Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Frances Elizabeth (Bessie) Moore, 1867-1960
By Monica Tapper, Historian
President, Coal City Equal Suffrage Association; Charter Member, Broken Arrow Baptist Church, Coal City
Bessie Moore was born in Mobile, Alabama to George Washington and Julia Augusta Daughdrill on January 17, 1867. Originally from France, the Daughdrills were among Mobile's earliest settlers. However, in the 1870s the Daughdrills bought a substantial amount of land in Coal City and became involved in the town's burgeoning mining industry. In 1884 Bessie married John Washington Moore, a prominent businessman in Coal City. John and Bessie had two children, Lady May and Frank Moore. Lady May died when she was twelve years old. The couple were an integral part of their community until they retired to Florida, where John died on July 9, 1934 and Bessie died on July 8, 1960 at the age of ninety-two.
When Bessie's parents moved to Coal City after the Civil War, it was not yet much of a town. The cultivated Daughdrills brought elegance to the mining village, and their home became a place of interest to the local citizens. The family brought their library, as well as the mahogany and rosewood furniture that they had purchased in France. Even more fascinating to the local residents were Mrs. Daughdrill's piano and harp. Bessie's mother was known as an excellent musician, and the locals heard Bach and Beethoven for the first time in the Daughdrill home.
Bessie left the sophisticated Daughdrill home when she married John Moore and the civic-minded couple contributed a great deal to their community. John began his professional career as a hardware store owner, but he was also a postmaster, coal operator, councilman, and mayor. He served on the Board of Education, was treasurer for Coal City, and a knight of Pythias. Although more is written about John's civic activities than those of his wife, we can be certain that Bessie contributed more to her community than was recorded, as she was described as a "very active" and "prominent" citizen.
In 1890, along with her husband, mother, father, and sister, Bessie was one of the original thirteen charter members of Broken Arrow Baptist Church. Both John and Bessie were very active in this church, and it grew to 155 members by 1903. Bessie served as a Sunday School Teacher, and it was said that she "was a hard worker for her church and was always busy but could not speak before the congregation because she would always cry." She represented Coal City at the annual state convention of the Equal Suffrage League in Huntsville in February 1914. In this capacity, she read an address entitled, "Woman and Changing Conditions."
Bessie Moore lived a long full life, and when she died in 1960, she was brought back to Coal City for burial next to her husband and daughter. She left behind two grandsons, Wallace and John Moore, one sister, and a strong community. As one modern local Mrs. Gloria Trammel put it: "All of our women are strong. They always have been."
For a description of Coal City, see discoverstclair.com/traveling-the-backroads/coal-city-history/
Jacksonville Republican, 1885
Our Mountain Home, 1888
Mountain Eagle, 1905
Southern Aegis, 1908, 1909, 1918, 1920
Tuscaloosa News, 1914
1860 United States Federal Census
1870 United States Federal Census
1880 United States Federal Census
1900 United States Federal Census
1910 United States Federal Census
1920 United States Federal Census
United States, Find A Grave Index 1600s – Current
State of Alabama: Department of Archives and History
Alabama Official and Statistical Register p.114
Montgomery, Alabama, 1907
Robert Debtor phone call
Mr. Debtor also emailed:
History of Broken Arrow Baptist Church 1890-1990 p. 14, 15, 39, and 42
Newspaper Clipping: "Former County Resident is Buried Here"
Gloria Trammel phone call