebraska territory, then returned to Quincy in August 1835.

To Moore's eye, the city had little appeal. When his mother died in August 1836, he left home again and went to sea for two years. He sailed along the coast of South Africa and rounded Cape Horn.

John Moore's next years were a whirlwind of entrepreneurism, with businesses he found either uninteresting or financially disappointing. Back in the United States, he boarded a steamboat for Wisconsin, where he had an idea for buying and selling pine lumber. As frequently occurred, the boiler exploded on the boat on which Moore had embarked. Fortunate to be alive, Moore came home to Quincy but he was determined to try again and returned to Wisconsin. More successful this time, he contracted for two flatboat-loads of shingles, which he floated down river and sold in Galena.

Moore did not make another effort. Instead he worked on his father's farm near 24th and Chestnut until the spring of 1843. He learned rope making and started a rope-making factory. In November 1846, he married Ellen Hogue of Quincy and they started a vinegar factory in the spring. He sold out in two years. In November 1847, Moore bought 160 acres southeast of the city and committed himself to tilling the soil.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Captain Newton Flagg of Quincy appointed Moore to the quartermaster corps where he served for three years. In 1864, Ellen Moore died. The couple had no children. Moore married Katherine Booth, daughter of Stephen Booth of rural Adams County in January 1866.

Two years later, Moore bought a property at 24th and Locust Streets, which he called "Tower Place" after a tower which was part of a wine-making business he started on his 160 acre farm there. He changed the name to "Fawley Place" when he learned that Fawley was the name of his ancestor Sir Francis Moore's home in England. Moore collected dozens of oil portraits of his aristocratic ancestors.

One ancestor was American revolutionary Robert Livingston, whom the Second Continental Congress assigned with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Roger Sherman to draft the Declaration of Independence. Livingston also was President Jefferson's ambassador to France who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. When he learned of his Livingston relationship, Moore added the name to his own to be known as John Livingston Moore.

Obituaries in the Quincy Daily Journal and Daily Whig noted that for 12 years Moore was a justice of the peace known to be "fearless in his convictions." Moore's convictions were liberal. After 16 years as a Roman Catholic, he dropped out of that church to return to the Episcopal Church of his childhood. In his will, Moore commanded that if B.F. Underwood was unable to officiate at his funeral, "some other good liberal will act for I want no Reverend gent holding forth over my remains."

The Journal and Whig noted that rheumatism and partial paralysis had caused Moore's death. The Daily Herald reported, however, that Moore had been struck by a streetcar on Maine Street in August and that two weeks before he died he had taken a large dose of chloroform "mistaking it for cough preparation in the darkness of the night."

Also, only the Herald reported Moore's change of heart about being cremated with his dog. They reported John Livingston Moore was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Reg Ankrom is a former executive director of the Historical Society and a local historian. He is a member of several history-related organizations, the author of a history of Stephen A. Douglas, and a frequent speaker on pre-Civil War history.



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