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No, he’s not

There are roughly a gazillion family trees on Ancestry and elsewhere that say Robert Wilson “Mustang” Moore (b 1808 NC) is the son of Joseph Moore (c1759 NC-1820 KY), and his wife Rebecca (c1759 NC-c1861 MS), whose maiden name may have been Ballew.1

Robert Moore




No, he’s not.

Really, folks.

I know you want parents for your Robert.

I know your trees all say he was born in North Carolina when Joseph and Rebecca were having kids in North Carolina.2 So he’d fit in nicely as the youngest of their sons.

And your trees say he was later living in Mississippi at the same time that Rebecca and her children were living in Mississippi after Joseph’s death.3 So he’d fit in reasonably there too.

But, really.

He’s not their kid.

You see, there are some key documents that — taken together — mean you can’t just pin your same-surnamed person onto this family.

The first two are records of the Caldwell County, Kentucky, Court when Joseph died in 1820. In one, two of the older sons, Burt G. Moore and Edmund F. Moore, were named administrators of Joseph’s estate. And, recorded immediately after, the two youngest sons — John and Daniel — chose their brother Alexander as their guardian, and Alexander had Burt and Edmund serve as securities for his bond as guardian.4

If Robert was Joseph’s son, he would have been a minor in 1820. He would have needed a guardian every bit as much as his brothers. There is no guardianship for Robert in the Caldwell County records.5

Now — you might argue — this isn’t conclusive because John and Daniel were old enough to choose their own guardian, while Robert would have been only 12 and would have needed someone to ask on his behalf to have a guardian appointed. So if nobody asked for him to have a guardian, there wouldn’t be a record.6

And that’s true — though that wouldn’t explain why the Moore family acted properly for everyone else and just left Robert out. It’s not as if nobody in the court would have known there was another younger son. This wasn’t a family uinknown to Caldwell County’s Court: Burt in particular is all over the records, as a deputy sheriff, constable and more.7

What nails this down are the records created years later when the heirs of Joseph Moore sold his Kentucky land. The first, dated September 1833, is a power of attorney — a legal document authorizing person A to act on behalf of person B or, as here, for a group of people B, C, D, etc. It was from “Rebecca Moore William L Moore John M Moore Bert G Moore Alexander Moore Daniel B Moore William M Robertson & Morgan Childs, of the State of Mississippi Lowndes County” and it said they were the “heirs of Joseph Moore deceased” and owned 400 acres of land “late in the possession of Joseph Moore dece’d” in Caldwell County, Kentucky. They authorized Edmund F. Moore to sell the land.8 That’s followed by a deed executed under that power of attorney in October 1833. It transferred part of the land to John Wylie, and was signed by Edmund F. Moore on his own behalf and as attorney in fact on behalf of all the others — all identified as “heirs of Joseph Moore dec’d.”9

No Robert.

It’s not as if Robert wasn’t alive in 1833: even the trees that put his death date the earliest have him living into the 1860s. It isn’t as if he would have been too young in 1833 — he’d have been 25 years old, of age to join in the transaction.

Genealogy isn’t a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. We can’t just find a similarly named family in the same area as our research subject and pin him there without evidence.

In this case there is evidence — negative evidence — Robert’s absence from both of these key sets of officially-recorded family records. If Robert was Joseph’s son, he should have been there; he isn’t there; therefore, we can draw the conclusion that he wasn’t Joseph’s son.

Some 283 trees notwithstanding, he’s not the child of Joseph and Rebecca Moore.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “A Moore unmoored,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 31 July 2021).


  1. No, I’m not going to cite the trees. I will say that as of this morning there are 283 such trees. Most say Robert died in 1887, some say he died in the 1860s, almost all of them say he was killed by Indians. But they all say Joseph and Rebecca were his parents.
  2. Census records fairly consistently record North Carolina as the birthplace of the children of Joseph and Rebecca Moore. See e.g. 1860 U.S. census, Medina County, Texas, population schedule, Castroville, p. 23A (stamped), dwelling 290, family 255, Daniel Moore; digital image, ( : accessed 31 July 2021); imaged from NARA microfilm M653, roll 1301.
  3. The Moores had moved to Lowndes County, Mississippi, after Joseph’s death and begin to be enumerated there as of 1830. See e.g. 1830 U.S. census, Lowndes County, Mississippi, pp. 75, 84-85 (penned); digital image, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm M19, roll 71.
  4. Caldwell County, Kentucky, County Court Order Book 1818-1822: 244-245; digital images, “Kentucky, County Court (Caldwell County), Order books, 1809-1915,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 31 July 2021); imaged from Caldwell County Clerk of Court, Princeton.
  5. Both an index search of the volume and a page-by-page search of the records for 1820-1822 were conducted. No guardianship can be found.
  6. Kentucky at the time followed the common law rule: boys and girls at age 14 could choose their own guardians; the court would choose the guardian for younger children. See William Littell and Jacob Swigert, A Digest of the Statute Law of Kentucky, 2 vols. (Frankfort: State Printer, 1822), 1: 641 et seq.; digital images, HathiTrust Digital Library ( : accessed 31 July 2021).
  7. See for example Caldwell County, KY, County Court Order Book 1818-1822: 36, 69 and 121 (deputy sheriff), and 118 (constable).
  8. Caldwell County, Kentucky, Deed Book G: 223-224, power of attorney, Moore to Moore, 6 Sep 1833; digital images, Family ( : accessed 31 July 2021); imaged from Caldwell County Clerk of Court, Princeton.
  9. Ibid., Deed Book G: 225-226, Moore to Wylie, 15 Oct 1833.
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