Covered Wagon

Name and Place

James Moore moved to the Illinois territory in 1780 and located on the hills near Bellefontaine. James swore an oath of allegiance to the United States of America at Kaskaskia on 10 Jul 1782.


Captain James Moore was born 1750 at Maryland and subsequently moved to Virginia. He settled on the banks of the Kanawha river. He descended the Ohio River with about 300 family boats, most of which were destined for Kentucky. James Moore, along with Shadrach Bond, James Garrison, Robert Kidd, and Larken Rutherford, headed into Illinois.


James married Catherine Biggs (1750-1811) in 1772 at Maryland. At her husbands death in 1788, Catherine was left with a family of six children, the oldest of whom was but fourteen years of age, and the youngest, an infant. She kept the family together, through her situation was one of trial and embarrassment. By this time the Indians had resumed their encroachments, though their object seemed to be to steal rather than to kill, some of them boasting that they spared the settlers so that they might raise horses and provisions for them. Her neighbors planted for her a crop the first season after her husband's death, some standing guard against the Indians while others tilled the field. At one time the danger became so imminent that the family was driven to the blockhouse in the American Bottom for protection.


The children of James and Catherine were: 

  1. John (1773-1833)
  2. William (1775-1799
  3. Benjamin (1779-died young)
  4. James Biggs (1780-1840)
  5. Enoch (1783-1848)
  6. Mary (1784-1842) m. David Robinson (1785-1836)
  7. John Milton (1786-1844)

Offices Held



James took part in the expedition to Illinois in 1778, under the command of Colonel George Rogers Clark, in which it is generally supposed he served in the commissary department.  He, with his companions, reached Kaskaskia in the fall of 1781, and there remained during the Winter. The next Spring he settled at Bellefontaine. It was supposed when these immigrants left the country east of the Alleghenies that little danger need be feared from the Indians. It was not long, however, before the savages began to make trouble, and James Moore was elected Captain of the company which came to be raised for the protection of the colony. Illinois at that time was a county of Virginia, and the commission which Captian Moore received was from the Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry. He was directed to establish a military post and command the militia. A fort, or blockhouse, was accordingly built at Bellefontaine, and afterward, during the Indian war this was one of the most frequent and noted places of resort. Captain Moore's efforts were of great value in establishing amicable relations with the Indians, so that it was not until 1786, that serious trouble began with the hostile tribes. With Gabriel Cerre, a wealthy merchant of St. Louis, James entered into trade with the Indians, and for some time he maintained headquarters at Nashville, Tennessee. James died in or about the year 1788, his family obtaining scanty results from his venture in the Indian trade. 


He was adventurous and daring in disposition.


  1. Complete History of Illinois from 1673 to 1873, by Alexander Davidson and Bernard Stuve, page 203
  2. Combined History of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties, Illinois page 96, 314-315