Monsieur Moore, a northeast Oklahoman who died at age 94 just one mile from where he was born, is seen by many as the embodiment of a true pioneer.
A founder, president and board member of the American Quarter Horse Association, Moore also was involved in other areas of equine activity and in many aspects of life in Washington County, Oklahoma, from his birth, Sept. 18, 1903, to his death, April 4, 1994.
“He was involved in all kinds of activities,” says Bill Blakemore, retired Washington County extension agent. “He’s in the AQHA Hall of Fame and started the youth program when he was president of the association. He was on the board of the Dewey (Oklahoma) bank for 40 years, an oil producer and the originator of the Monsieur Moore Quarter Horse Show, held in Dewey for 26 years. At one time, it was the largest show of its kind in the world. He was selected as the most dependable, honest judge and judged the junior Quarter Horse shows for free. He was on the fair board for years and a member of the Bluestem Quarter Horse Association.”
Blakemore says he’s sure Moore attended and judged more Quarter Horse shows than anyone else.
The official start of AQHA is alleged to have taken place March 15, 1940, during the Fort Worth Livestock Show. However, a lot of thought went into it before that date.
“The Quarter Horse association was really founded under a tree on the campus of Oklahoma State University (Oklahoma A&M, as it was known at that time) in 1940,” asserts Moore’s daughter, Marilyn Moore Tate.
Moore’s interest in developing the breed probably was tied to the herd of Steel Dust mares he inherited from his father, William Sherman Moore. He wasn’t happy with the mean temperament and contrary nature of the strain, so he sold those mares and began building a herd of more amiable horses. Moore greatly admired Ronald Mason’s famous stallion, Oklahoma Star, and wanted a herd of mares as good-natured as that stallion.
His foundation stock included Cutie M, an Oklahoma Star mare, and Red Lady M, of Coke Blake breeding. To these he added Star Boy, a son of Oklahoma Star out of Bay Babe. Bay Babe was by Red Buck, John Dawson’s renowned stallion who later belonged to King Merrit.
Moore was an AQHA director from 1946 to 1979 and became a lifetime member in 1963. He served as president in 1961, first vice president in 1960, and second vice president in ’51, ’55, ’56 and ’59. From 1958 through 1975, he was show and contest chairman and was finance committee chairman in 1963.
In 1961, AQHA was looking for someone to sponsor a major Quarter Horse show. Moore, chairman of the agriculture committee of the Bartlesville (Oklahoma) Area Chamber of Commerce, convinced the group to sponsor the event. In 1981, he was honored by the chamber on the 20th anniversary of the Monsieur Moore Quarter Horse Show. C.G. Richardson, a fellow Washington County rancher and Quarter Horse breeder, stated he was sure the show wouldn’t have enjoyed the success it had if Moore hadn’t allowed his name to be used. Moore was presented with a certificate of commendation from the Oklahoma State Senate, signed by State Senator John Dahl, for his contribution to the endeavor.
Moore also was considered part of backbone of the cutting-horse industry, and spent 15 years as a Quarter Horse show judge, traveling all over the country in this capacity. He also was a timekeeper for the Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Moore had a deep interest in young people and gave many weanlings to deserving 4-H and FFA members. For all his work with these organizations, he was named an honorary member of various 4-H clubs and FFA chapters.
“He usually gave a filly, as he wanted it to be the start of a herd,” says Tate of her father’s generosity.
Moore was a cattle rancher as well as a horse breeder and helped found the Bluestem Cattlemen’s Association, which named him Rancher of the Year in 1978. In 1993, he was inducted into the Western Heritage Hall of Fame in Amarillo, Texas, an honor from the state that produced his father.
With his father’s death in 1937, Moore inherited the position of director of the First National Bank of Dewey. The Moore family ranch, the Horseshoe L, had been founded by William Sherman Moore in 1894. Encompassing nearly 30 sections of land, it reached from Coon Creek in Washington County to just west of Delaware in Nowata County.
However, all the buildings were located near Hogshooter Creek on the 160-acre Indian allotment received by Mary Emma Scudder. Of Cherokee descent, she married William Sherman Moore in 1898. They had three children: Monsieur, Clark and Marie (Mrs. William Murdock Payne).
“This ranch is the oldest in the state that’s continued to remain in the family that founded it,” remarks Tate.
Honoring Moore’s Memory
Monsieur Moore’s 1994 funeral reflected his love of western life. According to his daughter, he didn’t want any slow, sad songs. Instead, the service included such songs as “Back In the Saddle Again” by Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers’ “Happy Trails.”
Tate, who shares Moore’s affection for western life and his aptitude for keeping up with trends, worked with her husband, Kenneth, to construct a replica of an 1800s village on the family ranch. Called Prairie Song, it’s open for tours and available for weddings, family reunions, festivals and other gatherings.
In their most recent effort to honor Monsieur Moore, family members and friends have nominated him to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Great Westerner category.
“There are five categories for nominations,” says Blakemore, “and we chose the Great Westerner category because, along with helping to found AQHA, he touched ranching, rodeo, youth activities and civic affairs.”