Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dr. A. L. Moorman's office in Bexar

Dr. Achilles Lucian Moorman practiced medicine around the turn of the 20th century out of a charming office building located along Main Street in downtown Bexar, Alabama. If you were to visit Bexar today, there would be no sign that a bustling little town even existed, but at one time it was home to several businesses, churches, schools and many fine homes. I can claim kinship to many of the families that once called Bexar home, including my great-great-great grandfather William Tillman Bishop. Bexar was established around 1830, and when the first post office opened there in 1843, the community was named as a tribute to the many men of the area who fought at the battle of the Alamo during the Mexican War.

Dr. Moorman was married to Mary Ophelia Stone, granddaughter of Dilmus J. Stone who has been attributed as the 'founder' of Tremont, originally known as Stones Crossroads. Many Itawambians who lived just over the state line from Bexar were loyal patients of Dr. Moorman. Right across the street from Dr. Moorman's office lived the family of Henry and Susan Robinson. Henry was a brother of my great-great grandfather George E. Robinson, and Henry's wife Susan Florence "Sukey" Evans was a sister to my great-great grandfather John T. Evans. Told you I have some Bexar connections! After Dr. Moorman died around 1922, Ophelia moved back to Tremont and their home was purchased by Henry and Susan's daughter, Kate, and her husband Morman Stone, who was a cousin of Ophelia.

The 1880 census indicates that thirty-two year old Dr. A. L. Moorman was a boarder in the household of Henry and Susan Robinson. He married Ophelia in 1883 in Itawamba County, and they had daughters Corrine and Jessica both of whom moved to Florida. Ophelia was the daughter of John Henry Stone Sr. and Florence Emmaline Cowden, and many of her grand nieces and nephews live in the Tremont area today.

The photographs below of Dr. Moorman's office can be found on the website for the Library of Congress and are part of the Historic American Buildings Collection. They were taken in 1936 by photographer Alex Bush. [Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey, Reproduction Number HABS ALA,47-BEX,1-] The information that accompanies the photographs at the LOC website indicates that the building is of "folk architecture" and built "approximately 1830." The 1830 date is doubtful as the structures built at that time would have been of crude logs!

Today, the building that housed Dr. Moorman's office is located across the street from the historic Old Jacinto Courthouse in Alcorn County, having been moved there several years ago. Many of the office's architectural details, including the heavy "rope" moulding and deep window "seats," were duplicated in Dr. Moorman's home.

The first photograph pictures the front of the medical office. Note the beautiful trim work! The second photo shows the rear of the building while the next two photographs show the interior. At the time the photographs were taken, the office had been converted to a residence. Although the office was in unkempt condition, you can still see the beautiful craftmanship and details that went into its building.

Morman and Kate Robinson Stone's granddaughter has wonderfully vivid memories of Dr. Moorman's former home and office in Bexar, and I invite her to share whatever information she would like with our readers.

1900 Census
Marion County, Alabama
Bexar post office, Beat No. 4
Achilles L. Moorman 57 AL VA AL physician, married 17 years, born March 1843
Mary O. Moorman 39 MS AL AL, born July 1860, 2 children, 2 living
Jessica G. Moorman 16 AL AL MS, born May 1884
Anna C. Moorman 8 AL AL MS, born Aug 1891


Anonymous said...

I like that so-called folk architecture.

Anonymous said...

Mona, if one looks closely at the first picture of the Dr. Moorman office, one will see the tip of the roof line (I assume of the porch of what I recall was a hotel that stood there prior to about 1935 or '36) and also the shadow left by this building. I recall seeing this building as maybe while standing on the porch of the home of my Great grandparents, Henry Johnson Robinson and "Sukey" Evans Robinson directly across the road/street. Since "Sukey" died in 1935, I am not sure if my recollection of seeing this 2 story building is during this period or not - I would have been about 3 1/2 when Sukey died and why this building stands out so vividly is haunting to me as I approach my 78th birthday!!

Everytime I see an old western movie depicting a saloon and hotel upstairs, I automatically think of this building that disappeared sometime around 1936 or '37. We know of this area as "dry" today, but when Bexar was founded, I believe there were more than one saloon in this area. I encourage anyone living near to Jacinto, MS to pay a visit to this place - there are a couple of hisoric buildings such as the courthouse??, and thanks to the generosity of Harry Stone and family, the Dr. Moorman office building has been relocated to Jacinto.

As I recall the homes of people born in the 1850's thru 1880's, my memory of the home owned by Great Uncle Lucian Gaines Robinson (husband of Mona's relative, Agnes Bishop Robinson who resided there in my early years)was the more grande home in Bexar as I recall. L. Gaines' general merchandise store was across the road from his home.

The relocation of U.S. 78 to north of Bexar Methdist Church and now this highway has been left behind also with the building of what is to become an Interstate numbered in the 20's just shows what "progress" does to places so important to our ancestry. Thank you Mona for finding these photos in the Library of Congress to reveal so much of our past. Bettye Stone Woodhull.

Arvel said...

I laek the architecture too. Width and height seem perfectly balanced with roof-line, lending a fine sense of efficiency and reserved dignity.
And Bettye, your comments are outstanding. You have rare recall and write really well. The particulars that you remember, and share with us, live on only if you write them down.
I enjoy your comments very much.

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Juliet Morgan said...

I'm trying to find a connection to your family tree, as I'm sure there is one. You see, my gr-gr-grandfather Gideon Elbert Wiginton was married in Bexar, Marion County, Alabama on Jaunary 10, 1892 to Eron Belle Palmer. Eron Belle Palmer's brother was named Moorman Terrell Palmer and, I wouldn't at all be surprised if they were close family friends or relatives and they took his first name from your family's surname.

Also, the "witness" on their marriage record in our family bible is Henry Mayfield Robinson. Is this the same Henry Robinson you mention that lived across the street from your Doctor Moorman? If so, he was my gr-gr-grandfather Gideon's uncle (his mother Elizabeth Jane "Betsy" Robinson's brother).

Anyway, I also have a ton of folks from the Itawamba County, Mississipi side of the border.