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Monday, December 2, 2013

The toughest teacher in Kerrville's history

John Creed Moore (via Wikipedia)
If you think back about the teachers you had in elementary school, middle school, and high school, I'm sure you'll remember one or two who were tough. Perhaps they were strict, or demanding; maybe they would march facts at you so fast you had little time to recover. Possibly they demanded discipline, or had a very strong fondness for rules.
Ok, remember your toughest teacher: that one teacher who stood out from all of the others.
I'm betting there was a teacher here in Kerrville, back in 1888, who was even tougher than the teacher you're remembering.
In 1888, when Kerrville incorporated "for school purposes only," the voters took advantage of a state law which enabled them to levy taxes and issue debt to build a new school. The school building they organized to build, the Tivy School, still stands and can be found at 1009 Barnett Street, and today houses the administrative offices of the Kerrville Independent School District.
This incorporation "for school purposes only" preceded the incorporation of the city for "municipal purposes" by one year; city government began here in 1889.
Kerrville's principal and teacher for the 1888-1889 term was John Creed Moore. I bet he was the toughest teacher Kerrville ever saw.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, Moore was "born on February 28, 1824, at Red Bridge, Hawkins County, Tennessee. He attended Emory and Henry College in Virginia for four years and graduated on July 1, 1849, from the United States Military Academy at West Point, ranking seventeenth in a class of forty-three. He was brevetted second lieutenant in the Fourth Artillery for service in the Seminole War (1849–50). He was stationed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1852 to 1853, and at Fort Union, Nebraska, from 1853 to 1854. He resigned his United States Army commission in 1855. In 1856 he was employed as a civil engineer in Tennessee and in 1861 as a professor at Shelby College in Kentucky. While stationed at Fort Jackson as a captain in the Louisiana State Militia, Moore was commissioned a captain in the Confederate States Army in April 1861. He was sent to Texas to construct defensive fortifications for Galveston."
Another source says Capt. Moore commanded in Galveston and supervised the defenses there; given that Galveston was an important shipping point, Moore's was a critical position.
Later, he raised and trained the Second Texas Infantry, and was promoted to colonel.
Most men in the Second Texas Infantry assumed they'd be stationed in Texas to defend Texas and their families here. Without any discussion Moore marched his troops east of the Mississippi, where they saw action in many historic and bloody campaigns.
"After citation for gallantry in leading his regiment at Shiloh, Moore was promoted to brigadier general on May 26, 1862. At Corinth, Mississippi, on October 4, 1862, he led the left wing of his brigade over federal entrenchments into the center of the city in hand-to-hand combat," according to the TSHA website.
At Vicksburg, Moore and his brigade were captured and taken prisoner on July 4, 1863. After an exchange of prisoners, " Moore served as a brigade commander in the division of Gen. William Hardee during the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, on November 24–25, 1863," almost 150 years ago exactly.
But there was a dispute between Moore and Gen. Hardee which originated at the Battle of Shiloh. When Jefferson Davis refused Moore's request for a transfer, Moore "resigned his command in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States on February 3, 1864. He retained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the regular service and was reassigned as director of the Savannah arsenal in Savannah, Georgia. In September 1864 he was reassigned as director of the Selma arsenal in Selma, Alabama, where he served until the end of the war."
After the war, like many others in the vanquished southern states, Moore moved to Texas. Texas was seen as a place spared some of the destruction of the war, and a place farther from Washington and the officials of the Reconstruction Era.
Before the war Moore had been a teacher, a professor of mathematics at Shelby College in Kentucky. Somehow after the war Moore found his way here, to Kerrville, and taught school and served as the school's principal.
Something tells me when a brigadier general orders you to learn your multiplication tables, you learn them as quickly as possible.
Moore only stayed in Kerrville that one school year. He taught in other places before and after Kerrville, and lived to be 86 years old, a ripe old age for a man who'd faced so many armed enemies. He is buried in Osage, Texas.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who only had kind and very, very patient teachers during his time in the public schools of Kerrville. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 30, 2013.  You can subscribe to FREE Kerr History updates by clicking HERE.

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