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Colonel Alfred Cleon Moore, Wythe County, Virginia

This article was provided by Dwight McClintock “Clint” Moore, for inclusion herein, many thanks.

[Joel Rudy originally wrote this report in June of 1982, and it was revised in May 1998 for the purpose of improving the accuracy of the history, as originally stated. Moore Family history has been provided by Dwight “Clint” McClintock Moore, a great-great grandson of Alfred Cleon Moore. Clint’s brother, father, and grandfather, are all descendants (and named for) the original builder and owner of this house, Col. Alfred Cleon Moore (1805 – 1890). Clint’s great grandfather, the seventh child of Col. Moore, William Orville Moore (1841-1913), lived in the house as a boy from its construction in 1850, and then with his two wives and ten children, until its sale to John Huddle in 1890.]

Joel Rudy
Historic Preservation
June 9, 1982
Revised by Dwight “Clint” Moore, May 1998.

The “Locust Hill Farm” home is of interest to me (J. Rudy) not only because of its architectural design and historical significance, but also for personal reasons. The house is located on Route 619 between Porter’s Crossroads and Ivanhoe, in Wythe County, Virginia. “Aunt Callie’ lived there until 1982, and left only because she had become too infirm to live there alone. On visits with her while she still lived in the house, I enjoyed wandering around the structure and exploring the different rooms. The home has been sold to new unrelated owners, outside both the Huddle and Moore families. My grandmother, Mrs. Lillian Groseclose, furnished me with much information and Mr. Tillman Huddle loaned me a brief of deeds that helped very much in piecing together the history of the “Locust Hill Farm.” In addition, during the revision, Clint Moore commissioned Mary Kegley to perform deed and record research that has been most useful in clarifying the historical facts.

The land ownership can be traced back to the late eighteenth century. On September 7, 1790, James Dean, son of Adam Dean who had received the original land patents around 1774, deeded to James McGavock Sr., 1,347 acres located near Cripple Creek. At this time the farm was called “Dean’s Place.” When McGavock died in 1812, his will divided the land between his two daughters, Peggy ,who married Joseph Kent, and Betsy, who married Gordon Cloyd. Betsy deeded her interest to Peggy, with an additional 1,000 acres of Cloyd lands in 1828. In 1832, Governor John Floyd issued a land patent to Peggy Kent for the entire 2,347 acres. Upon Joseph Kent’s death in 1843, this 2,347-acre estate was divided between their two daughters, Eliza and Nancy. Alfred C. Moore had married Nancy Kent in 1830 and thereby received an ownership in the land. Alfred and Nancy appear to have re-named the estate “Locust Hill Farm.” A date etched high on a brick near the top of the chimney gives a date of 1850, as a possible construction date for the large house. Nancy died in 1852, and Eliza, who had never married, died in 1863 and left her portion of the land to the children of Nancy and A. C. Moore (as he was referred to most of the time). Not until 1866, was the 2,347 acres divided amongst the children of A.C. & Nancy Kent Moore. Their seventh child, William Orville, received approximately the 700 acres which contained the Locust Hill house. He quickly sold a half interest in the land to mineral speculator Harry Groome of Philadelphia, but lived in the house until at least 1886. At that time, a court ruling resolving what had become a dispute over the land between Moore and Groome, split the land roughly in half, thereby giving Groome the house and the 300+ acres north of the road. However, Moore and his growing family may have lived in it until 1890, when Groome sold the land with the house to John H. Huddle, and Moore purchased a house in the town of Wytheville. The house remained in the Huddle family over 90 years, until its sale in the 1980’s.

A.C. Moore was a relatively wealthy man and apparently well respected by the community. He was born in Patrick Co. Va. in 1805 to William Moore (1771-1819) and Jane Hanby (1783 – 1817), and was the fourth of nine children. Both of his parents had died by the time he was only fourteen, and he was raised by his uncle and guardian, Gallahue Moore, just over the N.C. state line in Surry Co.. Gallahue became a North Carolina state legislator from 1825-6, while young Alfred attended Madison Academy, and eventually North Carolina at Chapel Hill.. According to his 1890 obituary, he studied law under Powell Hughes, and was elected to the N.C. state house as one its youngest legislators ever, at age 23. Three times he was elected from Surry Co. between 1828-1830, receiving his N.C. law license in 1829. During what proved to be his third and final term in the legislature, he somewhere met Ann Frances “Nancy” Kent of Wythe Co., Va., and married her in March of 1830. Their first child, Margaret Lucinda Emily was born December 1st, during the middle of the three month long 1830 session of the state house. He did not stand for re-election in March of 1831, having moved to Wythe Co., Va.. It is not known if he was in Wythe Co. or in Raleigh on his first child’s birthday.

Alfred was appointed Colonel of the 35th Virginia Military Infantry, 19th Brigade, 5th Division in May, 1839, and promoted to Brigadier General of this same militia sometime before the Civil War. His tombstone, erected upon his death in 1890 in the McGavock-Kent Ft. Chiswell Cemetery, reads “Gen. Alfred C. Moore”.

The census of 1850 valued his estate at $20,000. He and his wife, the former Ann “Nancy” Frances Kent had eight children: Margaret Lucinda Emily 1830-1845; Sarah Jane (Finnie), 1832-1917 (2 children); Joseph Kent, 1834-1841; Algernon Sidney, 1836-1862; Jacob Melvin, 1838-1893 (4 children); Robert Emmett, 1838-1924 (twin with Jacob); William Orville, 1841-1913 (10 children); Ann “Nancy” Eliza, 1843-1871; In 1860, A.C. Moore’s real estate was valued at $15,000 and his personal estate at $8,000. Undoubtedly his fifteen slaves (ranging in age from sixty to five years old) made up the bulk of the value of his personal estate. The slave census of 1860 also indicated that A.C. Moore possessed three “slave houses.”

Just as interesting was the fact that in the 1860 census, Eliza Kent, Nancy’s sister, owned thirty-five slaves, real estate valued at $12,000, and a personal estate of $16,000. Slaves were costly, and the possession of thirty-five slaves put Eliza in the upper echelons of Virginia’s wealthy. It is probable that A.C.Moore made use of Eliza’s slaves on his own farm, considering the family ties, and the fact that she had moved into the house with him and five of his six living children, as recorded in this same census.

A.C. Moore’s Civil War career fluctuated greatly with the events and fortunes of war. On May 25, 1861, Governor Letcher appointed him, and about twenty other Virginians, to the rank of Colonel “in the Active Volunteer Forces of the State.” Moore accepted his nomination November 23, 1861, and was confirmed in December. Col. A.C. Moore was installed on November 4, 1861 as the commander of the 29th Virginia infantry and placed under the authority of Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall. Gen.Marshall was the commander for eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia and his army fought several minor battles in that area.

Col. Moore’s career in the army almost ended early, in December, 1861. Gen. Marshall had been pleading for Col. Moore to bring up his reinforcements from Wytheville, Virginia, to Pound Gap for the defense of Abingdon. Col. Moore would not bring his troops up, due to lack of adequate supplies but this was unknown to Gen. Marshall who on December 22 sent orders that Col. Moore be arrested in Abingdon. Fortunately, several days later Col. Moore arrived at Pound Gap with his regiment, having passed the courier who relayed the message of arrest. Since Col. Moore had arrived so soon and his help was badly needed, Gen. Marshall decided not to proceed with the court-martial and dropped the charges. Col. Moore was commanding an estimated 450 men at this time, out of Gen. Marshall’s force of 3,000. After this incident, Gen. Marshall’s correspondence rarely depicts Col. Moore favorably.

The Battle of Middle Creek (in Floyd County, Kentucky) took place on January 10, 1862. Col. Moore had a major role in this battle. The 29th Virginia Infantry Regiment was stationed along a ridge with Col. Williams’ regiment of the 5th Kentuckians. The Confederates were poorly supplied, and suffered terribly from exposure and the lack of ammunition. Despite this adversity, the heavily outnumbered Confederates held back the Union troops under future President, Col. James Garfield. In his report., Col. Moore stated that his regiment was in the “forefront” of the battle and lost “five killed, twelve wounded.” After this battle, the confederates retreated back into Virginia, and the federals back down the valley. During February, Col. Moore lost two of his men from exposure to the cold. Evidently, he was stationed in southwestern Virginia until early 1863, when his regiment was ordered to eastern Virginia. His resignation, dated March 30, 1863, was sent from his headquarters in Southhampton County, in eastern Virginia. Col. Moore submitted his resignation for reasons of “advanced age” and “failing health.” He was fifty-seven years old and his health had been deteriorated by the rough life of active duty, although he lived another 27 years. Despite his conflict with Gen. Marshall, Col. Moore was well thought of by other Virginia officials. There were several recommendations for his promotion to brigadier general. One of the earliest was written by his fellow officers on September 16, 1862, to President Davis. Their sector was needing another general, and they declared that Col. Moore had the greatest claim because he was the senior colonel. They mentioned his “gallant” conduct at Middle Creek and praised him in other ways. However, he was not promoted. Another undated letter written to Davis by a member of the Preston family also called for Col. Moore’s promotion, and cited basically the same reasons the other letter did. Even after Col. Moore had resigned, Gen. Breckinridge and other officers wrote a letter dated June 7, 1864, recommending Col. Moore’s appointment to the position of brigadier general. Again, it seems nothing came of this letter. In retrospect, these recommendations illustrate the fact that Col. A. C. Moore was respected and held in high esteem by many ranking Virginia personages.

All four of Col. A.C. Moore’s living sons were involved in the Civil War. Capt. W.O. Moore was an officer in the 22nd Virginia Cavalry (also called Bowen’s Mounted Riflemen). William Orville Moore enlisted as a Lt. in the 45th Va. Infantry but quickly moved to his father’s 29th Va. Infantry where he enlisted in Company A in May 1862 as a 3rd Lt.. He was promoted to an Adjutant in September 1862. After his father had resigned in March, 1863, he left the 29th in September 1863 to form and become Captain of Company “G” in the 22nd Va. Cavalry. When the ranking regimental officers were either dead or injured from late 1864 through Appomattox, he appears to have shared the role as “Colonel” of the 22nd with two other Company Captains in these last months of the war. Their commissions were never conferred, although he was belatedly referred as “Colonel” for the remainder of his life. He was in thirty-seven battles and engagements during the war. He did survive the war, however one of his brothers unfortunately did not.

His oldest brother, Algernon Sidney Moore died from “camp disease” in April, 1862, while Adjutant for his father in the 29th Va.. There is a sad but brief reference to the impending death of Algernon Sidney in a letter dated April 25,1862, written to Gen. Robert E. Lee by Brig. Gen. Marshall. It stated that Col. A.C. Moore was absent and unable to give his report because he was at home “by the dying bedside of his son, Adjutant Moore.” The letter does not report anything further about the matter. Algernon had died on the 23rd of April.

Col. Moore’s middle two sons were twins, Robert Emmett and Jacob Melvin. Dr. Robert Emmett Moore graduated from Emory & Henry Medical College in 1861 and enlisted as assistant surgeon with his father’s 29th Va. Regiment in November 1861. He was transferred to the staff hospital at Montgomery White Sulphur Springs in January 1863, and transferred to Wytheville Camp as post surgeon in October 1864, where he finished the war, although his pay vouchers show him assigned to the 22nd Cavalry.

Twin brother Jacob Melvin Moore apparently stayed home with his sisters and worked the farm in his family’s absence until Col. A.C. Moore returned in 1863, when he joined with brother William Orville and enlisted in August 1863 in William Orville’s Company “G” 22nd Cav. as a 2nd Lt. and was promoted to 1st Lt. in June 1864. He shared many of the same engagements with his youngest brother, Capt. William Orville Moore.

The Civil War took its toll upon the A.C. Moore family, causing the death of one of his sons and the disruption of his family. His slaves were freed, and the way of life as he knew it ended. His son, W.O. Moore, presumably saw no other choice but to sell a half interest in the “Locust Hill Farm” to Harry Groome of Philadelphia. All 2,347 acres of the original Kent land had been heired to A. C. Moore’s six living children by 1866. That is when William Orville received his share, and sold half interest to Groome.

As indicated by a date inscribed at the top of one of the chimneys, A.C Moore probably built the present house in 1850. Almost certainly there was not an architect employed, and there is no known information about a building contractor. It is fairly obvious that the prototype for “Locust Hill Farm” house was the McGavock House at Ft. Chiswell. Not only was this mansion nearby, but is was owned by distant relatives. However, Moore’s home was not nearly as grand as the McGavock place. A local builder probably supervised the slave labor used to build the Moore house.

The bricks came from the red-clay found near the house, and the lumber from the surrounding woodland. The pattern of brick is an American bond of four courses of stretchers between courses of headers (Fig. 1 ). As far as can be told, only hardwoods were used in the house. The interior flooring is oak, while the door frames, window frames, and shouldered lintels are of yellow locust.

The entrance portal, is designed to give a warm welcome into the house. Each side of the bottom front portico is equipped with a built-in bench. Side and corner lights around the door frames add beauty and grace as well as allowing light into the halls. The front door frames have a fluted design with circular sculpture in the corners. The bottom door frame has four panes in the side lights, single pane corner lights, and three panes in the transom. The second tier door frame is slightly different in design from the first floor frame. The side lights have twelve larger panes with six smaller ones along the top and bottom. Nine rectangular panes compose each corner light, and the transom has six large and six small panes.

The house is built on a slight incline, so the bottom floor starts above ground and eventually recedes partially below ground. Limestone blocks fitted together with mortar make up the foundation. The roof is joined together in the fashion shown in the aerial sketch and is of medium pitch.

Although the present back porch may not be original, there has always been such a structure. Exposed, hand-hewn beams are mortised into the brick walls of the house for support of the porch. Adjacent to the back porch is a turn-of-the century cistern which replaced a nearby spring as the source of water. The shed added onto the back of the house is not original, as is a small concrete structure that provided gas for lighting. Although there were three structures that served as slave quarters, these are no longer in existence. The kitchen was located inside the house, so there were not many dependencies.

The attic windows are smaller versions of those lighting the main floors. Stepped brick designs on the ends of the wings are unusual in construction and appearance. A striking silhouette is given by the massive chimney and the stepped formations. These stepped structures render a definite vertical orientation to the house and an almost gothic impression is given by the end gables. The front of the house possesses the most ornamentation of the exterior and is approximately 51′ across, The double-tiered portico is located centrally and therefore is the most prominent feature of the exterior. Two square brick posts support the second level of the portico and the small pedimented roof. The capitals are plain, but the transom, the typanum, and the entablature are decorated with dentrils and biglyphs.

The first floor windows are slightly larger than the second floor windows – however, all six windows on the front have basically the same design. Each of the main windows has rectangular panes, in a six over six pattern. They all have a plain frame and sill with a shouldered top. Just like the inside windows, they have the circular design on the shoulders. Full length shutters originally adorned the main windows. But they were removed a number of years ago, because of wind blowing the shutters.

The walls and ceiling of the interior are plastered. A mud-daubing technique combined with one to three inch wood strips was used to form the outer layer of the wall. Over this was applied a layer of plaster one-half to one inch thick.

The two main floors have six rooms all appearing to be nearly square (l8’ll”x l9’4″). The height of the ceilings are 10’1″, and can be compared to the first floor windows, which are 7’11” tall (Fig. 7). Each of the six main rooms has a fireplace and hearth. While some of the millwork differs in details, most of the mantelpieces consist of a simple shelf above broad panels supported by half-columns. The woodwork has been finished with varnish. Each fireplace has a conventional brick hearth.

In the rooms located in the corner of the L are a pair of closets, one on either side of the chimney. These rooms would be appropriate to use as master and guest bedrooms. Like all the interior woodwork, the closet doors and frames are varnished (Fig. 8). The door frames are 7′ tall, and have the same standard fluting and rosettes originally used throughout most of the house (Fig. 9).

Despite the fact that the stepped ends of the wings give a vertical and some what gothic perception, the “Locust Hill Farm” home is a vernacular example of Greek Revival architecture popular between 1820 and 1860. Inside, the mantelpieces, the fluting and circular designs on the window, door, and closet frames mark it as Greek Revival in ornamentation. On the exterior the pedimented portico with the ascending steps to the entrance are definitely Greek in origin. Ornamentation such as the biglyphs and dentrils are characteristics for this design. The shouldered tops found on all the exterior windows are telling points. More features found in Greek Revival are the side and corner lights, the small end windows in the attic, and the larger lower and smaller upper main windows.

The L layout, stepped gables, and back porch are important regional characteristics. In short, “Locust Hill” has an interesting and unique history and is an excellent example of how in the mid-nineteenth century the Greek Revival vernacular was employed in southwestern Virginia.


The military data contained in this paper came from the National Archives, “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia” and the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, both located in Newman Library at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. It has since been supplemented by some original documents, and books of the Virginia Regimental History Series.