Ed Moody

Pictured is the front of Ed Moody's grave.

When Deputy U.S. Marshal Ed Moody knocked on a door where Joe Stone and his friends were holding a loud, late party and was shot dead through a door, he did not know his sacrifice would go unnoticed for nearly 100 years. It took a query from an organization in Texas that tracks, and honors fallen marshals for this sad event to come to the attention of the county where Moody served.

But he no longer rests in an unmarked grave in Cedar Hill. Thanks to the generosity of the people who attended last year’s Cedar Hill Cemetery Stroll and Klassics Memorials, he and his wife Ada have a handsome new stone in Cedar Hill.

The Cemetery Stroll last year was sponsored by a grant to Northeast Alabama Community College with the Jackson County Historical Association serving as a co-sponsor.  This year’s Cemetery Stroll, to be held October 6, 2019, is sponsored by a grant from the Bynum Foundation to NACC.  NACC LRC Director Julia Everett and NACC LRC Curator Blake Wilhelm have spearheaded obtaining grant funding for the event.

The stone monument resulting from last year’s event can be seen from the road directly behind the oldest part of the cemetery. The back of the stone reads, “Moody, Killed in the Line of Duty” and bears the star emblem of the U.S. Marshal Service. “We are grateful to Klassics Memorials for allowing the dollars that we collected to purchase such a wonderful marker,” Annette Bradford of the Jackson County Historical Association said. “We definitely got more than our money’s worth.”

In 2016, a Texas organization that tracks fallen U.S. marshals called the Scottsboro-Jackson County Heritage Center requesting a photo of Ed Moody’s grave, but when Jennifer Petty checked Find a Grave, she found no grave for Ed Moody.

When she checked the Progressive Age for coverage of the story, she found a front-page story in the July 28, 1921, newspaper. The story continued to be reported on the front page for weeks and months thereafter while the manhunt for Joe Stone continued, and the case worked its way through the courts. And the marshal’s obituary said that he was buried in Cedar Hill.

So how do you find the location of an unmarked grave in Cedar Hill? You ask Cemetery Supervisor Benny Bell, of course. Benny and his father before him kept very good records.

Benny’s records showed that the Ed Moody family had bought four plots in the oldest section of the cemetery, adjacent to the plots owned by his wife’s brother William Jessie Webb and the graves of Ed’s half-sisters, Fannie and Sallie Shook, both of whom married William L. Hammons. It made perfect sense. Records and logic told Benny where the graves were located, but there were definitely no headstones.

How could this happen? Remember that Ed died in July 1921 and his wife Ada died the following January. Their oldest son Ed was only 20 when his father died. His youngest, little Mildred was only 9. Most of this branch of the Moody family moved out of state after Ava’s death. So, focused on surviving and keeping the family together, no one thought about headstones for Ed and Ava.

A search of records in Ancestry made it clear that one person remembered Moody’s sacrifice: his great granddaughter Sherri Taggart Amhadzedeh, the granddaughter of son Will Henderson Moody.  Sherri knew about the case from her family’s records. She subscribed to newspapers.com and had found mention of Moody’s death in newspapers all over the state but nothing in Jackson County? Why?

The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) somehow missed microfilming the 1921 Progressive Age. Ann Chambless, local historian, remembers the weeks that the LDS group spent in the county courthouse putting the county’s newspapers on microfilm. They copied everything they could find, but they did not find everything. Somehow, they missed the 1921 bound volume of the Progressive Age. When Jennifer Petty and Annette Bradford looked for it, they found it. And with the headline story, they found a photo of Ed Moody, something the family did not have. “I am very nearly giddy,” Sherri said.

Together, Annette and Sherri discovered, created, and linked this Moody family on Find A Grave, and Sherri used the information that she and Annette uncovered to enhance her Ancestry records.

They had to create one cemetery that no one can visit without scuba gear because it is under the Tennessee River. A family member had met a TVA representative in the mid-1930s and searched in vain for the Moody family cemetery. Orran Moody, Ed’s father, and Ava Lovelace Moody, Ed’s first wife, were left behind in Langston when Lake Guntersville was created in 1939. To ready the full story and track this family, look up Ed Moody who died Jackson County in 1921 on Find A Grave and use the links provided.

Edward Moody was the son of Orran Addison Moody and Mildred Virginia Moody Moody Shook. “Leola and Eunice Matthews had done valuable early research on this family,” Annette remembers, “and provided important pieces to this puzzle.” Ed was born November 13, 1866, in Cottonport, Tennessee, and died July 25, 1921, at age 54. His father, a merchant in Langton, was shot in a fracas that he started. After Orran died, Mildred married B. F. Shook and had three children with him, all of whom died without issue. After Mildred died, Shook married Docia Crawford who became the mother of Willie Shook Armstrong, the mother of District Attorney Tommy Armstrong who died in 2017.

Another well-known member of this family was Ed’s brother, Miles Addison “Milo” Moody (1861-1948), a state representative known for his emphasis on roads and as the lawyer who defended the Scottsboro Boys at their Jackson County trial in 1932. His sister Orran Allison Moody married physician Jefferson Bennett Moody from Ft. Payne, the son of Circuit Lodge William J. Haralson.

Ed Moody had received his appointment as Deputy U.S. Marshal only four months before his death. In a time when good jobs were hard to come by, getting appointed Deputy U S. Marshal was considered a piece of good luck. The March 17, 1921, Progressive Age reported that “Ed Moody of Scottsboro was appointed deputy U.S. Marshal by Marshal H. A. Skeggs last week to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John A. Hackworth, who has gone back to railroad work in Mississippi. Mr. Moody has already entered the new job, and we congratulate our neighbor and fellow townsman on securing this appointment and feel sure he will make good.”

When Moody was killed, Jim Benson, editor of the Progressive Age, wrote an editorial which said that Moody’s death had ”cast a pall of gloom over North Alabama.” Moody was remembered as “brave, fearless, and faithful in the discharge of his duties. He was honest, frank and generous, and was gentle and devoted to his wife and children…He was kind and affectionate and had a heart as tender as a child. No one ever went to Ed for a favor, but that he received, even to his own hurt.” (July 28, 1921)

“The Moody family is woven deeply into the fabric of Jackson County history,” Annette said. “We were embarrassed that the county had let this fallen marshal lie for so long in an unmarked grave, and we are happy now to have his life and his resting place recognized.”

Join Nat Cisco as he portrays U.S. Marshal Ed Moody on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, from 2-4 p.m. at the 2019 Cedar Hill Cemetery Stroll. Northeast Alabama Community College’s Dr. Julia Everett notes, “We have an exciting list of notable citizens to be portrayed this year, most of whom did not appear in the 2018 stroll.” 

Questions regarding the 2019 cemetery stroll should be directed to Annette Bradford at jcha@scottsboro.org or to Julia Everett at everettj@nacc.edu or Blake Wilhelm at wilhelmb@nacc.edu.

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