Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry continues her series on Mayflower descendants, again focusing on philanthropist Ada Waterman Small Moore. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
Today I continue with my series “Mayflower Descendants: Who’s Who” with more about Ada Waterman Small Moore (1858-1954), a descendant of Mayflower passengers Robert Cushman, Isaac Allerton, and Richard Warren.
Ada’s father, Edward Alonzo Small, was a corporate lawyer in Chicago. He partnered with Ada’s husband Willian Henry Moore and his brother James Hobart Moore, who married her sister Lora Josephine Small.
Ada’s husband William, known as “Judge Moore” around the equestrian scene and “Daring Knight of Errant Finance” in the business sect, made millions – and the Moore’s always shared the wealth.
One of the family estates, “Rockmarge” located in Prides Crossing [Beverly], Massachusetts, became a haven of hospitality and philanthropy.
In 1911 the San Francisco Call profiled Ada’s benevolent spirit.
According to this article:
Mrs. Moore is exceedingly charitable in many ways; but her favorite method of doing good to others is to educate young men and young women, so that they may be self-supporting, by means of music and the arts. To this end, she sends many to the best schools in America and Europe.
“Rockmarge,” the Moore country place at Pride’s Crossing, Mass., has gardens that are the wonder of that neighborhood. Mrs. Moore understands the culture of flowers, and is especially fond of carnations. A well-known florist [Denys Zirngiebel] has paid her the compliment of giving her name to one of his most beautiful carnations.
A few artists to benefit from Ada’s assistance were: Charles James, America’s first couturier; and Eugene Morahan, renowned sculptor.
The Moore’s entertained Vanderbilt’s and Rockefeller’s and a noted Mayflower descendant, William Howard Taft. Some of Ada’s charity galas were co-hosted with Mrs. Harold Jefferson Coolidge and Mrs. Henry Clay Frick.
The Boston Herald reported on a horse show at Rockmarge in 1911 that attracted a prestigious audience, including President Taft.
This show included horses which had won blue ribbons for Judge Moore at the Olympia show at Hampton Court in London. He won the coaching marathon race with his road coach fittingly named “Rockmarge.”
The drivers included Miss Eleanor Sears and Mrs. Charles Munn [Mary Astor Paul]. The horn blower was Horace Clark, a 16-year-old who also won ribbons at Hampton Court.
President Taft motored down from Hamilton with Maj. Archibald Butt and graced the affair as well as many socialites.
All horse shows held at the “Rockmarge” raised funds for the Red Cross.
After her husband died in 1923, Ada continued her charity work. In 1925 the Boston Herald praised Ada for yet another fundraiser she held at Rockmarge.
This article reported:
Everyone will surely be delighted with the Hampton Quartet and the quaint spirituals they will render, the proceeds of the afternoon to help swell the endowment fund of Hampton and Tuskegee institutes.
In 1928 the Springfield Republican announced a gift of $400,000 from Ada to Amherst College to build the William H. Moore Laboratory of Chemistry to honor her late husband, who graduated from the college in 1871. The building was converted to student housing in 1976.
Ada was a fundraising ringleader, organizing benefits for the war effort during World War II – even before the U.S. itself entered the war. For example, in 1941 she hosted a fundraiser at Rockmarge with other Mayflower offshoots.
During the 1942 summer season there was a beach bash arranged on the fly by Rev. Bradford Hinckley Burnham (Mayflower scion) of St. John’s Church in Beverly Farms to cheer up some pilot lads, held on the beach in front of Rockmarge.
The Boston Traveler reported on this event.
My favorite find involving Ada Moore’s generosity was this 1925 newspaper article.
This article reported:
Mrs. William Moore of Prides Crossing, Mass., today presented Fr. De Lattre, veteran explorer of ancient Carthage, a check for 100,000 francs to help him continue his work of unearthing the Punic capital, on which he has been engaged almost single-handed for 40 years.
Mrs. Moore’s check represents more than the total of the fund that Fr. De Lattre has had at his disposal in all that period. Accustomed to having only 1500 francs a year for his great archaeological researches, he seemed at first unable to comprehend the figures written on the check. Then with eyes shining mistily, a voice breaking [with] emotion, the white haired old monk expressed his thanks to Mrs. Moore and to all the American people, whose interest and generosity are making his 76th year the crowning one of his career.
Stay tuned; the Moore clan returns later this fall!
Note: Just as an online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, helped tell the stories of Mayflower descendant Ada Waterman Small Moore, they can tell you stories about your ancestors that can’t be found anywhere else. Come look today and see what you can discover!
Note on the header image: a photo of Ada Waterman Small Moore. Courtesy of Alex Dearborn of Maine, grandson of Ada Small Moore.
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