This is the story of the killing of Anderson Moore as written by his Great-Granddaughter, Fern Rosik Glasgow:
Violence was nothing new to the family of Anderson Moore. His father, Henderson Moore, had been shot and killed in 1886 supposedly by mistake. Nothing else is known at this time about this affair.
In 1892 Anderson sold some land to John McCurry who had been living adjacent to him. Supposedly John's wife, Artie, was related to the Moores. Rhoda, wife of John Moore, was reportedly her sister. John Moore was Anderson's uncle--his mother's brother. Later that year, Anderson took his family and moved to Mohamet, Illinois, where there were jobs to be had. He retained ownership of his remaining land on Beaver Creek. In Mohamet, Anderson and Lurany's [nee Higgins or Hagins, his wife) twelfth child, Grover Cleveland, was born. THeir daughter, Eliza Jane, married Andrew J. Holt, who had followed her there from Kentucky. In late 1894 Anderson moved all of his family except his oldest son, Breck (who moved to Iowa), back to Beaver Creek. Some say he was homesick for Kentucky, other that he went back to protect his property. Eliza Jane and Andy Holt also returned with their son, Melvin Lee Holt.
John McCurry was not happy with the land boundaries and claimed a few more acrews than Anderson understood it to be. A shooting wr developed on Beaver Creek. McCurry claimed that Anderson shot his livestock and burned his barn.
Around 1901, Anderson went to Sam Hall Fork to visit his daughter, Lizzy Newsom, her husband Noah, and their children. He did not often make this trip even thought he lived only two hills away. Anderson was not a large man, about 5'8" tall. When he went to their house that time he must have been feuding because he was riding on his horse and had his rifle with him. He always took his gun (a Winchester rifle) with him whever he went. Both men, Anderson Moore and John McCurry, were fearful for their lives and had to stay hidden to keep from being shot. One day Andy Holt took a shot a McCurry and another fellow who were crossing the creek below Anderson Moore's house. This story is told by Melvin Holt, who was Andy's son and the grandson of Anderson Moore:
"The next to the last time I was back in Kentucky I went down there where that crossing was and stood right out in the middle of the creek and thought about the shooting. In that country the hills come down to a V, and right down at the bottom of that V is a creek and the road follows the creek. At that time--now it's different--at that time you had to cross the creek, oh, a dozen times, in order to go almost nowhere. The creek was just winding, you see.
McCurry and another fellow was cross the creek, the first one down below Grandpa Moore's house. The house was quite a ways bck from the cross, but they had powerful rifles. The house had a room upstairs--it wasn't fit to stay in or live in, but you could crawl around up there. And on the one end, down creek-wise was a window, possibly 20X30". If I remember right, it had a swinging door on it, that you could open or shut. The window looked out on the creek that flowed across the road ahead. My Dad was in the loft of that house, shooting out the window. That's how near Dad came to killing a man. Dad fired one shot, and it hit McCurry-he was carrying his gun across his chest--and it hit the gun right about where it would have hit his heart. It hit the gun solid and the bullet shot off and missed the whole thing. It hit the gun--providential, of course.
Dad said McCurry dcropped off his horse and he thought he had killed him for sure, and got this terrible feeling inside, that he had actually killed a man. But then McCurry must have been stunned for a minute, ecause he got up and he and the other fellow ran off. We were glad Dad didn't kill him, afterwards. Later on, of course it kind of slowed down, but this McCurry hired a man who shot my Grandpa as he was going down that same road. He was up in the mountains somewhere and shot right down, hit him right in the groin, and he bled to death in just no time. A terrible thing. It sure knocked us out."
McCurry became so afraid that he felt he had to leave his home for his own safety.
At this time McCurry had three daughters, some quite young. The girls were Hailey, Delilah, and Lily McCurry. Three young men desired these girls. They were Clifton Branham, Nelson Moore, and Monroe Moore. The Moore boys were about 24 years old. Nelson was a son of Anderson's sister, Rhoda, who had married Calvin Moore who was a brother to Anderson's mother. Monroe was probably Nelson's cousin, likely a son of Calvin's brother, John Moore and his wife Rhoda. (Rhoda could have been a sister to Artie McCurry). Clifton Branham was a notorious killer who had recently got out of the Federal Pen at Frankfort. He had been serving time for killing his own wife after she accused him of molesting their daughter. Clifton "got religion" while in prison. He became a preacher and was a fine mucisian on the guitar. Clifton had grown up and had family in Pike County, down on Shelby Creek south of Virgie at a place called Dorton. There were lots of Branhams living on Robinson Creek. John McCurry was Clifton's cousin. Clifton's family now lived just over the border between Kentucky and Virginia, in the town of Pound in Dickenson County, Virginia.
"I went to Beaver Creek, Floyd County," wrote Clifton in his "The Life, Crime and Confessions of Clifton Branham" before he was executed. "I went to cousin John McCurry's, there I remained about three months. He had a daughter with whom I fell in love. Her father could not stay at home because of a feud between him and the Moore family living just opposite. They had shot him, killed his property, burned his barn and fencing and stirring up all kinds of devilment, sweraing that they would take his life before they quit. But it came to pass that Anderson Moore got killed and that broke up the next."
Benjamin Franklin Parsons, who was a witness at the trial of John McCurry, gives this account: "There lived on Beaver Creek, Floyd County, one Anderson (Ant) Moore who was quite wealthy. Either for his wealth or personal resons, a neighbor, John McCurry, wanted him killed. The said John McCurry had three daughters--Hailey, Lila, and Lily. McCurry had heard of the reputation of Clifton Branham which seemed well known. He was reputed to be a real bad man. John McCurry plotted the death of his neighbor, Ant Moore, by giving Clifton his daughter, Hailey, $60.00 in money, and a high powered rifle to commit the murder. Since the victim was unknown to Clifton, he hired two relatives of some degree to the victim, Harry Lee (Monroe) and Nelson Moore, giving each of them one of his other daughters, Lila (Delilah) and Lily. Also $60.00 in money and a high powered rifle each, to point out the victim to Branham. By hiding in the woods they waylaid their quarry."
The story takes up here with the memory of Charles Moore, who was riding on the horse behind his father, Anderson Moore, when he was shot--along with the remembrances of others:
Anderson and his son, Charles, had been to the mill to get some corn ground into meal (probably at McDowell) and were returning home south along Beaver Creek. To get home they had to pass the homes of Old John Moore, John McCurry, Morgan Turner and Calvin and Rhoda Moore. Anderson and Charles stopped in the yard of Old John Moore briefly (Old John being Anderson's father-in-law). As they continued down the creek, Clifton, who was hiding in the woods with a high powered rifle, shot and killed Anderson to death on his horse. Anderson fell and left Charlie sitting on the horse. Charlie was not hurt. Nelson and Monroe had fulfilled their role by pointing Anderson out to Clifton so that he might shoot the right man, probably while Anderson was talking to old John Moore.
Anderson Moore was buried at Beaver Creek. His enemies hated him so badly that they shot up his grave the same night that he was buried and threatened his wife, Lurany. After the shooting, McCurry went to Luranys home and moved out all the family's possessions. Thus Lurany spent the night outside the house, protecting the family's things. As soon as she could thereafter she packed up the family--Charles, Chamilous (K), Alex and Groer and went to Somers, Iowa, where her oldest son Breck, had a farm. They went by train. When they arrived at the station to leave, the staionmaster told her that her boxes were too big. They had to make the boxes smaller and repack everything before they could get on the train. Charleie had to do this as he was the oldest. They had to leave many household items behind including many beautiful quilts which were passed on to her daughters, Lizzy Newsom and Liza Holt. Some years later, Anderson's farm was sold and Lurany and her children received a mere pittance for it--perhaps $50.00 each.
Clifton took his prizes, as did Nelson and Monroe. The hired Frank Parsons (according to Parson's account) to "take them on a wagon drawn by a mule team down Mud Creek to its mouth at Harold, Kentucky, on Big Sandy River. From there they embarked a steamboat down the big Sandy to Paintsville, Kentucky, which at that time was the railhead of the C&O Railroad. They were to take a train and leave the country. It so happened that one of Ant Moore's friends had heard of their plans and went to Tay low (?) Allen, then Sheriff of Floyd County at Prestonburg, the county seat, and told him of their plans. Knowing they had already left by steamboat and that he had only a short time to apprehend them, he deputized another, and known there was no other boat leaving in time, they ran down to the rive and cut loose someone's log raft and floated down to Paintsville, and there arrested the three men and three girls at the depot where they awaited a passenger train to Catlettsburg (near Ashland, KY). They took them back to Prestonsburg, where they were confined in the county jail. The Wise County, Virginia authorities heard, or were informed, of the capture of Clifton and he was promptly extradited to Virginia. There he was tried and convicted of the earlier crimer of murdering his wife, Nan Branham, for which he paid the supreme penalty by being hanged. The girls, as far as is known, were exonerated. Harry Lee (monroe) and Nelson Moore were given two years in prison for their part in the slaying of Ant Moore."
Actually, Nelson Moore and Monroe Moore appeared before the Grand Jury and were fined $100 apiece on each of two counts of CCDW (CoConspiracy with a Deadly Weapon). On April 14, 1903 they were both tried and convicted of ARSON and the next day Nelson was taken to the Pen at Frankfort for 2-1/2 years at hard labor, and Monroe received one year at hard labor. It is not known at this time what they burned.
Frank Parsons, in his account, relates that he took Lurany Moore and her family up Mud Creek to Harold on Big Sandy in like manner in which he took Clifton and company, and that they also took the steamboat to Paintsville, where they boarded the train.
(In a different case in March 1911, Nelson Moore, along with CoConspirators Algernal Moore, Sylvester Gearhart, and Jack McCurry, went on trial for murder in Floyd County, KY. After lengthy trials each was found Guilty of Murder and received life sentences in the State Penitentiary. Nelson was sentenced March 11, 1912).
The Commonwealth of Kentucky brought John McCurry to trial for Murder on Sept. 10, 1903. Amont other witnesses for the state were John Moore; Nelson and G. W. Moore, who were Anderson's brothers; Noah Newsom and Andy Holt, his sons-in-law; Henry Holt, Andy's father; Perron Holt, Andy's brother; Nelson and Monroe Moore and Sylvester Gearhart; also the neighbors, Morgan Turner and Frank Parsons. The case came to trial January 7, 1904. On January 18, 1904 the State chagesd Monroe Moore. These two cases continued hand in hand until January 21, 1904, when they had to continue the trials in the next term of court. The second session of the Court met on April 4. On April 13, the Court disucmissed the case against Monroe Moore. The next day, April 14, 1904, the Jury found John McCurry "NOT GUILTY."
Years later, Melvin Holt described it as "kind of a slick trial that didn't amount to nothing. McCurry was the father of the whole mess--that is, the fighting."
Was this the end of this affair? Not on your life! Rhodie, John Moore's wife, supposedly out of a desire to obtain McCurry's land, offere "Dick Toe" Mosely $6.00 in month and 60 bushels of corn to kill McCurry (her brother-in-law!). Dick Toe never received either the money or the corn. What happened did not come fully to light for some fifty years......
.......The children of Noah Newsom knew that he had spent a year in the jail in Pikeville for "killing a man." They knew he was probably drinking and fighting when he did it. They did not know who he killed. They knew about the gruesome killing of John McCurry--i.e.: Some waylaid McCurry while he was walking along the road carrying a crosscut saw on his shoulder. John McCurry was shot; the bullet hit the saw and the plunged it through his body, decapitating him. Lurany Moore knew that Noah killed Mr. McCurry but kept it to herself except to hint to Myrt Newsom once when Mrt was living with her in Iowa. Lurany said that Noah was a sheriff once and had killed a man. Myrt supposed it was in the line of duty and dismissed it. The time of this deed is unclear. Myrt says "they were all out gunning for him," so she suspects he was killed not long after the end of the trial in which he was acquitted.
If this be true, the Noah Newsom family still lived on the 77 acre farm. The food in the jail in Pikeville was so bad that Book Newsom was dispatched with food for his father in jail. The boys, Book, Claud and Andy were big enough to work, and Lizzy, being the manager that she was, the family did not suffer too much during this time. The toughest par of it all was the illness of the greatly beloved daughter, Maud.
It was not until after Noah Newsom died in 1905 that the story was finally told about McCurry's death. Noah had told his sons, especially Andy, the whole story and they had honroed his request for secrecy during his lifetime.
Thus was the death of Anderson Moore avenged!
The Anderson Moore Family Record: 1765-1900 by Beverly Moore Osmundson and Shirley Holt Pitman
Court Records of Floyd and Pike Co. KY: 1903-1915
Interview with Melvin Holt, Sept. 25, 1986, by Shirley Pitman
Booklet circa 1990, The Noah Newsom Family of Robinson Creek, Kentucky 1775 - 1950 by Fern Rosik Glasgow (G-Granddaughter of Anderson Moore and granddaughter of Noah Webster Newsom)