Moore, Francis, Jr. (1808–1864)

By: Priscilla Myers Benham

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 24, 2017

Francis Moore, Jr., newspaper editor, Houston mayor, and amateur geologist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on April 20, 1808, the son of Dr. Francis Moore. In his youth he lost an arm in an accident. In 1828 his family moved to Livingston County, New York; he studied medicine like his father, who was a graduate of Harvard. When Moore moved to Bath, New York, around 1834, he also studied law and taught school. With his friends Jacob W. and James F. Cruger he left New York in 1836 to help Texas win independence from Mexico. He arrived in June and served as a volunteer and assistant surgeon with the Buckeye Rangers. On March 9, 1837, Moore bought an interest in the Telegraph and Texas Register from Thomas H. Borden, and in May the paper was moved from Columbia to Houston. Gail Borden, who also owned interest in the newspaper, sold his share on June 2 to Jacob Cruger. Cruger remained Moore's partner until April 1, 1851, when Moore bought him out. Moore edited the Telegraph and Texas Register for seventeen years. In it he published government documents, excerpted popular fiction, and addressed such issues as dueling, which he argued against. He also wrote a series of articles on the natural resources of Texas, later collected and published in two editions, Map and Description of Texas (1840) and Description of Texas (1844).

Moore was thrice mayor of Houston. He was elected the city's second mayor in 1838 and served until the summer of 1839, when he resigned and temporarily returned to New York. During his term the city approved construction of a market house, hired its first police officers, passed a city charter, and purchased a town lot and fire engine for the first fire department. In 1843 Moore won another term as mayor, and the city built the first bridge over Buffalo Bayou. Finally, during his successive terms as mayor from 1840 to 1852, Moore worked to improve the city roads, which were often flooded. He was also involved in the early business development of Houston. He was director of the Harrisburg Town Company in 1839–40. In June 1839 he was elected to the board of directors of the Harrisburg Rail Road and Trading Company, the fourth oldest railroad company in Texas, and on October 26, 1842 he was elected treasurer of the newly chartered city of Harrisburg. In 1850 he helped organize the Houston Plank Road Company, and in 1851–52 he promoted the Houston and Texas Central Railway. From November 1839 to February 1842 Moore served in the Texas Senate's fourth, fifth, and sixth congresses as the representative from Harris, Liberty, and Galveston counties. As chairman of the committee on education, he urged the chartering of Rutersville College and proposed that geology, a particular interest of his, be included in the school's curriculum. Moore was in favor of the annexation of Texas by the United States, and he represented Harris County at the Convention of 1845.

During his 1839 visit to New York, between his terms as mayor and senator, Moore renewed his friendship with Elizabeth Mofat Wood, a native of Bath; he married her the next year. They had nine children. In Houston, the family attended Christ Church (Episcopal), and from 1850 to 1853 Moore represented the church at the diocesan convention. In 1854 he sold his newspaper to Edward H. Cushing and moved his family to New York. In 1857 he studied geology and paleontology at the New York Geological Survey in Albany. Over the next two years he frequently returned to Texas to gather fossils and shells for the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. Friends recommended Moore to head the Texas state geological survey in 1858, but Governor Hardin R. Runnels appointed Benjamin Franklin Shumard instead. Moore returned to Texas to practice law in March 1859 but spent much of his subsequent time lobbying for the position of state geologist. When Sam Houston won the 1860 gubernatorial race, Moore finally received the appointment. In the winter of 1860–61 he traveled through various counties to make observations. Based on superficial sampling of ores taken during an exploration of the Trans-Pecos region, from March through mid-June 1861, Moore came to believe the area was endowed with great mineral riches. When he returned to Austin he discovered that the legislature had abolished his office, and the state had joined the Confederacy. An ardent Unionist, Moore went north to Brooklyn. He moved to Minnesota in August 1863 to explore the copper mining potential of Lake Superior. He died, probably of appendicitis, in Duluth, Minnesota, on September 1, 1864. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

Ed Bartholomew, The Houston Story (Houston: Frontier Press, 1951). James E. Buchanan, comp. and ed., Houston: A Chronological and Documentary History, 1519–1970 (Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana, 1975). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). S. W. Geiser, "Note on Dr. Francis Moore (1808–1864)," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 47 (April 1944). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Priscilla Myers Benham, “Moore, Francis, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

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May 24, 2017

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