Biographical Non-Fiction posted August 3, 2022 Chapters:  ...13 14 -15- 16... 


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Discovering how the Moody name fits my in family tree.

A chapter in the book Pioneers of My People

Overcoming the Moody Blues

by BethShelby


For years, everyone on the DavisWest sides of the family who dabbled in genealogy regarded Penelope Moody West as the end of the Moody line. All we knew about her was she was born in South Carolina in 1805 and she was my maternal grandmother’s grandmother. She was married to Shadrach Nelson West also born in South Carolina. We knew quite a bit about the West line but nothing about the Moody line. Penelope was the only person we knew about with the last name of Moody, and no one seemed to know who her parents were.

The West family was proud of Shadrach Nelson. He was the grand patriarch of a very large family. He sat on his ornate, antique chair like a king on a throne, wearing a double-breasted suit, vest and bow tie and holding his cane like a scepter as he posed for numerous pictures. He had a full crop of snow-white hair and a long white goatee. If a picture was taken of his wife, Penelope, I am not aware of it.

On the census records, he is listed as Nelson Moody. He and Penelope had five daughters and ten sons. Several of the sons became well-known Baptist ministers in spite of the fact the Moody's were slave owners. The family moved from South Carolina to Louisiana and later to Mississippi, where one of their daughters, Sarah Ann, married my great-grandfather Elias Davis, and became the country doctor I wrote a chapter about earlier. She remained in the area where I grew up. Nelson and Penelope moved, with several of their children, to Nakoma, Texas in Montague County, where they lived out their lives. Sarah Ann never saw her parents again.  In those days of horse and buggy travel, it was a long way to Texas.

Because of all the preachers among her uncles, my grandmother often wondered if there was a possible connection between Penelope Moody West and Dwight L. Moody, the well-known evangelist who was born in Northfield, MA. in 1837. Since we had no way to connect Penelope without knowing her parents, it didn’t seem likely we could find out.

After having my DNA analyzed in 2015, I decided to look for any Moody family I could find who had lived in South Carolina in the early 1800s, and see if my DNA showed me to be a part of their family. It worked out well. The results were my DNA matched strongly with the family of Jesse Isaac Moody born in 1752 in Granville, North Carolina. He had one son who had moved to South Carolina and had a number of children who weren’t listed. The son, Daniel Moody, had to be Penelope’s father. There were no other Moodys in South Carolina with matching dates. 

Since I now knew for sure I was on the right tract, I only needed to follow Jesse’s line back to when they entered the states. Four generations farther back, I was able to learn that Thomas Samuel Moody, born in 1624 in England, had emigrated to Charles City, Virginia. Dwight L. Moody’s line seemed to have entered the US through another  Samuel Moody born in 1634 in Suffolk, England. He settled in Hadley, MA. The lines in both my family and Dwight Moody’s family are very similar. Both families came from Suffolk, England, although they arrived on different dates and at different ports, there were sea captains in both families. The given names of family members were almost the same with both families using mostly Biblical names like Joel, John, Samuel, and Daniel.

I continued to trace my family back in England and found that Penelope and Dwight L. Moody have a common ancestor with, yet another, Samuel Moody born in Suffolk, England in 1592. Going further back the line continues to Edward Moody, who was a member of Parliament during the time of Henry VIII and whose name was mentioned in King Henry’s will. Some researchers claimed he was a knight, who saved the king's life while hunting with his hawk. However, what I’ve learned from Wikipedia was he was a Captain. It seems he shared the name Edward Moody with a footman in the king’s court who actually did save the king from drowning. Perhaps that Edward was knighted for his deed. From the things I’ve read about Henry VIII, this Edward Moody should have let him drown. The deeds of the king were so evil that killing and torturing his wives were only the beginning of his atrocities.

Back to Dwight L. Moody, for those who might not know much about him, I would need to be brief because there is so much information available. Anyone interested in knowing more need only to put his name in a search engine.  This man became known worldwide in the 1800s for his Christian zeal and dynamic speaking style. 

When he was four, his father died leaving his mother with nine children to support. She was forced to send her children out to work for their food. Even at his young age, Dwight was also sent away. His mother saw to it her children attended church. At the time, they attended a Unitarian church. At 17, Dwight was converted by his Sunday School teacher and decided to devote his life to evangelism. He refused to serve in the Union Army on the grounds that he couldn’t kill other men. At that point, he claimed to be a Quaker. He worked with the Union Soldiers through the YMCA. I had no idea the YMCA was around back then.

Dwight Moody's preaching became so well known, the newly elected Abraham Lincoln attended some of his services. He had a church in Chicago which was destroyed in the Chicago Fire in 1871. He preached throughout the United States, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries, drawing in crowds of thousands. He established the Moody Bible Institute and other schools which are still around today. His beliefs, according to Alexa, were similar to the Congregationalist Church. I’m assuming he could be compared to Jonathan Edwards, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham as to his popularity with those who heard his messages.

The name Moody is of English Origin and some forms of it date back to the 12th century. It is listed as one of the 200 most well-known surnames. The surname Moody is derived from the Old English word modig, which means brave, impetuous, or bold. You will find well-known people having this name in almost every imaginable field, such as medicine, art, music, writing, all types of sports, politics, government, and business.



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