1464 7th Ave South
Clinton, IA 52732
MEMO: Report on Laddonia, Missouri trip, May 1-2, 1998
May 1st: On Friday night, Joyce and I drove to Quincy, Illinois, arriving late. Stayed at the Comfort Inn. They only had one smoking room left, so both of our sinuses were shot when we left Saturday a.m. Quincy is a fairly big place, with a German heritage. There are several beautiful churches with bells clanging which we noticed right away. There is also a pretty good-sized mall there.
May 2nd: Saturday morning after breakfast we drove about 10 miles south to Hannibal, Missouri, which is Mark Twain land. We crossed the Mississippi and drove through New London, and on down Route 19 into rural Missouri, stopping at Center to call Dolores Williams. She is a very pleasant woman who graciously set up our activities in Laddonia.
Just south of Perry, Missouri in a very rural farmland area, we met up with Dolores and Mr. Eddie Caldwell, who owns the farm on which sets the Moore Burying Ground. Eddie drove us up through his pasture in his 4WD pickup so we wouldn’t have to walk, which saved us quite a lot of work, as the cemetery is in the back of his field in a clump of trees, about a few hundred yards from the dirt road. The MBG has about 28 graves in it, which can apparently be confirmed at the county courthouse in New London.
Mr. Eddie Caldwell and Mrs. Dolores Williams
The Moore Burying Ground (MBG) is heavily overgrown, but undisturbed. Eddie said that J. W. Moomaw (22193154) who lived in the area, used to keep it up until he got to be too old (he’s passed on now). The Moore Family originally owned the land, and their family and the Moomaws make up the bulk of the headstones in the cemetery. Joel and Samuel Moomaw lived just down the road from the site, and were presumably friends with the Moores. Eddie is about 75 years old, and he said he was born in the house on this farm, baptized in the creek running through the property, and lived on the farm his whole life. He turned out to be an excellent source of information. He recalls as a young boy, he guesses about 10 years old (which places this in the 1930’s), he helped bring up the last body to be buried here. He said they hitched the team of horses and brought the body up in a wagon.
The Moomaws appeared to be buried in the Northeast corner of the small cemetery, which is approximately 25-30 feet square. The Moores headstones occupy the front/center, and southeast corners. The MBG itself is not marked in any way, and would never be found without the knowledge of these local people. Dolores, in initiating all this, was instrumental in locating this site. A little background info: I had an obituary from Frank Mooma of Chico, California, which placed Adam in the MBG and his funeral service in the Littleby Baptist Church. I did not know where this was located and presumed it to be in Illinois. Finally I realized from an earlier piece of info from Robert Moomaw that Joel Moomaw lived in Laddonia, and from the obituary that Adam was living with Joel when he died, that this was the area I needed to search. I called information to get the number for the church, talked to the pastor there, who finally put me in touch with Dolores. I also subsequently have received from Mrs. Helen Jean Hopkins of Auxvasse, Missouri, a copy of Adam’s obituary in the Laddonia Herald, which also places him in the MBG.
We were unable to locate Adam’s headstone, but saw several which were too weathered/aged to be readable, and any of these certainly could have been his. There is a large impressive headstone of Nancy Moomaw, who was married to Joel’s oldest son George Washington Moomaw (221931), and next to hers is a small headstone belonging to James E. Moomaw (22193122), who would be their grandson. James’ father Eugene (2219312) is also there. Joel and his wife are not buried here, but in the Laddonia Cemetery.
Nancy Moomaw’s Headstone
After we’d exited the cemetery and returned through the pasture to the dirt road, we met up with Frances Schooler (22193722), and shortly after with her sister Ruby Hale (22193723) and brother-in-law Don Hale.
Ruby had several old family photos of “Uncle Jake’s” family of which she offered to make copies. Frances has a copy of Robert’s book, and we discussed their family. They were also interested in seeing the MBG and so Eddie took them up while Joyce, Dolores and I waited on the road.
We decided next to visit the Littleby Baptist Church, where Adam’s funeral service was held. Eddie left us at this point, as he decided to go for lunch. We turned south from the Caldwell farm, and drove past the William’s farm, where Dolores changed trucks. Another mile or so south and Frances pointed out a wooded area to the west across a farm field where another graveyard exists in which Moomaws are buried. They are now in the process of trying to locate it. A short distance farther south rests the Joel Moomaw house on the west side of the highway, an old house that is now rented. Neither Dolores, Frances, nor Ruby knew who lives there now. After some discussion, Frances and Ruby determined that across the highway to the east was the other Moomaw home, which is no longer there, but the old barn still stands. This was either Joel’s son Jacob or Samuel’s house.
Joel Moomaw’s house
Another mile or so south we turned west on Route J and drove a couple more miles to the church, which is on the left (south) side of the road. This was approximately six miles from the MBG, which we visualized as quite a journey by horse-drawn wagon when they buried Adam.
Don Hale described the Littleby Baptist Church as a “typical little Missouri county church.” It is a small white wooden building, with the worship area upstairs and a small room downstairs with old chairs and tables set up for meetings, etc. It had the feel of a small congregation, very “homey”, as one would expect from this community of Midwest farmers. In the worship area, three columns of pews run back from the altar to the front of the building, with only approximately ten rows total. Ruby said that when they were little girls attending church, that everyone had their place; for example, the men sat in one section together, with the boys sitting behind them. The women also sat together in one section, with the girls sitting with them. She said that this tradition pretty much continues today, which we thought was pretty neat. We both had the impression that Dolores organized a lot of church activities, and she had the keys to let us in to show us around. We were invited to attend Sunday’s service, but although we both felt warmly welcomed, we had to get home to get ready for our upcoming move to the East Coast. We explored somewhat the small cemetery in the rear of the church, and found a Mary Brown, wife of J.J. Moomaw, b Feb 18, 1864, d Jan 3, 1898.
We decided to drive to Laddonia next to look at Joel and Susan Moomaw’s graves. Dolores left us at this point, and we parted very appreciative for her generous efforts. After stopping to film Joel’s house, we drove on southeast to Laddonia. The cemetery is toward the south end of town, turning right from the main road. Directly into the main entrance on the right side of the small gravel road is Joel and Susan Moomaw’s graves, and also their son and daughter-in-law Samuel and Mary Moomaw’s graves. We also visited Frances’ and Ruby’s grandmother’s (Alice May Moomaw Brown, 221937-Joel’s daughter) grave, and other Brown family gravesites.
We had lunch with Don and Ruby at the restaurant downtown, while Frances unfortunately had to leave us at the graveyard. After a nice visit, we departed on our long drive home. This trip was very enjoyable, and we learned a great deal thanks to everyone’s generosity.
Below are the obituaries for Adam, the left one from Mrs. Helen Hopkins, and the right one from Frank Mooma:
Laddonia Herald Source Unknown
L to R: Tom Moomaw, Frances Schooler, Ruby & Don Hale, Eddie Caldwell, Dolores Williams
24 May 2008, 10:14:32