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Adam Lee Moore
Submitted By: XNGH Jason Thorn Date: March 08, 2010, 12:25:18 AM Views: 1888

Originally published in the Hewgag Monitor by Tom Barry - February 1987

   Last time, this short history of ECV went back to the early 30s to describe the refounding of the Order. Most Clampers think that the Order had died and was buried by that time, and not much had taken place, E Clampus Vitus-wise, since the late 1880s or 90s. Attempts of modern historians to follow the Clampers on their journey in California history seem to be frustrated by a paucity of information, save the occasional reference in the old newspapers of Lodge Meetings.

   Clamper Dave Dunlop, of Yuba City, has done considerable research along these lines and has recently presented to the Editor of your very own Hewgag-Monitor the manuscript of a paper he delivered to the Sutter County Historical Society. Clamper Dunlop has graciously given permission for us to use this material freely for this series of articles.

   Briefly, E Clampus Vitus was very much alive and kicking, having been officially incorporated by a group of businessmen in Marysville in 1915, even to the extent of issuing Charters to new ECV Chapters in Oroville and Chico in 1916. XNGH Francis Rakow has in his possession a picture of a very large (1000 or so) gathering of Clampers in Oroville in 1916. Our next installment of this series will go into this era of Clamperdom more fully.

   But, we digress. As promised last time, this article will concern itself with Adam Lee Moore, the link of the old E Clampus with the new, and his recollections of the life and times of Clampers in the Sierra City area.

   G. Ezra Dane, of whom we heard last time, wrote a sketch of Adam Lee Moore. We borrow from it freely here:

   Adam Lee Moore was born May 5, 1847 at Rahway, New Jersey. In 1862, aged 15, he shipped out on a whaler from New London and spent the winter of ‘62-‘63 frozen in at Hudson Bay. His youthful wanderings ended in 1867 when he landed in San Francisco and went up to Sierra County in search of gold. Arriving at Downieville, he was cordially (and thoroughly) “taken in” by the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, rollicking burlesque brotherhood of the gold rush days.

   From Downieville, he pushed on to Sierra City, which became his home and the base of his mining activities for many years. There, in 1879, he married Jennie Larrieu and there they raised their children. But he always had time for transaction of the important monkey business with which the Clampers concerned themselves. Transferring his allegiance to the Sierra City Chapter, “Balaam Lodge No. 107,304,” he filled the honorable office of Royal Platrix and finally rose to the supreme dignity of Noble Grand Humbug, which he occupied until the roisterous order faded and died with the free and easy spirit of the gold Rush days that had fostered its existence.

   Mr. Moore and his family moved to San Francisco and there, years later, he was surprised to learn that a group of choice spirits had revived the old order of ECV as a vehicle for pursuing their common interest in California history. He made himself known to them as the last surviving Noble Grand Humbug of the old dispensation and was acclaimed the Grand Clampatriarch of the new one.

   On Wednesday, May 5, 1937, in San Francisco, the Bay City Clampers met to honor Clampatriarch Moore on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and presented him with a curiously carved staff in token of their affection and of his supreme authority.

   From some of his writings of his reminiscences of E Clampus Vitus, we can learn of the boisterous and thorough initiations to which new members were subjected. Of his own initiation he writes:

“I answered the usual questions in the anteroom, the portals were thrown open, and I was conducted to the coffin where they placed my hand on the skeleton and took the blindfold off of my eyes, and there I took the obligation; they then elevated me, for I had said that I believed in the elevation of man; and I took it in good part and with the exception of the brand enjoyed the evening, for they made it short for me as there were two more that night. One of the two got smart and would be tough, so what they did to him I do not think he will ever forget; they rode him over the rocky roads to Dublin till he begged them to quit. This is done with a wheelbarrow with a large wet sponge in it. The candidate is seated, while the by-laws are read to him; then there is a ladder on the floor, rungs down, and the wheelbarrow is run over it, a man at each handle, the C.P. on one side and the C.M. on the other, to see that the candidate is seated comfortably. Then they elevated him, first with the tackle, and then in the canvas, and they sure threw him up. At last he said, ‘Boys, if you will quit I treat,’ so they passed the Staff of Relief. It was about four o’clock in the morning, and we kept it up till after breakfast, and we kept singing our closing ode, We’ll take a drink with you, dear Brother.”

   Adam Lee Moore writes of the initiation of a famous writer:

“(Another) meeting I attended was of Sierra Valley Lodge, ‘The Badger.’ They were the roughest order in my time. They always said, ‘Throw wide the portals and let the S.B. enter.’ The night I was there Ned Buntline attended and we sure had a time, as he was smart - having traveled a great deal. He was the writer at that time of most of the dime novels. They asked him a lot of questions and he had an answer for every one. They asked him, ‘In your travels did you ever meet any of the persons known as C.S.?’ and he answered right away, ‘Not till I came in this hall.’ Well the boys were just delighted with him, and there was very little rough stuff, and when they sang the closing ode it was, You’ll take a drink with us, dear Brother.”

   Adam Lee Moore was truly a remarkable man, not only for his memory and his desire to see that ECV got restarted off on the right foot, but for his longevity. Adam died on November 13, 1946; just 6 months shy of his 100th birthday.

   Next time, this series will delve more into the Initiation rites and practices of the Old Order, and look more closely into the Marysville group of 1915, including some cryptic references to Wm. Bull Meek, namesake of our Chapter. Other information has come into the hands of your editor from Campbell Johnson, Camptonville resident and ramrod of attempts to get a history center established there. Much of this information concerns Wm. Bull Meek and his early days as a teamster. Stay tuned, and if you have anything to add or would like to comment on, please write the Hewgag-Monitor. We also solicit any historical matter, which can be incorporated into this series of articles. Chapter 10’s Board of Directors is considering the publication of an XPBCs guidebook, which would be given (or sold at a ridiculously low price) to new members of the Chapter.

Rating: ***** by 2 members.

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