Moran Place is located in Dresden,TN. Built by John Williamson Moran for his wife Sophia Riley Gunn. The house used a modified design of George Barber's Cottage no. 36 from his Cottage Souvenir Book No. 2. Construction began in 1895 but was put on hold when Sophia Moran became ill. She died Oct. 7 1895. A few months after her death construction resumed. This blog is about the history of the Moran family & their life at Moran Place. Money is fleeting, History is forever.
Before she became Mrs. John W. Moran at the tender age of 18, Sophia Riley Gunn was living in Nashville with her prominent father, Dr. Lyman Taft Gunn. Dr. Gunn was reputedly one of the first if not the first dentist to open up shop in Nashville.
Sophia's School Bell
It is reputed that Sophia came to Dresden TN, probably in the late 1860's, as a teacher and that J.W. Moran fell in love her with at that time. They were married December 27, 1871 in Weakley County, Tennessee.
Sophia rang the school bell to call the children to class each morning. Education was of great importance to Sophia and John and this importance was passed down to their children. Jim went on to become a lawyer and would take the position of Bank President at the death of his father in 1912. Charles (Brud), attended business college and was the head cashier at the bank and though he didn't have the title of President, he was responsible party of the two sons. Their daughter Fannie followed in her mother's footsteps and upon graduating from college became a school teacher and later was heavily involved in civic activities and politics. She was Tennessee's first Democratic National Committee woman and for a time an associate social editor on the Nashville Banner. Ida had a love of music and her educational pursuits were along the lines of furthering her abilities as a pianist. Marion, the youngest, was dedicated to educational pursuits and was a founding member of the Delta Beta Sigma Sorority.
This obituary of Will Cantrell was among the papers of Virginia Shumate Moran. This branch of the Cantrell's were from Sumner County, Tennessee and made their way to Texas in 1877. The story reminds me very much of the trip made by Martha Moran and her husband Rufus Scott when they made the arduous trip to Texas in 1858.
I know Will married a woman named Bessie M. My best guess is that her last name is McLean because one of their sons was named William McLean Cantrell and in the 1920 Tarrant County Census the family is living next door to the A. McLean family. On an interesting side note Quincy Shumate married Louise Elizabeth McLean so perhaps that's family connection.
Will's brother was Robert Caruthers Cantrell and is listed in the "Makers of Fort Worth". Like his brother Will he was an avid horse lover and was in business with Will at the Forth Worth Undertaking Company.
August 12, 1866 - March 3, 1944
Will Cantrell, Noted Horse Judge, Dies Will C. Cantrell, 77, one of the Southwest's most beloved horsemen and a resident of this county since frontier days, died Friday afternoon at his home, 2300 Primrose. He had been ill about three months.
Known widely for his keen judgment of horses, he was in frequent demand as a horse show judge and for approximately a decade was manager of the horse department of the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show.
This year's exposition will be the first he has missed since the start of the institution in a hodge podge showing of livestock under a tree nearly a half-century ago. He was a familiar figure as ringmaster for many years.
For 45 years, Mr. Cantrell was manager of the Alta Vista farm, north of the city and moved to the Primrose Street home after the sale of the farm a few years ago.
At the turn of the century he operated the Cantrell Brothers Livery Stable, at Third and Throckmorton, with a brother, the late R.C. Cantrell. Renting fancy carriages and fine horses, the business thrived until advent of the automobile in numbers. An effort to turn the livery stable into a garage business was made, but motors were not horses, and the venture was short-lived.
Another business in which he engaged was the old Fort Worth Undertaking Company, Texas and Lamar, nearly 20 years ago. But livestock was his interest, and horses were his love, and it was in that field that he was most widely known.
Son of a Tennessee horseman of note, Henry Cantrell, he came to Tarrant County with his father in 1877, as a lad of 10, in a covered wagon party comprising 19 men and boys. The Cantrells settled near Birdville. His birthplace was Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee--Aug. 12, 1866. As a boy he attended classes at the old Birdville school.
He was a 32nd degree Mason, a Shriner and member of First Methodist Church. Funeral services will be conducted Saturday at 4. p.m. at Ray Crowder Funeral Home. Burial will be in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Survivors include his widow; two sons, R.A. Cantrell and W.M. Cantrell, all of Fort Worth; a sister, Mrs. A.R. Schell of Tulsa, Okla; a brother, G.S. Cantrell Sr.; a half-brother, C.C. Cantrell; two half-sisters, Mrs. Clyde Helm and Mrs. Lizzie Gibson, and a grandson. Robert Cantrell Jr., all of Fort Worth.
We have no idea who Leila might be. The photograph was taken in Nashville at the Taylor Photography Studio sometime around the turn of the century. She was a sorority girl, Theta Kappa Delta. Jim, Fannie and Ida Moran all attended college/university in Nashville at one time so it's possible that Leila might be a friend from college, or a girl that Jim was sweet on. Of course the possibility exists that she might be a distant relation since the Moran's seem to have distant relatives throughout the country!
Since the Moran's owned the Dresden Bank we have quite a bit of bank ephemera as you can imagine. I came across a Dresden Bank check from James B. Ezzell to W.W. Shannon in the amount of $500 which was an impressive amount of money in those days! We won't ever know what the money was for but it's an interesting piece of family and bank ephemera.
On the left side is a Revenue Tax Stamp of two cents initialed and dated by J.B. Ezzell. We may not have tax revenue stamps on checks in 2013 but I bet there are a lot of hidden fees behind banking today!
On the back you can see the path the check took to get back to the Dresden Bank. The Shannons' lived in Macon Mississippi so the first stop was the Bank of Macon Mississippi, stamped by N. Scales the cashier. Then on to the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis where it was stamped by J.A. Omberg, Cashier. Making it's way to Nashville and the Fourth National Bank where it was processed by J.T. Howell and then back to Dresden.
Here's a closeup of William Washington Shannon's signature on the back:
If you're interested in the Shannon Family you might like to read the post about Montie Shannon. Montie was the second born of W.W. Shannon and his wife Ellen Owens. She was also the second death among their children. Their first born, Callie, died in 1882. Montie came along in 1884 and survived only 3 years. Most of this branch of the Shannon Family are interred at the Oddfellows Cemetery in Macon, MS. If you'd like to virtually visit the graves and leave flowers you can find them here.
Here's the Ezzell/Shannon/Moran family connection:
Side notes:James A. Omberg, the cashier in Memphis, went on to become the President of the First National Bank in Memphis! He's buried in Elmwood Cemetery.
Noah Scales, the bank clerk in Macon, is buried in the Oddfellows Cemetery with the Shannon family.
Joseph T. Howell, the bank clerk in Nashville, is buried in Mt. Olivet and went on to have a distinguished career in banking. His headstone proclaims "Mason, Banker, Pioneer Patron of Aviation."
Today's post is brought to you by Vivian Mayo Wilson and her letter to Virginia, James, and Harrell Moran.
Vivian Mayo was the daughter of George Thomas Mayo and Ella Savannah McWherter of Dresden Tennessee. Vivian was a contemporary and playmate of Marion Moran, the youngest of J.W. Moran and Sophia Riley Gunn's children. Though the letter was sent at a sad time in the life of the writer, Vivian had lost her mother earlier in the year, it's exciting to read that Vivian spent time at Moran Place with Marion and her father, J.W. Moran.
Vivian married William D. Wilson of Mayfield Kentucky and they had three children; William, Bettie and Tom. William's father, also named William, is listed in the Census as being a shoe merchant. His sons are employed as shoe clerks. William's mother was Minnie Gentry. I don't know if she's related to Joseph Collins Gentry or not but he was from Kentucky and married to Belle Shumate, also of Kentucky, so it's possible the Wilson's are linked to the Moran's through the Gentry/Shumate connection!
Vivian writes about about her sadness and continued "nervousness" since the death of her mother. She also talks about the surprising death of Marion and the grief that everyone must be feeling. The letter is postmarked Oct. 18, 1934. Marion had committed suicide at the first of the month. She had married Charles Henry Cobb of Union City in 1905 and they had one child, Carolyn Elizabeth Cobb. We don't know the exact circumstances of the situation but there were murmurings among the Morans that Marion did not have a happy marriage. Whether or not that was enough to drive her to jump off the bridge will never be known.
Since Vivian mentions a couple of times that she had not been feeling well and was "nervous" and sick it's worth noting that she dies just three years later on October 15, 1937 of breast cancer.
Quick note about the letterhead. Part of the Wilson family was involved in a successful tobacco growing venture. J.H. Wilson was the tobacco grower and we assume that Vivian had some of the family letterhead on hand along with the envelope for Wilson & Roberts, "Home of Good Shops", Mayfield Kentucky.
Old Kentucky Homespun Tobacco
Direct from the Farm Shipped by Tobacco Growers Association of Kentucky MAYFIELD, KY
My dear Virginia, Jim & Harrell,
I'm sure a letter from me will do you more harm than good. One hundred times (in my mind) I've written you three dear friends since my mother died. I first couldn't as I've been in such a nervous condition & going down in weight & health. You three truly know the awful sorrow & lonesomeness that is in my heart & this summer without mama has almost been unbearable.
This whole week of your awful sorrow I've grieved with you all.
Monday Oct. 15.
Virginia, almost a week since I wrote the first page of this letter. That aft. a neighbor came in and when she left it was past time to cook super.
You know I have always loved Marion since I was a small girl & she would ask me to spend the night with & we always had fun there with Mr. Moran. She was a fine sweet girl and woman.
Poor Carolyn, how my eart aches for her & of course poor Mr. Cobb too.
You have lost a dear friend Virginia as well as sister-in-law.
I have not had this to come to me yet & hope I won't soon for it is more than you all can hardly bear I'm sure. I hope you three can realize how I love you & only wish I were able to say a word of comfort. This is so hard to understand but maybe we will some day.
All three of you were the best, sweetest, and most helpful friend to me us in our deep sorrow & loss. But you have always been that to me.
Virginia I would have come to see you this summer during the three days visit I had, but I knew we would both sit there & cry our eyes out & I felt like it would be best for you that I stay away. You know you and I have always told each other our sorrow & joys and we have cried to-gether lots. I would have driven over just to say a few words to you dear friends last week, but I was sick & extremely nervous.
I hope all your family are well & you may be sure I've asked God to strengthen & comfort you.
Virginia I want to see you & hope to soon, I would love to get a letter from you.
I came across two items that had been pinned together from World War I. The first is James H. Moran's Registration Card dated September 1918.
To whom it may concern, Greetings:
These Presents Attest, That in accordance with the proclamation of the President of the United States, and in compliance with law, James Henderson Moran, Dresden, Weakley Tenn, has submitted himself to registration and has by me been duly registered this 12 day of September, 1918, under the supervision of the Local Board designated on the back hereof. (The back is stamped County of Weakley, State of Tenn, Dresden, TN). Signed by W.W. House, Registrar.
In addition to being the registrar William W. House was the manager of a sand and gravel business. His father was Isham House. He married Mary F. Elliott Nov. 23, 1890.
Now James would've been too old to go off to World War I since he was 40 years old at the time. Plus he was a family man and a banker and bankers were considered essential. Being a banker also made him the perfect choice to be a Director of Publicity for the Victory Liberty Loan program for Weakley County. Too old to fight but just right to help raise money for the war!
Directory of Publicity Certificate, 1919
War Loan Organization
To All Who Shall See These Presents, Greeting:
Be It known, that, reposing trust and confidence in the loyalty, integrity and abilities of
J.A S. H. M O R A N
he is hereby appointed and duly empowered to serve as DIRECTOR OF PUBLICITY,
WEAKLEY COUNTY, STATE OF TENNESSEE,
in the flotation of the Victory Liberty Loan by the Treasury of the United States
and to have and to hold that office until the conclusion of the duties incident thereto.
Signed and Sealed in the City of Saint Louis, Missouri, this THIRD day of April,
one thousand nine hundred and nineteen.
War Loan Organization of the Eighth Federal Reserve District
D.C Biggs W.R. Compton
Governor Federal Director
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis War Loan Organization