John W. Moody

JOHN W. MOODY, well and favorably known in religious and literary circles, was born at Middle Rasen, Lincolnshire, England October 6, 1846. His father, John Moody, was a miller, his machinery having three motive powers; wind, water and steam. When the wind failed, water was used, and when there was a scanty of water resort was had to a steam engine of primitive construction. The paternal ancestry of Mr. Moody were mostly engaged in agricultural pursuits. His father, besides being an active business man, was popular as a local preacher in the Methodist denomination. He had not been able to acquire a very extended education, but he was possessed of a natural eloquence and a gift of language which caused his services to be in constant demand, especially on such occasions as the anniversaries of rural churches, etc. Mr. Moody's family on the maternal side moved in somewhat higher circles.

Mr. Moody was educated in the national schools of England, and later took a classical course in the Brigg (Lincolnshire) grammar school, where many men of note prepared for Cambridge and Oxford. Failing health obliged him to curtail his studies, and when still quite a youth was apprenticed to Hinchcliffe & Holliday of Hull, Yorkshire, England, to learn the art of printing and journalism in general. He remained here four years, obtaining a practical knowledge of every branch of this business. At the end of this period the firm failed and went out of business. Mr. Moody was worn out with his hard work of reporting for a morning newspaper, The Hull Daily Express, and his physician ordered him into the country. At the age of eighteen years he was again bound apprentice, this time to a firm of grocers, J. T. & T. Varlow, of Brigg, Lincolnshire, England. He finished his apprenticeship with this firm and continued in this business until he was twenty-three years old, then again turning his attention to journalism. For a time he was engaged on the Gainsborough News, at Gainsborough, England, and then was assistant editor of the High Peak News, at Bakewell, Derbyshire, England, at the same time editing the High Peak Tourist's Guide, a society paper published at Buxton, the scene of one of the novels of Walter Scott. From Buxton he removed with his family to Preston, in Lancashire, and there became assistant editor of the Preston Chronicle, a widely circulated paper under the editorship of Anthony Hewitson, an uncompromising radical.

Mr. Moody's thoughts had often turned to the new world as offering a better field for him than the old, and a favorable opportunity offering at this time he took advantage of it in the spring of 1872 and came to America for the first time. A few days after landing he obtained employment on the True American, then owned by Naar, Day & Naar, at Trenton, New Jersey. The following spring he went into business on his own account, starting the Chambersburg Weekly News, (afterwards changed to the Mercer County News) which was a decided success notwithstanding the fact that it was a time of great panic and depression in business circles. About this times Mr. Moody, who had always been a great student, took up the study of theology. These studies finally led to the ministry, and in January, 1882, he was unanimously called to the pastorate of the Central Baptist church, at Junction, New Jersey, and was there ordained, September 27, 1882. He remained here for two years, and his success is attested by the fact that the membership of the church was tripled and a new church was organized at Washington, New Jersey, which is now in a very flourishing condition. In this work, as in his entire subsequent career, Mr. Moody gives much of the credit of his success to his wife. Again failing health suggested need of a change, and he accepted a call from Athens, New York, a beautiful village near the Hudson river. Here he labored for five years with his usual success, and then removed to Monongahela, Pennsylvania, where he served as pastor for three years. While in this town, in association with others, he started a denominational weekly known as The Baptist Exponent. From individual ownership to a joint stock company, composed of men who knew nothing of journalism but insisted upon managing the affairs, the descent to failure was swift and sure. Mr. Moody, however had retired from the editorship six months before this culmination. From Monongahela he removed to Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and there was pastor of the Baptist church for five years. During the greater part of this time he was a contributor to the press, both secular and religious. At the suggestion of friends he assumed control of the Baptist Expositor at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and edited the same for some time, until it was sold to the Baptist Commonwealth of Philadelphia, and incorporated therewith. From Sewickley he assumed the pastorate of the old Peter's Creek church, at Library, Pennsylvania, where he remained two years, and then received a call from the First Baptist church of Scottdale, Pennsylvania, in which he served for nearly six years, resigning his pastorate in order to organize the Scottdale Printing & Publishing Company. This company, of which he is secretary, treasurer, manager and editor, purchased the Scottdale Independent, an old and well-established weekly. This paper was enlarged and improved, and in September, 1904, a daily edition was started, which gives great promise of success. While no longer in the ministry Mr. Moody frequently occupies pulpits in neighboring towns and cities. Elliott G. Moody. of Trenton, New Jersey, who has held various positions of trust in the city and state of late years, is the only brother of John W. Moody, and Mrs. John Rowe, of Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, is his only sister.

John W. Moody married, January 26, 1870, Mary Elizabeth Gray, one of a family of ten children, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gray, of Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, England, who subsequently removed to Peterborough, England, where they died and are buried, and where most of the family now reside, some engaged in building and contracting, and others retired from business. Mr. Gray, while a farmer by occupation, was a mechanical genius, constructing with his own hands some unique articles, both useful and ornamental. Several members of this family have inherited this gift, and have utilized it to great profit and advantage in the course of their lives. Mr. and Mrs. Moody have two children: Wallace Elliott, born in Gainsborough, England, December 5, 1870. He is married and has three children. Jessie Mabelle, born at Trenton, New Jersey, March 10, 1874. She married W. W. Stewart, eldest son of one of the oldest and wealthiest families of the rural districts of Allegheny county, and resides on the old Stewart homestead at Stewart, near Finleyville, which has been the home of the family for several generations. She is the mother of two children.

Source: Page(s) 155-157, History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed May 2007 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (

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