Joseph Moore

Allen Jay’s name is the one most people remember at Springfield, but before Allen and Martha Jay were here, Joseph Moore served as the first General Superintendent of Education hired by the Baltimore Association.

Joseph Moore was a science teacher at Earlham College as well as one of the best-known Quaker ministers of his generation. After teaching at several different small country schools, he decided to get a college degree. He was accepted at Harvard University, where he studied under some of the most famous scientists of his day – geologist and zoologist Louis Agassiz (who was the first to show how glaciers changed the face of the earth), Asa Gray (close friend of Charles Darwin), and Jeffries Wyman (professor of anatomy and naturalist).

He returned to Earlham, where he taught science and started the first laboratory at the college. Agassiz called him “the best scientist west of the Allegheny mountains.” He married, but was devastated when his wife died just two years later. His own health broke down and he had to take a leave of absence from the college.

In 1865 he was asked by the Baltimore Association to take charge of the work in North Carolina and Tennessee. He surveyed conditions in all of the Quaker meetings, rebuilt schools, trained teachers, and gave many talks with his “magic lantern” and glass slides. When he started were about eighteen little schools in rough log houses, but when in 1868 Joseph Moore withdrew to take the presidency of Earlham College, he left behind him forty good schools in well equipped houses, with 3,000 pupils and the best educational system in the South at the time.

Joseph Moore was known not just for his scientific knowledge, but for his gentle, loving personality. Every child and every student mattered to him. He had a strong but simple faith which went beyond all creeds and boundaries. One older Friend from North Carolina who heard him said, “I don’t believe he has college larnin’, for I could understand everything he said!”

In the summer of 1869, when a teacher training course was being held here at Springfield, there was a total eclipse of the sun. Joseph Moore gave a lecture, during which he explained what an eclipse was and how eclipses are predicted by astronomers. About 1,500 people were present. The crowd moved to an open field at the Model Farm, and Joseph Moore stood on a wagon with the crowd all around him. When the time got close, he pulled out his watch and announced, “In five minutes we will see the shadow begin.” There was a solemn hush as awe filled the crowd. As the eclipse progressed and chickens in the neighborhood went to their roosts, he continued to explain until it was over.

After three years of work in North Carolina, Joseph Moore returned to Indiana where he had been asked to serve as president of Earlham College. At Earlham, he started the museum of natural history which still bears his name. He continued to be strongly supportive of the work of re-building in North Carolina, and especially of Guilford College.

You will find his name on the large bronze plaque just outside the door to the colonnade. You will also find his name on Moore Avenue here in High Point, which runs east and west off of Main Street, just north of Springfield Road.

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