Monday, November 14, 2016

Leroy D. Moon (1894-1941)

I have fallen behind in my writing and owe you the second part of an article on Lawrence Beall Smith. In the interest of catching up, I'll offer the biography of an artist named Moon on the night of a super moon.

Leroy Dow Moon was born on May 13, 1894, in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father was Melville Lucas (possibly Lucas Melville) Moon (1857-1927), a Morgan County native and at various times a clerk in a railroad office and a merchant in a meat market. His mother was Rachel or Rachael Thornburg Moon. Melville and Rachel Moon were married on October 2, 1889, at the United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. They had at least three children, Marie (b. Oct. 1890), Inez (b. ca. 1893), and Leroy D. (possibly Lorenzo D., after his paternal grandfather, b. May 13, 1894).

Leroy Moon attended Manual High School in Indianapolis. On April 23, 1917, less than three weeks after the United States had declared war on Germany, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. He served in Battery A of the 150th Field Artillery, a unit within the 42nd Infantry, the famed Rainbow Division that fought in France during the Great War.

Moon separated from the Army on May 9, 1919. From October 1920 into at least September 1921, he attended the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. He also studied art in Chicago. The 1922 Indianapolis city directory listed him as a commercial artist with a residence at 2402 North Talbott Street (his father's house). In 1924, he was probably in Evansville, Indiana, and working for The Trade Extension Bureau as the art director of its commercial art department. By the 1930s, Moon had returned to the city of his birth. There he worked for the Indianapolis Star at various times.

Leroy Moon, who signed his name "Lee Moon," was married twice, first to Vesta V. Boulden, on December 21, 1914. (He gave his birth year as 1893, thus making himself twenty-one years old rather than twenty.) That marriage ended by the end of the decade. On November 1, 1922, Moon married Mary Hazel May in Marion County, Indiana, presumably in Indianapolis. As of the 1940 census, Moon was lodging (alone) at 323 North Delaware Street in Indianapolis and working as a freelance commercial artist. A year later, on January 26, 1941, he died in Los Angeles, according to his obituary, "after a long illness." He was forty-five years old. The body of Leroy D. Moon was returned to Indianapolis for burial and lies at rest in Crown Hill Cemetery.

A clipping from The Trade Extension Bureau Monthly Service Bulletin showing a photograph of art director Leroy D. Moon (June 1924, p. 14).

A drawing by Lee Moon asking readers of the Indianapolis Star to "Please Help!" after the flood of 1937. Unfortunately, this is the only example I have of Moon's art.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

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