How a picture and an antique beer bottle led to interesting ancestral connections… (part 1)

Posted on January 19, 2013 by


Sometime in the 1980s, I received a photocopy of a picture (ca. 1887-89) from one of my distant cousins. It showed three men (and a dog & horse) standing in front of a C.C. Moore bottling wagon. I took it that the three men were my third great grandfather, Cyrus S. Moore, and my gg granduncles Cyrus Clifford Moore (C.C. Moore), and James Draden Moore. Not only was it a very cool picture, I was amazed at all that I had an image of my third great grandfather.

Photo taken at Chambersburg, Pa. showing Cliff Moore's beer bottling wagon. Persons in the picture, from left to right... James Draden Moore (1859-1899), unknown person, Cyrus Sanders Moore. The horse's name was "Duke", but the dog's name was not recorded on the photo.

Photo taken at Chambersburg, Pa. showing Cliff Moore’s bottle wagon. Persons in the picture, from left to right… James Draden Moore (1859-1899), unknown person (I learned this years after first seeing the picture), Cyrus Sanders Moore. The horse’s name was “Duke”, but the dog’s name was not recorded on the photo.

Over the next two decades, I spent some time tracking-down information about my third great grandfather, starting with his family in Clear Spring, Maryland, to his work on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and to his days on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. But there seemed to be a dead-end in occupational history after the 1880s. Had he accumulated enough wealth to cover himself for nearly two more decades, before his death in 1904? I doubted it, but, in the meantime, I continued to track the details of his canal and railroad days,while also tracing his sons and daughters. While I’ve scraped together some info on the two surviving daughters, the sons left the best trail…

James Draden Moore (1859-1899)

James Draden Moore (1859-1899)

The oldest, James Draden Moore, made a career as a railroad conductor with the Cumberland Valley Railroad, but died in 1899, at the age 40. His life seemed simple enough at first, but… the rest comes later in this post.

John Howard Moore (1862-1940). This photo was taken ca. 1915.

John Howard Moore (1862-1940). This photo was taken ca. 1915.

The middle son, my great great grandfather, John Howard Moore (see here and here for two previous posts in which J. Howard Moore is mentioned), had somewhat of a wanderer’s history in his early days. As a young man, he left Martinsburg, West Virginia for the West, marrying a Kentucky girl in Kansas and heading on a wagon train on one of a few trails that lead out from Kansas City to points further to the west. Those plans came to a halt (while still on the trail) with complications in child delivery and the death of a newborn. In some roundabout way, he made his way east again, first to Hardin County, Kentucky (the home of his wife’s family, and where the couple’s next child was born), and then eventually to the Shenandoah Valley. Like his older brother, he too found a career path in the railroad business, but with the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, and then the Norfolk & Western. I’ve mentioned more about him in other blog posts.

Cyrus Clifford Moore (1866-1935). This photo was taken ca. 1900.

Cyrus Clifford Moore (1866-1935). This photo was taken ca. 1900.

The youngest son, Cyrus Clifford Moore, has a path that (of course) begins with that photo of the bottling wagon. He eventually transitioned to the hotel business. As with J. Draden Moore, the rest of the story to follow.

That’s enough to bring us to the present time.

As I mentioned in a post from a couple of weeks ago, I had a lot of stuff that seemed to come together, via ebay (as strange as that is), at the end of December and beginning of January. In fact, since that post, I’ve become the happy owner of not just one, but four bottles from the “C.C. Moore, Bottler” business; three of which have different design features.

My first two C.C. Moore bottles, in what 's become a growing collection.

My first two C.C. Moore bottles, in what ‘s become a growing collection.

Likewise, I probed the Web a bit more and made another trip to Martinsburg (a short drive, after having moved to the lower Shenandoah), and have learned quite a bit more.

Ultimately, a picture and one antique beer bottle set me on a track that has led me, only recently, to realize that there was a “Moore alcohol distribution era” that spanned approximately five decades, from the 1880s to about 1933/35. I never had a chance to ask, “how does one trace ancestors in the alcohol distribution business”; it just sort of fell in my lap. As you may also note… yes, in fact, that era of Moores does run smack through the Prohibition!

The Moore ties to alcohol distribution actually may have had beginnings not with Cliff, but in his father.

Cyrus Sanders Moore (1829-1904)

Cyrus Sanders Moore (1829-1904)

As I mentioned, there seems a void in Cyrus S. Moore’s career. While the 1880 census shows that he transitioned first to a job as a hotel clerk (though I don’t know which hotel, the census shows he and the fam were residing on King Street) in Martinsburg, according to a book (Proceedings of the Grand Division of the Order of Railway Conductors, 1868-1885) that detailed the early history of the Conductors’ Brotherhood (with which he was affiliated from, at least, 1868-1872), there was also mention that, as of the publication date (1888), he was “…now in the employ of the Hannes [sic] Distilling Co., of Martinsburg, W.Va.”

Hannis Distillery, Martinsburg... in its heyday.

Hannis Distillery, Martinsburg… in its heyday.

When he became employed with Hannis (a maker of “fine rye whiskey”, and under the ownership of Scots-born Henry S. Hannis), how long, and exactly what he did (an agent, perhaps?) remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that not a word of this employment was mentioned in his obituary (and nothing descends in oral stories either). Nonetheless, I’ve resorted to pasting together what I can, and there’s some great information about the company on the Web.

Hannis Distilling had been around since the time of the Civil War (1863, to be exact. How could I possibly not mention the central theme of this blog?!) and saw serious growth after the war. In 1867, Hannis sought to expand operations from its Baltimore facility to another in Martinsburg. That expansion came as a result of purchasing a distillery owned by J.Q.A. Nadenbousch (who had also served as one of the regimental commanders in the Stonewall Brigade).

Hannis wanted to add the distillery to his holdings. The letter [to Nadenbousch] stated that the limestone land here in Berkeley County would produce good rye and corn. He planted these crops to produce fine old rye whiskey, which he would redistill in their copper stills. He wanted Nadenbousch to respond to him immediately. Hannis purchased the distillery for $25,000. The distillery was located on the north side of Tuscarora Creek across from the mill and mansion house. The B&O Railroad ran right beside it, and later it was served by the Cumberland Valley Railroad. Hannis rebuilt the building, and the complex of buildings consisted of the distillery and a large bonded and free warehouse. The structures were an excellent example of mid-19th century industrial building – simple, solid brickwork. The complex had five distillery buildings adjoining each other. The Tuscarora Creek made a half circle around the buildings on the south side of the B&O Railroad, which ran in a straight line off to the north of the buildings. There was a three-story brick warehouse off the distillery building, and on the east side was the granary. (source)

By the time of Cyrus S. Moore’s association with Hannis (ca. 1885 or 88), the company was in the midst of some incredible popularity, having received first place awards for the “Mount Vernon” label “at three World’s Fair competitions (Philadelphia in 1876, New Orleans in 1885, Australia in 1887).

Still, I have no idea how long he held employment at Hannis, or if it continued into the 1890s and early 1900s. (See here for an exceptional online piece about Hannis Distillery, and here for a recent newspaper article).

Ruins of the Hannis Distillery, Martinsburg, as of earlier this month.

Ruins of the Hannis Distillery, Martinsburg, as of earlier this month.

Another discovery, however, shows that Cyrus didn’t limit his alcohol-distribution occupation to Hannis alone. In fact, there is a deed, from the summer of 1898, in which Cyrus puts up his saloon in Martinsburg, as collateral for a repayment of debt to his son, Draden. Geez, this sounds like touchy stuff. Anyway, here are the particulars regarding the saloon.

… the Bar Room fixtures of the Saloon No. 114 West Burke Street in the town of Martinsburg, Berkeley County West Virginia, Such as Pool Table, Bar and fixtures, Glasses, Bottles, 8 Bar Room chairs, and all Liquors, and Wines, contained in said Saloon.

The original building in which Cyrus S. Moore ran his saloon. Photo taken January 2, 2013.

The original building in which Cyrus S. Moore ran his saloon. Photo taken January 2, 2013.

It turns out that this actually may have been only one of two… or three (Martinsburg, Harrisburg, AND??? Chambersburg?) saloons owned by Cyrus and/or son Draden. I say this only because of Cyrus’ regular trips to Chambersburg and Harrisburg, to see his sons… AND this entry from the May 28, 1883 edition of the Patriot, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

James D. Moore, of 1404 Penn Street, will have a hearing to-day before Mayor Wilson for selling liquor on Sunday without a license.

Clearly, more research to be done.

For those who remain interested, tune-in for the conclusion tomorrow.