Gordy Moore (1885-1967)

I am having a break from the blog while I concentrate on my PhD. This post comes from research I did for an Advanced Diploma in Local and Applied History that I was completing at the University of New England in 1999. My research has come a long way since then and the full story is much more interesting but for the time being this will have to suffice.

James Edgar Gordon (Gordy) Moore was born on the 11th May 1885 at Wangaratta, to William Moore and his wife Alice Rebecca (nee Clark)[1]. The youngest of nine children, he was brought into the comfortable world of parents from wealthy families. Born in the family home on Three Mile Creek, his early days were typical of country boys of the time. Entertainment was usually outdoors and often involved the ponies or horses that were such a part of Moore family life[2]. Gordy grew up with five older brothers and two surviving sisters. His closest sibling, Frederick Edward, became a jockey, while another brother, Francis Richard, followed in their father’s footsteps, becoming a horsebreaker and Clerk of the Course at Wangaratta racecourse after the death of their father.

Gordy, however, had a passion for bicycles and motorbikes. Before giving in to this passion, he tried various occupations including work with Kelly’s travelling Merry Go Round. Later he moved around Victoria with the Water Commission. This job took him to Cohuna where he is thought to have met his wife Caroline Ann Ritchie[3].

Caroline was born at Borung, just north of Wedderburn in Victoria, about 60 kilometres from Cohuna[4]. When Gordy and Caroline finally married, the circumstances had changed dramatically. They were married in Fitzroy, Caroline giving her occupation as waitress and place of residence as 39 Napier Street Footscray. Gordy gave his place of residence as Wangaratta and his occupation as cycle builder[5].

Had Gordy followed his sweetheart across Victoria? If they met in Cohuna, or Bendigo where Caroline’s family now lived, how did they come to be in Melbourne? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the fact that a baby boy was born to Caroline at Bendigo on the 27th June 1910, barely seven weeks after her marriage. This child was Albert (Bert) Edgar Moore[6]. No doubt Caroline had gone home for the birth of her first child.

The new family moved to Wangaratta, living in Green and then Rowan Streets. Soon after a new house was built by Gordy on the family property in Appin Street adjacent to the One Mile Creek. His son Bert recalls that it had three bedrooms, with a laundry and kitchen across the back. The kitchen had a brick floor.

Some general farming, growing wheat and millet was carried on, but Gordy’s main occupation was at his bicycle shop in Murphy Street. He rode a belt drive Triumph motor cycle to work in those early days, sometimes taking some of the kids to school on the way. [7]

Moore, James Edgar Gordon - trout fishing award 2 - small

Hobbies and recreation in those early days remained in the minds of Gordy’s children. A keen fisherman and swimmer, he was once employed to disappear under water and reappear minutes later, holding aloft an advertisement for Bob Sloan’s suits. He also enjoyed skating and shooting. Motor cycles and bicycles were however, relegated to the men folk. Family outings occurred with the aid of the piano box buggy, drawn by the legendary ‘Pete’, a large chestnut.[8]

Gordy’s family slowly grew with the addition of Richard (Dick) in 1912, Edna in 1914, Alma (Bub) Caroline in 1916, and John (Jack) in 1921[9].

Gordy expanded his interests to include membership of the local fire brigade and goat races for charity. He was in great demand for his carts that he managed to make from odds and ends that came to hand. Perhaps the most memorable of Gordy’s characteristics was his inventiveness. His son Bert recalled that in summer the kitchen was cooled by a water powered fan driven by a turbine made from two halves of a telephone bell with a small rotor inside and a fan on the outside. He is quoted as having said that there was never any rubbish at the farm in Appin Street, only material to be recycled![10]

In 1919 Gordy’s mother Alice Rebecca died at their home from influenza.[11], and the property was sold in 1920. Gordy and his family moved to Moore Street where they enjoyed the luxury of a real bathroom instead of the old bath in the kitchen. The cycle shop prospered and life went on as usual until 1933. Caroline had not been well for some time and in August she was hospitalised with pneumonia, a complication of the flu. The children went to see her in hospital. Their last of view of their mother was of her in an oxygen struggling for breath. Anitbiotics were not available then. On 24th August Caroline died.

Gordy was left with three children at home. Bert had married in 1932 and had a baby of his own on the way, and Dick had left home to seek his fortune. Edna was nineteen, Bub seventeen and the baby Jack, was only twelve. Gordy seemed to languish for a while, however the girls took over the running of the house and kept things as normal as possible. Little is known about these later years. Gordy seemed to retire quietly. Occasionally he was involved in historical events. One such event was the saga of the eventually successful attempt to pull his maternal grandfather’s punt from the bed of the Ovens River. This historic event continued over a number of years after the punt was found intact but covered in 100 years of silt and debris. Its eventual demise came about after some injudicious decisions were made about the best method of getting the massive structure up the steep banks of the river. This important part of Wangaratta’s history was thus almost lost[12].

Moore, James Edgar Gordon watching efforts to raise punt- small

Gordy lived on in quiet retirement, reflecting on his life and smoking cigarettes in home-made crab claw holders until just after his 82nd birthday.[13]

He died peacefully at the Ovens and Murray Home at Beechworth on the 2nd of June 1967 and was buried with Caroline in Wangaratta cemetery[14].

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: James Edgar Gordon (Gordy) MOORE

Parents: John MOORE and Margaret CONSIDINE

Spouse: Caroline Ann RITCHIE

Relationship to CWG: Great Great Grandfather

  1. James Edgar Gordon MOORE
  2. Alma Caroline MOORE
  3. Living
  4. CWG



[1] Birth certificate of James Edgar Gordon Moore, born 11 May 1885, No. 22182, Registry of Births, Death and Marriages, Victoria.

[2] Discussion between Albert Edgar (Bert) Moore and the author, 24th September, 1999.

[3] Albert (Bert) Edgar Moore, James Edgar Gordon Moore, manuscript, late 1980s, copy held by the author, p 1.

[4] Birth certificate of Caroline Ann Ritchie, born 16th November 1884, No. 12185, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria.

[5] Marriage certificate of James Edgar Gordon Moore and Caroline Ann Ritchie, married 7th May 1910, no. 4929, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria.

[6] Birth Extract of Albert Edgar Moore, born 27th June 1910, no. 16746, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria.

[7] Albert Edgar Moore, manuscript, loc. cit.

[8] Albert Edgar Moore, manuscript, loc. cit.

[9] Index to births, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria.

[10] Albert Edgar Moore, loc. cit. p 3.

[11] Death certificate of Alice Rebecca Moore, died 2 August 1919, no. 15278, registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria.

[12] North Eastern Historical Society Newsletter, North Eastern Historical Society

[13] Albert Edgar Moore, loc. cit, p 2.

[14] Wangaratta cemetery register and headstone, copy of register held by Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies.


This entry was posted in North East Victoria, Wangaratta and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Gordy Moore (1885-1967)

  1. Lenore Frost says:

    Now you are going to leave us in suspenders as to what happened to the punt!


    • Jenny Coates says:

      Hah! Yes Lenore, you will have to hang on to your suspenders as there is more to the story of the punt. Suffice to say that it broke up as it was being removed but a large section was on display in Apex Park for many years. A section also went to the Wangaratta Historical Society, I have a few small pieces and some huge handmade nails from it, and my great uncle made a few things from the salvaged timber so it lives on!


  2. Garry Moore says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Just a quick note to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog to date, and to wish you well in the completion of your PhD. I know from personal experience, and from my wife’s present travails (she is completing her PhD at Monash on George Higinbotham), how onerous the task can be. I do hope that you find time after the completion of your thesis to resume your blog. Perhaps we might have the opportunity to meet one day. In the meantime, you have my very best wishes.



    Dr Garry Moore
    81 Raynes Park Road
    Victoria 3188
    (Tel) 03 9521 8184
    (Mob) 0413 882 088.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s