Monday, July 8, 2013

White Moss (1883-1970)

                      From the December 8, 1922 edition of the Barboursville Mountain Advocate.

   The name would be White Moss. This interestingly named Kentuckian was one of Bell County's most distinguished public figures during the early years of the 2oth century, being a successful coal dealer, mayor of Pinesville and four term member of the state senate. In later life he removed to Duval County, Florida, and was later a delegate and alternate delegate to four different RNC conventions over twenty years time.
  White Lane Moss was born in the town of Pinesville, Kentucky on September 4, 1883, a son of Judge Marcellus Jordan Moss (1854-1928) and his wife Sarah E. Bingham (1857-1941). White Moss attended Valparaiso University in Indiana and married on June 8, 1905 to Danville, Kentucky native Lula P. Simpson, with whom he had two children, both of which died in infancy. For the majority of his life Moss was engaged in the wholesale coal business in his hometown of Pineville, and was the vice president and general manager of the Continental Coal Corporation, Inc. Moss's company is recorded by a Kentucky Department of Mines and Mining Annual Report as "taking an unusual interest in the welfare work of its employes (sic), and by co-operation with the employes (sic) maintain graded schools, a model hospital, halls for amusement, brass bands and baseball teams." Moss was also involved with the Straight Creek Coal Mining Company, the Poplar Hignite Coal and Coke Company and the White Star Coal Company. Prior to 1918, Moss also served as President of the Kentucky Mining Institute, quite a feat for a man barely into his thirties!
   Moss first entered the political forum in 1913, when he was elected as the Mayor of Pineville and was returned to this office in 1917. Earlier, in 1916, he was named as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois that nominated Charles Evans Hughes for the Presidency. At the dawn of American involvement in WWI Moss signed on for service in the Army, his exact dates of service and area of deployment being unknown at this time.
   In March 1919 Moss announced his candidacy for the Kentucky State Senate, running on the Republican ticket. A few days after this announcement he was profiled in the April 4, 1919 edition of the Barbourville Mountain Advocate, and this paper noted that "Mr. Moss has lots of energy and is always on the alert for better things for his town, county and state and is very much interested in the material progress of this section of the state. He has at all times advocated the principles of friendship and brotherly love between Middlesboro and Pineville and is vitally interested in the advancement of both cities, which he considers very essential to make Bell a progressive county." Moss proved popular with the electorate, being described as "young, thoroughly progressive, clean and too has the sufficiency of ambition to warrant aggressiveness in the capacity of a legislator", and with this popularity rode to victory in November of that year. During his senate service Moss served on the committees on Fish and Game, Judiciary, Mines and Mining, Public Ways and Internal Improvements and Common Carriers and Commerce, and lastly, Regulation of Intoxicating Liquors.

From the April 4, 1919 edition of the Barboursville Mountain Advocate.

  Moss won reelection to the senate in 1922 and continued to serve in the senate until 1927, a total of four terms in all. In 1924 he was talked of as a potential candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky but preferred to remain in the senate, stating that "it would be a great honor for me to represent this district in the Halls of Congress but I am more interested in helping Kentucky get out of the mud, than in satisfying any personal ambition, which I may have, and  believe that I can be of more service, for the time being at least, by remaining in the state senate." An article on his refusing to run for congress appeared in the Middlesboro Daily News in April 1924 under the title "White Moss Won't Run For Congress", which I'm sure gave the paper's subscribers a good laugh at the time! 

Would you vote for a man whose name sounds like a plant?

  At the conclusion of his final term in the senate in 1927 Moss relocated from Pinesville to Jacksonville, Florida, where he resided for the remainder of his life. Within a few years of his resettlement he became the president of the Suwannee Life Insurance Company, holding this post until his retirement in 1964. Moss also remarried to Ms. Hazel Murray Mole, who preceded him in death. During his Florida residency Moss served as a delegate to the 1944 and 1952 Republican National Conventions from Florida, and was an alternate delegate to the conventions of 1960 and 1964. White Lane Moss died at St. Vincent's Hospital in Jacksonville on March 27, 1970 at age 86. A funeral service was held in Jacksonville and shortly thereafter he was returned to Kentucky for interment at the Pineville Cemetery, the same resting place as that of his parents.

From the Middlesboro Daily News, March 31, 1970.

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