Biography of Ely Moore, Sr.

Ely Moore, Sr. If Kansas should seek among its living citizens a man whose career is richest in associations with the events far back in territorial times there could be no better approximation to the ideal choice than that of the venerable Ely Moore, Sr., of Lawrence. Now in his eighty-fifth year, he saw when a young man in his early twenties much of that strenuous struggle which made Kansas Territory the battle ground of the nation.

His own life had been regulated on strenuous lines, and he comes of fighting ancestry. He is descended from Sir Thomas More, who in the times of King Henry VhI was chancellor of England and was beheaded because he refused to acknowledge the queenship of Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry’s numerous wives. The founder of the Moore family in America was an Episcopal bishop in New York City. Moses Moore, grandfather of Ely Moore, was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and was captain of a company in the New Jersey troops.

Col. Ely Moore, father of Ely Moore, Sr., was a prominent man both in the East and in Kansas. He served two terms in Congress from New York, and also held the office of comptroller of the port of New York City. Colonel Moore married Emeline Coutant, of French Huguenot ancestry. They had five children, Mary, Hampden, Emma, Helen and Ely. Col. Ely Moore gained his military title when appointed commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians, whose headquarters were at what was then Miami Mission, some twelve miles from the present site of Paola, Kansas. Colonel Moore brought his family out to Kansas in June, 1853. He was a prominent man in early territorial days both by reason of his official position as Indian commissioner, and also by his official relations with the early white settlement. While he was Indian commissioner a state of war existed between the Five Civilized Tribes and the Pottawatomie Indians. After making three trips from Miami to Pottawatomie, Colonel Moore succeeded in establishing peaceful relations between the belligerents. In May, 1856, the Moore family removed to Lecompton, the first capital of Kansas, and Colonel Moore became register and special agent of the land office. He lived at Lecompton until his death in 1860.

Ely Moore, Sr., was born in New York City December 7, 1832, and was twenty-one years of age when he came with his parents to Kansas. He had already shown an ability and responsibility and was frequently delegated with affairs of importance in connection with the Indian office of commissioner. While on some business connected with the Five Civilized Tribes, he was traveling over the country with an Indian guide, and this guide having deserted him he spent a lonely night on Mount Oread, and thus was the first white person so far as known to have slept where Lawrence now stands. He came to know the Indians not only officially but personally. He hunted with them for weeks at a time. Mr. Moore in the first twenty years after he came to Kansas killed hundreds of buffalo. He recalls seeing these herds when they covered many square miles of the vast prairie and when they numbered hundreds of thousands. When such a herd would get in motion impelled by fear the tread of their hoofs would make the entire earth shake. Through his active relations with the Indians he learned to understand and partly to talk the Indian tongue. He was adopted as a member of the family of McGuine of the French wing of the Miami Tribe.

Mr. Moore was a participant in the events that made Kansas history. He came to the territory when, with but few exceptions, there were no white people except at military stations. It was a land of Indians, buffalo, antelope, wolves, prairie chickens and rattlesnakes. Mr. Moore was in Kansas through the border warfare period. He is one of many of the old timers in Kansas who are emphatic in denunciation of John Brown and those who endeavor to give that character a halo of virtue. He had lived in Kansas over sixty-four years, and he knew personally many of the most noted and notorious characters of the early days, including Brown, Jim Lane and others.

Mr. Moore first located in Lawrence as an employe on the old Lawrence Journal. Later with Senator Ross he published the Democratic Standard. Still later he was connected with the state printing office in Topeka. Mr. Moore had been a resident of Lawrence for many years, and in that community, where he is best known, he is loved and respected by everyone.

On November 19, 1861, Mr. Moore married Rose McKinney. They became the parents of five children: Margaret, Mrs. Charles C. Seewir, of Lawrence; Sue, Mrs. C. L. Whitney, of Kansas City; Missouri; Ely, Jr., a resident of New York City; Helen, Mrs. George Ensminger, of Kansas City, Missouri; and Thomas, who died in infancy.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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