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Old Family Tales

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society

Old family stories are not only fun, they enrich us and tell us about our ancestors and their lives back in the old days. If you have an old family story or biography that you would like to share (almost everyone has a either a character or a very interesting individual in their family tree!), please write it in your own words and email it to Sibyl and it will be placed on this page.

The Story of William Bomar Moore

Submitted by Milda Mason of Alto, New Mexico

Old Family Photo of Levi Moore

For more Old Family Photos of this family, see Old Photos Page

William Bomar Moore was born on the waters of the Kickapoo Creek, just southeast of Canton, on his father's 320 acre patent, Van Zandt County, Texas, in 1858. He was named after his uncle who was born in 1830. His parents were Levi and Mariah "Louisa" Stanley Moore. Bomar had eight brothers and sisters. His grandparents, James and Cynthia Hardcastle Moore lived on a nearby farm, as did many or most other family members. The area was known as "The Moore Community." The Moore community was given that name when James Moore settled the area in 1850. In later years the Moore Community had its own churches and school.

James and Levi Moore had some land dealings with a man named Major Henry C. Scott from the nearby town of Wills Point, Texas. On the 13th of August, 1876, Bomar Moore married Henry Scott's daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Scott. Bome was 18 and Betty was 15 years old.

Bome got a land patent for 97 and 7/10 acres on the Sabine River on Aug 13, 1873. I have an idea it was bought out of his daddy's estate money since Levi died in 1871 and Momma was gone to Bastrop County. Grandad James was still alive, and Bome did not leave Canton with his mother. Bome was only 15 when this land was obtained and I thought it was his uncle Bome's land at first, but a note of Romilda's (his daughter and my grandmother) says he "inherited 100 acres" and the subsequent sale to Sarah's daddy makes me think this is correct. Romilda's notes say Johnnie was born "on daddy's ranch, but I was born in town." Johnnie was born August 31, 1877.
About 2-3 weeks later, on Sept 14, 1877, Bome and Sarah sold that land to Henry Scott, Sarah's father, for 4 hundred dollars and moved to town. Romilda was born in Canton on Jan 20, 1879 and they are on the VZ 1880 census

Grandmother told me that her daddy told her of a couple of spankings he got when he was a kid. He once hobbled all of the milk cows in the pasture for fun. The next morning daddy Levi waited and waited for the cows to come in to be milked, but they didn't come. Finally he went looking for them. Bome got a spanking when Levi came back with the cows and Bome had to milk them all.

The other time was when his daddy (Levi Moore) gave him the job of whitewashing the trunks of the trees in the front yard "up as tall as you are and make them even."
When Bome got finished, he went to put the bucket in the barn, but he had forgotten to empty out the whitewash and wash the bucket. He spotted his daddy's favorite horse in the barn. The horse got whitewashed, too. He washed the bucket, and went in the house and said nothing. The next morning, his daddy went to the barn to milk the cows and saw his horse. Bome got a spanking, but his daddy was dying laughing while he did it. After everybody in the family and the neighbors had seen it, Levi saddled up the horse (still whitewashed) and headed for town. When Levi got back from town, Bome was told to wash the horse. Only all the whitewash wouldn't come off. The horse was a funny color for a long time after that, and the saddle and blanket were a mess.

Grandmother told the story her daddy told her about the Canton preacher who, when he wanted to stress a point, fired off his sixgun in the air.... the tent was full of bullet holes. The sun made a million little sunbeam lines all over. I guess it looked like lazer beams. Her daddy said he always wanted to sit by a sunbeam so he could "play with it". Kids would take something shiny to church to reflect the little sunbeams into each other's eyes... He also told her that church was a fun place to go, very noisy with everybody talking, and the preacher fired his gun off to get them to be quiet, too.

The Moores heard that good land was opening up in Oklahoma indian Territory and Bomar and his brother Levi went to see it. They found the good cattle land they wanted, only this land would only be opened to residents of Arkansas. Bomar and Sarah packed up and moved to Little Rock Arkansas to establish their one year residence. Their third child, Leora, was born there, June 19, 1881.

Bomar and Betty, Betty's brother George Washington Scott, and Bome's mother Louisa Moore Cook, her husband Tobias, brother Levi and his wife and kids all settled in Checotah, Creek Indian Territory. (Now in McIntosh County, Oklahoma)
This was a violent country. Area indians supposedly were bad about stealing from the white settlers and they were warned to keep close watch because some of the indian criminal element would steal the horses and the stock and maybe kill you, too.

Romilda Moore Nolen and her sister Pearle Moore Buckner told me this story. It is an exact quote from my notes taken in about 1947 or 1948:

"Daddy and his brother carried .44-40 pistols, ( From Milda....a 44-40 was probably a Remington brand revolver. It came out in 1875 and had a 71/2" barrrel and six shots.... it was originally developed for the Army. They had another model come out in 1890 with a shorter barrel of 51/2". Colt also had 44-40s though, so it is hard to say exactly what brand gun they had) had a rifle and a shotgun on the horse, and Momma kept her shotgun and her battling stick real close. (I have no earthly idea what a battling stick is.)

The first thing you did was dig and build an outhouse. And then a dugout , so the women and kids could hide in it, and for temporary living quarters until the house was raised. The men stood watch during the night for a long time. One night, during the house raising, there was a terrible gunfight that went on for hours. Me and Momma, Johnny and Ora and my aunt and her kids (*Levi's unknown first wife and at least one girl and a baby boy) were hiding in the dugout with the trap door closed. They had a hard time keeping the kids quiet. We didn't hear shooting for a long while, then we heard a noise at the cellar door. We didn't make a sound. Momma and my aunt had their shotguns pointed at the cellar door. We were scared to death. The door opened and it was Daddy. There were nine dead indians around the yard. We buried them in a bunch in a big hole. Daddy dug up and replanted some bushes over it, so the other indians wouldn't find it. We tromped the dirt and watered the bushes. They found the indian's horses and led them far off... and went on building the house. Momma always fussed because Daddy didn't yell and let her know it was him at the cellar door. Momma said she nearly shot him. Daddy always laughed."

During the period when they were still living in the dugout, Bomar and his brother Levi had gone to town for another load of lumber. The kids spotted a cougar heading for them. Everybody ran to the dugout and shut the door. The cougar began clawing and scratching and digging at the dugout door. This continued, and Betty (Sarah) shot the cougar through the cellar door. They had to build a new door. Local indians tanned the hide for them and they used it as a rug.

"A week or so after that, (the well wasn't dug yet) momma went to the creek to get water and met another cougar face to face. Momma killed the cougar with her battling stick. We had another rug." They felt that both the cougars were mates since one was male and one was female.

Much later, when the house was built, the family had big problems with a cougar. It seemed to be stalking them, but noone could get a good shot at it. It got so bad that the kids were forbidden to leave the house without permission. During this period, Bome felt the need to visit the outhouse in the middle of the night. On this visit he took his knife, but not his gun. As he left the outhouse, the cougar jumped him. Bomar killed the cougar with his knife, but was left with a very big scar on his left arm. He always wore long sleeves after that. "We did not make a rug out of that pelt... It was all full of knife cuts."

Bome had another occasion to visit the outhouse. Sometime during this visit, a spider bit him on the bottom...he came flying out of the outhouse, yelling at the top of his lungs, hopping, with his pants half down, hunting the thing that bit him. Romilda and Ora were hanging out clothes nearby and they found it and killed it. They all turned red in the face at his nakedness, and then sheepishly started laughing. The next morning, his behind was all swollen up and really sore. He couldn't sit down. He paced the floor a lot and finally Betty put him to work weeding the garden. The next day it got much worse and he couldn't wear his pants...Then Betty put him to work cleaning house, because he couldn't go outside wearing his nightshirt. Betty and the kids teased him constantly. It was a big family joke. The thing festered up and he ran a fever for a few days.
It was weeks before he could "sit a horse." Bomar made them all swear on the bible to never tell anyone what had really happened. It would be all over town. He told them to tell everyone he had a boil on his bottom. No one would tease him about that. Betty told him it was a sin to swear on the bible about a silly thing like that. They all laughed, but everybody looked down the hole before they sat down after that.

I am sure that Bomar had his dark side, but he was quite a practical joker. He loved to get Betty mad at him. He was constantly throwing coons and chickens at her while she was in the house, and putting snakes and other evil things in the dishwater. The madder she got, and the more she fussed, the louder he'd laugh. Everyone in the family got a bucket of water in the face at least once.

Bome and Betty carried on the Moore family tradition of the nightly poetry readings first started by Bome's grandfather, James Moore. Betty continued after Bome's death. Daughter Pearle said this childhood exposure to poetry is the reason she later went on to become the Poet Laureate of Texas in 1935.

Bomar and Sarah's fourth child, Bell {Fairy Bell, later Fairbelle and finally she called herself Belle) was born in Checotah, Creek Indian Territory, January 31, 1884.

In 1886, another child was born. A boy. I cannot remember the name of this son. Every day or so, an old Creek "medicine" woman came with her cat to see the baby. The baby was kept in a dresser drawer, sitting on the ironing board. She soon began to bring trade goods with her to trade for the baby. They were naturally very flattered. The trade goods became more valuable, and the woman became much more insistant. She began to be a nuisance, and was told to not come back. At this point, she built a fire in the front yard, and began dancing, chanting and shaking a gourd rattle at them.
The next day or so, everyone was in the side yard weeding and tending the garden. The old lady returned, and at a distance, stared at them. After she left, Betty went in the house to feed the baby. The old woman's cat was lying on the baby's face and the baby was dead. Several days later, Bomar and some neighbors... having decided that the old woman had put some sort of a spell or hex on them,got on their horses to pay the old woman a "visit"....they were going to kill that cat. When they got to her tent, they found her inside, dead. Her face was covered with small animal scratches and the cat was never seen again. (superstitions get started this way)

Sarah then insisted that she go home to Texas to have any more babies, and the next four children, William Riley {February 1887}, Dempsey E. {December 29, 1888}, Fern Pearle {February 21, 1891} and Myrtle Ellen {February 1, 1893} were all born in Texas.

There is a long comment in Romilda and Pearle's notes about the kids having to sweep and clean the yard before washday... they laid the rags on the tall grasses to dry and hung the clothes on the fence and bushes....They said they kept the goats out of the yard a couple of days before washday to let the grasses grow, and as soon as the clothes were picked up they let the goats back in the yard to keep the yard "mowed"... they said they had to be sure to keep the goats away from the laundry.... they were bad about eating around on the clothes.... and they had a problem with birds "dropping" on the clean clothes before they dried, so they didn't throw out the washwater until the clothes were picked up, since some of them had to be rewashed... They washed the front porch "stoop" with the used washwater.

I remember asking them what they used for toilet paper.... they said they used newspaper mostly, but if they ran out they had to use rags and if the outhouse pit was getting full they always used rags... which they had to wash.... They never used corncobs they said... they cut your rear end up and filled up the outhouse pit too fast....When they were out in the field they used handfuls of grasses.... They also said they had to "go" close to certain specified private trees so others in the family wouldn't step in it.... They said they always laughed that their daddy's tree had more flies than anyone else's tree.

I asked them once what the best invention they had ever seen during their lifetime was and they both said that without a doubt it was toilet paper.

Romilda said everyone always knew how old a woman's dress was at a glance.
The streets were often mud mixed with horse droppings and always got on the bottom of the long skirts. Soon the hem just could not be cleaned, so the women cut the dirty part off and put a ruffle on the bottom.
They did this over and over.
New dress.... no ruffle.
older dress wider ruffle.
The older the dress the wider the ruffle got.
Everyone always knew.

Bome's horse (Amigo) was black they said.... With a white star on the forehead and one white sock.

Romilda's horse Smoke was a dark dapple grey gelding and she was very proud of the horse her daddy bought her. She said he was magnificent... She said he loved to arch his neck and walk sideways.....she rode him sidesaddle when she wore a skirt.... she said she cried for years they had to leave him behind when they escaped.....

Sometime, while in Checotah Indian Territory, Bomar Moore had a fistfight. During this fight, part of his right nostril was bitten off. See family group photo taken about 1894 in Checotah.

In regard to Bome's dark side....The streets in town were dirt and the narrow sidewalks were made of wood clapboard. Bome was in town and it had rained all day and the streets were deep mud mixed with horse droppings. Bome was walking down the sidewalk and he met a man who refused to let him pass, trying to make him step in that deep mud. Words were exchanged, and still the man would not let him pass. Bome shot the man in the foot, and the man fell in the mud.

A married, much older man with children, began paying particular attention to Romilda. Very persistent. He followed Romilda around and finally she was not permitted to go anywhere alone. This man had a very bad reputation. Bome and Sarah/Betty were furious at him. Finally, in 1895, This man, a part Creek indian, named Robert John "Bob" Gentry came to Bomar stating that he wanted to divorce his wife and marry Bomar's 14 year old daughter, Romilda. Bomar refused. He asked several times and Bomar refused again. Gentry was quite angry.

On September 21, 1895, Bome and Betty and daughters Romilda, Ora and Bell went to Checotah for shopping and supplies. Bome went unarmed. Betty never let him wear a gun in town. While the shopping was being done, Bome went to the Billiard Hall and saloon. He had been there only a short while when Gentry came in. What happened inside is not known, but words were exchanged and Bome whopped Gentry on the head with his billiard cue, and turned to leave. Gentry promptly shot him in the back three times. Bome staggered outside the swinging door onto the wooden clapboard sidewalk where he fell. Bome's wife Sarah Elizabeth, "Betty" and daughters saw him fall, and Ora ran for a doctor. It took exactly 40 minutes for Bome to bleed to death. The doctor came after he was dead. Bomar was 38 years old. While Bomar was dying, Bob Gentry stepped outside and picked up Bome's brown hat with a silver conch hatband and took it back inside the billiard hall and threw it up on the transom.

Gentry is reputed to have killed from 6 to 20 men before he killed Bomar and instead of taking their scalp, he took their hats as a trophy. Supposedly he kept the hats in his tent or home for awhile and later he had pitched them up over the transom in the Billiard Hall. It is said by Gentry researchers that there were at least 20 hats on the transom.

According to indian records, Robert John "Bob" Gentry was 1/4 Creek Indian; card 506 Dawes Roll 1643. He is known to have other indian blood from unknown tribes absorbed by the Creek and Chickasaw tribes.

Romilda was called to testify against John Gentry. The other witnesses either refused to testify against Gentry or had disappeared. The bartender, had not been seen since the shooting. John Gentry decided to get revenge on Romilda for agreeing to testify against him. He and some friends got drunk. They went on to the farm and began to burn Sarah and the kids out. Johnnie Moore said that a flaming arrow even set the mattress on fire.... although he had never heard of any Creek indian ever using flaming arrows. Sarah and the kids grabbed some food, a shotgun and a few belongings and another feather mattress for the wagon, and sneaked out to an old corrugated tin topped wagon (the original canvas top having long since deteriorated) and left everything else they owned. They barely escaped and headed for the Ava Jane Moore Hickey family in Eastland County, Texas.

Sarah was 7 months pregnant when they left, and this trip was very hard. Along the way, Sarah began to have more and more pain, and they stopped under a tree near a town called Allen. Sarah was having the baby far too early and something was wrong. Johnnie left to go find a doctor, but the doctor refused to come. Johnnie pointed his shotgun and forced the doctor to come with him. Waymon Bomar Moore was born October 15, 1895, in Texas, near the Oklahoma border. They paid the doctor $15. It was all they had. Romilda always said they paid the doctor too much, because a fine funeral only cost $8.

Some time later Betty received a letter in Eastland Texas from Deputy Federal marshal Sid Johnson explaining how sorry he was that Bob Gentry had not been convicted of Bomar's murder, and that there just not enough evidence to convict because the witnesses changed their stories. He also included some court documents:

Criminal Charge file against Robert J. Gentry:

Robert J. Gentry did, in the Indian territory, within the Cherokee Nation, feloniously, willfully, premeditatedly did of his malice aforethought kill and murder W. B. Moore a white man against the peace and dignity of the United States, and I pray a writ.
signed Sid Johnston
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 24th day of September 1895.
Stephen Wheeler
United States Commissioner

Jeff Whittaker
Perry Williams
Robert Thompson Checotah 248, 1540
Robert Bush Texana 268, 1640
Robert L. Stewart Checotah 238, 1490
N. G. Turk

Telegram to Sid Johnson deputy U. S. Marshal, Fort Smith Arkansas from Checotah Indian Territory, L. C. Jones
September 23, 1895
Get writ for R. J. Gentry killing W. B. Moore, September 21

Telegram to Sid Johnson Fort Smith Arkansas
From: Checotah Indian Territory
September 24, 1895
Persons present at killing: Jeff Whittaker, Perry Williams, Robert Thompson, Robert Bush.
from L. C. Jones

to Jeff Whittaker, Perry Williams, Robert Thompson and Robert Bush, R.
L. Stewart and N. G. Turk
WE COMMAND YOU, that all and singular business and excuses laid aside,
you and each of you appear and attend before the Commisioner of the United States, for the Western District of Arkansas. at an examination to be held at his office in Fort Smith, Arkansas, forthwith, to testify and give afidavit in a certain cause pending, and then and there be tried, between the United States of America and Robert J. Gentry, defendant, on the part of the United States. And this you, or any of you, are not to omit, upon the penalty upon you, and every one of you, of two hundred and fifty dollars.
WITNESS MY HAND, at Fort Smith the 24 th day of Sept, 1895
Stephen Wheeler
Commissioner U. S. Circuit Court, Western District

United States of America
I Stephen Wheeler, Commissioner of the Circuit Court of the United States, in and for the District aforesaid, do hereby certify that the within and foregoing is a true copy, together with the endorsements therein, of a complaint on file in my office.
In TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand, at Fort Smith, in
said District this 24 day of Sept 1895
Stephen Wheeler
United States Comissioner

United States
Robert J. Gentry
Information filed capias and subpoena
Issued Sept 24 1895
Stephen Wheeler

Sept 24, 1895
J. A. B. McDonnough
Asst. U. S. Attorney

Office of U. S. Marshal
Western District of Arkansas
June 13, 1896
I certify that I served the within writ of subpoena on the __ day of __ by then and there reading the same in the presence and hearing of the within named Robert Thompson 7th of June Robt Bush 10th Robert Bush R. L Stewart the 11th
Geo. J. Crump
U. S. Marshal

Most of the witnesses disappeared and the three remaining "did not see anything."
Jeff Whittaker, the bartender in the Billiard Hall, packed up and left the territory that same night.

Sometime later, Bomar Moore's brother, Levi Moore came to Eastland and brought Bome's hat and also the hat of Bob Gentry to Betty and the kids. Bome's hat was brown with a silver conch hatband and Gentry's was black with three feathers in the hatband. Gentrys hat hung from a nail by the front door for years "until the moths got it"

Robert John "Bob" Gentry was shot and killed by his cousin Sam Baker, a deputy US Marshal, on November 11, 1900.

Betty and the kids had a few cattle, and Betty caned chairs and took in sewing to support the family following Bomar's death.

Sarah Elizabeth Scott Moore died October 25, 1925 at the home of her daughter Pearle Moore Stevens in Wichita Falls, Texas.

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