Corinth, Miss., Nov. 12, 1922: Henry C. Moore, 70, who has a lifelong Corinth address but who has actually lived most of his life both amid dense and dangerous jungles hunting wild animals and amongst prestigious and powerful royalty shoring up his considerable fortune, leaves again this week on yet another exciting trip. His destinations? Central America. South America. And southern Africa. He knows these exotic lands as well as anyone, having spent much of his life in these areas.
Mr. Moore, an intensely private bachelor, says, “I know I’m growing old, but I can’t stay away. I am happiest when pursuing the wild game of the jungle-land, when veering off the beaten path of civilized men and exploring for the unknown. So long as the call of the wild echoes even faintly, I suppose I’ll have to respond.”
He says he will be back in Corinth in a few months, but he doesn’t know for sure. Sitting in his office chair, Mr. Moore stares gently at the nearby stuffed lion named Lobengula, as he absently muses, “No man who invades the distant, dangerous interior of Rhodesia can tell when he might return – if he ever does.”
Mr. Moore is waiting for his new passport to arrive from the State Department in Washington, D.C. He is also expecting government permits to come in that will allow him to bring back some live animals and exotic birds.
Since Mr. Moore began taking these fascinating trips more than 40 years ago, he has brought back all manner of wildlife for his own zoo on the outskirts of Corinth, for the Overton Park Zoo in Memphis, and for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
His favorite animal from all his travels seems to be the lion, Lobengula, mentioned above. Mr. Moore didn’t kill Lobengula. He captured him and kept him as a pet. After several years, he donated him to the Smithsonian Institution zoo, and the lion became a main attraction there. The zookeepers were deathly afraid of Lobengula, saying he was the most vicious animal in captivity. However, on one of his visits to the Smithsonian, Mr. Moore drew near to the lion’s cage and called out “Lobengula!” in an African language. The lion roared immediately and rolled over happily like a house cat. This feared king of the jungle allowed Mr. Moore to rub its stomach, scratch behind its ears, and tug playfully on its gigantic mane. The zookeepers were speechless. When the lion died in 1907, Mr. Moore obtained the body and stuffed it for display in his office and museum in Corinth.
But now, the silent, mystery man of Alcorn County has again heard “the call of the wild” and will soon be on his way searching for excitement and adventure at an age when most of us simply long for the rocking chair on the front porch.
It is not known today, exactly how Henry Moore made such an enormous amount of money in gold mining, diamond mining and ivory trade. But he did. That wealth funded his adventurous ways.
In 1875, he was listed as being in the grocery business in Corinth. Then, for reasons lost in history, in 1876 Moore left Corinth and went to Mexico and began working for a mining corporation. He became engaged to a young Mexican woman. Both contracted yellow fever. She died. He lived. He never became engaged again and never married.
Eight years after his fiancé’s death, he is said to have been one of the first white men to enter the South African gold fields. In the late 1880s, he became friends with the powerful Matabele (branch of Zulus) tribe king, Lobengula. Moore named the lion he captured after this tribal king. Also, for reasons unknown, the king gave Moore 75 square miles of prime mining and farm land. Moore then became associated with the wealthy British nation builder, Cecil Rhodes (namesake of Rhodes Scholarship and country of Rhodesia).
And for the next 40 years, Moore moved around the planet searching for adventure wherever he could find it – Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, the Mid-East, the Far East, South Asia – in short, everywhere. But, Corinth was always the place he called home.
Henry Clay Moore’s exciting life ended from natural causes in Chicago, where he was planning yet another trip, on July 26, 1930. He was 78 years old. His body was brought back to Corinth for burial and to where he will forever be a part of all our Southern Memories.
Judd Hambrick Special to the Daily Journal