Brother Kills Brother in 1892

By Stephen D. Bowling

Not all violence in Breathitt County’s past was related to the feuds. A long-running family dispute ended with one brother fatally wounding another. A true Breathitt County tragedy has impacted both families through the years. James Lewis and Daniel Moore forever changed the course of the lives of their families based on the decisions they made one warm day in May 1892.

Daniel Moore (1831 – 1892) was the son of Allen and Margaret “Peggy” (Lewis) Moore.

Daniel Moore was born on July 18, 1831, on the family farm lo­cated near Barwick.  He was the son of Allen and Marga­ret (Lewis) Moore and the grand­son of Effa Ella Moore (sometimes called Efferilla).  Allen and his mother braved the wilderness of Eastern Kentucky to settle on a large farm along the bank of the North Fork of the Kentucky River, where they operated a grist mill and engaged in horse and cattle trading.  The Moores were prosperous landowners and strong Jacksonian Democrats, making them Confederate sympa­thizers as verified in Behold He Cometh In the Cloud and family knowledge.

Daniel enlisted in Company G of the 13th Cavalry on October 5, 1862, at Barwick near the Breathitt and Perry County border.  He left behind his wife, Dorcus Davidson Moore, and several children to “go to the war.”  He served throughout the war as the 13th Kentucky Cavalry patrolled much of eastern sections of Ken­tucky, Tennessee, and parts of western Virginia. His brother, James Lewis Moore, would also join the same company.

Daniel survived and returned home in 1865 and resumed his quiet life of farming at Barwick. In failing health, Allen and Peggy Moore moved in with Daniel and his family. He and his wife, Dorcus, cared for them for much of the remainder of their lives. According to family sources, when Allen Moore’s estate was divided, Daniel Moore received a large portion of the family’s substan­tial holdings in Breathitt County in the Barwick community.

The family has several disagreements over the land division, and several disputes turned violent. In 1891, Daniel Moore and several of his family members were indicted by the Grand Jury for “Confederating” and “Assault” after charges were brought by James Lewis Moore following a confrontation. On January 6, 1892, all parties appeared in Breathitt Circuit Court. They agreed to drop the Confederating charge against Daniel and his family as a negotiated settlement. The Court, however, chose to continue the prosecution in the Assault charge.

Daniel Moore pleaded not guilty to the attack on James Lewis Moore, and the Judge seated a jury to hear the evidence. Bud Back, G. W. Bowman, Wash Noble, J. C. Roberts, Henry Strong, and others listened to the case over two days. The Jury deliberated and found Daniel Moore and four members of this family guilty of assault and fined them $5.00 each. The termination of the assault case between the two brothers did not end the hostilities. There were scattered incidents between family members during the months that followed.

On May 30, 1892, James Lewis Moore rode his horse the short distance to Daniel Moore’s Store between Wolfcoal and Altro. Daniel and James L. got into a verbal argument. The factions agree on those facts, but accounts of what hap­pened next significantly varied.  One version, by a granddaughter, stated that the two men struggled over a shotgun, and it accidentally dis­charged striking Daniel.  Another version later told by a witness in open court relates that James “went to Wolfcoal to settle his inheritance” and that James “may have fired in anger at his brother.”

Evoking the Biblical tale of brother against brother, The Louisville Courier-Journal ran the headline “Crime Of Cain” on page 2 of the June 2, 1892 edition with its version of the shooting.

According to the newspaper accounts, the two men drew weapons on each other. The Hazel Green Herald reported on June 10, 1892, that Daniel raised his rifle and pointed it at his brother. The account indicated that James Lewis raised his shotgun and fired in self-defense. The result was the same. According to the sheriff’s testimony, Daniel Moore received a shotgun blast to the chest, neck, and face, which probably indicates that the shot was fired from some distance and that the struggle theory is inaccurate. Seriously wounded, Daniel was taken to his home, where he was treated by his family and two doctors from Jackson.

The Owensboro Messenger published a news brief about the shooting on page one of its Friday, June 3, 1892 edition.

James Lewis Moore mounted his horse and rode to the home of James W. Edward, a county Justice of the Peace. He surrendered himself and waived examination by the Magistrate. He was taken into custody and placed in the Breathitt County Jail for “his own protection.”

James Lewis Moore appeared in Circuit Court before Judge David B. Redwine on June 12, 1892, and pleaded not guilty to the charge of Manslaughter. Moore filed a $1,000 bond with Miles Terry, Bud Turner, George W. Sewell, John C. B. “Whick” Allen, Jerry Stidham, and Samuel White as sureties. Moore agreed to appear in Breathitt Circuit Court on the third day of the December term. Dorcus Moore, John Moore, Buck Colley, George Raleigh, William Moore, William Berry May, and John Spencer all appeared and were bonded as witnesses to the shooting and ordered to appear in December. Each witness was released on a $100 bond.

A photo believed to be James Lewis Moore was taken about 20 years before the shooting. Source- Turner-May Family

Daniel Moore lingered for 16 days being treated, according to family information. His fever and infection increased, and he continued to lose blood. His last hours were spent with family and neighbors around his bed. Despite the doctors’ best efforts, Daniel Moore died before the charges were upgraded on June 12, 1892, although his tombstone says he died on May 21, 1892. Based on the timeline presented in the newspaper articles, the family information indicating he lingered 16 days does not match.

According to family legend, Daniel Moore called his family into the room and made each vow that James would not be prosecuted and that none of them would testify to what they saw. Regardless of his wishes, the family and the Breathitt County Courts continued the manslaughter case again James Lewis Moore.

Over the next few months, a parade of witnesses acknowledged themselves indebted to the Breathitt County Court for on bond. Witnesses for the prosecution included: John Moore, John Spencer, Dorcus Moore, George Raleigh, William May, George Morris, James May, William Berry May, John Duff, John Strong, William Moore, John Davidson, Abijah Morris, John “Big John” Aikman, and Buck Combs.

Witnesses bonded for the defense included: Robert Johnson, Abijah White, Jr., Nick Bush, Mary White, A. J. Stidham, Sam Stidham, Polly Baker, Ella Moore, John Aikman, Jr., William Baker, Eli Duff, John C. B. Allen, William L. Moore, Josh Aikman, J. B. Deaton, Thomas Deaton, Alfred Watts, Dan Aikman, and Abijah White.

After several delays, the trial finally started on March 22, 1893, before Special Judge J. B. White. The sheriff found several possible jurors standing on the sidewalks around the courthouse as was customary in the days before s standing jury pool. After questioning and selection, Judge White seated Henry D. Back, Irvin McDaniel, Elijah Miller, William Byrd, Henderson Hensley, Benjamin Carpenter, Granville Hounshell, Martin Gillum, George Banks, J. C. Roberts, D. S. Davis, and Pearl Risner. The case was started, but there was not enough time to hear all of the testimony, so the jury was bound over until the next day.

The court reassembled at 8:00 a.m. on March 23 to hear the remainder of the case as argued by the attorneys. The case continued for the rest of the day and carried over into the third day. After the fourth day of testimony, the jury deliberated for more than before they informed Judge White that they could not agree on a verdict. The Court declared a hung jury and scheduled another trial for June 14, 1893. After some legal maneuvers, the jury heard testimony on June 16 and 17th. The jury was placed in the charge of Deputy Sheriff John Blanton and deliberated for several hours before breaking for the night.

The Jury’s verdict on page 460 of Breathitt County Circuit Court Order Book L.

The following day, Thursday, June 19, 1893, the Jury deliberated for less than an hour and returned a verdict in court. B. H. McQuinn, the foreman of the Jury, stood and read the verdict: “We all agree and find the defendant not guilty.” James Lewis Moore and all witnesses were released from their bonds to the court and returned home.

Volunteers installed a new stone for Daniel Moore in October 1999 at the Moore Cemetery at Altro. The dates on the tombstone do not match the calculated dates in the story.

The Moore family never really recovered from this traumatic experience.  James Lewis Moore never forgave himself for Daniel’s death, of which he rarely spoke. In the decades that followed, only a brief or passing mention was ever heard among the members of the Moore family.  Finding anyone who remembered the event or, more importantly, would talk about it has always been difficult.

On Friday, October 8, 1999, a small group of Breathitt County histori­ans placed a new tombstone on the grave of Daniel Moore at the Moore Cemetery at Altro after several years of research and ge­nealogical work. Carlos Brock and Charles Riley of the Breathitt County Historical Soci­ety placed a new granite military marker in honor of his ser­vice in the Confederate Army as a Private in the 13th Kentucky Cav­alry under the command of Colonel Benjamin E. Caudill of Letcher County, Kentucky.

Daniel Moore now has a marked grave in the Moore Cemetery at Altro.  The granite stone marks the final resting place of a man who survived the hardships and treacheries of this nation’s most divisive war, only to lose his life tragically at his brother’s hand.

James Lewis Moore lived a full and productive life. He died on October 3, 1908, at the age of 63 and is buried in the Jackson Cemetery.

James Lewis Moore shortly before his death in 1908. He is buried in the Jackson Cemetery on Highway 15.

This sad tale is nothing short of an absolute tragedy, but with history, we have to remember the good and the bad.

© 2022 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Murder and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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