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Mrs. Cornelia Moore Chillson Moots (1843-1929)
Born 1843, in Flushing, MI, member of Women's Temperance Union in West Bay, MI.
Added December, 2008.

American Women Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol II, 1897


MOOTS, Mrs. Cornelia Moor Chillson, temperance evangelist, born in Flushing, Mich., 14th October, 1843. Mrs. Moots' parents were of New England lineage. Her father, Calvin C. C. Chillson, was a temperance advocate and was said to be a descendants of the Whites, who came over in the Mayflower. Her mother was a typical Green Mountain girl, a granddaughter of James Wilcox, a minute man of the Revolution, and the second man to enter Fort Ticonderoga at the time of its capture by Ethan Allen.

Mrs. Moots' parents moved to Michigan in 1836. Abigail Chillson, the grandmother, then a widow, went with them. The new settlements were without preachers, and her grandmother Chillson, an ardent Methodist, often supplied the itinerary by preaching in the log school-house and cabins of the early pioneers. Mrs. Moots' father was a staunch anti-slavery man, a member of the underground railroad, and the Chillson home was often the refuge of the slave seeking liberty across the line. He died 3rd May, 1864. Her mother is still living and has more than a local reputation for deeds of charity and her care of homeless children. Self-reliant, persevering, fond of books and of a highly religious temperament, those prominent characteristics in early life forecast something of Miss Chillson's future.

She began to teach school at the age of fifteen and continued in that employment until she entered Albion College, in the fall of 1865. Her college career was cut short in the junior exhibition of her class, in the close of the winter term of 1869. She thought the president of the college overstepped his jurisdiction in criticising and dictating the style of dress she was to wear on that occasion. She left her seat on the platform, and accompanied by one of the professors, left the hall, never to return as a student, although later, in 1822, the college awarded her a full diploma with the degree of A.B.

She returned home and was immediately employed as a teacher in the Bay City high school, where she remained until she became the wife of William Moots, a merchant of West Bay City, Mich., in 1870. Household cares and the education of her little daughter, with occasional demands upon her to fill vacant pulpits, by the clergy of her own and other denominations, absorbed her time, until the death of Mr. Moots in 1880.

As a Bible student she had always desired to visit historic lands, and that desire was granted in 1881. A trip through the principal countries of the continent was followed by a tour through the Holy Land and Egypt. The entire journey through Palestine was made on horseback. Always active in church, a new field opened to her as a temperance worker, and she turned her forces into the broad channel of temperance reform. She is now service her third term as State evangelist in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She is radical in her views on temperance, admission of women to the Methodist Episcopal General Conference and equal suffrage, and believes in the same standard of morals for men and women. Before an audience she is an easy speaker, and is both persuasive and argumentative.

Related items on temperance movement. (Added Dec., 2008)

The Part Taken by Women in American History
by Mary Simmerson Cunningham Logan, John A. Logan (1912)

(Page 681.)

Mrs. Mary Torans Lathrop was licensed to preach in Michigan in 1871, and was laboring as an evangelist when the woman's crusade swept over the state. She took an active part in the crusade , was one of the founders of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and in 1882 was made president of the state union of Michigan. Gradually her work became that of organization and she labored in various states as a strong helper in securing scientific instruction laws, in Michigan, Nebraska, and Dakota amendment campaigns. In 1878 she secured the passage of a bill in the Michigan legislature appropriating thirty thousand dollars for the establishment of the Girl's Industrial Home, a reformatory school in Adrian, Michigan. Mrs. Lathrop's lectures have always been successful and she is equally at home on the temperance platform,, on the lecture platform or the author's desk. Her memorial ode to Garfield was widely quoted and her brilliant oratory won her the title "The Daniel Webster of Prohibition."

(Page 683)

Mrs. Cornelia Moore Chillson knew the state of Michigan in its pioneer days, her parents taking her there in 1836. Abigail Chillson, the grandmother, went with them and as the new settlements were without preachers this elderly woman and ardent Methodist even supplied the itinerary by preaching in the log cabins and the schoolhouses of the early pioneers. Mrs. Moots' father was a temperance advocate also and staunch anti-slavery man, and the Chillson home was often refuge of the slave seeking liberty across the line. With such inheritance and under such influence it was only natural that Mrs. Moots should become a forceful evangelist herself. After years of activity in exhorting and organizing new branches, a new field opened to her as a temperance worker and like her father she turned her force into the broad channel of temperance reform. She served many terms as state evangelist in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and in spite of her radical views on temperance, equal suffrage and equal standard of morals for men and women, she was one of the most popular and most beloved speakers in the cause.


The True Path: Or, Gospel Temperance, by J. Samuel Vandersloot (1878)

(Page 455)

Good work was done, and flourishing Reform Clubs started by the doctor at Ypsilanti, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor and other points in the State. When much faith had been exercised and "patience had her perfect work," light broke gloriously in an immense meeting held in Bay City on the evening of January 21, 1877. Westover's Opera House was filled with a great throng and a Reform Club was organized, which enrolled two hundred and thirty-seven nanes at once. Dr. Reynolds went, the last four weeks of his work in Michigan, to the frontier settlements of the Upper Penisula, and her met with his usual success. In the Lower Penisula the civilized Indians organized a club of their own at Indian Town, in Autumn county. They signed the pledge; and were able to keep it, and were fully as enthusiastic as their white brothers.


Bay County Pass and Present, by George E. Butterfield, 1918

(Page 84)

Mrs. Cornelia Moots (Carnelia Chilson), who came here about 1847 when there were still only a very few houses in Lower Saginaw, was one of those who reached here from an inland town. She describes the difficulties of the journey as follows:

"Following the suit of a trader, we built a large art or raft and poled our way down to the Saginaw river (from Flushing) on the crest of a spring flood water and floated to Bay City, then a nameless refuge consisting of five buildings located where Wenonah Park now is. This was our only means of getting here because there was no road through from Flushing. I recall the trip here vividly, as in a very narrow place in the Flint river a large burning tree fell behind our raft and would probably have ended us and our trip had it fallen a moment sooner."
  • Note: Dr. Henry A Reynolds was a prominent religious leader in the early christian temperance movement.

    Additional Notes:

      1880 Census: West Bay Cty, Mich.

    • Moots, William - b. 1840, Germany
    • Cornelia, wife - b. 1843, Mich.
    • Carrie C., daughter - b. 1873, Mich.
    • Charley (Caulkins), son - b. 1879, Mich.
    • Faxon, Carrie, sister-in-law - b. 1846, Mich.

  • Related Note & Pages
    Cornelia Moor Chillson

    Related Pages:
    Birney, James G.
    Chillson, Calvin father
    Chillson, Elizabeth mother
    Richardson, Cornelia g-dau
    Campbell, Burton C.
    Contributed by Kathy Czuba.
  • William Sigmund Moots was born 10 Apr. 1838, in Langansalza, Hanor, Germany, and died Dec. 26, 1880, in Bay City, MI.
  • Cornelia Moore Chilson was born Oct. 14, 1843, in Flushing, Genesee, MI, and died Nov. 29, 1929, in Bay City, MI.
  • They were married Apr. 4, 1870, at Flushing, MI.
  • In 1887 Cornelia resided at 904 Midland St (3rd ward).
  • 1880 Census: Wm. Moots household: Cornelia, age 37; Carrie C., age 7; Charley C., age 10 mos., Carrie Faxon, Age 34, Eva Cates, age 19.
  • Cornelia was among the early school teachers in Bay City.
    Underground railroad:
    The Chillson house referenced in the biography was located at 300 W. Midland St. It was built before the Civil War by a justice of the peace. Slaves were moved to Bay City as it had ready access to the Saginaw Bay, from which former slaves could be transported into Canada for protection. The schooner often used for this purpose was known as the "Garrit Smith," names after a prominent activist in the movement from New York. Smith financed the building of a house house on corner 10th and Adams streets, near the city hall, which was used as a way station. The city's roots associated with anti-slavery, dates back to its very beginning, with James G. Birney, a leading abolitionist, settle here in 1842.
  • People Referenced
    Allen, Ethan
    Chillson, Abigail (g-mother)
    Chillson, Calvin C.C. (father)
    Chillson, Cornelia M. (subject)
    Faxon, Carrie (in-law)
    Lathrop, Mary Torans, Mrs.
    Moots, Carrie C., (dau)
    Moots, Charley, (son)
    Moots, Wm. (husband)
    Reynolds, Henry A. Dr.
    Wilcox, James (g-father)
    Subjects Referenced
    Adrian, MI
    Albion College, MI
    Bay City, MI
    Bay City high school
    Benton Harbor, MI
    Flint River, MI
    Flushing, MI
    Ft. Ticondoroga
    Girls Industrial Home
    Indian Town
    Lower Saginaw, MI
    Methodist religion
    Reform Club
    Saginaw River, MI
    Underground railroad
    Wenonah Park
    West Bay City, MI
    Westover Opera House
    Woman's Christian Temperance Union
    Ypsilanti, MI
    Related Internet Resources
    [-] Women's suffrage movement. (Wikipedia)
    [-] The underground railroad. (National Geographic)
    [-] Book: Voice of Freedom, a story about Frederick Douglass. (Google.com)
    [-] Michigan and the underground railroad. (Michigan.gov)
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.