Located in Dresden TN, Moran Place was built by J.W. Moran for his wife Sophia Reilly Gunn. The house is a modified design of George Barber's Cottage no. 36 from Book No. 2. Construction began in early 1895 but put on hold when Sophia became Ill and died Oct 7 1895. Construction resumed a few months later.
Uncle Brud never married but he never lacked female companionship!
Though the letter is addressed to Harold, they mean Harrell, Charles Harrell Moran aka Brud to be exact. Harrell was always known as the serious one of the Moran family. If it hadn't been for Brud there's a good chance the Moran's would've lost their home and land when the bank failed in 1927. Thanks to Brud he kept it all going.
This letter is an invitation to a Valentine's party and is signed by "Valentine."
Would you honor us by lending your charming self to our little company of school-folks this evening from 7:30 to 11-(?)
I think perhaps you would add dignity to the occasion.
The Civil War devastated the nation in ways that cannot be imagined. However it was easy to see the financial devastation left behind. John W. Moran had just begun his clerking career in Hickman when war was declared. He came back home and with his younger brother Jimmie he enlisted in the Army of the Confederate States of America. Jimmie Moran died a hero's death at the Guntown Battle Dec. 2, 1864. John Moran was injured at the Battle of Franklin and taken off the battlefield by his friend W.H. Hilliard. At the end of the War John Moran went back to his home in Dresden to begin his life again. He married, had five children and became a successful merchant and banker and was considered very well off when he died in 1912.
We don't know if this $10 Confederate note was all he had at the end of the War or if he simply kept it as a souvenir and threw the rest away. All we do know is that he valued it enough to keep it as a treasured memory of the War between the States.
Today, April 12 2012, is the 100th anniversary of the death of John Williamson Moran. He was a man of many hats and many accomplishments. He was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and more. His family was very important to him! He was an educated man and successful in business. He opened a Mercantile Store in Dresden Tennessee in 1875. Later he opened the Dresden Bank of which he was the President until his death. His son James Henderson Moran III became the President after the death of his father.
He was a member of the Methodist Church giving his time and financial support to its success. He loved nature and planted many tree's himself on the church grounds.
He was a generous man giving financial support to friends and relatives in need. B.D. Irvine had given land for a Moran family cemetery but J.W. Moran went further. He set aside a portion of the land so that others who needed a final resting place had somewhere to be buried.
John W. Moran died at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. These people didn't know him and the report is minimal. Their records indicate Mr. J.W. Moran passed away on April 11, 1912. He was male, white, 72 and a widower. Born in Tennessee, died at St Thomas Hospital signed by a Dr. Bailey and recorded by W.F. Hunt. How easily they dismiss a life and death into its simplest form.
However another death record was issued in Dresden by people who knew him. Doak A. McWherter made the report. The McWherter's are an old family in Dresden. As a matter of fact Tennessee Governor Ned Ray McWherter lived down the street from the Moran home.
Doak listed him as he would a friend, John Moran. Here is where the discrepancy comes in. The date of death is listed as April 12, not 11, of 1912. He was male, white and 72 years old. Another discrepancy occurs because he is listed as married, not widowed. Anyone who knew John W. Moran knew how much he adored his wife Sophia Riley Gunn who predeceased him in 1895. They knew he never considered himself a widow, to him he was still married.
He's listed as dying in Nashville. The cause of death which was absent on the previous death record says "impoverished blood." These people knew he was born in Dresden and was a banker, the Nashville people didn't know and apparently didn't ask. The report lists Dr. Basil Mayo as the attending physician on the last sickness. The Mayo's lived nearby and were friends and Dr. Mayo was most likely his regular physician and knew his health more than anyone else. Claud Hobson Hilliard signed as the county clerk. His father W.H. Hilliard carried John Moran off the battlefield at Franklin when he was wounded and many years later Claud's son would be in the same graduating class as J.W.'s grandson, Nathan Harrell Moran. Class of 1936, Dresden High School.
John W. Moran
Mar 26, 1840
Apr 12, 1912
Soldier - Citizen - Friend
John Williamson Moran
31st Tennessee Regiment
Co. I. C.S.A.
The Dresden Enterprise published an article written by Joseph E. Jones entitled Recollections of John W.
Moran. Here is the full text of the article dated April 26, 1912:
John W. Moran was born at Dresden Tennessee, on March 26, 1840, and died at Nashville, Tenn., at St. Thomas hospital while the clock was striking twelve, on Friday night, April 12, 1912. He resided here all his life except a short interval before and during the war. His father, James Moran, was a merchant at Dresden and his mother was a Miss Harriet Harris of McLemoresville, Tenn.
As a boy, he led the life and possessed the playful characteristics that were common to boys of antebellum days. The common, or public school, had no existence at that time. His education, which was a practical one, was obtained at the private schools in Dresden, and at old Bethel College, at his grandmother's home. (His grandmother was Elizabeth Battle Perry Harris)
The writer has enjoyed many hearty side shakes, as he has heard Mr. Moran tell the anecdotes of his boyhood life with circumstantiality and detail, always accompanying the words with fine mimicry and real, first class acting.
Early in life he decided to become a business man, and after leaving school, started his career as a clerk in a store at Hickman. Hardly had he gotten at ease behind the counter, when the great internecine, conflict between the North and South was precipitated. A brave heart beat within his bosom, and his every impulse and motive was loyal to the cause of his beautiful Southland. At twenty-one years of age he volunteered, together with his younger brother, Jimmie Moran, to fight the battles of the South. His brother, a gallant young soldier, soon was slain and John never ceased to mourn for him. Mr. Moran fought in many of the important battles of the war, and, as I remember, was desperately wounded on one or more occasions. His record as a soldier and leader of men was made at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Perryville, Franklin and other battles. Wounded at Franklin, He was carried from the field of carnage by W.H. Hilliard, father of our county court clerk.
Did space permit, many pages could be written relating his gallant, courageous and soldierly conduct. When I remember the sacrifices he and his associates in arms made, and the burdens, hardships and tribulations they endured unto the end of the war, in order to save our homes and our liberties, it causes me to rejoice that a monument of marble has been erected on the public square at Dresden, to commemorate the deeds of valor and glory performed by such as he. His happiest moments in later life were spent in talking and reading about that bitter four years, and calling to mind little incidents and loving remembrances that were treasured in his heart, and will remain there until he and many of his comrades meet with Lee, Jackson, Gordon and Forrest in the land where there will be no more war, and no more struggling armies.
When the flag of the South was folded and the arms of Lee were laid down at the surrender, John Moran came home to find himself in comparative poverty. With intelligence and pride he took up the fight as a citizen and manfully battled with difficulties and prejudices until success crowned his efforts.
Speaking now, while he lies buried in the old family cemetery on the hill, I do not exaggerate when I say, he did succeed along all the lines of life that are worth while. His business methods are well known, and were open and above suspicion. The possessor of a large fortune at his death, there was not an unclean dollar among them all. Others have spoken, and are more competent to speak of him as a financier, and of his eminent success along these lines.
The war had not been over many years until the young merchant, then in his early thirties, and still engaged in the financial struggle, found in the western part of Weakley county, she who was afterward to share his joys and sorrows. His wife was Miss Sophia Gunn, a daughter of Dr. Gunn, formerly of Nashville, but who died here in the early nineties at the home of his son-in-law and daughter. Mrs. Moran lived until September, 1895, and was the mother of five children, to wit: Fannie, now Mrs. J.B. Ezell, of Newsome; Ida, the wife of .G. Timberlake, Jackson; Marion, wife of C.H. Cobb, Union City, and Harold (Harrell) and James H. Moran. No woman ever more richly endowed and blessed her husband's life than did Mrs. Moran. Her children were not all grown and none of them were married when God called her away from this world. How well do I remember that beautiful, but exceedingly sad September day, when we all, husband, children, relatives and neighbors, stood by the bedside of dear Mrs. Sophia Moran when her eyes closed on this world forever.
His love for here was so intense that, strong man as he was, the watchers at his bedside were apprehensive that he would die from grief. During his married life he forsook the ways of sin, and became a pupil and a lover of the Man of Gallilee. From the time he joined the church in middle life, he was a constant supporter of her institutions and a worshiper at her altars. For years he was an official of the Methodist church, South, at Dresden, and in all things was a save, sane, conservative counsellor. Before his death all the members of his the members of his family had become members of the M.E. church at Dresden, wherein his deceased wife had so long been a pillar. Mr. Moran, in the days of health and vigor, was not easily moved to enthusiasm, but calmly and coolly thought out every question for himself, and acted upon his own judgment of right. His influence over his friends for good was very pronounced.
Socially he was a charming man, and was fond of the society of the young. Not being trained in music, he was still quite fond of instrumental and vocal music, and so remained until the angels called him home; and me thinks, that on the other shore, he may have already opened those eyes upon the form, and heard the beautiful voice of the one who used so sing and play so perfectly for him in the old Dresden home.
He never grew tired of visitors and gave the glad hand of welcome to all. Much experience and observation in life, with frequent reading of books, and a reasonable amount of travel had made him an educated man in the largest sense, and prepared him at all times for an enjoyable companion.
In politics he was a democrat of the old style; was fond of Gov. Porter, Clint Atkins, Isham G. Harris, Wm. B. Bate and James B. Frazier. The first time I ever knew him, he was chairman of the democratic executive committee for Weakley county, and had prior to 1884, as I understand, taken an active interest in party matters. At all times and places he was without reservation a temperance advocate. The cause grew upon him as the years passed by. He was the devoted friend, personally and politically, of Senator Carmack, and his grief over the untimely death of the Senator was as genuine and sincere as that of any friend he had in the state.
When Hon. George Winstead, then a citizen of Dresden, was nominated by the republicans for governor in 1892, as the competitor of Governor Turney, we gave Mr. Winstead a non political reception at the court house, on his arrival home. Captain Moran was selected as presiding officer, and he did the honors of the occasion gracefully and grandly. As president of the bank, he presided in a gracious manner over the board of directors and stockholders, and his name is written in the hearts of them all.
His charity was always well directed and unostentacious. No bugle was blown when he did a good deed, or said a good word, to advertise the act.
One of the bravest and most knightly of all the soldiers in gray, he rarely ever attended a reunion, because, as his friends thought, of the pomp and show incident to such occasions.
Not having been favored with early opportunities for education, he readily determined educate his children. Each of the five had his or her day at the higher schools or colleges. Before his home was broken it was a lovely and cultured one. Father, mother and children all in love with each other, and I thought their conduct, each to the other, was delicately beautiful and worthy of example.
As I write this, my poor and unworthy tribute to my dead friend and neighbor, and as the tears stream from y my eyes, I recall, as it were yesterday, when my wife and I and little boys moved to Dresden, and became his nearest neighbor, how he and Mrs. Moran came to our home, became acquainted with the family, who were strangers here, and said, in substance, "Come over and we will divide what we have with you.' Then, with a heart full of love, do we recall that dark, cold December day in 1894 when our home and all of its contents was totally destroyed by the savage, devouring flames. We were not allowed to sit down and nurse our grief, violent as it was, but John Moran and his family, though living in a small house, at that time, gladly took us in and made us members of their household for days and days, without money and without price.
These are acts to me that out weight all the gold of Ophir or the cattle on a thousand hills. This occurrence is nineteen years in the past, but my heart cries out at this late day to the Eternal One to bless his and her sacred memories, and to bless all their children and grandchildren.
What I have related of this personal kindness has been extended to many others in town and country. A thousand hearts have been made glad because he came this way.
His sister, Mrs. Aggie Irvine, and his aunt, Mrs. Virginia Wood, are growing old, and he was a treasure to them. "may he who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb" give them comfort in their bereavement.
Through protracted illness he was carried by loving hands and loyal hearts with the hope of restoration to health, far away from home, down in Dixie, to the land of magnolias and orange blossoms. From his resting place there he could hear the hoarse anthem of the ever surging sea. However, his affliction was such that no professional hand could relieve, and no balmy atmosphere could allay.
It was at St. Petersburg, Florida, that it was made clear to his bedimmed vision that death was at hand. In that hour he longed to see the face of his old friends in Weakley county and his business associates again, and to gaze on the setting sun here once more. By letters sweet and pure, breathing his affection for them, he emptied his soul of all fear, envy and unkindness. It is a great thing when a man seventy two year of age comes to die who has been heavily engaged in business cares, can peacefully go to sleep with good will to all and malice towards none.
As the end approached his son and daughter, who were with him at his request, placed him on the fast train and with rapid speed made their way to dear old Tennessee, and to Nashville; and there the heavenly shadows fell on him. He was brought to Dresden with folded hands, closed eyes and a silent pulse, covered with costly and beautiful flowers, tokens of love and friendship.
Is it possible that flashing eyes will be strained at the old windows to watch for his coming but that he will never come again? Shall we sit and listen for the familiar footfall that will never be heard again? The kindly voice is hushed in silence of the grave, but we will believe until we see him again that when the trumpet is sounded and all of the dead in sea and earth arise no whiter, purer, more exalted soul will come up through the storm and conflict to the "Father's many mansions" than the friend and neighbor we knew in Dresden, Jno. W. Moran.
The Dobson family of Nashville are cousins of the Moran's. Sophia Eleanor Ezzell was the daughter of Fannie Lemira Moran and James Benjamin Ezzell. Sophia was the grand daughter of John Williamson Moran. She was very close to her maternal grandfather and was fascinated by his life and proud of his service in the Confederacy.
Aunt Sophie, as she was known, was the primary force behind our decision to research the past and to make it available to others who might be interested in the Moran story. It was our mission, so to speak.
Left to right:
John Ezzell Dobson, Matthew Hughes Dobson, Lillian Ezzell Dobson (Back), John Morehead Dobson (front), Sophia Eleanor Ezzell Dobson, Matthew Hughes Dobson Jr.