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Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Andrew Jackson Moses, 1859

From the Desks of the Central Library Staff

Called “a family of rascals” by one historian, the Moses brothers (Simpson, A.B., and Andrew, a native of South Carolina) along with Elwood Evans, came from Ohio to Olympia 1851 via the Nicaragua route. Simpson had been appointed the Collector and Andrew became a merchant on Main Street (Capitol Way). He had the instincts of an information professional when he ran this notice in the Feb. 5, 1853 issue of the Columbian

Notice: From and after this date I will keep a register of names of all persons arriving in our new Territory, and I simply suggest to those now here to place their names upon the same book in order hereafter when any person desiring to know the place of residence of any relative or friend who may be living in this section of Oregon, they may know where to find them, and at the same time shall be ready to facilitate transportation to those who may desire going down the Sound. Andrew J. Moses, Main Street, Olympia.

When Gov. Stevens arrived in Olympia, he compiled a roster of prominent locals who, in the words of historian Kent D. Richards, “might provide information or services or who exercised power and influence among their peers.” Andrew was among the 30 or so names in the list. He served as a sergeant in the Indian War. It was for the alleged involvement in the death of his brother, A.B. Moses, that Leschi was executed. In 1859 Andrew defeated his father-in-law, James Clark Head, 22-11 in the legislative vote selecting a new Auditor/Librarian.

In addition to holding two territorial posts he was also the U.S. District Court Clerk in 1859. Moses was involved in forming the Alert Hook and Ladder Company, Olympia’s first firefighting group. Andrew was admitted to the bar in 1865 and acted as a Justice of the Peace. Vanishing from the Olympia scene after his divorce in 1870, he surfaced in Portland. The May 11, 1872 of the Washington Standard reported Moses had been arrested for forgery. He was still living in Portland, working as an attorney, and providing entertaining newspaper copy through his exploits as late as the 1890s.  Andrew Jackson Moses died in Roseburg, Oregon on April 3, 1897 and was buried in Portland.

[The Territorial Librarian profiles were compiled by Sean Lanksbury, Mary Schaff, Kim Smeenk, and Steve Willis]

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