Posts Tagged ‘Gideon Curtis Moody’

Gideon Curtis Moody at Hollywood Forever

Sunday, January 17th, 2010


Gideon Curtis Moody, first Senator of South Dakota, and former state justice


 Gideon Curtis Moody


By Allan R. Ellenberger


Gideon Curtis Moody was a forceful, brilliant speaker, a man who detested shams and subterfuges, whose professional and private reputation was stainless. He commanded the profound admiration of his neighbors and friends, and his vigorous, pleasing personality made him a figure of prominence in the Northwest. He was South Dakota’s first Senator and that states Moody County is named in his honor.


Moody was born in Courtland, New York on October 16, 1832 where he spent his early years. He studied law at Syracuse and was admitted to the bar when he was only 21. He practiced law there and moved to New Albany, Indiana in 1852 and was appointed prosecuting attorney for Floyd County in 1854.


Moody married Helen Eliot of Syracuse on September 21, 1855. In 1860 he was elected to the Indiana State Legislature and served until the outbreak of the Civil War. In  April 1861 he enlisted in Co. G, Ninth Indiana Infantry and was commissioned a Captain. He was with that unit until the fall of 1862 when he was promoted to Colonel and assigned to the command of the Nineteenth United States Infantry, which was stationed at Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.


Moody was given a command at Murfreesboro, Tennessee and was named chief mustering officer with Major-General George H. Thomas.


After the Civil War he moved to Yankton, Dakota Territory and took an active part in the development of the Northwest. He was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court by President Rutherford B. Hayes, and his district at that time comprised all the territory west of the Missouri River. He filled this position from 1878 to 1889.


On November 2,1889, as a Republican, he was elected the first United States Senator to the new state of South Dakota along with Senator Richard F. Pettigrew. He remained a senator until 1891. He was also a member of the Territorial Legislature for two years, and was Speaker of the House. He was a member of the State Constitutional Convention and was the first provisional Senator.


Moody’s specialty as judge was in corporation law and riparian rights and he ruled on many important cases. For many years he was the confidential attorney of the Homestake Gold Mining Company at Deadwood, South Dakota, which was the richest gold mining corporation in the world, and of interest to then Senator George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst. Until his death, Moody was the confidential attorney of Hearst’s mother, Phoebe.


Around 1899, Moody began making occasional visits to Los Angeles and found the climate beneficial to his health. After his daughter and her husband settled here he spent the last nine months of his life with her while building an elegant mansion next door at 1019 Beacon Street. He and his wife moved into their new home only two months before his death.


On March 17, 1904, Moody died at his new residence from Bright’s Disease; he was 71. He was survived by his wife Helen and five children: Helen Dickenson of Los Angeles; Charles, editor of the Sturges Record (South Dakota); James, an attorney at Deadwood; Burdette, a civil engineer with the Homestake Company, and Warner, recently graduated from Yale and in a law office in Deadwood.


Gideon Curtis Moody grave



Gideon Curtis Moody grave



Moody children also buried at Hollywood Forever


Moody’s grave is located at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in the Chandler Garden’s (Section 12) just east of the Harrison Otis obelisk and a short distance from the road.


For the past 105 years, all published biographies have stated that Moody was buried at Rosedale Cemetery. This error is included in the official Biographical Directory of the United States Congress and is listed as such on Findagrave. The confusion probably came from his obituary which noted that his body was “placed temporarily in a receiving vault at Rosedale.” Hopefully that inaccuracy can now be corrected.


To read more about Gideon Curtis Moody, check out this article at Deadwood Magazine.