One of the distinguished members of the bar of Glenn County, California, is Judge Frank Moody, who has won an eminent position as a representative of the legal profession, gaining honors that many an older practitioner might well covet. A man of strong mentality, whose mind is keenly analytical and whose judgment is rarely at fault, he has gained many notable forensic triumphs and is accounted one of the distinguished lawyers of his section of the state.
A native of Missouri, the Judge was born in Platte County, that state, on the 15th of February, 1867. His father, James Moody, was a native of Kentucky and a farmer by occupation. During his boyhood he removed to Missouri and subsequently emigrated to California, spending his last days in Los Angeles, where he died at the age of seventy-three years. His wife bore the maiden name of Sarah Jasper and was born in Virginia. Her death occurred in Missouri, when she had attained the age of forty-eight years. In their family were ten children, seven of whom are yet living, one of the numbers being a minister of the Baptist church, while two are members of the legal profession and another brother is devoting his energies to educational work.
The Judge spent the first sixteen years of his life in the state of his nativity, and then, with his father, crossed the plains to California. He was reared at his parental home and acquired his elementary education in the district schools, but home courses in reading added largely to his knowledge; and when he took upon the study of law he had a broad fund of general information to serve as a foundation upon which to rear the superstructure of professional learning. He was twenty-two years of age when he began reading law in the office and under the direction of James G. Scarborough. He continued with that gentleman for four years, during which time he applied himself earnestly to the mastery of the principles of jurisprudence, and on the expiration of that period he was admitted to the bar in Los Angeles, on the 7th of April, 1891. For two years thereafter he remained with his former preceptor, gaining a practical knowledge of the methods of courtrooms, and then removed to Santa Ana, where he continued for three years.
When that period had passed he came to Glenn County, locating in Willow, where he has since made his home. During his residence in Santa Ana he served as assistant district attorney, and his experience and study continually added to his fund of knowledge and made him one of the best informed lawyers at the bar in this section of the state. He throws himself easily and naturally into an argument, with a self-possession and deliberation which indicates no striving after effect. There is, on the other hand, a precision and clearness in his statements and acuteness and strength in his arguments which speaks a mind trained in the severest schools of investigation, and to which a close reasoning is habitual and easy. In November, 1894, he was elected a judge of the superior court for a four-year term, and upon the bench his record was most creditable. His decisions were extremely fair and impartial, being based upon a thorough knowledge of judicious principles, accurately applied to the points in litigation.
On the 28th of April, 1897, occurred the marriage of Judge Moody and Miss Rita French, a daughter of Milton French, one of the esteemed residents of Glenn County. He and his wife are members of the Baptist church and occupy an enviable position in social circles where true worth and intelligence are received as a passport into good society. In his social relations the Judge is a Mason and enjoys the warm regard of his brethren in the craft. In politics the Judge has always been a staunch Democrat since casting his first presidential ballot for Grover Cleveland. His professional prominence, as well as his social position, renders him one of the leading and influential citizens of the community. At the bar his fidelity to his client’s interests is proverbial, yet he never forgets that he owes a higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. His diligence and energy in the preparation of his cases, as well as the earnestness, tenacity and courage, with which he defends the rights, as he understands it, challenges the highest admiration of his associates. He invariably seeks to present his arguments in the strong, clear light of common reasoning and sound logical principles, and upon the bench he was inspired by an innate inflexible love of justice and a delicate sense of personal honor, which has controlled him in all life’s relations.
In this connection it will be interesting to learn something of the history of the family to which Mrs. Moody belongs. Her father, Milton French, was born in Callaway County, Missouri, June 23, 1833, and is a son of John and Jane (Clark) French, the former a native of Tennessee and the latter of Kentucky. His parents both died in Missouri. In her family were eight children, and as the parents were in somewhat limited circumstances Milton French started out in life on his own account at the early age of twelve years, and whatever success he achieved from that time forward was due entirely to his own efforts. For a time he worked by the month as a farm hand, and in 1850, after the discovery of gold in California, he determined to seek his fortune upon the Pacific slope.
On the 7th of May, that year, he joined a party of seventy-five members that with mule teams made the journey across the wide and arid plains to the Golden state, where they arrived on the 27th of August. For six years Mr. French engaged in mining and herding cattle, and in 1856 he returned to the east, where he purchased a large drove of cattle, with which he came to California, in 1857, taking up his abode at Chico, Colusa County. Since that time he has been extensively engaged in the raising of cattle, having a very large ranch about thirteen miles from the town. When he took up his abode on his present farm it was destitute of all improvements; but as the years passed he added all the accessories and conveniences known to a model farm. Good buildings were erected and from time to time the boundaries of the place were extended by additional purchases of land until he became the owner of fourteen thousand acres. This large ranch is under his personal supervision, and in the management of his property he has been very successful, being known as one of the most prosperous as well as one of the leading and influential citizens of the community.
Mr. French was united in marriage to Miss Salona Elizabeth Williams, who was born in Missouri and came to California with her parents, Nathan P. and Sarah (Rice) Williams, about 1853. Her mother is still living, but her father died in Dixon. They were prominent southern people and had the high regard of all who knew them. Unto Mr. and Mrs. French were born three children: Rita, now Mrs. Moody; Natalia, now Mrs. Eogle; and Curry. Mrs. French and her daughters are members of the Baptist church. Mr. French gives his political support to the Democracy, having been identified with that party since casting his first presidential vote for Stephen A. Douglas. In connection with his farming interests Mr. French has other property, being part owner of a business block in Willow. He is also the vice-president of the Bank of Willow, and is accounted one of the leading businessmen in this section of the state. He deserves great credit for his success and may well be termed a self-made man, for the difficulties and obstacles in his path he has overcome be determined purposed and has steadily worked his way upward to a position of affluence.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.