February is African American History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time to recognize the role of black men and women in United States and also in New Hampshire history. As I noted in my March blog story last year, New Hampshire has never had a large number of African American citizens, but it makes recognizing them not any less important. Their contributions often went ignored or when known, simply left out of the history books.
In past years I have written about several notable New Hampshire people: Richard Potter (1783-1835), James Monroe Whitfield (1822-1871), Nellie (Brown) Mitchell (1845-1924), Harriet “Hattie” E. (Green) Adams Wilson Robinson (1825-1900), and Vanessa Leah Washington-Johnson-Bloemen (1953-2011). Their stories and others can be found in last year’s article on this blog.
As for 2019, I have yet another story to add to the collection above. First I need to preface the story with some personal thoughts. Black men and women have faced prejudice in New Hampshire as much as they have in other places. Hatred and racism is not something that just happens elsewhere. I have found it intriguing and contradictory that if someone has any ancestor that was African American, no matter how far back in time, then they are often qualified as non-Caucasian, when the opposite is not the norm (i.e., of 2 parents lets say, one is white but the child is still not regarded as white). In researching genealogy I have seen the term ‘black’ applied not only to African Americans but to American Indians, and those from the Mideast. Sometimes the term”mulatto” is used to indicate “mixed race” parentage of any type. In researching the following individual and his family, those terms were seen frequently, and they are included in his genealogy presented below.
In February of 1954 Olive A. Adams wrote a story for The New York Age newspaper. She wrote that “Negro History Week is not a time for mushy, patronizing mouthings about “How Far we have come.” It is a time for evaluation, and the story speaks for itself.” I would say that this article does the same.
Frederick Rockwell “Fred” Moody (1911-1980)
My story began, which it often does, with a newspaper article that I read while researching a completely different topic. The Boston Globe newspaper of 2 March 1935 reported: “Capt Moody’s Last College Bout Today. N.H. Negro Boxer Most Popular Man in Class.
Capt. Fred Moody, 165-pound University of New Hampshire Negro boxer, will end his spectacular intercollegiate boxing career when he leads the Wildcat matmen against Springfield here tomorrow. In four years Moody has not been defeated. In 12 intercollegiate bouts he has won 10 by knockouts and one by a decision. Only two men have been able to stay with him for three rounds–Tom Slusser of Penn State, who was clearly outpointed, and Capt. Phil Hines of Harvard, who fought Moody to a draw. In the “Granite,” the junior class year book, Moody was voted the most popular man in his class and the best athlete. Besides boxing, he is a three letter man in football and baseball. In football Freddie is an end and half-back. In baseball he is the first-string catcher and has a batting average of more than .400. In Moody’s entire boxing career he has fought 43 times and has won 38 bouts, 30 by knockouts. Freddie starting his boxing career at the age of 16 in the 188-pound class. He has fought in ever class up to 175 pounds. In 1931 he lost in the final of a Golden Glove championship in Boston to Andrew “Chap” Delane.
In 2005 Mylinda Woodward wrote a wonderful article about Fred Moody in UNH Magazine Online. She described his boxing career at UNH, and how well liked and respected he was by his peers. That story details how he had to forego a bout against the U.S. Coast Guard Academy due to prejudice. Apparently the boxing contract for students of the Coast Guard Academy prohibited inter-racial bouts. The situation was tense, and from all accounts the school stood behind Fred, but he moved aside at the urging of his coach. The next year he was elected captain of the boxing team, and as the story above describes, he had a “spectacular” boxing career. But who was Fred Moody, and what happened to him after graduation from UNH in 1935?
Frederick Rockwell “Fred” Moody was born 4 Aug 1911 in Concord NH, son of Harry Otto Granville & Clara Ella (Heath) Moody. He attended the local schools, and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1935. A February 1934 newspaper article states he was studying to be a horticulturist at UNH. Three years after graduation he married 24 Sep 1938 in Concord NH to Theresa Laurette Bourgeois, daughter of Aristide & Rosa (Bergeron) Bourgeois. Most of their married life they lived in Claremont, New Hampshire. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army, enlisting 30 Sep 1942 and honorably discharged on 30 Dec 1946.
My thanks to Fred’s great-grandchild, Dana McNeil for correcting me on the number of children. Fred and Theresa had three children:
1. Richard Moody who married and has a son and an adopted daughter. The adopted daughter has two children. Richard is still alive and currently lives in Florida.
2. Annette T. Moody (1939-2006) married Richard “Dick” Elliott (1940-2009) from Windsor, VT and had one son name Ricky Elliot. Ricky has a son. Annette She graduated from Claremont New Hampshire’s Saint Mary High School in the 1950s.
3. Yvette Moody married John Decker from Charlestown, NH and had three children: Scott, Pamela, and Terri. Scott has a daughter named Bethany. Pamela has two daughter and a grandson. Terri is the mother of Dana McNeil who provided additional information on the children.
Fred Moody died at his home in Claremont NH on 6 Aug 1980. His obituary follows. Hartford Courant, Hartford CT, 4 Nov 1966: ” Fred Rockwell Moody, 54 of South Main Street, Warehouse Point, died at his home Tuesday night. He was born in Penacook, N.H. He was a veteran of WW II and lived in the East Windsor area for the past 15 years. He was employed by Southern New England Roofers of East Hartford. Funeral Services will be held Saturday at 9 am at the Blondin and Stringer Funeral Home, Claremont NH. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Claremont. The J.M. Bassinger Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.”
By all accounts Fred seems not to follow his quest to work in horticulture. His marriage license in 1938 only a few years after college shows his occupation as “laborer.” In the 1940 U.S. Census his occupation was “molder.” In the 1952 Claremont NH city directory, he was working as a patrolman for the police department, and living at 199 Pleasant Street. According to his obituary he was employed as a roofer too. Since most of my stories contain some genealogy, I have traced some of Fred Moody’s ancestry here too.
====PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF Frederick Rockwell “Fred” Moody ====
William Moody b abt 1775 Loudon NH or Essex, MA, d –; m. Sephia/Sopha Roberts/Reberds. She was b. abt 1790-1800 in Seabrook NH. William listed as “black” in documents. Occupation: “Slave” on his son’s death certificate. His wife Sophia was noted as white. They lived in Loudon NH.
RE: William Moody of Loudon NH
1850 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Loudon
William Moody M 75 Massachusetts
Sophia Moody F 60 New Hampshire
Horace Moody M 10 New Hampshire
1860 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Loudon
William Moody Male 85 New Hampshire Black*
Sophia Moody Female 60 New Hampshire White*
Children of William & Sephia/Sophia (Roberts/Reberds) Moody:
1. Alexander Moody, b. 19 April 1826 Manchester NH. He d. 18 March 1900 in Grasmere/Goffstown NH. ‘colored,’ widowed. Occupation: carpenter. [His father’s occupation listed as “slave” on his death record]. He lived in Manchester NH on Somerville Street, corner of Young.
2. +Charles E. Moody, b abt 1830 in Loudon NH.
3. William P. Moody, b. — Loudon NH, d. 18 Feb 1893 in Grafton NH, black, widowed, carpenter.
4. Horace Moody, b July 1841 Loudon NH. (mulatto/black). In 1880 and 1900 living in Manchester New Hampshire. with wife Clara –, born April 1840 in Massachusetts.
Charles E. Moody, b abt 1830 in Loudon NH., son of William & Sephia (Roberts) Moody. Carpenter. (Listed as black). He married 1st) ?; He married 2d) April 1868 in Pittsfield, Merrimack Co. NH to Mary Rosanna Haskell. She b. abt 1840 in South Bow NH (Black). Son’s birth record shows his and his wife’s color “Berber.” Later living in Milltowne? Maine
1870 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Pittsfield
Charles Moody 40
Mary H Moody 30
Hannah Moody 14
Lydia Moody 13
Walter Moody 9
Cora Moody 6
Edwin Moody 4
1880 US Census > NH > Merrimack > NORTHFIELD
Charles E. Moody 53
Mary R. Moody 40
Hannah L. Moody 24
Walter E. Moody 19
Cora E. Moody 16
Edson E. Moody 13
Bertha L. Moody 9
George F. Moody 6
Anna V. Moody 3
Harry O. Moody 2/12
Children of Charles E. & ? (?) Moody:
1. Hannah L. Moody, b.abt 1856 in Pittsfield NH
2. Lydia Moody, b. abt 1857 Pittsfield NH
3. Walter A. Moody, b. June 1861 in Pittsfield NH, died 28 June 1921 in Concord NH. He m. 25 Aug 1911 in Bradford NH to Nettie Emmons, daughter of Moses & Lucy (Bohman) Emmons. Buried in Cold Spring Cemetery, Westminster VT (according to his death record).
4. Cora E. Moody, b abt 1864 Pittsfield NH, d. 20 March 1905 in Boscawen NH. In 1900 a resident of the Merrimack County Farm in Boscawen NH.
5. Edson E. “Edwin” Moody, b abt 1866 Pittsfield NH, d. 18 Juy 1901 in Lower Gilmanton NH, struck by lightning. He m. 30 April 1887 in Pittsfield NH to Malvina Battis. Buried Pittsfield NH.
Children of Charles E. & Mary R. (Haskell) Moody.
6. Bertha L. Moody, b. abt 1871 Pittsfield NH, d. 30 Sep 1952 in Concord NH; She m1st) 3 June 1893 in Contoocook NH to Fred W. Heath, son of John H. & Clara J. (Hanson) Heath. She m2d) 19 Jan 1900 in Warner NH to Fred A. Davis, son of Charles M. & Mary E. (Burbank) Davis.
7. George Frederick Moody b 1874, d. 1 Dec 1915 Concord NH; m1) 2 Aug 1899 in Laconia NH to Cora Belle Robinson, dau of Nathaniel & Mary Jane (Twombly) Robinson. He m2d) 11 July 1903 in Suncook NH to Cora Heath, daughter of Elias & Melinda (Clement) Heath. He m3d) 11 Sep 1913 in Westmoreland NH to Emma Hunt, daughter of Frank & Sadie (Chase) Hunt.
8. Anna “Annie” Moody, b. 12 March 1876 Pittsfield NH, died 16 July 1903 in Warner NH of consumption. Married Wilfred ” Fred” Sanville. Buried Coal Hearth Cemetery, Warner NH
9. +Harry O. Moody, b. 1 May 1880 Warner/Northfield NH; He m. 23 Jan 1909 in Warner NH to Clara E. Heath-Chase.
Harry Otto Granville Moody, born 1 May 1880 in Northfield NH, and died , son and 8th child ; died 25 Dec 1944 in Concord NH. Son of Charles E. & Mary R. (Haskill) Moody. He married 23 Jan 1909 in Warner NH to Clara Ella Heath-Chase, daughter of John & Clara J. (Hansen) Heath. She was b. 22 December 1875 in Boscawen NH and died 1 Sep 1947 in Concord NH. She married 1st)29 Dec 1888 in Webster NH to Warren C. Chase, son of George C. & Mary J. Simpson Chase. (listed as white). They are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Boscawen NH. Occupation: granite polisher.
1920 U.S. Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord > Mountain Road
H O Moody — 39 mulatto, b abt 1881 NH
Clara E Moody — 45 white, b abt 1875 NH
Laura Moody 10
Frederick Moody 7
Edger E Fletcher 40
Mina E Messer 39
1930 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord > 76 West Main Street
Moody Harry C Head neg 49 M 28 NH NH NH granite polisher
Moody, Clara E wife 55 neg NH NH NH
Moody, Laura daughter, 20 neg single NH NH NH laundress
Moody, Fredrick R. son neg single NH NH NH
Moody, Annie G. adopted daughter white NH NH NH
Children of Harry O.G. & Clara E. (Heath) Moody:
1. Harold Moody, born and died 28 Sep 1918 Concord NH, immature birth
2. Laura Moody, born about 1920 Concord NH. In 1930 living with in Penacook NH, working as a laundress. [per Jane Wescomb a local researcher, this Laura is probably the daughter of Elmer John Wheeler & Georgiana F. Austin. Georgiana is daughter of Bertha Moody (Harry’s sister, i.e. Laura Wheeler), b. 29 Jan 1912 in Warner NH, d. 9 March 1936 in Concord NH.]
3. Frederick Rockwell “Fred” Moody, born 4 Aug 1911 in Concord NH. This story is about him, see biography and photographs above.
4. Annie G. Moody, born abt 1922 in New Hampshire. Listed as “white” on the 1930 U.S. Census. In 1942 still living in Concord NH with her adoptive parents at 76 West Main.
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Interesting post, Janice! What I found most surprising is that Fred Moody’s earliest noted ancestors were an interracial couple where the man was black, the woman white. I would have thought that such a marriage would not have been legal that far back, even in New Hampshire. And your observation about how we define race is one that has so many ramifications. If we looked at DNA results, we’d see just how many “races” we are all made up of. The whole notion of race itself is nothing but a social construct made to divide us and subjugate the other. I often think of that old experiment where teachers divided classes into those with blue eyes and those with brown and treated one group better than the other. What we do with “race” is exactly the same and just as irrational. Thanks for a great post!
Thank you Amy. The more we study history, DNA and genealogy, the more we know for a certainty that we are all cousins, it is just a matter of degree. ‘Cousinship’ crosses the so-called lines of race or color. Thank you as always for reading my stories, and for sharing your thoughts.
I agree—one of the many valuable insights I’ve gained from genealogy is knowing how interconnected we all are in so many ways.
I love this article. We truly are all connected and I’m just in awe from genealogy how much more I know about connections particularly my own family connections that I never knew.
Last year while at the NE Genealogical Society I discovered that I indeed have a black great grandfather who was a slave in Kittery Point, he was often referred to as “Black Will”, later to be known as William Black. What is AMAZING is that he was able to gain respect, change his name, and actually purchase property and raise his family among very white neighbors. I was so blown away and honored to know of this line in my genetic DNA! The quest to did deeper into our roots is a constant quest. As I an well into my “twilight years” I scramble to even learn more so I may pass it down to my only grandchild! Great article.
Glad to read your account of Captain Moody’s life. Thank you for sharing, Janice.
Great article! Freddy actually had three kids with Theresa, he had 5 grandchildren, and multiple great grandchildren. I am the oldest of the great grandkids and the only boy. Just found the article today, I am actually with my grandmother and it is nice to hear her reminisce about her father. I think his story is very compelling.
Dana, I would love to include a bit more about Fred’s children in my story, if you would not mind emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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