History of the Moore Family

The Moore family is descended from Jeremiah Moore, a Baptist preacher who lived at “Moorefield” in the present-day Town of Vienna. Jeremiah Moore was famed for his advocacy for religious freedom, a viewpoint enshrined in the Virginia and U.S. Constitutional by George Mason, his Fairfax County friend and neighbor.

Jeremiah’s grandson was Thomas Moore, who moved to the Town of Fairfax and purchased the “Moore House” which still stands there today as “Choices” restaurant.

Thomas Moore was a veteran of the Mexican War, where he served with the Mississippi Rifles. He befriended Col. Jefferson Davis, the commander of the regiment, and occasionally entertained him in antebellum days while Davis was a U.S. Senator representing Mississippi.

During the Civil War, Thomas Moore joined the Army of Northern Virginia. He served for the duration before arriving back home in 1865. The Moore house was occupied by the Union Army during much of this time.

After the war, Thomas Moore restarted his law practice and was active in local life and politics. His son Walton Moore followed him into law after graduating from the University of Virginia. Although his father had been a Whig, Walton became a Democrat at the request of local legislator R.E. “Rooney” Lee III (son of the general). Walton ran for Lee’s State Senate seat in 1882 and was elected.

Walton practiced law in Fairfax for over 50 years. In 1919, he was elected to the U.S. Congress representing the 8th Congressional District. He served in Congress until 1931. He was known as an “independent Democrat,” as he refused to join the Byrd Organization which ran Virginia politics at that time. His greatest legislative accomplishment was sponsoring the Federal purchase of Mt. Vernon and the land adjacent to the Potomac River – now the home of the George Washington Parkway.

In 1933, Walton Moore joined the cabinet of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of State. He served in that post until 1940. He died the next year. While Assistant Secretary, he occasionally entertained President & Mrs. Roosevelt at his house. He boasted that he was the only man in U.S. history to have shaken hands with Jefferson Davis and Franklin Roosevelt during his lifetime.

After Walton Moore’s death, the Moore house was occupied by Mary LeGrand (Donohoe) McCandlish. Mary’s mother was Moore’s sister, Susan Lindsey, and her father was Roszel Donohoe, the editor of the Fairfax Herald. From 1898-1900, Roszel Donohoe also served as the State Senator for Fairfax County, the same seat currently held by his great-great grandson Chap Petersen.

Mary married local attorney Fairfax Sheild McCandlish and they had three children: Mary Walton, Nancy and Sheild. For many years, the McCandlishes lived down the street at 3820 Chain Bridge, where their next-door neighbor was another attorney named John Rust. Rust succeeded Roszel Donohoe as the State Senator and held the seat for many years until World War II.

In 1949, Mrs. McCandlish subdivided the Moore House lot to permit her daughter Nancy (McCandlish) Prichard and new husband Ed Prichard to build a small house next door at 3936 Chain Bridge Road. The Prichards had met in Egypt during the war, while both were serving in the OSS.

The Prichards raised three children at 3936 Chain Bridge before moving down the street to occupy 3820 Chain Bridge. An attorney, Mr. Prichard would go on to serve as the Mayor of Fairfax City between 1964-1968. He successfully argued the “one man, one vote” case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962, which guaranteed full representation for Fairfax County in the General Assembly.

In 1966, Mrs. McCandlish – or “Bam” as she was known to her grandchildren — sold the next-door lot for $20,000 to her newly-married eldest grand-daughter Mary (Livingston) Petersen and husband John Petersen.

Mrs. McCandlish continued to live at the Moore House, while the Petersens raised three children (Mary LeGrand, John Chapman and Elizabeth Schuyler) next-door. The extended family routinely gathered at “Bam’s house” after school or on Sundays after church. At that time, the house was still surrounded by a thick stand of trees, a wide meadow and Bam’s prized rose bushes.

Mary LeGrand Donohoe McCandlish died in 1986 at the age of 98 years old. She was survived by three children, nine grandchildren and twenty-two great grandchildren.

Mrs. McCandlish was the grand-daughter of Thomas Moore and great-great-grand-daughter of Jeremiah Moore.   Chap Petersen is her great-grandson.

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