ZENAS PERRY MOODY was born in Granby, Massachusetts and educated there and in Chicopee, Massachusetts. In his late teens he set sail from New York through Panama to Oregon, where he worked on the U.S. government’s survey of western Oregon and engaged in the mercantile business. In 1856 he was appointed Inspector of U.S. Surveys in California, after which he moved first to Illinois and then to Washington, D.C., where he lived when the Civil War broke out. He joined a company of volunteers organized to protect Washington until regular troops arrived, and then returned to Oregon in 1862, entering business to serve the gold mining districts of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. He lived briefly in Idaho and then returned to Dalles, Oregon to manage the affairs of Wells, Fargo Express Company. He also operated a steamboat line through which he carried mail between Portland and Dalles under contract. Politically, Moody began as a Whig and became a Republican and was also an officer in the Know-Nothing Party in his home county for a time. An unsuccessful candidate for the state Senate from Wasco County in 1872, he was elected eight years later to the state House, where he served as Speaker prior to becoming governor. During his gubernatorial administration, construction of the state Capitol was completed with the exception of the dome, and a portion of the new state hospital for the mentally ill was completed. Although Moody generally advocated immigration to Oregon, he supported federal law prohibiting Chinese immigration. After leaving office, Moody became a leading wool shipper in eastern Oregon.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8. New York: James T. White & Company.
Oregon State Archives