In a tucked away corner of Maple Hill Cemetery lies the Moore family plot. You can tell the Moores were wealthy by the way their markers look. A number of people are buried here, surrounding a large memorial with the names of at least six members of the family engraved on the sides. Toward the back lies a truly unique stone. It is square with a stone dog sitting on top. This monument is actually pretty famous and a number of internet and newspaper articles have been written about it.
Maple Hill Cemetery has many stories. As a little boy I remember my father and grandfather driving around telling me about the place. We often visited cemeteries as they would look for people they may have known or to tell stories about the people buried there. Think that’s one of the things that made me love history so much.
As you approach the stone and marble monument your eyes are drawn to the small dog on top, but those words underneath are what really stirs most people.
Dr. Emile Overton Moore
Born October 2, 1854 Murdered February 16,1893
He is now beyond the reach of blame or praise.
And love with hope and faith
will trust that he has felt the joy
that is felt when there are no fears
and no grave.
His errors were the errors of a man
And they stand out in bold contrast
with the time serving, two faced hippocrites
who conspired to have him murdered.
He possessed marked individuality
He was incapable of dissimulation.
Let us remember
that after midnight cometh morn.
Who was Dr. Emile Overton Moore? Why did this marker have a dog perched on top of it? What was the meaning of that inscription? All questions that many people have asked before. I never knew his story until a few days back when I decided to do some research. Apparently Dr. Moore was killed by Dr. C.R. Shinault in an argument over a patient on February 16, 1893. According to one source online, not many people attended his funeral, but Dr. Moore’s loyal dog Pedro was in attendance. Pedro was an Irish setter who refused to leave his master’s gravesite. People nearby would hear him howling at night and they brought him food during the day. Even though people would try to lure him away, Pedro refused to leave his post at the grave. Finally two days later in 1895, the howling stopped and curious neighbors went up the hill to check on Pedro. The sad little dog had passed away sitting at the grave waiting on Emile Moore to come back. He was buried nearby. Then friends in Helena joined the Moore family in raising funds for a monument to the loyal Pedro and his master Dr. Emile Overton Moore. Dr. Shinault was never punished for the murder. It was then stated that so many people in Helena were upset that the doctor was eventually forced to leave the port city, but is that what really happened? Sometimes the truth is more interesting than the story.
Dr. Emile Overton Moore was the son of John Petty Moore and Martha Ann Harris. They had been married in Monroe County, Mississippi on October 20, 1853. Overton was born in Mississippi. Soon after, the family moved to Helena. Another son named Freerson was born in Arkansas. Helena was a booming city located on the banks of the Mississippi River and was quickly becoming one of the wealthiest places in the state. John P. Moore established a business that was valued over $8,000 in 1860. Although the Civil War caused a lapse in the economic boom, Helena came back even stronger after the war ended. Moore made sure his family would prosper and sent his two sons to medical school. On the 1880 U.S. Census, John P. Moore listed his residence as 477 Walnut. Both sons were living with him and identified themselves as physicians.
The other character in this saga, Dr. Charles Richard Shinault, was born November 11, 1867 in Booneville, Mississippi. After graduating from Tulane University, he located to Helena in 1892. His parents were William and Sarah. They were farmers. He soon had a thriving medical practice and was becoming involved in the social fabric of his new home. While Shinault was on the rise, Moore was on a downward trend. His marriage ended and his personal life was in dire condition. He also kept having a dream that he would be killed by another doctor. In fact, 48 hours before his death, he told his sister about this premonition.
On February 16, 1893 Captain Dan Peck, a well known builder, either had his arm or leg broken in an accident. Dr. Moore was sent for, but they couldn’t find him so another message was sent for Dr. Shinault. Daniel Webster Peck had been born in Ohio and moved to Helena after the Civil War ended. His home was at 216 Walnut street. Dr. Shinault soon arrived and started to set the broken bone of Mr. Peck. That’s when Dr. Moore arrived. The two men began to argue. Moore invited Shinault to the front porch where he called him a “vile name.” Starting to unbutton his coat and saying he would fix him, Dr. Moore advanced. Shinault pulled his 38 caliber revolver and fired. The shot went through the brain of Moore under his right eye killing him instantly. Doctor Shinault gave himself up to the sheriff and Doctor Moore’s body was removed to the residence of his father. Soon papers around the country carried this story and people became fascinated by it.
One newspaper published a cryptic article about the event:
“Professional courtesy was displayed in Helena a few days since by Dr. Overton Moore being shot and killed by Dr. C.R. Shinault, a rival physical in a quarrel over a patient. The patient got well. The doctor was buried.”
Charles Shinault was acquitted two weeks later at his trial of murdering Overton Moore. The evidence showed that Shinault acted in self defense. Sheriff Pendegrass of Phillips County testified that he had known Moore for ten years and that he had a bad reputation. Moore was considered a violent and revengeful man who often carried a weapon. This verdict didn’t go over well with John Petty Moore and his family, but there was nothing he could do.
That should have ended the story of Emille Overton Moore, but it didn’t. Over the next year a case played out in the courts of Arkansas over an insurance held by the doctor. Doctor Moore’s wife had left him because of his temperament taking with her their children. One paper referred to him in this manner, “Moore was a wild and reckless man and was the terror of Helena and had been in several scrapes.” While separated, Doctor Moore got engaged with a young school teacher named Minnie Robertson. He made her the beneficiary of his insurance policy instead of his children. The two sides squared off in court and the first trial awarded the policy to Robertson. The children appealed and finally the Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled that no person should receive the insurance because Doctor Moore started the fight that led to his death. John Petty Moore passes away on September 11, 1913 still blaming the people of Helena for turning against his son. His impressive monument to the Moore family lies in Maple Hill Cemetery. Pedro’s monument lies watchful over it.
On June 20, 1894, Charles Shinault married Josephine Hargraves Pillow. She came from one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Helena. Her parents were Jerome Bonaparte Pillow and Jennie F. Hargraves. The couple were married at St. John’s Church in the presence of the largest audience of the year. Doctor Shinault soon had the most popular medical practice in Phillips County. While at Helena, he served on numerous state boards. The couple lived with the Pillow family at their home on Perry Street.
In 1904, Doctor Shinault moved his practice to Little Rock where he went into a partnership with J.P. Runyun. He continued to prosper and the couple made their home at Trapnall Hall on East Capital Avenue. They had a daughter named Josephine. In 1900, he was elected president of the Arkansas Medical Association. He was also president of the state board of examiners. For many years, Doctor Shinault was division surgeon for the Rock Island Railroad with headquarters in Little Rock. Because of failing health he was forced to give up his practice though. The Shinaults moved to the gulf coast around 1915 where the doctor’s health began to improve. He became ship’s doctor on the Coppename which traveled from the United States to Honduras in 1925. It was on this ship that Doctor Shinault passed away with heart failure on January 11, 1926. Josephine and her daughter returned to Helena where they lived in her family home on Perry Street. She passed away on July 21, 1937. Her home became the Pillow Thompson House which is one of the most famous houses in Arkansas.
Which is more interesting? The story of Pedro. The story of Doctor Moore’s murder. The story of Doctor Shinault and his family. I think they all go together. You can’t have Pedro without the doctors who represented two of the wealthiest families in the county. Their confrontation would anger one father for the rest of his life and he made sure, by Pedro’s monument, that no one would forget his son. The other doctor would rise to the most prominent heights of Arkansas society, but could never outlive this violent episode of his life. With all this to think on, maybe Pedro is waiting for both men and all the family impacted by that one night on the porch where heated words led to murder. Pedro is waiting for them to make amends and come together. Pedro is waiting.
- “The Osceola Times” Osceola, Arkansas. February 25, 1893.
- Hempstead, Fry. “Historical Review of Arkansas: It’s Commerce, Industry and Modern Affairs Volume 2”. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago. 1911.
- “The Daily Commercial Herald.” Vicksburg, MS. Friday, February 17, 1893. page 2
- “The Times Democrat.” New Orleans, Saturday, February 18, 1893. page 10
- “Daily Arkansas Gazette.” Little Rock, Wednesday, January 10, 1894. page 5
- “Daily Arkansas Gazette.” Little Rock, Friday, June 22, 1894. page 1
- “Arkansas Democrat.” Little Rock, Wednesday, January 6, 1904, Page 5
- “The Southern Standard.” Arkadelphia, Friday, January 19, 1894, Page 1
- “Daily Arkansas Gazette.” Little Rock, Saturday, February 25, 1893, Page 4
- “Daily Arkansas Gazette.” Saturday, February 25, 1893, Page 4
- U.S. Census Records: 1850, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910
- Facebook, “Medical Murder Mystery: This is Dr. C.R. Shinault” Helena on the Mississippi. Feb. 6, 2014.
- Facebook, “Silent Sentinel: Pedro the dog” Helena on the Mississippi. May 17, 2015.
- Arkansas Urban Legend/History Lesson/ Cotton Rohrsheib. cotton.buzz>Arkansas-urban-legends
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