By Lynn Hotaling
Jackson County’s most successful politicians both achieved prominence during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Dan Moore, the only North Carolina governor from Jackson County, and David Hall, the only county native to serve in the U.S. Congress, were also uncle and nephew (Hall’s mother was Moore’s sister). Hall, whose middle name was “McKee” was also the great-nephew of two others previously discussed in this series, Lyndon and Gertrude McKee.
As governor, Moore “brought to the Governor’s Office during the turbulent 1960s a calm, judicial temperament and a moderately conservative approach to balanced state government, a philosophy he termed ‘total development,’” according to NCPedia.
“David Hall, confined to a wheel chair since his teenage days, packed more living, business and public service into his 41 years than the majority of us achieve in a long lifetime,” wrote The Sylva Herald in a 1964 editorial.
Local historian George Frizzell notes the very personal way the Sylva Herald reported on triumph (Moore’s election) and tragedy (Hall’s death). “The newspaper’s headline was almost jubilant in announcing ‘Our Dan Elected Governor’ in the Nov. 5, 1964, edition, while the Herald’s editorial of Feb. 4, 1960, that accompanied Hall’s obituary emphasized his life as a ‘Symbol of Courage and Determination,’” Frizzell said. “In both instances, the paper brought the individuals ‘back home’ to the readers, while the affectionate coverage is a validation of just how important Moore and Hall were to this county.”
Daniel Killian Moore was born in Asheville on April 2, 1906, the son of Judge Frederick Moore and Lela Enloe Moore. His father died when he was 2, and his mother moved the family to Jackson County. Moore graduated from Sylva High in 1923 and then entered the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1927. He also attended law school at UNC, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, associate editor of the Law Review and president of his law school class. Admitted to the bar in 1928, he first practiced law in Sylva. Moore was Jackson County’s attorney for 12 years, and also served as attorney for the town of Sylva and for Jackson County Board of Education.
Moore was elected to the N.C. General Assembly in 1941 and served one term before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1943. He spent two years overseas with a paratrooper division before he was moved to the Judge Advocate General’s office. After his return from the war, he was elected solicitor (district attorney) for the 20th district in 1946. Gov. R. Gregg Cherry appointed Moore to the Superior Court in 1948, and two years later Moore was elected to a full term, serving until 1958 when he resigned from the court to become legal counsel for Champion Paper Corp.
Long active in Democratic politics, Moore successfully ran for governor in 1964 and held that office from 1965-1969.
According to “The History of Jackson County,” Moore “served as a calming influence on the state during the difficult period between 1965 and 1969.” The history book goes on to say that “Moore’s success at the state level (as governor and on the state Supreme Court) suggested that the local leadership of Jackson County was often of the highest quality, judged by any standards.”
NCPedia summarizes Moore’s term as governor as follows: “As governor Moore employed a reasoned, deliberate approach to issues and, a number of times, appointed study commissions to assist in decision-making. In the closing days of the 1963 session the General Assembly enacted a law barring Communists from speaking on state campuses. Moore’s nine-member commission, headed by David Britt, recommended that trustees at each institution set policy with respect to speakers. A special session of the legislature in 1965, called by Moore, endorsed the idea. In 1968 a federal court declared the original law unconstitutional.
“In his inaugural address Governor Moore introduced his concept of ‘total development,’ that is, his aim to develop all of the state’s resources without emphasis or detriment to one. His agenda included a $300 million road bonds package approved by voters in 1965, increased teacher and state employee salaries, court-ordered reapportionment of legislative and congressional districts, institution in 1967 of ‘brown-bagging’ as opposed to liquor by the drink, an emphasis on highway safety, and creation of a Law and Order Committee to deal with racial unrest. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Moore deployed the National Guard and Highway Patrol to curb violence. During his administration Charlotte College became the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the School of the Arts opened, a zoo study commission was created, the State Court of Appeals was established, and the first state welcome centers were built.”
After his term as governor, Moore was appointed to the N.C. Supreme Court in 1969, where he served until 1978. Moore died Sept. 7, 1986, and is buried in Raleigh.
A highway historical marker honoring Moore is located on Sylva’s Main Street alongside Mark Watson Park. It reads: “DAN K. MOORE 1906-1986/Governor, 1965-69; held posts on superior and state supreme courts. Set up initial Court of Appeals, 1967. Lived 1/10 mi. SE.”
David McKee Hall Jr. was born in Sylva on May 15, 1918, the son of David M. Hall and Edith Enloe Moore. He attended public school in Jackson County until the age of 12, when he was stricken with osteomyelitis, which resulted in paraplegia three years later. Confined to a wheelchair in 1933, Hall was unable to finish public high school and underwent some 200 operations over an eight-year period. Despite this, he entered UNC as a special student. According to NCPedia, he was a “remarkably gifted undergraduate” who earned a law degree in June 1948. Hall was the first special student to be graduated from The University of North Carolina Law School with a law degree. NCPedia also reports that in the summer of 1947 Hall “demonstrated paraplegic mobility methods he had developed at the Congress of Physical Medicine in New York; his innovations were featured in Time magazine.”
Hall began his law practice in Sylva in 1948, and, following in Moore’s footsteps, served as attorney for the towns of Sylva, Dillsboro and Webster and for the county of Jackson.
Hall also played a leading role in the county’s mid-20th century economic development. He helped organize Jackson County Savings and Loan Association in 1955 and served as its secretary-treasurer. In 1953, he organized and served as president of Jackson County Industries, a group that aimed to attract industry, according to “The History of Jackson County.” Under Hall’s leadership, the group secured capital and erected a building. JCI leased that structure to Skyland Textile of Morganton, which had indicated it would open a plant in Sylva if it could lease a building. JCI was also instrumental in recruiting Harn Corp., which operated in Sylva for many years under the name Sylco.
Hall served in the N.C. State Senate during its 1955 session. Elected in 1958 to the U.S. House of Representatives, Hall served from Jan. 3, 1959, until his death on Jan. 29, 1960. He died in Sylva and is buried in Webster Cemetery.
The Sylva Herald, in its Feb. 4, 1960, editorial, summed up Hall’s life as follows: “Endowed with a keen mind and indomitable courage, and a determination to achieve success in anything he undertook, David Hall achieved professional and political success and rendered outstanding service to his county, state and nation.”
Lynn Hotaling was editor of The Sylva Herald for 18 years, retiring in January 2016. She is the author of two books on local history.