From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Early Leavenworth

H. Miles Moore, the Pioneer 'Grand-Dad' of Leavenworth

by Harry H. Seckler

There are few residents of Leavenworth City or County who may be classified as near oldsters or old timers who do not recall a pioneer to whom this city is deeply indebted:

H. Miles Moore, in his lifetime bore many titles; those of captain, judge advocate, lieutenant cololonel and colonel during the Civil War; and prior to the rebellion he attained the rank of general of the Free State army organization.

In civil life he was an attorney at law, practicing in Weston, Mo., and pioneer Leavenworth; city attorney of the then little but growing city; attorney general of territorial Kansas, a member of the first territorial legislature; United States commissioner and assistant United States attorney.

But to all of those he preferred the title of judge, having presided as judge on the bench of the city court for many terms.

Judge Moore was among the first permanent residents who came here when Leavenworth's 640 acres, of which the city proper when consisted, was a wide expanse of hazel-brush.

In his young manhood he was among the pioneers who took their lives in their own hands, so to speak, to balle for that which they felt was the true course upon which to build here the first city in the territory of Kansas after President Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska bill on May 30, 1854, that which made Kansas an organized territory of the United States.

The excitement incident to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill spread throughout the entire country, and both slavery supporters and Free-Staters were induced to come to Kansas.

In June, 1854, H. Miles Moore came to the new territory with a body of prominent residents of Weston, Mo., where he had been practicing law, to establish a settlement, and from that time afterward he was vitally connected with the Free State movement.

In his early manhood he was a Whig, and later a Democrat, but with him partyism was absorbed in patriotism.

More than once his close connection with the anti-slavery cause brought him in perial of his life and he was often shot at by those who realized that his death would be of advantage to the pro-slavery movement.

Three times, he related in later years, he was taken by his enemies and led out to be hanged, but each time his connection with the Masonic fraternity saved his life.

In one of those attempts he was taken to a building near the corner of Second and Cherokee streets. A chair was placed upon a table, he was stood upon it and a noose hanging from a ceiling rafter was around his neck.

However, one of the party, recognizing Moore as a Mason, diverted the attention of others of the mob, pulled the intended victim from the chair, rushed him to the rear door where a saddled horse was tied, and told Moore to ride fo his life, which he did amid a hail of bullets.

As a member of the original town company Judge Moore was its secretary and drew up the first papers organizing the town. The company consisted of 30 members three of whom, himself one of the trio, were chosen to select a name for the new town.

He selected the name "Leavenworth" in honor of the general who had established Fort Leavenworth while the others proposed that of Douglas, for Stephen A. Douglas, who had introduced the Kansas-Nebraska bill in the US Congress. But Moore's arguments prevailed upon them to side with him. The lots of the original town plat were bought from the Delaware Indians for $24,000, each lot having a government patent.

History relates that though the Planters Hotel was erected by the pro-slavery element and announcement had been made upon its opening that only pro-slavery adherents were welcome at its guests it was Judge Moore's persuasive powers that prevailed upon the owners to modify their rule, which they reluctantly did, wording it to permit Free-State men to be guests "Providing they behaved as gentlemen should."

Miles Moore was elected attorney general of Kansas three times, conditional upon its admission to the Union as a state. He was a member of the first territorial legislature in 1857, and served one term in the State Legislature.

He served for six years as city attorney of Leavenworth, later was United States commissioner and also served as assistant United States attorney.

Why Leavenworth was not made the capital of Kansas, according to the judge, was because A. J. Reeder, first territorial governor, failed to keep his promise to do so.

Previous to the Civil War Miles Moore was known as a general of the Free State army organization; served as judge advocate with rank of lieutenant colonel on the staff of General Lane; later was acting colonel of the Fifth Kansas regiment, and was commissioned by Abraham Lincoln as commissary of subsistence with the rank of captain.

After the war he returned to Leavenworth, engaged in the practice of law and was a member of the school board, and in his declining years judge of the city court.

One Kansas historian said of Miles Moore: "As one of the pioneers of Leavenworth his name deserves to be placed in the archives of history. Personally he is a man of decided and inflexible traits of mind. Posessing a strong mind and determined will, he has, under every circumstance, had the courage of his convictions and has never deviated from the course his conscience mapped out for him."

The writer, who often as a news reporter sat during trials in the city court with Judge Moore on the bench, fully agrees with the historian's estimation of His Honor.

Often during a hearing he made remarks that really should have disqualified him as the trial judge.

In one case wherein a dentist was suing a woman for a set of false teeth the judge became exasperated by some remarks of the attorney for the defense and he said in a loud voice: "What good are false teeth anyway? I haven't a tooth in my head, but I have no trouble at all chewing beefsteak with my gums."

H. Miles Moore was just like that.

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