Title: Frank Moore
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Title: Frank Moore
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DATE: AUGUST 15, 1972

I: Frank Moore, on August 15, 1972, at Tallahassee, Florida, 1552 Isabel Court,

in the livingroom of his home.

S: I was born in Tallahassee, Florida, October the nineteenth, 1894. I have been

in the Jeff Moore Insurance Agency...since July the first, 1931...and am

now a vice-chairman of the board of directors.

I: Mr. Moore is now going to discuss his rememberances of William N. Sheets,and

his wife Mary Sheets. Mr. Sheets was superintendent of public instruction in

Florida from 1892 through 1904, and from 1913 until his death in July of


S: I got to know this Sheets very well...as they lived right across the street

from us...on N. MonroeStreet. I lived in a house where Capital City First

National Bank is now located. And the Sheets lived at the corner of Monroe

and Tennessee Streets. Some of my recollections of Mr. Sheets are hearsay

from my mother and father...and others are personal experiences I had with

him. I do not remember much about Mr. Sheets during his first term as

superintendent of public instruction, but when ...during the time between his

service as superintendent of public instruction...he was principal of the

school at Lakeland, Florida...then came into Tallahassee. I was in the

sixth grade, and Mrs....and Miss Jennie Darby...now...uh...the mother of

Mrs. Leroy Collins...was my teacher. Miss Jennie was planning to get married

the summer after school closed. And Mr. Sheets was a strong disciplinarian,



S: ...and Miss Jennie was anything but a disciplinarian, and she had her mind

more on getting married than she did on teaching. The boys in the class soon

learned that they could get by with most anything. The school was located on

the corner of Duval and Tennessee Streets...and now the Wilsonian Apartments.

And Mr. Sheets had his office adjoining the room where the sixth grade was

located. Now...one day, I remember very well...that the boys would get in the

coat closet...took the knob off the door where you couldn't get into the

closet from the outside. One would sing would you rather have a nickle or

stay in jail...and the response was stay in jail...and then everybody would

hollar. Mr. Sheets came into the room when he heard this going on...as I...the

coat closet was right by his office. Wanted to know from Miss Jennie what was

going on. She said...well, the boys were in the closet and she couldn't do

anything with them. They'd taken the knob off of the door, and she couldn't

get in there. Well...he said that he'd fix it. So he got a plank and put it

...all the desks were stationary in those days, and he put this plank from the

desks up against the door so we couldn't get out then. We were kept in the

closet for several hours after school closed, and then he came in and let us

out, and gave us quite a lecture. Another incident happened when uh...the

arithmetic class...Mr. Sheets was very strong on teaching arithmetic, and he

believed that it was very fundamental, and he would come in and observe Miss

Jennies class...and it was a large class...I think thirty or forty-five in

the class...and Mr. Sheets would go to the blackboard and put up questions

and call on different one s to answer. And naturally a lot of them couldn't

answer the questions...so he got after Miss Jennie about this teaching




S: ...arithmetic. Said he was going to take...divide the class in half...and

he would take the dumbest ones in the class and teach them for six weeks,

and he'd guarantee that they would make a better grade on examination than

the smarter ones in class. Well...I happened to be in the group that was put

in the smart crowd...and the time came for this examination...we told Miss

Jennie that Mr. Sheets had given the examination questions to his class so

that they would beat us. She said, "Well, I'm not going to let that happen,

I'll give you all the questions." And so of course Mr. Sheets hadn't given

the questions to his group, but never the less we got them, and we all made

about 100 each. Mr. Sheets jsut couldn't understand that, and he worried

about it, and it was something that he remarked about later in life, and I

told him about it...what happened...and he just laughed then...he said he

knew something had been pulled over on him. Another occasion that happened in

class was....one of the boys brought a big cannon ball to school, and while

the calss was going on he just rolled it down the aisle...and made the noise

and Miss Jennie tried to find out who had done it, but Mr. Sheets had heard

this noise going on in her room...he just rushed in there to see what it

was. She told him she just couldn't find out who did it. He said he'd find

out who did it, and that he was going to whip every boy in the calss until

he found out...and he came pretty near to doing it. Of all the incidents that

happened...that I just can't recall...that many right now...but we would

visit over at the home, and one day...uh...we'd go to meals in those times

...with our neighbors...without any special occasion, and one day we were

at the dinner table, and we all...that is...our family, the Moores, had always

/ 3



S: ...liked to drink a lot of water at melas...and my father kept a pitcher

right by him all the time...Mr. Sheets says, "These Moores can slop down

more water than any set of folks that you ever saw." Miz' Sheets was just

a little bit smarter than Mr. Sheets. Uh... one day she had fixed up a nice

meal for him, and he came home and sat at the table, and Miz' Sheets says,

"Mr. Sheets, don't you know what today is?" And He says, "No...what is it

Miz' Sheets?" And she says,"Well, this is our wedding anniversary And he

says, "Well...how long is it that I've been living in Hell?" And she say,

"Just as long as I've been living with the devil." And on another occasion,

he knew that Miz' Sheets was having a Missionary Society meeting at the

house...Sheets were very active in the Methodist Church... he had been

superintendent of the summer school for many years...I can remember he

kept a bell that you would tap on at the front...he had a little table up

there...and to make them get quiet...he'd tap on this bell...it was one of my

recollections that Mr. Sheets when he was here first term...But on this

occasion when Mrs. Sheets was going to entertain the ladies of the church,

uh...he loved to try to embarass her. So he took a pair of his pants...and he

hung them on the hat rack in the hall, and put a sign on them that said,

"Please darn these britches." And left. And Miz' Sheets of course saw it before

the ladies came...so she decided she would darn the britches, and she just

turned the sign over and wrote on it..."Here are your darned 'ol britches."

And left it hanging on the rack for all those ladies to see, and then she told

them about it when they came. When their daughter...Bessie, as I knew her, now

she was Mrs. Davidson...married Harper Davidson, of Quincy...but when she was

| o :



S: ...going to college for the first time...she went to Converse, in South

Carolina...those days the girls all took trunks to school, and this was

quite an occassion...they had to go on the train, and uh...they were having

a time getting the trunk packed and ready for the draymen to take it to the

depot. Mr. Sheets was worrying about getting it ready for the draymen, and

they finally got the trunk closed, and there was one sheet...end of it hanging

out of the trunk...Miz' Sheets saw it and she wanted him to unlock the trunk,

and get this end of the sheet back in the trunk...he said, "No...that will

be the card Anna, that it is one of the Sheet's trunks, and so it's no use to

put a card on the trunk."

I: Do you want me....

S: About...1906...I was in the fifth grade...Miss Sarha Bowman was our teacher,

and Mr. W. W. Wideman was principal of the school. One day we were all

startled when Mr. Wideman rushed into the room holding a lady's arm. The

lady was dressed in black...with a heavy black veil, and held a pistol in

her hand that Mr. Wideman was holding. He wanted some witnesses to the fact

because this lady had been in his office, and demanded that he sign a

paper. The paper was in reference to punishment that Mr. Wideman had

inflicted on the lady's son at the school before he came to Tallahassee.

And he was in the office by himself, and knew that he should have a witness

to this as to what might happen. Of course it startled the class very much.

And after he got her out he asked the teacher to call the sheriff...come

down to the school. When the comotion was all over...he came back into the

room, and explained to the class the situation, and it developed that the

lady was mentally upset. So he had punished her son, and she wanted this




S: ...retractment signed by him...said that she was going to prosecute him.

I: Mr. Moore...a Miss Clem Hampton....

S: I could beat what Bessie has just said about the situation in Pensacola.

In the old opera house in Tallahassee...which was on the second floor of

the building that now stands at Adams and Jefferson Street...there was a play

going on...and Miss Clem came up there for some occasion, and the old

opera seats were plenty wide for the ordinary person, but Miss Clem got in it,

but she couldn't get out of the seat...and they had to get a crowbar to break

the seat down...so Miss Clem could get out.

I: Mr. Moore...recalling Booker T. Washington...coming to Tallahassee. Mr.

Moore is indefinite about the year or time, but feels that he has a definite

recollection that Booker T. Washington came to Fisher's Green in Tallahassee.

S: My memory is that A. & M. University...which at that time was known as the

Florida Agriculture and Mechanical School for Negros...invited Booker T.

Washington to Tallahassee to speak. And because of the fact that they had

no auditorium large enough to accommodate the crowd that they expected would

want to hear him...they arranged for this speaking on Fisher's Green, which

was an entire block that had no buildings on it, and we had had circuses

there, and other public speaking at this same location. I recall that...

there was a large number of both white nad Negro people there, and it was

before the date we had any microphones, and it was difficult for those on the

out lying area to hear him because there were so many people there. Booker

Washington was held in high regard by the white citizens of this community

because they felt that he was doing a great work for the Negro race, in what

he had done at Tuskegee Institute.

/i 6



I: This is a story by Mrs. Moore that Mr. Moore just promised to top on the re-


W: Uh...now I was in high school in Pensacola when Mr. W. Tarpon was principal,

and I think he was a friend of Miss Clem Hamptons, and he invited Miss Clem,

anyway he invited her over to speak to the high school group, and the thing

I remember about...the only thing I remember...I donit remember what she said,

but I do remember her physical appearance. Uh...we had double doors in the

auditorium at the Pensacola High School, and they opened one door, and Miss

Clem couldn't get through...so they had to go open the double door for her

to come into the room to be able to because she was so big and fat.

I: Mr. Moore recalling Mr. Sheets' attitude, and teacher's examinations.

S: Mr. Sheets really did believe that teachers to get a certificate...should

take a state examination...regardless of whether they had graduated from the

universities or not. Uh...he caused quite...umh...objections from the

university people, and they felt that he was very wrong in requiring

graduates of schools to take examinations from ----------------.

As I remember when I went to school he believed in examinations, and he

believed in ---------- grading by the principal. The teachers, he said, that

there were just so many that were not qualified to teach...I think was the

reason why he just insisted that they had to take the teacher's examination ,

and pass that if they were going to teach in Florida. Uh...I can remember

when I was first...went on the school board...uh...here in Leon County...

back in the 1920's...they were paying some teachers...mostly Negros...just

fifty dollars a month. And those teachers only had a fourth or fifth grade




S: ...education, and some of them had passed the teacher's examination, and

some of them were just teaching without the certificate because they just

had no qualified Negro teachers. The Negro schools were poorly equipped, and

we couldn't expect much from the children because they...the teachers were

all so ignorant.

I: Mr. Moore recalls the kind of teacher Mr. Sheets was.

S: As I said a little while ago...uh...in sixth grade...Mr. Sheets had Miss

Brevard divide the class up and he took the dumb ones, and he really did

drill and teach them arithmetic. He even knew that we told our teacher that

he had given them the examinations, and his class made greater improvement

in that six weeks that he taught them than they probably did all year if

they'd been in the general class.

I: Mr. Moore on William Sheets Junior, and Howell Sheets...the boys of

William N. Sheets.

S: I do not remember too well about the careers of either of these boys, but

they died comparatively young. Neither one of them amounted to anything like

what their father had-accomplished, and what their mother and father had

ambitions for them. I do not recall that Mr. Sheets had an automobile...

never...uh...he generally walked to work...maybe in his later years he had

somebody drive him. Uh...Mr. Sheets was not uh...a homey man...he didn't

garden...he sat on the porch some, and I think he was devoted to his wife,

but he just loved to embarass her...particularly in public. I never saw him

express any affection in public toward her...I never saw him go out together

except to church.



I: Mr. Moore talks about Mary Sheets...the wife of William N. Sheets.

S: Mrs. Sheets was rather short woman...she was rather plump...she always had

a cheerful smile...people loved her...she had more wit than most anybody

that I can remember, and it took a lot of wit to get along with Mr. Sheets.

I: Mr. Moore is going to comment on the relationship his father had with Mr.

Sheets. His father was Mr. Frank D. Moore. His father was...correction...his

father was Dr. William L. Moore.

S: My fahter and Mr. Sheets, and another friend in Tallahassee, Mr. George R.

Davis...were very close friends...they were about the same age. My father was

in the...was a physician, but he gave up the practice of medicine in the

early 1900's...when his oldest son graduated in medicine, and came to

practice in Tallahassee. My father devoted all of his time to the development

of the telephone company. My father...though he personally didn't get into

politics very much himself...though he did serve as mayor of Tallahassee,

and as a county commissioner in Leon County...was always active in politics

for his friends. Uh...I recall that...he was very interested in Mr. Sheets'

campaign the time he was defeated by Mr. Holloway, and Mr. Sheets wanted to

run again in four years, but my father with others persuaded Mr. Sheets that

it was not the time for him to run, and told him that he should wait another

four years before he tried to race again, and Mr. Sheets, many times, thanked

my father for this advice, and told him that he was sure he was right. My

father and Mr. Sheets used to sit on the porch...discuss local politics...

both of them were active in the Metodist Church in Tallahassee...they would

go to the church conferences together, and that was a strong bond of fellow-

/ 9




S: ...ship between them. They also would discuss...uh...political situations,

not only Mr. Sheets' personal campaign, but that of other persons whom they

were very much interested in. Neither one of these men were sportsmen,

neither one of them knew how to play...they were both hard workers, and

uh...their relationships were mostly in connection with church and politics.

I recall...now...a circumstance that years later when I had grown...was

grown, and was attending a district conference of the Methodist Church...Mr.

Sheets had always dominated the election of the delegates to the annual

conference, and he thought that anybody that got elected should come to him,

and get his interest and support. He wanted to be elected himself, and was

for many years...delegate to the annual conference. At this particular

conference...I recall...uh...on the first ballot...my name had been put up,

and I was leading the vote...and Mr. Sheets came to me and says, "Frank...

are you old enough to be a delegate...you know the church law requires that

you've got to be twenty-five years old before you can be elected, and I

don't think you are." And I says, "Oh yes Mr. Sheets...I'm twenty-six, and

I'm going to beat you in this election." And sure enough...I did. Uh...my

recollection of Mr. Holloway was...that uh...he was a very different man

from Mr. Sheets. I think he was pretty well educated, and probably be the...

a good superintendent...though my father never did feel that he could be

trusted. Uh...he thought that Miss Clem Hampton dominated him...Miss Clem

Hampton used to...or prior to this election when Mr. Holloway won...was a

close friend of Mr. Sheets, and she switched from Mr. Sheets' loyalty to

S Mr. Holloway...and my fahter always blamed Miss Clem for the dirty politics




S: ...that he said...Mr. Holloway carried on. And because of his devotion to

Mr. Sheets...uh...he uh...he did not uh...believe, and I don't think gave

credit to Mr. Holloway for anything that he did accomplish as superintendent.

I: Mr. Moore talks about the problems Mr. Sheets had because his son sold text-


S: In the selection of textbooks for the use in public schools in Florida,

they used to have a selection committee, and the book companies would all

have their representatives, and Mr. Sheets' oldest son, William, was repre-

senting one of these book companies. And one of the criticisms raised against

Mr. Sheets...was that he had favored the company that his son represented.



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