The Man With the Hoe

Sam Moore remembers the man with the hoe, his grandfather


| June 2000



Sherman Moore

Sherman Moore, at age 82, hoeing sweetcorn (Burpee's Surecross) in the summer of 1949.

On my last birthday, I reached the ripe old age of 66, the exact age my grandfather was when I was born. This is a story about him. 

Sherman Moore was born in South Beaver Township, Beaver County, Pa., on a cold January day in 1867, less than two years after Appomattox and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The baby was named Samuel Andrews Ross, all family names, along with Sherman, after Civil War hero William Tecumseh Sherman. When he was old enough to choose, the boy scrapped the first three names and was known from then on as Sherman to his friends, family and acquaintances. There was an exception, though: When the oldest of Sherman's grandchildren, Peggy Jean Townsend, tried to say "Granddad" as a child, it came out "Nandad." And "Nandad" he was for the next 40 years to all of us grandchildren.

The baby of the family, Nandad was the only one of the five Moore children to receive an education. He attended an academy, the equivalent of today's high school, and then taught in one-room schools for about 10 years. Nandad married my grandmother in 1899, and shortly after, returned to South Beaver Township where he assisted his two older, unmarried brothers in running his widowed mother's farm.

After Great-Grandma Moore died in 1905, Nandad and his oldest brother bought out the other heirs. Nandad and Grandma raised four children: Thelma (who died of influenza at 16), Margaret, Samuel (my father), and Sherman.

Nandad was always active in Republican politics in Beaver County. In 1929, he was rewarded by being appointed superintendent of the Beaver County Home, with Grandma as Matron. His oldest brother had died a couple of years earlier, so the farm machinery and stock were liquidated at public sale. The new County Home Superintendent and Matron then took up residence at the big, brick Beaver County Home overlooking the Ohio River. The Moores' tenure at the home ran until 1935, when Grandma's deteriorating health prompted their resignation.

By this time, my father and mother, and dad's sister, Margaret, and her husband, had taken over the farm. This was more a product of necessity than choice, since both men had lost their town jobs in the Depression, and they needed some way to feed their families. After leaving the County Home, Grandma and Nandad moved back to the farm where they shared the big farmhouse with my family.