CAPT. JOHN RILEY MOSS. In the death of the honored subject of
this memoir on the 2d day of October, 1908, there passed from earth another
member of the group of distinctively representative men who were instrumental
in building up the material interests of Jefferson county and leaders in
those things, which made for the social and intellectual advancement of
their respective communities. His name is familiar, not alone to the representative
people of the county to whose development and progress he contributed so
conspicuously, but to all who are informed concerning the history of Southern
Illinois. A pioneer of this state and for many years one of the foremost
men of the section of country honored by his citizenship, Capt. John Riley
MOSS impressed his individuality upon the times in which he lived and his
long connection with the growth and prosperity of his native [???] >From
the most reliable data obtainable the Moss family is supposed to be of
Norse or Scandinavian origin, although its first representative in America
came from England early in the colonial period, and settled at various
points along the New England coast. The Captain's immediate ancestors migrated
to the South a number of years ago and were among the sterling yeomanry
of North Carolina, his father, Ransom MOSS, having been a native of that
state and his mother, Anna (JOHNSON) MOSS, of Louisa county, Virginia.
Ransom MOSS was twice married, his first wife, Susan AVANT, who came to
Illinois from Tennessee in 1818, with her husband and settled in what is
now Shiloh township, Jefferson county, being the first woman laid to rest
in the old Shiloh cemetery, one of the first places in the county consecrated
to the burial of the dead. Mr. Moss and wife were among the first settlers
of the above township and figured conspicuously in the early history of
the community, which they helped to establish. Anna JOHNSON became the
wife of Mr. Moss on his second marriage, the two wives bearing him nine
children in all, the Captain being one of the youngest of the family and
a small boy when his father died. Capt. John Riley MOSS was born May 13,
1830. on the old home place in Shiloh township, Jefferson county, and,
as already stated, was a mere child when his widowed mother assumed the
responsibility of the family by reason of his father's untimely death.
Reared to agricultural pursuits and early obliged to contribute to the
support of his mother he spent his youthful years in close touch with the
soil and was enabled to obtain but a limited education in such indifferent
schools as the country in those days afforded. On reaching the years of
manhood he selected agriculture for his vocation and in due time became
one of the leading farmers of his township and perhaps the largest stock
raiser of the county, being the first man to introduce Cotswold sheep,
Jersey cattle and the Berkshire breed of hogs into this part of Illinois
and leading the way to a general improvement in the matter of live stock
among the farmers of the county. He was enterprising in all the term implies
and as a farmer and stock raiser had few equals and no superiors, cultivating
the soil by the most approved methods and taking advanced grounds in arousing
and maintaining an interest in progressive agriculture. His financial success
was commensurate with the energy, judgment and foresight displayed in his
undertakings and in due time he became not only one of the well-to-do farmers
of the county, but also one of the leading men of affairs and public-spirited
citizens. Consequently it naturally followed that he should become one
of the promoters and organizers of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society,
which for a number of years gave annual exhibitions of live stock and farm
products and accomplished much for improvement along those lines. When
the safety of the government was put in jeopardy by armed forces of rebellion,
Mr. MOSS was among the first Jefferson county's patriotic sons to tender
his services to the Union and not long after his enlistment in Company
C, Sixtieth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in 1861, he was at the
front discharging his duty as became a gallant defender of the nation's
honor and sharing the fortunes and dangers of war under many trying and
hazardous circumstances. Immediately after the organization of Company
C he was made its captain and as such served with an honorable record until
discharged by reason of disability in 1863. On September 5th of the following
year he was appointed Deputy Provost Marshal of the Eleventh District and
not long after taking charge of his office was put in command of a detachment
of troops and ordered to take a fort on Skillet Fork river, held by a number
of disloyal men, and to capture all such who were in hiding or in other
ways seeking to evade military service. This duty he discharged in such
a manner as to make his name a terror to the disloyal element in his district
and as Supervisor of the enrolling and drafting of soldiers throughout
his jurisdiction, he also rendered valuable service to the state and earned
an honorable place in the category of her brave and loyal sons. He became
a member of Coleman Post, No. 508, Grand Army of the Republican, of Mount
Vernon, upon its organization and was active for many years in its councils,
serving as commander of the same. At the time of his demise the honorary
pallbearers at his funeral were selected from among his old comrades. At
the close of the war Captain MOSS resumed the peaceful pursuits of civil
life on his farm in Shiloh township and as stated in a preceding paragraph
rose to conspicuous place among the leading agriculturists and stock raisers
of the county, becoming influential in public affairs and taking a active
part in the political issues of the times. His services to the Republican
party made him one of its most influential leaders in the county of Jefferson,
but when its policies were in his judgment unsatisfactory or failed to
meet the demands of the people he did not hesitate to dissent therefrom
and appeal to the bar of public opinion as was attested by his election
in 1878 to the Thirty-first General Assembly as an independent candidate.
His career in that body met the expectations of his friends of all parties
throughout the county and proved eminently satisfactory to his constituency
as well as creditable to himself. He served on a number of important committees
where his judgment, knowledge and wide grasp of public questions were duly
recognized and appreciated and in the general deliberations of the chamber
he proved a ready and able debater and his opinions always commanded the
respect of his fellow members. Captain MOSS always manifested a deep and
abiding interest in the early history of his state and county, especially
the latter and was one of the best informed men on the pioneer period in
his part of the country. At the time of his death and for many years previous
he was an active member of the Illinois State Historical Society. In recognition
of his researches and other services he was made president of the Pioneers'
Association of Jefferson county, in which capacity he was instrumental
in arousing an interest in local history which is still maintained and
by means of which much valuable information has been collected and placed
on record. He also gathered much important data on the early history of
Shiloh township and put it in form for future references, besides taking
a leading part in promoting the intellectual advancement of the community
by means of social and literary clubs, which under his judicious management
resulted in considerable enthusiasm and became educational factors of wide
influence. One of the most important of these societies was a debating
club in which the leading citizens of the township were active participants
and through which much was accomplished in developing the art of public
discourse and preparing not a few young men for lives of honor and usefulness.
Later the organization partook more of the character of a literary society
and among its members were a number of men who have since made their mark
in the world, to say nothing of the good work done in cultivating a taste
for literature among the people of the community, in general. Under the
leadership of Captain Moss, Shiloh easily took the lead of her sister townships
in literary culture and her citizens have ever since sustained a creditable
reputation for general information and a high order of intelligence. In
addition to his activity and influence in organizing and maintaining for
a number of years the various societies referred to, the captain was also
president of the Southern Illinois Fox Hunting Association and always took
delight in this means of recreation. He was a true sportsman and a liberal
patron of all legitimate means for promoting an interest in outdoor amusements
and to him more than to any other member was the above association indebted
for its popularity, during the period of its existence. In his religious
belief Captain Moss subscribed to the Methodist creed and for many years
was an active and influential member of the church, having figured prominently
in establishing a number of organizations in his own and other counties
and risen to a position of considerable prominence in ecclesiastical circles.
In all of his relations his conduct was that of an earnest and sincere
disciple whose daily life was consistent with his religious profession
and who ever tried to realize in himself his high ideals of Christian manhood
and citizenship. The Captain was essentially a man of the people with the
best interests of his fellows at heart and there were few in his county
who were as universally respected or stood as high as he in the confidence
and esteem of the public. Permelia C. ALLEN, who became the wife of Captain
MOSS, was born in Jefferson county, Illinois, November 23, 1835. Her father,
a native of Tennessee, and a prominent farmer and local minister of the
Methodist Episcopal church, was one of the leading citizens of the county
and for many years an influential factor in public affairs. Her mother,
who maiden name was Eliza DANIEL, came to Illinois from her native state
of Kentucky and spent the greater part of her life in the county of Jefferson.
Mrs. MOSS was a woman of many excellent traits of character, a devoted
Christian and like her husband, an active worker in the local Methodist
Episcopal church to which she belonged. She departed this life in Mount
Vernon at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Rufus GRANT, on the 16th day of
March, 1908, and left to mourn her loss a large circle of devoted relatives
and admiring friends. The following are the names of the children born
to Captain and Mrs. MOSS: Angus I., a farmer of Shiloh township; Hon. Norman
H. MOSS, a leading member of the Jefferson County Bar, whose sketch appears
elsewhere in these Pages; Mrs. E.W. NEAL, of Knoxville, Tennessee; Dr.
Harry C. MOSS, of Albion, Illinois; Mrs. Rufus GRANT, of Mount Vernon,
and Mrs. Addie May MCANALLY, deceased, first wife of Dr. John T. MCANALLY,
of Carbondale, Illinois. The death of Captain MOSS, on the date mentioned
in the beginning of this review, occurred at the home of his son, Dr. Harry
MOSS, of Albion, and caused universal sorrow among his many friends and
fellow citizens, especially those with whom he was brought into intimate
relations and who had learned to appreciate his splendid powers and prize
his many estimable qualities. His was indeed a life fraught with great
good to the world and among his fellow citizens of Jefferson county his
name will long be honored as one of the leading men of the time in which
he lived and wrought. 

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