Bryan County History: Scandal seemed to follow Caddo merchant Moon
In September of 1923 the body of William Judson Moon was carried by the Texas Special from Dallas to Caddo where he was interred in the mausoleum he had built in 1904.
His third wife, Lula, and his granddaughter, Valentine, accompanied him and watched as he was laid to rest next to his first wife, Mollie. A large crowd of mourners stood in the rain to join them and no doubt recalled the many stories told about him.
From 1899 to 1909, W. J. Moon was one of the leading merchants of Caddo. He built a lovely home, several business buildings and an impressive hotel. He was also a troubled man who seemed to frequently be at odds with others, especially women. His first wife committed suicide in 1904.
In January 1906, he married Pearl Bedtelyon, but their marriage lasted only six months and ended dramatically. One evening, William put Pearl on the train and sent her back to her parents without the “necessary clothing” to enable her to appear in a “decent and respectable way” in public. She was forced to stop in Muskogee to borrow clothing from friends.
Later, Pearl sued him for divorce and accused him of abusing her and using “vile and opprobrious epithets towards and about her.” She further alleged “gross neglect of duty” in failing to support her. William’s worth at the time of their divorce was $140,000. The judge ruled in her favor.
In February 1910, an ad ran in the Daily Oklahoman for an auction on Feb. 15 of all of Mr. Moon’s buildings, including his residence and “one $35,000 brick hotel with 50 rooms, and opera house and barber shop combined.”
Moon stated his “health and other business” as the reason for his retirement. He proudly declared, “I made over $50,000 in four years and there is a better opening now than I had.”
His “health” problem was that earlier in January, his son, Oscar, had stabbed him during a quarrel in the bank at Caddo. The newspaper account said that William became “indignant” over something Oscar said, and slapped him. Oscar retaliated by stabbing him in the face, neck and back.
In 1911, William Moon was convicted of adultery with Lula Manning and fined $250. His nieces, Carrie and Hattie, told Caddo historian Erma Taylor that the couple met at a party in Dallas. They ultimately married and lived in Dallas until his death. Carrie said, “Lula called him Mr. Moon. Mr. Moon kept a gun under his pillow.”
There are more random items about William Moon during the next few years: lawsuits against others, an arrest for violating Internal Revenue laws, mention of a family dispute, property transfers, liquor violations.
There was also more family tragedy: In 1916 William’s other son, Will, died in a gin accident in Kiowa. His obituary states that he was buried in Caddo “beside his mother.”
W. J. Moon may have been a successful businessman, but his money didn’t buy him happiness.
Bryan County History is a weekly feature contributed by members of the Bryan County Genealogy Library and Archives in Calera. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group. Is there a historic event or topic you want to read about? Contact the library at P.O. Box 153, Calera, OK 74730.