July 11, 1858
April 17, 1876
Photo Credit: Rosa G. Gonzales
1. Family record shows birth on July 4, 1858 in Nacadoches, Texas and death on April 17,
1878 in San Ygnacio, Texas. He was the nephew of John Marks Moore; son of Nicholas
Johnson Moore and Margaret Tallifers Moore. Information provided by Larry Rettinger.
2. Biography and death record
Frederick B. Moore is listed in the Moore Family Record as born in Nacogdoches, Texas on July 11, 1858 while his gravestone appears to read July 14, 1838. Either of these could be a misreading since the gravestone is somewhat worn, and the Family Record is handwritten in a script that can be easily misread. It seems clear that the same person is intended, however, since both stone and Family Record note that he died on April 17. The Family Record says the year was 1878, and this is substantiated by newspapers from that time. Frederick was the son of Col. Nicholas Johnson Moore and Margaret T. Moore of Galveston, Texas. His uncle was Col. John Marks Moore of Corpus Christi, Texas. Fred was down in south Texas to visit with his cousin Elijah Chapman Moore with whom he hoped to go into the sheep raising business. They were on a visit to various sheep ranches in south Texas when they were caught in the middle of a raid by banditos which included at least one “white man” along with numerous Mexican nationals and Indians. This raid covered a couple of counties in 1878 and resulted in the death of numerous individuals including Mexican shepherds, members of the Steele family, and individuals like Fred whom simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Elijah Chapman Moore, the son of Col. John M. Moore of Corpus Christi, managed to escape the raiders after an encounter and chase in McMullen County. Fred was not as fortunate. The Victoria newspaper states, “Mr. Fred Moore, son of Col. Moore, clerk of the court of appeals, at Galveston, was killed by the late Indian raiders in the neighborhood of San Diego” (Victoria Advocate of May 4, 1878 page 2 col. 2). The Moore Family Record book says he died near San Ygnacio. This San Ygnacio is not the community near present-day Zapata, Texas. This San Ygnacio is indeed near San Deigo and is usually listed as on the border of Duval and McMullen Counties. The article reporting the news in the Galveston paper quotes the paper from Corpus Christi and reads, “Corpus Christi, April 23—Capt. Jas. Dowling has just returned from Banquette and reports the following about the Indian raid: Col. J. M. Moore left here on the 20th to see his son and nephew. He found his son all right, but his nephew, late from Galveston, was murdered. He found a Kickapoo arrow and a quirt. Chappa Moore (this is Col. John M. Moore’s son Elijah Chapman Moore) recognized the leader and says he was an American. He thinks he would recognize him if he should see him. He stands about six feet.” The paper also reports the deaths of other men, women, and children killed in the raid which consisted of at least one “white man” as well as Mexicans and Indians. This article censures the United States troops at San Diego as well as the sheriff of Duval County for not doing more to pursue and capture the raiders. They reportedly only trailed the raiders for about 50 miles and then turned back. It goes on to state that, “All the sheep ranchos in Duval and La Salle counties are broken up, the shepherds all run off and the sheep scattered. It is not definitely known how many are killed, as a good many ranchos have not yet been heard from” (Galveston Weekly News of April 29, 1878 page 1 col. 4). As a consequence, a committee of civic leaders from Nueces County submitted a report of the raid along with testimonies to substantiate the allegations in an effort to solicit better border protection. This report was published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. 005, Number 3 on pages 212-251. In the report the committee notes, “The intensely interesting statement of Mr. E. C. (Elijah Chapman “Chappa”) Moore gives an unvarnished account of the cruel hatred of the savages, the fiendishness of a white leader, the gallant defense and heroic death of Mr. Moore’s companion (his cousin Fred B. Moore) and his own miraculous escape. The boys, cousins, having quietly resumed their journey, saw in the distance a cloud of dust which they judged to be raised by a whirlwind, but it was, in reality, a cloud of dust raised by a vast drove of horses which they had no suspicion was driven by Indians and their Mexican confreres. They met the vanguard of the party and, though not without apprehension as to who they were, yet, deemed them cow drivers. They fought retreating and one fell. He was the hope of a fond father. The affection of loving sisters centered in him. Alas! he left them in the wilds of San Ygnacio, on the edge of the Nueces Valley, only a grave, and the rude inscription of his untimely death. In the report Frederick B. Moore is listed as having died in “San Ygnacio, McMullen County, near the line of Duval, three P.M., April 17th, 1878”. The report then gives as first hand testimony a letter that Elijah Chapman Moore wrote to his uncle, Col. Nicholas J. Moore in Galveston, Texas to give details of the death of Col. Nicholas Moore’s son, Fred. The letter is included as found in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly.
LETTER OF E. CHAPMAN MOORE
Corpus Christi, Texas, April 22nd, 1878. Col. Nicholas J. Moore, Galveston, Texas
My Dear Uncle Nick: This sad letter follows the telegrams which have borne the heartrending news of your brave and noble son’s death.
We left this place together by the railway, for Banquete, to which point we had sent our horses previously, on Tuesday morning, the 9th of April, and spent the night at Mr. Curtis’, near Banquete. He was to be a neighbor with us in the sheep country, as he was going to move there too. Next day we reached San Diego, sixty miles from here, and remained there, or in that vicinity, visiting sheep ranchos and inspecting flocks of sheep, until Tuesday morning the 16th, at nine o’clock.
Having heard, before we left home, that there was a choice lot of ewes for sale at Steele’s rancho, which a friend recommended us to see and purchase, we determined to go to that rancho and see those ewes.
On Tuesday night we reached Mr. A. Labbe’s rancho, twenty-five miles from San Diego. He entertained us with true and kind-hearted French hospitality. His two sons, about the age of Fred and I, engaged us in gymnastic sports, which both of us entered into with great zest. The old people looked on with delight, and we did not retire until after ten o’clock. Devoutly we knelt together. We slept in the same room and on the same bed. Fred and myself, in the morning, again knelt in prayer to our common Heavenly Father.
Next day we bade the good people a kind farewell, and at eight o’clock A.M., we took the road once more. We were very happy. We sang nearly all morning. They were all hymns, and among them: “Jesus Paid it All,” “Rock of Ages,” and Fred’s favorite, “In the Cross.” “Rock of Ages” I think was the last one we sang. By noon we reached a place where there is a creek, a pond and hill. The locality is known as San Ygnacio. Here we spent about three hours, for it was very warm; and we had only about ten miles more to ride to reach Steele’s rancho.
We left our noon camp together at, say, three o’clock on the evening of Wednesay, April 17th. We had roasted pecans in camp—a new thing for Fred, and he liked them—and he was eating them as we rode along together, he on my left side and I on his right, our road at this time being duly west. We had ridden about three quarters of a mile when Fred, looking ahead, said: “Look! what a whirlwind!” As I raised my eyes I saw a party of eight men. (The whirlwind was the dust raised by Indians driving stock. We did not see the stock nor the Indians. This I learned only afterwards from others.) They were within a hundred yards of us—doubtless they had seen us in our camp, at noon, and waited for us. They, when we first saw them, were beyond and sheltered partly by bushes growing on the border of a small ravine that crossed our road.
I told Fred to put up his quirt (whip) which he did. I changed mine from my right hand to my left. Fred I noticed, strangely continued to pick at the pecans. I exclaimed: “For God’s sake throw down the pecans.” However, he had put up his quirt and had adjusted his six-shooter belt, and both our pistols were before us, and ready for use upon the turn of a hair. We were both cool, collected and ready. We were now hardly fifty yards from the eight men.
Our precautions were only the ordinary precautions taken on the road in a wild country. We did not in any extraordinary way, suspect the men before us, across the little ravine, and partly hidden by the bushes, which they seemed at that moment to have approached. Fred said nothing, nor I. I thought them cow-drivers. One was a white man, bull-necked, sunburnt, but fair, not florid, light hair, little beard, tall, would weigh one hundred and eighty to two hundred pounds, and he was in the front. Next to him was a small, very dark-featured, bushy beard and long haired, wiry little Mexican. The white man rode a large gray horse. The Mexican rode an ordinary, but good brown pony. The white man advanced, and nearly flanked me, as if appearing to give us way. We bore to the left, expecting his party to follow his movement, and allow us to pass them. The Mexican on the brown pony, however, confronting us, moved to the side we were on, and opposite from the white man. Thus, we were almost flanked on both sides, and the remaining six men faced us. We were now, perhaps, forty feet apart. There were four white men, I think in party. Also, it may be that the other four were Mexicans, but remembering now the peculiar ride of two of them, doubtless two were Indians and two were Mexicans. All were dressed.
Fred first noticed the flanking movement, or a motion which convinced him, and he said: “Here they come!” They were his last words to me. On the instant he spoke, the white man fired at me; then, simultaneously, Fred, I and the Mexican fired, Fred at the Mexican, I at the white man—we all missed each other. We wheeled to run, and, singular to tell, Fred and I changed sides, crossing, and ran back upon the road we had traveled, and thus, inadvertently, with the same sides to each other. The white man charge, too, and followed me and the Mexican charged also, and followed Fred, but each of these two pursuers a little outside of the road, while the others—the six—kept the center of the road in the race, and all fired at us as we ran. We kept them, by an occasional shot, in check. They held in to keep from closing upon us. I got three shots with my pistol. Fred, I think, got five with his. None of our shots were effective as far as I know. Perhaps we ran half a mile, may be a little more, when we reached a point where the bushes thickened, sufficiently to give us at least some protection. Shots followed us thickly all the way. I had all I could do to watch my man. Fred and I were side and side. He was too near for me to see him without turning. I had to look on the side away from him. As we were turning, or, perhaps, about to turn into the bushes, I did look, I don’t know how, or why, on Fred’s side. He threw up his right arm, he clasped his right thigh with the same hand, and in a moment fell. He was shot through the body, the ball passing through his chest. Those who saw him afterwards say he was killed outright.
I got hold of my Spencer rifle at this moment, and got a shot at the white man. That shot killed his horse—wounded him badly—I found it afterwards. I had lost sight of the Mexican and had outrun the others. I gained the bushes, and shortly reached a dense thicket on the hill. Thence I saw four men hunting for me. I left my horse, and with gun and pistol reached the denser thicket and so escaped. From dark till two o’clock I took a course and traveled. Then I dozed an hour and a half, and at half-past three started again. At four the fog shut out the moon and all sign and then I followed a trail I had found. This trail, about eight in the morning, Thursday, led me to a sheep camp, where I got a Mexican shepherd to go with me to the Cautes Rancho, eight miles off. There I got a horse and rode sixteen miles more to Mr. Labbe’s. There I got a fresh horse, and in company with Mr. Labbe’s son, Eugene, we returned to look for Fred. Later in the night, on the road, we fell in with Mr. Gillette, of San Diego. He went with us that night, but we could not find Fred’s body until about six on Friday morning. We covered him and went ten miles, to Steele’s, for a spade and pick, and returned and buried his seventy-five yards from the road. I took the land-marks down, noted the locality, and marked with an ebony post on which was cut his initials and the date, the grave in which we laid him. Before we had finished, it was a little past noon. Mr. Gillette and I returned to Steele’s. He had been away. The brother was killed. Two children, aged seven and eleven, were missing—boys. We went to hunt them. We found them dead, cut open—two miles from Steele’s house, and shot with arrows which were sticking in their bodies. Saturday night I came to the camp of a cow-man named Abner Owen, who had before joined our party and had helped to bury poor Fred. Thence I came to Mr. Labbe’s, where father met me on Sunday afternoon. Thence home. I got here this evening at six o’clock.
All are in deep affliction. We do most profoundly sympathize with you. There is not one young man in ten thousand, such as was your noble son Fred Moore. Laura is greatly afflicted. (Note: Laura Conklin Moore is sister of Fred). I have Fred’s saddle bag—it was left at San Diego—also, his memoranda book and a letter from Willie. I have, too, but bathed in his blood, his pocket edition of Moody’s and Sankey’s Hymns.
This brings the sad, sad narrative to a close. I have spoken as much in detail as I could. I know not what question you would wish to ask, and I have attempted to anticipate as many as possible.
Poor as my attempts are, I did not bury Fred without a prayer. We knelt around his grave and I spoke to the little party of his piety and worth, and exhorted them to live as he had lived that they might reach the Heaven to which he had surely gone.
And now, what shall I say more? Your boy lives forever and you may see him again. God grant that we all may. And now, with kindest and best wishes, and still with feelings of the deepest sorrow, good-bye.
Your affectionate nephew, E. C. Moore
The above account and letter are taken from “The Mexican and Indian Raid of ‘78” published in Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 005, Number 3, Page 212-215. It must be presumed that either the family returned to later bring the body of Fred back to Corpus Christi for burial in Old Bayview Cemetery or else they simply placed a memorial stone in the cemetery while letting his remains rest in their original grave.
Research and transcription: Michael A. Howell