Stephen Moore 1734 - 1799

Stephen Moore is certainly one of the favorite sons of Person County, North Carolina. He was awarded original land grants in the area, now known as Mount Tirzah, a name of Stephen Moore’s own choosing. He came to this high promontory and built his home in 1778, just prior to the Revolutionary War campaigns in the southern theater of the war and became involved in the war himself, the only member of the large Moore family not to remain loyal to the crown. Stephen Moore was very patriotic to the cause of the American independence and led a group of North Carolina militia to fight in the Battle of Camden (South Carolina) on August 16, 1780. It was a devastating defeat for Horatio Gates and the militia at the hands of Charles Cornwallis. Stephen Moore and 130 other men were taken prisoner to Charles Town. On May 18, 1781, from the prison ship Torbay in Charles Town Harbour, Stephen Moore wrote a letter to Major General Nathaniel Greene in which he said, “We just beg leave to observe that should it fall to the lot of all, or any of us to be made victims, agreeable to the menances therein contain’d, we have only to regret that our blood cannot be disposed of more to the advancement of the Glorious Cause to which we have adher’d.”

In 1783, Stephen Moore petitioned the new government to buy his property at West Point in New York which Gen. George Washington had used during the Revolutionary War as his headquarters. There was already speculation that the government needed this land because of its strategic location on the Hudson River. In a letter in which Stephen Moore was trying to collect money from the now bankrupt U. S. he said, “Had my conduct during the struggles of my Country, proved me an active adversary, I must have silently bewailed the evils, both of banishment & confiscation, and tho I claim no merit for my feeble exertions in the hours of danger, neither can I be persuaded I deserve my present chastisement.” In October 1783, Moore’s land at West Point was surveyed showing a total of 1617 acres. On a map from the National Archives can be seen the Red House (also known as Moore’s Folly) north of the bend in the river opposite Martler’s Rock. It was the Red House that was used both by the loyalist Moore Family to escape the trials of war in New York City and as headquarters of General Washington about the time of the treason of John Andre and Benedict Arnold. Finally on July 12, 1790, Henry Knox representing the U. S. government and Stephen Moore signed an agreement selling the West Point property to the government. Stephen Moore had inherited the West Point property from his father, Col. John Moore. Known as Moore’s Folly, it had probably been named Moore’s Fawley, after the ancestral estate of South Fawley Manor in Berkshire County, England built in 1600 by Sir Francis Moore. [Note: There is now some doubt that Honorable John Moore was descended from Francis Moore at Fawley, but more likely from a Moore family in London. See footnote.]

Stephen was the 17th child of the union of Col. John Moore (August 11, 1686 – October 29, 1749 and Frances Lambert (who died on March 21, 1782 in her ninetieth year) who were married in 1714. Stephen Moore was born in New York City on October 30, 1734. In 1754 he was apprenticed to the Hon. John Watts, contractor for army supplies and a N.Y. merchant and member of his Majesty’s Council. Also in 1754, Stephen was commissioned in the N.Y. Regiment under Col. Oliver DeLancey. He volunteered for the French and Indian War in 1756, and the following year received a lieutenant’s commission in DeLancey’s Provincial Regiment. Then he was appointed provision contractor for the British Army. After the war he was rewarded the post of Deputy Paymaster General of Canada. Stephen continued to live in Canada where he was a sea merchant (like his father before him) in Quebec. He was a member of “Burgess and Guild,” a sea merchant’s fraternal order in Glasgow, Scotland. As a sea merchant, he operated the Bonnie Lass and Bonnie Dundee which were routed between Glasgow, Scotland and Quebec with stops in Jamaica and Barbados. He entered the lumber trade with partner Hugh Finlay (the Postmaster of Quebec). On Christmas Day, 1768, Stephen married Grizey Phillips (Feb. 18, 1748 – Jan. 15, 1822) and on Nov. 12, 1769, son John was born in Quebec. The infant John died the following year on Sept. 7, 1770. Stephen went bankrupt and left Canada in 1770 returning to N. Y.  Robert was born Nov. 5, 1762, before Stephen's marriage to Grizey and therefore, is the stepson of Grizey.
From 1765 to 1775, Stephen Moore’s official residence was listed on town reports of Cornwall, N. Y. (near West Point). Their son Phillips (born July 12, 1771) and daughter Frances (Dickens) (born Nov. 5, 1773) were born in New York. In 1775, Stephen moved his family to Tally-Ho in Granville County, N.C. where daughter Ann was born (Jan. 12, 1777). A fire in lower Manhattan, a consequence of the war, burned Trinity Church and the Moore home to the ground.

Stephen obtained Mount Tirzah land in Jan. 1777 and built his home in 1778 (the date exists on a stone in the basement stairs), a beautiful structure on the Mount Tirzah hilltop. The home is believed to be the second oldest in Person County, with the original part of the Lea home being older. Stephen continued acquiring land until he had a plantation of approximately 3000 acres. His brother, Charles and his brother-in-law, Thomas Phillips, also moved to Mount Tirzah. Stephen petitioned the federal government for a post office at Mount Tirzah and was successful in having his brother, Charles, named postmaster. Approximately a quarter mile to the south of his home, Stephen returned to merchandizing by building a store, which became an important place of trade, as he was the only merchant within a ten to twelve mile radius, prior to 1800. This country store was probably the local gathering spot for the latest news of the region and more distant places. In addition to buying and selling with the local farmers, Stephen dealt with more distant merchants such as Richard Bennehan at Stagville, N.C., and with merchants of the major trading and distribution point of the times in Petersburg, Virginia. There was a road from Mount Tirzah to Raleigh which passed through the plantation of Richard Bennehan (later the immense and famous Cameron Plantation). At Stagville, Richard Bennehan’s home, this road bisected the old Indian Trading Path, which was the major north-south route of commerce of the times. The Indian Trading Path extended from Petersburg in the north to Salisbury on the Yadkin River in the southwest. Evidence from the Stephen Moore papers suggests that his brother-in-law, Thomas Phillips, and his son, Phillips Moore, participated in the day to day running of the store and keeping the day books and ledgers. Most of the ledger books were in the hands of Phillips Moore, and there is one entry that suggests that his uncle, Thomas, was not an able bookkeeper, which states as follows: “There are so many wrong entrys in the Ledger made by my Uncle Thos. Phillips, that the day book must be again posted or the accts. cannot be properly adjusted. 13th Jan. 1816. Phillips Moore (signed).” The Mount Tirzah store made many daily transactions with the local farmers and with the merchants in Petersburg, and there are entries in the day books which keep a running account of amounts drawn and credited. In Petersburg on 8 February, 1797, Phillips Moore “Bought of Eleazer F. Backus” various sundry items such as pepper, allspice, needles, nutmegs, a fine comb, cloth, hammer, nails, awls, a lock, paper, calico material, scissors, coffee, chocolates, salt, sugar, a hat, a trunk, a wagon screw, and other items for which he paid £17.8.8. Another transaction with Mr. Backus produced cotton, tea, sugar, paper, scissors, cloth, a blanket, 20 bushes of salt and linen for which he traded corn and pork. This last transaction took place on 23 December 1796, which makes one wonder if he made it home in time for Christmas as Petersburg was more than a hundred miles away on the old Indian Trading Path. The Mount Tirzah store also rented for hire the employment of the Moore family slaves to the neighboring farmers to help with various farm work. There was considerable business done in potatoes, wheat, and corn. However, the Mount Tirzah store also dealt with a refined product of the grains, that of liquor as many references to brandy and rum would indicate. Among his other business ventures was a mill which was formerly named Gibbon’s and pre-dates 1769. He also owned a brick kiln. So we see Stephen Moore as a diversified owner of several business interests of which he probably left the day-to-day management to various members of his family. This left him time for an active interest in the Revolutionary War and Politics. Stephen’ son Marcus was born on Nov. 27, 1780 while he was being held prisoner in Charles Town. Stephen was finally released on June 22, 1781. He was appointed Commissioner for Specific Taxes in 1781 and superintendent Commissioner of Hillsborough District in 1782. On October 15, 1782 another son, Portius, was born. From 1783 to 1792, Stephen was Deputy Quartermaster General of Army (under Col. Robert Burton, Quartermaster General of N.C.) which is where the title of “General” Stephen Moore comes from. Actually his highest rank was Lt. Col. In 1786 and 1787, he was nominated as representative to Congress, but was not elected. Two more sons were born: Cadmus on June 30, 1787 and Samuel on June 15, 1789. Even though Stephen successfully petitioned the bankrupt U.S. government to buy his West Point property in 1790, there is question as to whether he ever collected the 11,085 dollars. On December 15, 1794, Sidney was born.
At the end of the century, on December 29, 1799, he died at Stagville at the home of Richard Bennehan. It is interesting to speculate why he was there when he died. Had he gone there during the festive season between Christmas and New Year’s and fallen suddenly ill? Was he there on business? Or perhaps Stephen was already ill and had gone to Stagville in search of a doctor since Stagville was a larger plantation than his own and may have had a doctor in residence. Stephen Moore left quite an impact on Person County, through his activities politically, in the war, economically, and with the many descendants, some of which still live and own land in Person County.

Sources: This article was written by the great-great-great-great-grandson of Stephen Moore for the Person County History, vol. II. Sources include Duke University Archives; Southern Historical Collection, U.N.C.; N.C. State Archives; West Point Library; Miami Public Library (Genealogy Room); Person County Records; Mount Tirzah home and graveyard; and a bibliography of books and articles too numerous to mention. -- ©David E. Jeffreys, Jr. - written for the Person County Heritage, vol. II, 1983. Updated May 2010.
_____________________________________________ Footnote: See "A Corrected Lineage of Hon. Moore of South Carolina and Pennsylvania" by Terri Bradshaw O'Neill (Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 44 (2005) pp. 101-121).

For much more information of the Stephen Moore Family, see

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