WHEN YOU WALK around a cemetery, you will see many granite and brass grave markers. Most of them simply give a person’s name, a date of birth and a date of death. A few vital statistics do not give you the stories around their lives.
A simple granite marker at the Sequim View Cemetery marks the final resting place for Roy B. Moore. With a little research, you can learn some things about Roy’s life and death.
First, I learned Roy was a woman. Roy is most commonly used as a masculine name. Not as much a century ago. Roy was the wife of Dr. Paul D. Moore.
Paul Dame Moore was born in Sacramento, Ky., on Sept. 21, 1881. On July 30, 1908, he graduated from the Hospital College of Medicine in Louisville, Ky. In 1911, he moved his practice to Calhoun, Ky., where he met and married Roy. When World War I broke out, he joined the Army and served in Europe. He was discharged as a colonel.
In April 1919, the Moores opened a medical practice in Sequim and established the Sequim Prairie Hospital.
Roy enjoyed entertaining and served as president of the Olympic District of the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. She sought the good of the Sequim community and was a cheerful worker for many local civic causes. She also had been a member of the State Conservation Committee, promoting the conservation of forests from widespread harvest and development.
On July 10, 1926, Roy underwent surgery to remove gall stones. The operation went well, and a full recovery seemed imminent, but her health declined rapidly. She began experiencing convulsions during the evening of July 19, and they continued until 4:30 a.m. when she died. Her cause of death was listed as acute phlegmonous cholecystitis.
But the sad story did not end there.
Moore complicated the situation with his friendship with Charlotte Kendall, wife of cheesemaker Carroll C. Kendall. Roy was aware of the friendship, but there were stories Moore and Charlotte were having an illicit affair.
Dr. H.S. Jessup, the attending physician, nurse Harriet O’Brien and pharmacist J.E. Brayton believed Roy’s death was not natural and that foul play may have been involved. The accusation was complicated by rumors that Jessup wanted Moore’s practice.
Elements came together to generate quite the crime drama that would captivate the county and the nation.
Based on the accusations, county Prosecuting Attorney John M. Wilson opened an investigation.
On Aug. 31, on a dark night illuminated by the headlights of the coroner’s car, Roy’s body was exhumed and taken to Port Angeles for an autopsy. Dr. P.C. West, a Seattle pathologist, performed the autopsy in Port Angeles and took the vital organs to Seattle to complete the examination. Four days later, Moore was charged with murder.
The trial began Nov. 15, 1926. The prosecution relied heavily on circumstantial evidence and traces of strychnine in Roy’s stomach. The case also relied on the belief that something other than post-surgical complications caused Roy’s sudden decline. The prosecutor introduced testimony from people close to the events and several medical experts. But the star witness of the trial, Miss August McKay, could not be found.
The prosecutor attempted to introduce testimony implying the Moore/Kendall relationship was the possible motive for the murder, but the judge rejected such testimony.
The defense assembled an array of physicians, pathologists and bacteriologists to testify on Moore’s behalf. The defense also questioned the motives of the accusers. Additionally, they highlighted the customary medicinal uses of strychnine.
The trial lasted five days, and the jury deliberated only four hours and 13 minutes. A speedy trial was viewed differently a century ago, and today, it is hard to imagine that the time elapsed from alleged crime to verdict could only be four months. So, on Nov. 20, 1926, Moore was acquitted of murder.
The judge’s instructions to the jury likely impacted the verdict. He told jurors there was no documented evidence that Moore personally administered poison to his wife. Unless it is proved that Moore caused another person to give poison to Roy, then the jury should acquit him.
But even that was not the end of it.
The east end of Clallam County felt both amusement and disgust as things continued to develop with the case.
Within a week of the verdict, Moore filed a $100,000 lawsuit against his accusers, alleging the defendants conspired to charge Moore with murder while knowing he was innocent. By January 1927, the suit was settled out of court for $6,000.
A month after the trial ended, Carroll Kendall sued Moore for $25,000 for breaking up his home. That, too, was settled out of court.
We will never truly know how close Moore and Charlotte Kendall were. But on Aug. 15, 1927, soon after Charlotte’s divorce was final, they were married in Seattle, and the couple moved to Kentucky. But it certainly was not all wedded bliss. In February 1947, Charlotte filed for divorce. A year later, the divorce was granted on grounds of cruelty. In January 1948, a month before the divorce was finalized, a marriage license was issued for Moore, 66, and Mabel Stewart, 35.
Dr. Paul Dame Moore died Dec. 21, 1951, in Sacramento, Ky., of a heart attack. He was 70.
Roy B. Moore was vitally interested in forest conservation, and her friends in the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs sought to raise money to dedicate a tree to her. In 1926, the federation endeavored purchased a 70-acre tract of virgin forest along Sunset Highway, which became Federation State Park along state Highway 410, north of Mount Rainier. They hoped this park would help them carry on the work Roy loved.
The next time you drive by this state park, stop and ponder the connection with the North Olympic Peninsula.
John McNutt is a descendant of Clallam County pioneers and treasurer of the North Olympic History Center Board of Directors. He can be reached at [email protected].