Sunday, February 24, 2013

Looking for Miss Catharine Moore

The Civil War-era patriotic cover (aka envelope) here was forwarded by Jo Porter after she read yesterday's blog entry about Wayne County's New York, a ghost town in Union Township. It is one of several covers from the collection of Jim Petersen arranged as a slideshow on the Web site of The Cedar Valley Civil War Roundtable.

Jo, who is affiliated with the Roundtable, had noticed it especially because it was addressed to "Miss Cathrine Moore, New York, Wayne Co., Iowa." The postmark city is Burlington, Iowa, and the date appears to be November 1864, although I'm not sure about that. The sender wasn't known --- and still isn't --- and no one had had much luck finding anything out about the addressee.

So I decided to take a look --- it's one of those areas in which I can't help myself. Had to do it. So I did, and wasn't able to prove much of anything --- so remember that everything here is in the realm of possibility, even probability, but hardly fact.

I started with a romantic notion --- that the envelope had once contained a letter written by a young Civil War soldier to his sweetheart back home in Wayne County. It was mailed during the Civil War, after all, in a type of envelope commonly used by soldiers (and by many others, too) and Burlington was the major Iowa staging point for Iowa troops from southern Iowa about to be deployed into the war zone on Mississippi river boats. I thought I had that one nailed a couple of times, but apparently not.

The first big problem was the fact no Catharine Moore seemed to be living near New York when either the 1860 or 1870 census was taken --- unless her family moved in and out of the area during the 10 years between.

I did, however, find the family of Burris and Julia A. (Gardner) Moore living not that far away --- in Lucas County's Warren Township (post office Chariton) during 1860. Five children were enumerated in the household --- Mary C., Rachel C., Joshua G., William and Cornelia.

Ten years later, Burris and Julia and three children (William L., Cornelia A. and Mary R.) were enumerated in Union Township, Wayne County (post office New York). So apparently they had moved during the 1860s.

Poking around a little more, I discovered online that Burris and Julia had a total of eight children, including two Marys --- Mary Catharine, born ca. 1841; and Mary Rebecca, born ca. 1859. Their two oldest children, Sarah, born ca. 1837, and Robert, born ca. 1839, were absent from the family home in both census years, perhaps already married and living independently.

It was not that uncommon for a family to give two children the same name, but in many instances this  implied that either one of the two had died and so the name had been recycled (both of these Mary Moores lived fairly long lives) or that one of the two didn't use a given first name, but was known by another. So I concluded, with no evidence remember, that Mary Catharine Moore was indeed the Miss Catharine Moore to whom the envelope had been addressed.

But who might have written the letter? I was still following my romantic inclinations and looking for a sweetheart.

The Goodell family stone at New York Cemetery

As it turns out, Mary Catharine married Lucien H. Goodell, who was indeed a Civil War veteran, after the war ended --- on Oct. 22, 1868, in Wayne County. He had served honorably in Co. C, 32nd Illinois Infantry, including a time as prisoner of war. He also was the first commander of New York's Messenger Post, Grand Army of the Republic.

Aha! I thought. Here it is. But as it turned out Lucien and his family did not move from Illinois to Wayne County until 1867, after the war had ended. So it seems unlikely that Catharine and Lucien were corresponding during the war.

I then started looking at Mary Catharine's family, thinking perhaps the letter might have been written by a brother. As it turns out, her younger brother, Joshua G. Moore, enlisted on Dec. 29, 1863 --- at age 18 --- in Co. U, 4th Iowa Volunteer Cavalry. But, unless I'm misreading the postmark, Joshua did not live long enough to write the letter. He became ill while traveling to join his unit and died at Vicksburg on Feb. 22, 1864, just two months after enlistment.

After all of this poking around, I'm still reasonably confident that Mary Catharine Moore, daughter of Julia and Burris and wife of Lucien H. Goodell, was the "Miss Catharine Moore" to whom the envelope was addressed --- but no closer to figuring out who might have addressed it.

Mary Catharine lived in the New York vicinity into her 80s, dying during 1922 at the age of 81, according to her tombstone. Lucien died the same year. They left two surviving children: Joseph B. Goodell (1881-1967) and Sophie A. (Goodell) Sloan. All are buried in the New York Cemetery as are Burris and Julia Moore and other members of their family.

The Goodell tombstone photos here were taken by Gwen Cottingham for the Find A Grave Web site. The photo of Joshua G. Moore's military marker at Vicksburg was added to Find A Grave by C & N Rasmussen.

Joshua G. Moore's tombstone at Vicksburg.

1 comment:

estee_nj said...

Thanks so much for posting this story. (Mary Rebecca Moore was my great great grandmother, but I have little info on her.) - estee[at]