ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Justus T. Moak

1830 - 1913


Moak, Justus T., b. Feb 4, 1830, d. Feb 26, 1913


1861      Candidates for Postmaster

02 28       The Republican millennium draws near [Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln] —the paradise of office seekers is in sight.  The 4th of March is the Rubicon all the lamp carriers wish to get over.  Then comes the scramble for the places in the gift of the President.  They are many, but numerous as they are, there will be ten applicants for every office.  Thousands of anxious pilgrims are already on their way to Washington.  To the disappointed, Republicanism, with the disruption of the Union and the defeat of fond hopes, will not seem so fine a thing as it did before election.  But the victory has been won and something must be done with it, and if it is not good to give offices to the conquerors, what is it worth?  Quite an active canvass is going on here for Postmaster.  The most prominent candidates for the appointment are J. T. Moak, one of the editors of the Republican, E. W. Cole, one of the first settlers of the city, and Jacob Jussen, who represents the German element.  Either of these gentlemen would make an efficient and accommodating Postmaster.   WD


1867      Justus Moak was appointed postmaster in 1867 by President Andrew Johnson and held the office during the succeeding administrations of Presidents Grant, Hayes, Garfield and Arthur.  He was relieved by President Cleveland and reappointed by President Harrison, retiring about one year after the commencement of President Cleveland’s second term, making his service as postmaster cover a period of 23 years. 


While postmaster Mr. Moak made the postal service a careful, practical study, bringing it up to the dignity of a profession in Watertown, making that office a model for neatness and accuracy.  He was an excellent authority upon all subjects pertaining to postal laws, rules and regulations.  Quite a number of young men have graduated under his tutorship and are now holding important and responsible positions in various branches of the service, and he had a host of friends throughout the state and nation who sincerely regret his death.


When J. T. Moak received the appointment of postmaster, William Voss became his deputy.



In 1895 he was elected, however, and served one year.  It was during his term as mayor that the waterworks was commenced and nearly completed which he always was proud of as a creditable achievement for those administering the affairs of the city that year. 


05 10       During the past week the incoming mayor, J. T. Moak, has been a sort of curiosity in the political arena, and the subject of much congratulation and hand shaking by his friends.  There was also considerable "button-holing" at his expense indulged in by office-seekers and others looking for favors. . . . .  WhiIe admitting that politics does not and should not have any weight on affairs in the common council, it is interesting to know the political complexion of the incoming body.  It is composed as follows, our Democratic contemporaries to the contrary notwithstanding:  Seven Republicans, six Democrats and one Independent.  Six of the old members are returned. . . .  Among the new members are a number who have had previous experience in the public affairs of the city, and the council as a whole is a body of citizens who we think can be depended upon to do what is right.    WR



His last official position was that of assistant postmaster which he assumed in March, 1898, and retired on account of ill health in 1903.


While postmaster Mr. Moak made the postal service a careful, practical study, bringing it up to the dignity of a profession in Watertown, making that office a model for neatness and accuracy.  He was an excellent authority upon all subjects pertaining to postal laws, rules and regulations.  Quite a number of young men have graduated under his tutorship and are now holding important and responsible positions in various branches of the service, and he had a host of friends throughout the state and nation who sincerely regret his death.


Mr. Moak was united in wedlock with Eliza H. Pearce, September 7, 1853.  His bride was a native of Hartford, N. Y.  No children were born to them, but a niece was taken into the household when a child and she later was married to L. B. Caswell of Fort Atkinson.  Mr. Moak at the time of his marriage was in business in Jersey City, N. J.  A few months afterward he concluded to take Horace Greeley’s advice to “go west and grow up with the country”.  He decided to come to what was then considered far off Wisconsin, and August 15, 1854, landed in Watertown, where he resided until his removal to Fort Atkinson a few years ago.  His wife died several months ago. 


During their long residence in Watertown Mr. and Mrs. Moak had been prominent figures in the social circles of the city and the former had been closely identified with the growth and progress and prosperity of the town.


Friend of Newspaper Men


Mr. Moak was a great friend of the newspaper men and in his official capacity as postmaster always strived to give the newspapers any and all information which would be of value to the public.  He was a frequent contributor to the local newspapers on other subjects as well, and was known as a vigorous writer and one who kept well within the facts in the matter under discussion.  He was at home in a newspaper office and was always welcome.  Being of a genial nature and radiating cheerfulness, he was a man who possessed friends among all classes.  The announcement of his death is made with profound sorrow which the whole community will share because of the realization of his worth as a man and citizen.  He passed an active and useful life and goes to his reward with the consciousness that it was well spent.  He was a man of liberal tastes and cultivation enriched by contact with many people and the literary world.


Mr. Moak is survived by one brother, Dewitt C. Moak of Minneapolis, and one sister, Mrs. Clara E. Hurd, of Leavenworth, Kansas.  The funeral will take place on Friday.  Services will be held at Fort Atkinson and the body will be brought to Watertown over the Northwestern Road at 2:43 o’clock and the burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery.  A short church service will be held in the Congregational church at 3 o’clock. 


And thus passes another of the pioneer residents of Watertown and one who always took pride in it progress and welfare.


The flag on the city hall was placed at half mast today out of respect to his memory.



04 26       The excited imagination of a small boy resulted in the bringing out of the fire boys Sunday evening.  The glare of a blazing coal fire in a window of J. T. Moak's residence attracted the attention of a little fellow who was passing by, and his frantic yells of "fire, fire!" were quickly re-echoed along the line, and soon a large section of the city was in commotion.  But they did have a "hot" time at the ball game in the afternoon.


06 20       LUNCHEON

Though the weather was not very favorable for a long lawn fete on Thursday evening, the luncheon given by the Clover Club was well patronized.  The gorgeous lawn in front of the home of J. T. Moak was well fitted up for the occasion and swarms of people tripped lightly over the lawn to the music of Blaesius’ orchestra.  Booths were arranged in which refreshments and various commodities were disposed of by pretty maids, and the dining table, which was under the protection of a liberty bell, was tended by charmingly ladies in the garb of the colonial days and powdered hair.    WR


c. 1909-1910

Fido's Obituary


It is not often that a newspaper chronicles the death of a dog, but as ex-Postmaster J. T. Moak's dog Fido was known to nearly every man, woman and child in Watertown, and to a large number of people outside the city as well, a notice of his death will not be considered out of place.


Last Tuesday night he entered his last sleep, the cause of his death being rheumatism and old age.  For years he made daily rounds of the city with the mail carriers, and his friendly greeting was greatly enjoyed, especially by the juveniles of the city.


Mrs. J. T. Moak Obituary

Moak, Elizabeth, b. Jul 19, 1829, d. Nov 27, 1912


12 05     The many old friends and neighbors of Mrs. J. T. Moak were greatly grieved to hear of her death, which occurred at the home of her niece at Ft. Atkinson on Wednesday, November 27, 1912.  Mrs. Moak visited here a few weeks ago, and though advancing years were telling on her, she was apparently enjoying good health for one of her age, and all who had the pleasure of meeting her then felt that she might live for years to come, hence the announcement of her death was a great surprise to them.


Her final illness was of only about five days duration.  Mrs. Moak was born in New Hartford, New York, on July 19, 1829, being a daughter of William and Amy Pearce of that place, her maiden name being Eliza H. Pearce.  September 7, 1853, she married at New Hartford to Mr. Moak, and then for about a year resided in Jersey City, and in 1854 they came west and located in Watertown, residing here till April, 1903, when they removed to Ft. Atkinson, and since then made their home with Mrs. Moak's niece, Mrs. L. B. Caswell, Jr., whose maiden name was Eliza Moak Pearce, and who since she was three years old made her home with Mr. and Mrs, Moak until her marriage in 1881.  Her husband and niece, Mrs. Caswell and one brother, George Pearce of Walworth, Wis., survive her. 


Friday morning funeral services were conducted at the home of her niece, by Rev. H. K. Hanley, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Ft. Atkinson.  The remains were brought here in the afternoon and taken to the Congregational Church, where services were held and then conveyed to their final resting in Oak Hill Cemetery.


Deceased resided in Watertown close to a half century, during which time her husband was first engaged in the mercantile business here and afterwards was appointed post master during the administration of Gen. Grant and served continuously until one year after Grover Cleveland was elected president, and served during President Harrison full term.


During her long residence here Mrs. Moak at all times was a most useful and prominent member of society and took great interest in the welfare of our city.  She possessed a true Christian character, and she showed not only in words but in deeds that her life had not been in vain.  She was a faithful member of the Congregational Church of this city and was one of that church's zealous supporters.  Having an excellent education, she was an ornament to any society and always made friends by her genial, kind hearted and pleasant manner.  She lived a life of Christian faith and with faith unshaken passed away in peace.   WG



Cross references:


William Voss accepted a clerkship in the store of J. T. Moak and when the latter received the appointment of postmaster, Mr. Voss became his deputy.




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin