Hon. Joseph R. Moore, Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, makes his home in Lapeer, and is esteemed as one of its most highly honored citizens. His native home was Commerce Township, Oakland County, where he was born November 3, 1845, being the son of Jacob J. and Hepsibeth (Gillett) Moore. The father is a native of Warren County, N. J., and the mother of Alleghany County, N.Y. The grandparents on both sides were among the early settlers of Macomb County, this State, where the parents of Judge Moore met and married. The father was among the first manufacturers of furniture and spinning wheels in Lapeer County and at that time lived in Dryden, but now he and his wife make their home on a farm in Oakland County. They reared a family of eight children, of whom our subject is fifth in order of age.
Jacob J. Moore removed from Dryden to Commerce Township, Oakland County, and engage in the manufacture of furniture on what was then considered a large scale, but some trouble in connection with the water power caused him to quit the business, and in the spring of 1857 he removed to Walled Lake and purchased a steam sawmill which he operated until 1885. In 1860 he bought the farm where he now lives and moved upon it, although he kept up the sawmill as long as timber could be found insufficient quantities to make it a paying business.
The boyhood days of our subject were spent in and about his father’s mill and from the time he was thirteen until he was nineteen years of age he spent but one winter in school, as his father needed his help. In September, 1865, he attended the fall term at Hillsdale College and then took charge of the district school of about seventy pupils at Moscow Plains, Hillsdale County. In which he gave great satisfaction. Returning to Hillsdale College for the spring term he prepared himself for further teaching and during the winter successfully undertook the care of what is known as the school at Rough and Ready Corners, in Wayne County. He continued attending in the spring and fall terms at the college and teaching during the winter until 1868. In 1879, he received from the college the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He had already read Blackstone’s Commentaries while working in the mill, and in the fall of 1868 he entered the law department at Ann Arbor for one year and then came to Lapeer and was admitted to the bar by Judge Josiah Turner.
In 1870 Mr. Moore was elected Circuit Court Commissioner for Lapeer County, and two years later he received his election to the office of Prosecuting Attorney of the county and in the spring of 1874, he was made Major of Lapeer by the largest majority ever given a candidate for that office. In the fall of that year he was re-elected Prosecuting Attorney, which office he held until December 31, 1876. In the fall of 1876 Mr. Moore was nominated for State Senator but declined on account of professional duties but two years later was elected to that office, receiving seven thousand, three hundred and thirty-five votes, while J. M. Wattles, the Democratic candidate, received six thousand, two hundred and thirty and J.J. Watkins, the National candidate, received one thousand, one hundred and ninety-three.
After serving for one term as Senator he declined a renomination on account of his professional duties, in which he was been very successful. In 1888, he came within five votes of receiving the nomination for Congress by the Republican party in the Seventh Congressional District, and he was very prominently mentioned in connection with the Gubernatorial office in 1890, but steadfastly refused to allow his name to be used in that connection.
In the spring of 1888, our subject was elected Circuit Judge over Judge William W. Stickney who had served with great honor for six years. In 1884 he was one of the Presidential Electors at Large. In connection with Albert K. Smiley, and Prof. C. C. Painter, of New York, and Massachusetts respectively. Judge Moore was in 1891 made a commissioner to select lands for a permanent reservation for the Mission tribe of Indians in Southern California.
The Lapeer County Democrat of April 5, 1890, says: “The name of the Hon. J. B. Moore of Lapeer, is being urged as the proper one for Judge of the Supreme Court, a place recently made vacant by the death of Judge Campbell of Detroit. The bars of both Oakland and Lapeer Counties are using their best efforts for Mr. Moore’s appointment and there is no more able lawyer, competent jurist or suitable person for this high position than our esteemed and much respected fellow-townsman, Joseph B. Moore.”
We quote from the Detroit Journal of April 3, 1890: “The endorsements that come in behalf of Judge J. B. Moore of Lapeer, emanating as they do from both Democrats and Republican, are such as any man might feel proud of. Judge Moore is a learned man, an upright man, a jurist of decided power and a gentleman. If the selection should fall upon him it would receive the endorsement of Detroit.”
The domestic life of our subject began with his marriage, December 3, 1872, with Miss Ella L. Bently of Lapeer, daughter of Jasper and Julia (Barnard) Bentley, who was born in this country. No children have crowned this union, but the kindly feelings of the Judge and his noble wife are freely exercised for the good of others outside of their home.
Source: Chapman Brothers. Portrait and biographical record of Genesee, Lapeer and Tuscola counties, Michigan. Chicago: Chapman brothers, 1892.