The William R. Moore Monument in Forest Hill Cemetery

In our October issue, I tell the story of William R. Moore — businessman, philanthropist, and a whole lot of other things. I alluded to the fact that he had one of the most imposing monuments in Forest Hill Cemetery, but space (or the lack of it) prevented me from including a photograph of his grave in the magazine copy.

Until now. Gaze upon it with awe.

Not bad, is it? A lifesize bronze statue of Moore stands high atop a soaring granite shaft, clad in a handsome coat and holding a scroll of some sort — perhaps his will containing his desires for the school to be erected after his death? Next to him is an equally stunning sculpture of his beloved wife, Charlotte Blood Moore, though it's hard to avoid noticing that her monument is only half as tall as his. Oh well, maybe they ran out of stone.

I discovered several interesting things about this monument, which stands just outside the old Forest Hill Mausoleum. First of all, across the bottom of his is carved "ERECTED A.D. 1900." I'm not sure why that was important, except it does tell you that this marker was erected some nine years before he actually died, so I assume he had a hand in it, and maybe visited it a lot in his last years.

On the front of the stone is a rather modest description: "HE DID THE BEST HE COULD." That's certainly a nice thing to do, but it seems to have sort of an "Oh, well, at least I tried" tone to it. But maybe that's just because I'm a Lauderdale, and don't even pretend to be modest about anything. Why should I?

On the back of his monument is an interesting inscription. Beneath a billowing American flag are the words: "LET ALL THE ENDS WE AIM AT BE OUR COUNTRY'S AND GOD'S AND TRUTH'S." I have no problem with this — it's a noble sentiment — but do wonder why it's on the back.

His wife's monument, by any standards, is — well — monumental, but placed next to his, it seems almost humble. It just carries the dates of her birth and death, and then tells viewers that she was the wife of that guy next to her. And then, as if to drive the point home, it reminds people that this is 'THE LAST RESTING PLACE OF WILLIAM ROBERT MOORE."  Good grief, Mr. Moore. Use your own gravestone for that.

What I really admore, though, are the neatly intertwined letters "CBM" for Charlotte Blood Moore.

Despite my quibbles, I like this a lot. It's a fitting monument for a man and woman who did such great things for our city.

Oh, and one more thing. If you're wondering why both figures seemed to be mounted backwards — facing away from the rest of the cemetery — that's because in the early 1900s when this monument was installed, the entrance to Forest Hill was on the west side of the cemetery, not the east as it is today. That main entrance off South Bellevue came later. I'll get into all that in a later "Ask Vance" post.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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