Fred Moore was born Jan. 1, 1875. His mother was Mary Jane Goodall, an African-American whose parents had been slaves. She was called Janie. Because she was born in the time of slavery, she was never taught to read or write. Fred's father was an Indian man who disappeared six months before Fred was born.
It was cold and snowing the night Fred was born. Dr. Owsley, a woman doctor who helped deliver most of the babies in Denton at that time, came to help Janie with her new baby. She also helped Janie name the baby Frederick Douglas after the famous African-American leader.
When Fred was first born, Janie worked for a family in west Denton and she carried her baby with her to work. They made a cradle for the baby to stay in while he was there. She didn't earn much money, but she also was paid in food and clothes for the baby, so she managed to care for Fred.
When Fred was a year old, Janie married Henry Lucien Moore. Henry Moore adopted the baby, so Fred's full name became Frederick Douglas Moore. After their marriage, Janie and Henry Moore moved two miles south of the Owsley home and Janie worked for the Owsleys. Later, they moved to Mill Street where Henry worked at the old Davenport Mill. He lost his job when the mill burned. He then went to work at a brick plant carrying bricks and mortar. After the college that is now the University of North Texas opened, Henry became its first janitor.
Denton was still a frontier town when Fred was little. There were no electric lights. There were only a few streets. Lanterns hung at the street corners to illuminate the crossings.
The Moores lived in a one-room log house with two windows. The kitchen was in a side-room, a practice at those times to keep the heat from cookstoves away from the main living area. The house had a wood plank floor, which Janie kept clean by putting lye in the water when she mopped the floor. They had two very high beds, with mattresses filled with hay or straw.
Outside, the Moores had what was called a clean dirt yard or swept yard, the same kind of yard that most people had then. The grass was scraped away with a hoe, and the ground was swept regularly to keep it free of grass and weeds. They kept ducks, geese, chickens and pigs. Behind the house was an orchard where pear, plum, and peach trees grew, and grapes grew on the fence.
The Moores joined the Methodist Church. Traveling preachers came by horseback or horse and buggy to preach at the church, and they usually stayed at the Moore home while in Denton. Traveling peddlers in covered wagons also came by the house, selling or trading such hard-to-get items as pins, needles, threads, buttons and tobacco.
Fred had chores, such as carrying in the wood for his mother's cookstove, but he also had time to play. He liked to make pictures on the ground using berries, sticks and rocks. He used clay to make figures of people and animals and mixed mud with sticks to make tiny houses.
Fred started to school when he was seven years old. He learned to write so well that by the time he was ten, he was appointed secretary of the Sunday School at his church. He loved school and church. He made good grades in school, and he learned to play many musical instruments. He continued to be active in his church and was elected superintendent of Sunday schools when he was 19. He began collecting books and articles about the Bible and teaching his mother from them.
His schooling ended when he finished the ninth grade. It was time for him to go to work. His first job away from home was at a bank and he later worked at barbershops. Then he began using his musical talents. He organized a 14-piece band that played for events all over the county and he organized a string band that played for white people's dances. His bands became popular and he became known as the Professor. He met his wife, Sadie, when he took his band to Lewisville to play for a Juneteenth picnic and celebration. Fred and Sadie were married in 1902.
Eight years later, Sadie heard about a vacancy in the school for African-Americans in Denton. She convinced Fred that he should turn to education as a profession. He began studying and then passed an examination to earn his teachers certificate. He became principal of the school in 1915, beginning a career in education that spanned 40 years.
He kept studying during those early years, borrowing money to go to summer school. He attended Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College from 1917 to 1921, graduating in 1921. He later attended Fisk University and did graduate work at Columbia University in New York.
As teacher and principal in public school, a Sunday School official and leader in his church and community, Fred Moore influenced generations of students with his philosophy based on the following rules of conduct:
Exercise self-control; control tongues, thoughts, temper and actions.
Never ridicule or defile the character of another. Keep your self-respect and help others to keep theirs.
Kindness; be kind in thoughts and never despise anyone. Be kind in speech, never gossip or speak unkindly of others.
Good health is important. Keep yourself clean in body and mind.
Be self-reliant, but listen to the advice of wiser and older people.
Develop independence and wisdom.
Act according to what seems right and fair. Never fear being laughed at for doing what is right.
Be brave. A coward does not make a good citizen.
Always play fair. Never cheat. Always treat your opponents with courtesy.
Fred Moore was an honored citizen of Denton for many years. City landmarks such as Fred Moore Park and Fred Moore School were named in his honor. He died Oct. 1, 1953.
*Information for this biography is from the book, Fred Moore, by his wife, Sadie Moore.