One major focus in coverage of the Moore weddings is their use of a unifying color scheme. Raymond’s marriage to Mary Dee Lum featured a then-popular green and white theme that extended from decorations at the Methodist church to the bridesmaids’ dresses of pale green silk. Even refreshments at their reception followed the pattern, with guests enjoying white, heart-shaped cakes served atop green ferns on white china. John Jr. and Etta May stuck with this elegant palette for their own ceremonies, but both added pops of pink through food, the bridal party’s attire, and floral elements. (The Houston Post was especially smitten with Etta May’s artful arrangements of dainty green vines, pink Kilarney roses and white Easter lilies--among other beautiful botanicals.)
Much like the green and white motif, highly elaborate white bridal gowns appear repeatedly at Moore weddings. The different components Etta May’s dress read like an inventory for a luxury fabric shop, including two varieties of white satin, royal velvet, Venetian and Chantilly lace, cloth of silver, and embroidered accents of crystal and pearls. Mary Lum and Dorothea Guenther, John Jr.’s wife, introduce muslin, chiffon, and crepe de chine to the mix of materials, not to mention diamonds in the form of a starburst pin Mary used to secure her veil. For her part, Etta May donned a veil of French tulle, while Dorothea opted for one of lace swept into a demure Juliet cap; Ivy Moore’s long veil cascaded, fittingly, from a wreath of flowers perched in her dark hair. In an echo of Queen Victoria’s much-celebrated 1840 marriage, which had helped standardize white as the fashionable hue for bridal garments, Dorothea and Etta May’s ensembles both incorporated orange blossoms, a symbol of fertility.
For all their gossip-worthy glamour, these extravagant affairs also illustrate how tightly knit the Moore clan remained even as it expanded. Ivy shared a group bridal shower with brother John Foster Dyer’s fiancée, Lida Lum Davis, and performed the song “All Because I Love You” at their wedding; she later served as matron of honor at Etta May’s ceremony, where J.F.D. and Lida pitched in by greeting and directing guests and Dorothea took charge of dishing out dessert. In the end—and color-coordinated cakes aside—Moore weddings boiled down to a simple celebration of family old and new.
By Melinda Narro
Fort Bend Museum Intern
John Matthew Moore began his career in Congress in 1905 at the age of 43—coincidentally, the same age that the nation’s then-Commander-in-Chief, Theodore Roosevelt, had become President after his own predecessor was assassinated. However, unlike President Roosevelt, who was famed for his larger-than-life personality and impassioned speechmaking, Moore left his mark on the American political landscape in a much less boisterous fashion.
During his seven years in Congress, Moore never made a spectacle of himself on the House floor. Instead, the modest, well-liked Richmond businessman went pragmatically about the work of, as he put it, representing “the best interests of the whole people of the district.” A staunch Democrat, Moore lent steady support to his party’s national initiatives, including lowering tariffs, enlarging the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and ensuring speedy completion of the unfinished Panama Canal. At the same time, his focus never strayed far from directly serving what he deemed “one of the best districts of the best State in the Union.” Moore’s diligent efforts helped secure federal appropriations for a variety of civic projects in East Texas, most notably waterway improvements on Buffalo Bayou, the Brazos and Trinity rivers, and the Galveston ship channel. He also rustled up funding to construct a Federal Building in Houston and a post office in Navasota, as well as increasing rural mail delivery routes within his district.
By the time John Moore announced his retreat from Washington politics, a new, much embattled President, William Howard Taft, sat in the Oval Office. Democrats had recently wrested House control from Republican hands for the first time in more than a decade, and the past several years had witnessed an uptick in progressive-versus-conservative squabbling and intra-party rifts. Amidst such noisy conflict, Moore’s legacy of quiet, effective collaboration with his Congressional colleagues—what the Houston Post dubbed his “Get Results” approach—must have seemed especially notable and praiseworthy. “The people of Houston,” the Post declared in concluding its 1912 article, “will remember gratefully his splendid service on (their) behalf."
Funding has been provided to the Fort Bend History Association from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Fort Bend Museum Staff