History of the Moss Family
In Jefferson County, Illinois
By Mary Jane (Moss)Ohms
The history of the Moss family closely follows the history of Southern Illinois and particularly
Jefferson County. Ransom was born in Louisa County, Virginia, May 7, 1798. He came to the Northwest
Territory (now Illinois) via Tennessee and located in Jefferson County. He traveled along an old
Indian trail and settled in Shiloh community in 1818 with his wife, Susan Charlotte Clark. They
had two children, Lucillus (Lucius) C. and Susan. Charlotte died April 14, 1920 and her burial was
the first Christian burial in Jefferson County. She is buried in the Old Shiloh cemetery.
Ransom took little Susan back to Tennessee to be with relatives and then returned to Illinois
with his son.
Ransom courted and on July 6, 1821 married Anna Johnson, daughter of Lewis and Frankey Stone Johnson.
This marriage by Uncle Billy Maxey, newly appointed Justice of the Peace, was the first recorded in
Jefferson County. They had 8 children – Thomas Lewis, James Franklin, Amanda Caroline, William Harvey,
John Riley, Elizabeth F., Nancy Jane, and Ransom Harvey. Ransom died August 2, 1835 at the age of 37,
leaving Anna with 8 children. She next married a Mr. James Latham on March 18, 1838 and bore a son,
Samuel K. Latham, from that marriage. After his death or "disappearance" which I believe actually
happened, Anna finished raising her children alone. She was a strong and remarkable woman, loved and
respected by all who knew her. Anna died October 21, 1890 at the age of 92 and is buried in Oakwood
cemetery. At her death her descendents numbered two hundred, going down to the fifth generation.
The eldest child of Anna and Ransom was my great-great grandfather, Thomas L. Moss. He was born
November 30, 1823 and was eleven years old when his father died. He took over the farming chores to
help with raising the young family.
In 1842 Thomas married Miss Sarah Jane Brock of Jersey County and they started married life in a
log cabin located 1/4 mile east of his boyhood home log cabin. Many stories are told of his great
strength, his untiring energy, his devotion to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and his unwavering
support of the Republican Party. Although he started without money or land, by diligent labor and
good management he accumulated 1,000 acres.
During the Civil War in 1861 he raised a company of men in Shiloh Township, drilled and trained
them and they were mustered in and taken to the front by his younger brother, Captain John Riley
Moss. Thomas stayed behind to tend to the farm and guaranteed every man who enlisted from Shiloh
Township that their wife and children would not want for food, clothing or medical attention while
they were gone. This company of men, Company C, Sixtieth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry,
served valiantly in ten battles and in General Sherman's March to the Sea.
Thomas L. Moss and his wife Sarah had 12 children. Seven children grew to adulthood and five
died in infancy. The infants are buried in Old Shiloh cemetery. The children of Thomas and Sarah
were Martha E., Thaddeus C., Mahala A., S. Rose, Joseph T., LaFayette B., Mazzeratta J., Walter D.,
Ella E., Elsah M., Thomas L. and possibly a 12th one which I was not able to confirm.
Their youngest son, Walter Douglas Moss, was my great grandfather. He was born October 19, 1857
at the old log cabin which had been rebuilt and enlarged by adding a two story structure of hand
hewn boards just in front of the original structure. W. D. or "Doug" as he was known, grew to
manhood on the old farm, receiving his academic learning in the primitive log school and his knowledge
of farming and livestock from his father who was an expert in the vocation. W. D. met and married
Mary Ellen Coleman, a native of Gibson County, Indiana on July 4, 1880. The wedding was held in the
West Salem Church – 2 miles west of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. In 1883 they built a three-room house back
in the field about 1 mile south of his grandfather Ransom's log cabin. When completed, W. D. said
his worldly possessions consisted of a few chickens, a cow and $10. 00 in money. In 1891 W. D.
purchased the Judge Tanner brick home and farm that later became the Methodist Children's Home and
Columbia Heights Subdivision. In 1896 they sold the "Brick House" and moved to Drivers – a town 5
miles west of Mt. Vernon on the L& N Railroad, where they purchased a 372-acre farm and he
became Post Master and Depot Agent. The depot burned down and the L& N never replaced it. The
Post Office was moved and so did all the people of this settlement. In 1898 W. D. traded the 372
acres to Capt. Watson for the Mt. Vernon Flour Mill, located on the L & N spur track at the
southwest corner of 10th and Casey. (Howard and Casey Wholesale Grocer Co. later occupied
the building. )After operating the mill a few years, he sold out his interest and bought in as a
partner with John R. Piercy in a general store on the northeast corner of 9th and Broadway.
They purchased this store from J. Hill Williams in 1901. In 1902 he sold out and purchased a grocery
store from Tom Johnson on North 9th Street. (Where Hunt's Restaurant and Stockton's Barber
Shop later located). This was known as Star Grocery and later as Moss Grocery for 16 years until the
building was sold to Moco Monkey Grip, a tire patch manufacturer owned by his oldest son, Tony.
In 1902 W. D. bought and moved to the Judge Youngblood property at 121 North 12th. This
property was bound on the East by 12th street, Harrison on the North, 13th
on the West and an alley on the South. Only one other house was on this property, later occupied
by Mrs. Harry (Pearl) Dodds. Still later this property held 3 apartments and a single family home
including the duplex of Flossie Moss. All totaled, the Moss family owned at least a portion of this
property over 90 years.
In 1920 W. D. bought the brick building at the corner of 11th and Main St. (this later
became the location of Griggs Grocery) from Newby Bros. Two of his sons, Eddie B. and Moody
returned from California and opened a butcher shop and grocery store where W. D. continued to
clerk until about 1930 when he retired.
After the death of his wife in 1932 he traveled and enjoyed good health until he suffered a fatal
heart attack October 8, 1936 and was buried beside his wife in the family plot at Oakwood cemetery.
At his death, W. D. left 4 sons and a daughter (one son, Walter Dwight, having died in his youth)
Tony I., Moody R., Eddie B., Mark H., and Mayme A. (Mrs. George Culli).
Eddie Bolin Moss (my grandfather), known as Ed. B. Moss affectionately called "Eddie B" by many
of his host of friends, was born at the old "Brick House" on Christmas Day 1894. He was 8 years
old when the family moved to 121 North 12th and spent his entire youth in this neighborhood.
Eddie B was an ambitious boy and since his older brothers, Tony and Moody worked at the grocery store,
he did most of the household chores --- feeding the livestock, driving the cows to and from the pasture
(located where the Good Samaritan Hospital now stands), delivering milk, keeping the wood box full,
drawing wash water, etc. For cash spending money he made and sold sandwiches to passengers on all of
the L&N trains when they stopped for water. As he grew older, he handed over the chores to his
younger brother, Mark, and took over the delivery of groceries in the one horse wagon.
On May 27, 1914 he married Anna Leota Koons, only child of Robert A. and Della Pearson Koons. In
1917 they bought and moved into the old "Bolin Place" at 2015 Broadway. In 1918 he sold the Bolin
Place to Willard Plowman and bought his brother Moody's modern bungalow at 117 N. 13th
just across the street from Moco Monkey Grip Factory where he was employed. (It was built on part
of the ground occupied by the W. D. Moss home. )
In 1919 Tony sold the Moco Company and the Mt. Vernon factory was closed so Eddie B. and Moody
decided to sell out and move to California. Moody and his wife, Flossie (Firebaugh) drove their Dodge
touring car over the primitive roads carrying their belongings, gas, oil, water (there were very few
filling stations) and pitching their tent wherever night overtook them. Eddie B., his wife Leota and
their son Bob Ed went by train.
By 1920 the Moss boys had explored California and when their father, W. D., bought the Newby Grocery
building they decided to come back to Mt. Vernon and open a new modern Moss Meat Market and Grocery Store.
In 1922, Ed bought the Gussie Ferguson two story frame home at 214 N. 12th and remodeled it
into a two family dwelling, and except for a brief 5 year period (when they farmed a 60 acre farm with
R. A. Koons)it was his and Leota's home until their deaths in 1971. When he returned from farming,
(having sold out his grocery stock and fixtures to brother Moody in 1932), Eddie B. became a lease
broker and bought and sold oil leases and royalty during all of the years of the oil boom and later a
real estate broker with Vol Richardson until failing health forced his retirement from the office,
although he continued his activity and maintained his broker's license until his death. Ed will long
be remembered for his knowledge of the history of Jefferson County and for his life-long collections
of pictures and artifacts pertaining to the early families, gatherings, buildings, and folklore which
he so lovingly preserved. Ed and Leota, devoted in life for 57 years, both passed away in 1971 and are
buried in the Moss family plot in Oakwood cemetery.
Bob Ed Moss (my father) was the only child of Ed B. and Leota Moss and the last branch (by Moss name)
on my family tree. Only one other child was born to the offspring on the W. D. Moss family, George
Oscar Culli II, only child of Dr. George Oscar and Mayme Moss Culli. He and his wife Faye (Easley) Culli
retired to live on their ranch in Three Rivers, Texas. George passed away July 5, 1994.
Bob Ed Moss was born September 24, 1916 at the W. D. Moss at 121 North 12th and although
there were many intervening moves, he and his wife Nina ended up living in the Ed B. Moss home at 214 N.
12th (just one block north) until Nina's death in 1977 and Bob Ed's in1994. Bob Ed married
Nina Virginia Pittman October 14, 1934. They were the parents of three daughters – Jean Ellen Koike of
Silver Spring, MD, Mary Jane Ohms of Washington, IL, and June Ann Adams of Desloge, MO. He was active in
the furniture and appliance business from 1937 until his retirement in mid 1980's. In the 40's & 50's
he owned Home Town Furnishing Co. and Home Town Pianos & Organs in Mt. Vernon and Gibson Furniture Co.
in Henderson, KY. After that, he spent 25 years as a Manufacturers Factory Representative, traveling all of
Illinois and Indiana.
After Nina's death, Bob Ed married Laverne Craggs on April 12, 1980. She died on October 14, 1989.
Biography Ransom MOSS
Written and submitted by Mary Jane (Moss) Ohms.
Oct 15, 2002