• The Shadows is the first National Trust for Historic Preservation site in the Gulf South. The home and garden are as breathtaking as the history preserved here.

Mary Conrad Weeks and John Moore (Second Husband)

Following the death of David Weeks in 1834, his widow Mary C. Weeks was kept extremely busy seeing to the management of the plantation holdings of the David Weeks Estate, her children’s inheritance. Her brothers advised and assisted her, but she often dealt directly with overseers concerning the sugar plantation on Grand Cote.

In addition to decisions on acreage to be planted in cane and food crops, supplies to be purchased, and marketing matters, as a sugar planter, Mary was also responsible for the needs of the slaves on Grand Cote and at the Shadows, over 150 men, women and children. This meant making sure there was sufficient food and clothing for everyone and that adequate housing and medical attention were provided when necessary. In addition to the plantation, Mary also saw to the needs of her children, hiring tutors to teach at the schoolhouse behind the main house and later locating good boarding schools and colleges in which to enroll the five children who survived childhood. Frances, William, Alfred, Harriet and Charles learned reading, writing, arithmetic and geography from tutors at home until in their early teens they went off to boarding schools.

In 1841, Mary’s life changed with her marriage to John Moore. Moore was born in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia), in 1789. A marriage contract kept their property separate, but Mary and her children frequently sought her husband’s advice in business and family affairs. The 1840s and 1850s were prosperous decades for John and Mary Weeks Moore. She watched her children mature, marry and have children of their own. Her marriage to John Moore was a healthy and happy one, and she and her husband were respected members of the community. The plantations were doing well and the family’s future looked secure.

As Judge Moore had been elected to Congress in 1840, after their wedding in April 1841, Mary and the children traveled with him to DC.   She  enrolled the older boys, William and Alfred, in colleges in Virginia and Harriet in a female seminary in Georgetown. Moore was re-elected to Congress in 1851, but after visiting him once in 1852, Mary chose to remain behind at the Shadows, keeping in touch with her absent husband through letters. “I have little to say unless I tell you over and over again how much I miss your society and how much I want to see you. You know the monotony of Attakapas life, only varied by fear of freezes or of sickness.” (Letter, Mary C. Moore, The Shadows to John Moore, Washington, DC, Jan 14, 1853)

The Civil War brought many sorrows to the Weeks family, including the death of Mary Weeks Moore who in the early hours of December 29, 1863, Mary Moore died peacefully in her sleep as Union troops occupied her home and its grounds. She was buried in her garden, “as the graveyards were all open the fencing having been torn down by the Yankees.” (Letter, Hannah J. Conrad, New Iberia, to John Moore, De Soto Parish, Dec 4, 1864). John Moore died at the Shadows, on June 17, 1867 at the age of 78 and is buried next to Mary.