William H. “Judge” Moore (1848-1923)

Thirty miles north of Boston, a “gold coast” evolved during the gilded age, populated by sportsmen who loved yachts, horses, motorcars, and flamboyantly grand houses. Joseph E. Garland, in his book “The North Shore,” wrote: “It is commonly supposed that the financiers, industrialists and entrepreneurs who bankrolled, engineered and commanded the Age of Tycoons were buying social status, or thought they were, when they began shoehorning their way between the shingled cottages of the Shore north of Beacon Hill, but their mass descent upon the North Shore between the late 1890s and 1910 suggests that the herding instinct was a stronger attraction.”

After Henry Clay Frick and President Taft, the most chronicled newcomer to the North Shore was William Henry Moore who came from a Utica, New York banking family and practiced corporation law in Chicago. He married his partner’s daughter, Ada Small, and on the partner’s death took his brother J. H. Moore into partnership to concentrate on promoting corporations. After reorganizing the Diamond Match Company to achieve a monopoly, they merged several small companies to form the National Biscuit Company (which eventually became Nabisco) in1898. Next the “Moore Gang” began accumulating any small steel companies not controlled by Andrew Carnegie until they ranked as one of the industry’s Big Four.

“Their methods included stock-watering, overcapitalizing, and then selling off or merging at inflated values. The result was the creation of monopolistic control, devices to avoid the antitrust laws, reorganization of production and marketing to affect economies, and the retention of control in the hands of a small group.” [Dictionary of American Biography]

In May 1899 Moore, allied with Frick, offered to buy out Carnegie. A financial panic delayed promised funding, and Frick refused to extend the option and pocketed their deposit of $1,170,000. Undaunted, the Gang went on in 1901 to organize the American Can Company and other smaller steel fabricating firms. When J. Pierpont Morgan finally bought out Carnegie and put together U.S. Steel, with the help of Frick, Moore was included in the deal but barred from management because Morgan distrusted him. Moore’s share made him richer than ever, enabling him to buy railroads, and by the time he summered in Pride’s Crossing his syndicate controlled fifteen thousand miles of track. Around 1900 Moore moved to New York, where he bought a McKim, Mead & White designed marble-fronted house at 4 East 54th Street and built a lavish private stable on East 70th Street costing $100,000. For their summer homes, both Frick and Moore bought land at Pride’s Crossing, Mass., in 1902, and by 1904 both were building castle-like houses along the commanding highlands overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Frick named his “Eagle Rock” and Moore’s was “Rockmarge” – not for the rocks along the coast, but for his highly margined purchases of Rock Island Railroad stock.

Moore was described as tall, handsome, and glacial. His nickname of “Judge” related to his judgment of horseflesh or financial potential rather than a legal appointment. His reputation as a shrewd businessman is well documented in public records; what is not readily known is his personality and private demeanor. Two of his great-grandsons, and his granddaughter continue to live in the Myopia area and of course, have different memories. I found it charming that his granddaughter remembered practicing assiduously to drive her tandem of Shetland ponies well in order to surprise “the Judge.”

Horses were Moore’s passion, and in the spring of 1904 the North Shore Breeze reported that he improved his training track near his private siding at Pride’s station to make it forty feet wide and one third mile long, with a solid foundation of chipped rock and gravel. Remnants of that mound and track are still apparent at the site.

On June 1, Moore’s special five-car train brought coaches, carriages, harness, and thirty-eight horses and twenty-seven grooms to his private siding at Pride’s Crossing, to join the ten horses already at his estate. Among the horses that year were Bugler and Fife, who had excelled at The Garden the previous winter, and the exceptional Forest King.

The horses moved into the grand 8,000 square-foot neoclassical stable designed by Little & Brown, built in 1901-02 at an initial cost of $71,000, considerably more than Moore allocated to redesigning his new house. The stable had forty standing stalls in one wing, a harness and coach room in the other with grooms’ quarters upstairs. In the center was an elaborately decorated rotunda large enough to hold a harnessed team of horses.

Moore himself arrived at Pride’s Crossing in his private rail car, also called Rockmarge, one of five “private varnish” cars the Moore Gang ordered from Pullman for the Rock Island in 1902. These mobile mansions allowed Moore and his entourage to travel to Bar Harbor, New York, Chicago, and other destinations in the luxury of brocade and velvet. Pauline “Polly” Moore Nickerson, Moore’s granddaughter, who lived in Wenham, Mass., reminisced about her grandfather in a talk she gave to the Myopia Driving Club about 1980.

“One of my earliest memories of Pride’s Crossing and my grandfather was the excitement I felt when he asked me to go with him to the stable. It was a little scary for a small girl to walk down the long aisle with twenty standing stalls on each side, the horses stomping restless wanting to go out. Everything was spotlessly clean, a mound of hay next to each stall and a white rope with brass fittings across each stall. There was a groom for every three horses. I remember the funny hissing noise they made when they were grooming their charges.”

In more recent years the stable was owned by Lawrence and Eleanor (Swift) Reeve, who lived at the stately “Wyck” in Manchester. They used the large stable rotunda for entertaining, debutant balls and weddings for their eight children and for their own 50th wedding anniversary gala. It is now converted to two homes, each occupied by one of their children and their families.During the winter of 1904-05, workers created the terraced grounds leading to the ocean and the neo-classical bath-house on one side of the long pier leading into the ocean. Not to be outdone, Frick’s beach house graced the other side of the pier. Connolly Brothers had 200 men working all winter who spread over 10,000 yards of loam. Imposing granite walls and pillars, large trees, and wrought iron balustrades enhanced the seaside vistas. One elm moved from Hamilton was seventy feet high, twenty-six inches in diameter, with an earth ball sixteen feet across; it took ten horses two hours to get it there.

In 1908 Moore held the first of his private horse shows on his private show grounds across from his coastal house. He built a large mound to provide elevated seating, and paraded his prize-winning animals before three hundred of his carefully invited guests, who watched famous horses like Pride O’Pride’s and King of Kings, the top Hackney pair in the country. Among those who drove his horses in competition were his neighbor Eleonora Sears, the multi-talented woman athlete, Mr. and Mrs. Moore, and his stable manager George Chipchase.

In 1910 and each year thereafter through 1914, Moore shipped 40 to 50 of his best horses to England to the International Shows at Olympia and Richmond. If he did not win, he often purchased the winners.

“In 1914 at Olympia he won four championships and fifteen blues, and at Richmond won a championship and four blues. His peerless Lady Seaton won the Grand Challenge Cup but the Moore road four failed to capture the coaching Marathon this season, although in past years the cup has been won by the coach carrying the Rockmarge colors of maroon and black. While in England Judge Moore purchased five new horses, which will be trained for the show ring and will be paraded at the driving park’s annual show. Over 1,000 invitations will be sent out for the show and all the North shore colonies will be represented.”[New York Times, July 1914].

Moore drove to Myopia almost daily, usually with a tandem, pair, or single, to play golf. In the afternoon his groom returned with the team to pick him up. The drive was a pleasant one of about seven miles along an extraordinary network of private wooded roads closed to motor traffic, begun in 1878 and enlarged by Colonel William D. Sohier, a Beverly lawyer who secured rights-of-way stretching from Preston Place north of Beverly Farms, through Magnolia, West Gloucester and Essex backwoods, winding through the wilderness surrounding Gravelly, Round, and Beck ponds and Chebacco Lake in Hamilton and Wenham through Frederic Prince’s Princemere. By 1914 there were 30 miles open to all but motorcars as a “haven of safety.” Polly (Moore) Nickerson told of driving her pony from Thistle Street on the woods roads through Princemere and Myopia and on to the Ayer’s Turner Hill off Topsfield Road as a child. Remnants of this network exist still, but the continuity is bisected by Route 128, built in the 1950s.

After one day at Myopia, Moore returned home unusually exuberant, and reported to his wife Ada, “I’ve discovered the most wonderful new drink they gave me at the Club today for the first time. It’s called a martini.” [Weeks, Edward, Mopia, a Centennial Chronicle, 1975.] Moore ordered a Standard Park Drag, #23300, from Brewster and Co. in November 1900. The Brewster order book states the specifications. “The body, carriage parts, risers, toe board, and crest panel are to be painted black, the boot panel Britton Lake, with a stout fine line on the body moldings and the carriage parts striped broad red, new drag style.” [Brewster records]

The completed weight was 2625 pounds. It was delivered January 29, 1901, and is now owned by Stewart Morris. Moore’s livery was maroon, with crimson facings and monogrammed brass buttons, suitable for a drag. Jack Day owns several sets, displayed in his unique private museum in Maryland.

This was not Moore’s only coach. In 1904 The North Shore Breeze reported that “after being held up between Boston and New York for ten days by strikes of the freight handlers, Judge Moore’s tally-ho arrived Thursday.” Usually a “tally-ho” described a road coach – and certainly the Moore coach now owned and driven by Tim Butterfield, painted yellow and black, is a road coach. Moore did not enjoy coaching expeditions or aspire to run a “public” coach. These sporting activities became impractical as motorcars clogged the narrow roads. He concentrated on showing, taking many fine horses to the biggest shows in America and England. Bit & Spur reported on the National Show in 1912: “In the class for road teams, Mr. W. H. Moore, who wore a silk hat and a boutonniere to drive a road team, had the umbrella case loose and flapping against the coach, and also drove a team having more substance in the leaders than at the wheel; he was correctly placed second. However he won the park team class with Lord Seaton, Lady Seaton, Burgomaster and Robin Hood….” After Moore’s death in 1922 most of his horses and carriages were sold. But such is Moore’s fame in driving circles that the provenance of many of his vehicles is known. For example, Stewart Morris owns his break and his drag, Tim Butterfield a road coach; Deirdre Pirie owns a natural wood runabout, and Anne Leck owned a lovely gig of his.

Lady Seaton became a foundation mare for the Seaton Hackney Farm in Morristown, N.J., owned by Moore’s son Paul and his wife Fanny Weber Hanna. Fanny managed the Guernsey herd and raised Dalmatians. Paul was a lawyer, a corporate director, and a founder of Republic Aviation. When his father died he ceased practicing law in order to look after the family interests in the companies Moore helped found, including the National Biscuit Company, the American Can Company, Bankers Trust Co., and the Lackawanna Railroad.

Seaton Pippin, a bay mare who was bred by Judge Moore, also went to Morristown to the Seaton Hackney Farm. She has been described as the most perfect specimen of the Hackney harness horse that ever lived. After her first year in the show ring – 1926-- she was never defeated in single harness competition. Her final public appearance was on the closing night of the 1932 National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, where she was awarded the title of best in show, and was then retired to stud.

Katharine Lane Weems, the noted animal sculptor from Manchester-by-the-Sea, drove Pippin while creating her likeness – resulting in a bronze that so pleased Paul Moore he exclaimed, “It is Pippin.” The Seaton Hackney Farm dominated the Hackney show world through the 1930s, competing against establishments such as J. Macy Willets’ Cassilis Farm.

“Judge” Moore left a legacy of excellence to the driving world that has lasted a century. Although primarily interested in showing, rather than breeding, fine horses, the Seaton blood line is outstanding still. The quantity and quality of his vehicles, harness, appointments and showmanship has not been equaled.

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