Who is This Man?

John G. Fee Moran

John G. Fee Moran

John G. Fee Moran, who was named after The John G. Fee, was part of the first cast of the Wilderness Road outdoor drama in June 1954. The life-long resident of Berea played Exom, slave to the Sims family. Moran had the distinction of being the only member of the Wilderness Road company to have personally been known by John G. Fee.

In the 1890s, John G. Fee visited Edward Moran, his wife, and his daughters, Priscilla and Amanda at their home at the corner of Ellipse and Jefferson. A son had just been born to them, and they hadn’t named him yet. John G. Fee reportedly asked, “Ed, have you named the boy yet?” When Ed said they hadn’t, John said, “Ed, why don’t you call that boy John G. Fee?” So the week-old child became the namesake of this important early founder of Berea. John G. Fee took a particular interest in the child, and his education.

Edward Moran had a profound desire for education, and was heard to have said that he would live on bread and water, if only his children might learn. He worked for Berea College, and expected that his children would all graduate from there. But his heart was broken when the Day Law passed in 1904, forbidding the co-education of black and white students.

The family struggled after that. The oldest daughter, Priscilla, became a teacher in Leslie County, and Amanda went to Lincoln Institute, but had to withdrawn because of lack of funds. When Ed Moran died, young John G. Fee Moran stayed with his mother and cared for her until she died in 1926. He worked as a pressor for a time, then had to serve in WWI, and struggled through the depression. He was then employed at various firms, and ultimately worked at Berea College in 1942. At the time that he was cast in the Wilderness Road drama, he worked as a janitor for Union Church. He married Adelia Bowman, and they had six children.

He lived long enough to see the Day Law repealed at Berea College.

2 comments to Who is This Man?

  • Katie Heckman

    I remember Fee Moran when he was custodian of the Berea College Music Building in the 1960’s.

  • Kimberly A. (Crawford-Bowman-Haley-Tribble) Casey

    I am a Grand cousin of John Fee Moran. His wife Adeila Bowman was a 1st cousin to my Grandmother Cheril (Haley) Tribble. And if anyone in Berea has any History info. of the Crawfords-Bowmans-Haleys, and Tribbles I would love to hear from you.