Biography of Hon. Zenas Ferry Moody

HON. Z.F. MOODY. – Zenas Ferry Moody, ex-Governor of the State of Oregon, was born on the 27th of May, 1832, in Granby, Massachusetts. His father was Major Thomas H. Moody. His mother was Hannah M. Ferry, an aunt of ex-Senator T.W. Ferry, of Michigan, formerly vice-president of the United States. Governor Moody comes of good old New England Revolutionary stock, his grandfather, Gideon Moody, having borne arms as a soldier during the Revolutionary war. He has proved himself worthy of his lineage; and the principles which he imbibed on New England soil have been the guide of his whole subsequent life. The sturdy virtues of that stock are too well known to require comment; they have become historical. The public men of New England have led the van in every reform, and have taken a most prominent part in molding all of that history of which the American people are most proud. New England ideas have been infused throughout the whole of our national life; and we have come to expect from men of New England ancestry those sturdy qualities which have contributed so largely to our happiness and prosperity as a people.

Mr. Moody’s childhood was spent in Granby. January, 1848, he removed to Chicopee, Massachusetts, where he remained the ensuing three years. On the 14th of March, 1851, he sailed from New York to Oregon by way of the Isthumus with a company, among whom was Honorable Samuel R. Thurston, the first delegate to Congress from the territory of Oregon. He came direct to Oregon City, then the principal town of Oregon, landing there on the 21st of April, 1851. From that time until 1853 he was engaged on the United States surveys as one of the “Freeman party,” so called after James E. Freeman, who stuck the first pin in the United States surveys, in Oregon, establishing the initial point of the Willamette meridian, and extending this meridian to the Canyon Mountains. He was for a number of years subsequently engaged in United States surveys. In 1853, Mr. Moody removed to Brownsville, Oregon, where he engaged in the mercantile business.

In the fall of 1853 he was married to Miss Mary Stephenson, his present wife. Four sons and one daughter constitute the family group. In 1856 he was appointed inspector of United States surveys in California. Prior to going to California he turned over from his own resources a large amount of stock and supplies for the use of the Indian department. After completing his duties as inspector in California, he went to Illinois, where he remained four years, during a portion of which time he was the surveyor of Morgan county. He happened to be on his way to Washington, District of Columbia, when Fort Sumter was fired upon in 1861; and, being in Washington when the Seventh Massachusetts was attacked in the streets of Baltimore, he enrolled as one of the company formed to protect the city until the arrival of the regular troops. In the year 1862 he removed to The Dalles, engaging there in the mercantile business.

In 1863, though still continuing his residence at The Dalles, he removed his business to Umatilla, the development of the Boise mines having contributed towards making that an important business point. There he remained in business until the fall of 1865. In the spring of 1866 he built the steamer Mary Moody to operate on the Pend d’Oreille Lake, and afterwards aided in organizing the Oregon & Montana Transportation Company. This company built two other steamboats, constructed portage roads, established Cabinet Landing, and projected other enterprises with the object of securing the trade of the Kootenai and Montana mines, and diverting, if possible, the trade of Montana towards Portland. The route selected by Mr. Moody in 1866 is the same as that over which the line of the Northern pacific Railroad Company now runs. That venture, however, was in advance of the times, and resulted in heavy financial loss.

In the fall of 1867 he engaged in the mercantile business in Boise City, where he remained for two years. In 1869 he disposed of his business interests there and returned to The Dalles, where he took charge of the extensive business of Wells, Fargo & Co. In the fall of 1873 he resigned that position, and in March, 1874, was awarded the contract for and carrying the United States mail between Portland and The Dalles. In connection with that contract, he established a line of steamers to operate between the points named. In 1875 he withdrew from the management and control of the transportation line, and in the following year resumed business at The Dalles, where he resided until called to the executive chair. During his incumbency as governor of the state, his extensive business interests at The Dalles were under the control and general management of his sons, who have since shared with him in the management.

Prior to the late Civil war, Governor Moody was a Whig. Since that time he has been an active and pronounced Republican, his first presidential vote having been cast for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. While always active in the Republican ranks, he has not sought office; though he has for many years been prominent in the Republican councils, and has been frequently urged for high stations to be filled by the state conventions of that party. In1872 he was nominated by the Republicans in the Democratic county of Wasco for state senator, and after an active canvass was elected by an undoubted majority. His election, however, was contested by his democratic competitor, whose party friends, having a majority in the state senate, awarded him the seat.

In 1880 he was nominated by the Republicans of Wasco County for representative; and, although the county was Democratic by an average majority of nearly two hundred, Mr. Moody was elected by a majority of one hundred and fifty. At the session of the legislature immediately following that election, he was chosen speaker of the house of representatives. So satisfactory was his discharge of the duties of this position that his name was from that time forth prominently mentioned in connection with the nomination for the governorship. The next Republican state convention was held in Portland in April, 1882; and on the 21st of that month, just thirty-one years from the day upon which he first landed in Oregon City, he was nominated for governor of the state. On the 5th of June following he was elected governor over his Democratic competitor, Honorable Joseph S. Smith, by a majority of fourteen hundred an fifty-three votes, although his opponent was one of the strongest and most popular Democrats in the state. On the 13th of September, 1882, just thirty-one and one-half years form the day upon which he sailed from New York for Oregon, he delivered his inaugural message as governor of the state.

In the administration of this office, Governor Moody displayed a business capacity and an executive ability which had already been tested by man years’ experience in the management of an extensive wholesale business in Eastern Oregon. He brought to the executive office a well-trained mind, exact business methods, and a keenness of perception in financial matters, which made him at once a successful and popular executive. Since retiring from the governorship, Governor Moody has held to political office, although he was sent as a delegate from this state to the national Republican convention. He went as an earnest friend of General Harrison, the only original Harrison man in the delegation; and, in an interview published in the Oregon Statesman just prior to his departure for the convention, he announced his preference for Harrison and Morton, and predicted their nomination.

Since leaving the executive chair, Governor Moody has been absorbed with his duties as the president of The Dalles National Bank, and as the head of extensive business enterprises in The Dalles and at other points in Eastern Oregon.

Governor Moody combines with discrimination and firmness of purpose a courteous manner, that prompts him to accord a respectful bearing to all. Physically he is of a splendid type. He is of compact build, with a handsome, ruddy face that indicates sound health, a keen, sparkling eye through which is displayed a cheerful and sociable nature, determined to extract all good things from life consistent with sobriety, and an elastic step and a rapid movement that bespeak the busy man of affairs. He is one who lives well, and appears well, and in the discharge of all his duties, public and private, redeems his promise of doing well.

His career, both as a public servant and as a private citizen has been successful; and this gives assurance of success in any undertaking which he may engage in in the future.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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