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By Donald B. Moye

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My father, Elmer Bates Moye, was born on October 15, 1899, in Doucette, Tyler County, Texas, the son of Jason Moye and Emma Sheffield. My paternal great grandparents were O. Benjamin Moye and Elizabeth Salter Moye, both of them born in Alabama. Benjamin Moye fought in the Confederate States Army in the War Between The States and was a private in Company D, 15th Alabama Cavalry.

There is an old family tradition that the Moyes' home was burned by the Federal troops and that the family hid out in the woods during the rampage of war that had surrounded them. One of their slaves supposedly went back to the house after the raid and brought back burned sweet potatoes for the family to survive on.

Elmer B. Moye moved to Nederland in 1919. He met Fannie Belle Stark in 1929 when she moved from Crowley, Louisiana, to Nederland Texas. Her father, Jonah Dallas Stark, was born on April 15, 1881, in Olney, Illinois. He was a rice farmer in Crowley before he came to Nederland in 1929. He died on July 13, 1934 and is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Port Arthur, Texas. Her mother was Azelina A. (Lena) Moore Stark, a seamstress, housewife and home maker, who was born on September 24, 1886, in Jeanerette, Louisiana. She died on July 17, 1938, and is buried beside her husband in Greenlawn Cemetery. Elmer B. Moye and Fannie Belle Stark were married in 1930.

In 1932 Elmer Moye ran for Justice of the Peace of Precinct 7, Jefferson County, Texas, which included Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, and a part of Port Arthur. He was sworn into office in 1933. Fannie B. Moye was secretary for the Justice of the Peace office. Earlier she had worked at Nederland Pharmacy behind the present (1991) soda fountain, and she was also the first hairdresser in Nederland.

Elmer and Fannie Moye were very active in civic and community affairs. Elmer Moye helped with the Nederland relief work, was a charter member of the Nederland Lions Club, was a charter member of Masonic Lodge No. 1358, was a member of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce, and he helped to incorporate the City of Nederland in 1940.

The Moyes were also very active in the First Baptist Church of this city. Fannie Belle Moye was a charter member of the Lioness Club, Mid-Jefferson County Hospital Auxiliary, Eastern Star Chapter 1079, and was also an active worker in the Garden Club. She became well-known in Nederland for the beautiful, four-inch in diameter hybiscus blooms that she grew in her garden.

Judge Elmer Moye died on September 20, 1957, at age 57, after serving 24 years as Justice of the Peace of Precinct 7. The Commissioners Court immediately appointed Fannie Belle Moye as Justice of the Peace to fill Elmer Moye's unexpired term of two years. She then ran for that office and became the first woman Justice of the Peace ever elected to that office in the State of Texas. She served a four-year term and then left office.

On March 21, 1986, Fannie B. Moye was honored by the Women's Commission of Southeast Texas for being a Pathfinder.

Elmer and Fannie B. Moye became the parents of two sons. Donald Bates Moye, born June 1, 1933, completed his secondary education here and graduated from Nederland High School in 1951. He then graduated from Texas A and M University in 1956 and received his Doctor of Law degree from Baylor University in November, 1957. Since that date, he has practiced law in Jefferson County, Texas.

Ronald Ray Moye, born November 30, 1934, also graduated from Nederland High School and received his Bachelor of Science and Master's degrees from Stephen F. Austin University. He was a high school football coach for a number of years until he bought Automatic Pump Company in Beaumont, Texas, in 1979.

After the death of Elmer Bates Moye, Fannie B. Moye married E. A. "Jack" Eastin of Richmond, Indiana. Jack was retired from the railroad, and while in Jefferson County, he became Chief Deputy Tax Assessor/Collector under Only Greer, the Jefferson County Tax Assessor/Collector.

Jack Eatin died in 1987, and Fannie Moye, as of 1991, is 78 years of age. The E. B. Moye family residence has been located at 1520 Avenue B for around sixty years. Donald Moye is still in the private practice of law in his hometown of Nederland, Texas. His brother, Ronald Moye, continues to operate his business, Automatic Pump Company, in Beaumont, Texas.

Elmer Bates Moye and his wife, Fannie Belle Stark Moye, made a significant contribution to the growth and improvement of their adopted hometown of Nederland. They raised their family with the affection and gentleness, the necessary guidance and discipline that enabled their two sons to pursue successful careers of their own.

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Copyright 1998-2023 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
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