411 Liberty Street, the Maxey Moody Sr. house.

By appearance, the house at 411 Liberty Street, located about a half-mile west of EverBank Field, looks old as do the others nearby. But this one is different. Built around 1910, the house was the residence of Ethel and Maxey Dell Moody. Maxey was a businessman whoe established a road construction machinery business in 1913 called M.D. Moody; he is quoted by The Florida Times-Union as the “oldest construction machinery man in Florida”.

Above all, Maxey and Ethel Moody were the parents of four children and later the grandparents of many grandchildren. It was at 411 Liberty where Maxey became the patriarch of the Ocala-Jacksonville Moody family, supplanting his roots and leaving a long lasting legacy in Jacksonville.

Maxey Dell Moody was born on December 12, 1883, the son of Eliza and the late Dr. S.W. Moody of Ocala. Growing up in Ocala, Maxey grew to become a salesman in various trades ranging from health drugs to railroad stock to cigars. After the Great Fire of 1901, Maxey relocated to Jacksonville where he learned the trade of road construction machinery. Maxey met Ethel Muller in the 1900s soon after he relocated to Jacksonville from Ocala.

Newspaper announcement from 1908 about Maxey and his co-worker Mr. Dancelor selling stock for the Lancaster Automatic Railroad Crossing Company in Ocala. After visiting Ocala they then went to Tampa and Cuba to sell more stock.

Ethel Muller was born on September 28, 1890 to Janey and Gustav Muller. Gustav was a German immigrant who arrived to the United States sometime in the 1860s. In Jacksonville, Gustav planted his German-American roots as a keen businessman. In the 1890s Gustav built a house at Jacksonville Beach for his family. The Muller Beach House still stands to this day as one of the oldest house of Jacksonville Beach. On September 17, 1897 Gustav unexpectedly died at 48 years old, leaving the Muller Beach House to his wife Janey, who had to then care for their three children. After the Great Fire of 1901 a two story house was built in Jacksonville facing Duval Street. The house became 405 East Duval and later 409 Liberty but ultimately was the residence of Janey Muller and her three children.

Wedding announcement of Maxey Moody and Ethel Muller on April 15, 1909 from the Ocala Star Banner.

On April 15, 1909, Maxey and Ethel married in Janey Muller’s house with Father Maher of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception performing the ceremony. The couple were not allowed to marry in a Catholic church because Maxey was Methodist while Ethel was Catholic. The newly married couple were temporarily living at 409 Liberty Street until construction was completed on their two story house next door called 411 Liberty Street. The house was built in the common Prairie Style still seen throughout the Riverside neighborhood and is referred to by the Jacksonville Historical Preservation Commission as a craftsman house.

A Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1949 shows 411 Liberty on the left.

411 Liberty (left) and 409 Liberty (right) in 2023

Maxey and Ethel lived at 411 Liberty for the remainder of their lives and raised four children. Ethel had all four children at 411 Liberty. Their children were: Dolores “Didi” Moody, born July 2, 1910; Maxey Dell Moody Jr., born June 15, 1913; Muller Pearson Moody, born October 20, 1917; and Ethel Jeannine “Jean” Moody, born April 9, 1930. Ethel was a stay-at-home mom and tended to 411 Liberty.

In 1928 Ethel’s mother Janey Muller died, leaving 409 Liberty to her daughter Minnie. Ethel’s older brother Gustav Muller Jr. at the time was a wealthy businessman owning a hotel in Miami and two in Jacksonville. Gustav also owned a bottling business on Myrtle Avenue which is now occupied by Myrtle Avenue Brewing. It was Gustav’s profession which made him unwilling to inherit the house. Minnie was a widow had lost her husband in World War I and had to raise their only child alone.

The front porch of 411 Liberty Street in the 1920s.

An announcement from October 26, 1917 on the birth of Maxey Moody Sr.’s second son Muller Moody.

The marriage license of Maxey’s daughter Dolores Moody to John Dux on September 1, 1939. Dolores listed her address at 411 Liberty.

Maxey Moody Sr. with his son-in-law John Dux at 411 Liberty. Dux also worked with his father-in-law Maxey at M.D. Moody.

A newspaper bid announcement from Maxey Moody, incorrectly spelled W. D. Moody, from 1920. Maxey listed his home address of 411 Liberty for bid responses. When Maxey went into the machinery business he did business as M.D. Moody.

Maxey Moody’s machinery business was called M.D. Moody and it was located at one of the warehouses of the ACL Warehouse Viaduct in the present-day area of the CSX headquarters on the other side of Downtown from 411 Liberty. In the 1940s M.D. Moody was incorporated as M.D. Moody & Sons. After Maxey’s death in 1949, M.D. Moody & Sons relocated to Philips Highway. The business was in operation for 100 years until its closing in 2013. Maxey is the third on the right directly underneath the word company.

The Selective Service Act of 1917 required all males 21 to 30 to register to be potentially selected for military service in World War I. In 1918 the act was amended to include age 18 to 45 to register. Maxey at the time was 34 years old and had to register but did not serve due to the Armistice of November 11, 1918 and subsequent Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. Maxey’s registration card shows his address at 411 Liberty.

Maxey Moody, in the tie and black vest, with an Adams road grader in St. Augustine around 1921. This is most likely the Adams road grader from the newspaper posting in 1920. Maxey was also an avid cigar smoker as seen in the photo.

Maxey first worked at a road grader distributor in the early 1910s. Between 1913 and 1918 Maxey began to do business under his name “M. D. Moody”. His business grew overtime to include more road grader brands and machinery into the 1920s located at a warehouse called ACL Riverside Viaduct. The ACL warehouses were located at the present-day location of the CSX Corporation headquarters building. It was also in the 1920s that Maxey became a member of the nearby Scottish Rite Masonic Center. Maxey also had an office at the Morocco Temple on Newnan Street. The drive from 411 Liberty over to the ACL Warehouses, Morocco Temple and Scottish Rite Masonic Center was not too far for Maxey. In the 1940s Maxey’s sons Maxey Jr. and Muller worked with their father at M. D. Moody. In 1946 the business was incorporated to M. D. Moody & Sons and later included cranes.

Muller Moody’s graduation from MIT in the 1930s with his father Maxey Moody Sr. and sister Jean Moody. Jean would later inherit 411 Liberty upon the death of her mother Ethel in 1976.

Maxey’s son Muller Moody on a motorcycle between 409 Liberty (left) and 411 Liberty (right).

Muller Moody’s World War II registration from 1940. His address at the time was 411 Liberty.

Max Moody Jr.’s marriage license to Dorothy Boyd from June 17, 1933 with his address listed at 411 Liberty. Max at the time had just dropped out of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis because you were not allowed to get married while attending a military academy.

The Florida Times-Union published an article on Maxey Moody Sr.’s death in 1949.

Maxey Moody Sr. came to not like the growing change to the area of 411 Liberty. Maxey decided to purchase 15 acres of property on the St. Johns River adjacent to the present-day Reedie Point Preserve in Arlington. Maxey had wanted to move to the suburbs away from the changing downtown of Jacksonville he had come to in the 1900s. However, Maxey’s health had other plans. On July 27, 1949 while Maxey was opening business mail at M. D. Moody & Sons he had a sudden heart attack and died.

The 15 acres on the St. Johns River acquired by Maxey Moody Sr. is currently for sale. The current owners want to sell to an owner willing to turn this property into a park. If you are interested in acquiring this property and preserving it instead of seeing this land developed into more residential apartments please email barbarabutlerbuck@gmail.com.

View from Reedie Point Preserve showing the beach part of Maxey’s 15 acre land on the St. Johns River he had acquired in the 1940s.

The death of Maxey was a sudden shock for Ethel and the family. Because Ethel was the wife of Maxey she naturally took over ownership of 411 Liberty. Ethel had only two months to mourn before she had to face another tragedy with the death of her older sister Minnie on September 30, 1949. Minnie’s death made Ethel also inherit 409 Liberty. Ethel’s youngest daughter Jean, who was attending the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, dropped out to move in at 411 Liberty to care for her widowed mother. Jean was such a faithful daughter that she refused to leave her mother even after an appropriate mourning period.

When Jean married Walter Butler in 1955, she and Walter built another house which adjoined 411 Liberty and faced Duval street adding another generation to the family compound. Jean and Walter stayed with Ethel until her death March 10, 1976. The dutiful daughter spent 27 years taking care of her mother.

Jean and Walter Butler in 1955.

Maxey’s business M.D. Moody & Sons was left to his sons Maxey Moody Jr. and Muller Moody after his death in 1949. The business relocated from the ACL Warehouse Viaduct to Philips Highway in 1951 under the leadership of Maxey’s sons. Maxey’s business grew beyond Jacksonville to include branches in Tampa, Fort Myers, Pompano Beach and Mobile. The business diversified in the 1960s with a new marine business called MOBRO Marine.

Maxey Moody Jr. established MOBRO Marine in 1963 to handle the marine business of M. D. Moody & Sons. The name MOBRO is an amalgamation of Moody Brothers a reference to Maxey Moody Jr.’s sons. From left to right in the photo is Maxey Moody Jr., an employee with MOBRO Marine, Maxey Dell Moody III and Muller Moody in front of a MOBRO barge in 1975.

Dell Marine was founded by Maxey’s grandson Maxey Dell Moody III in 2004 and was once part of M.D. Moody & Sons. Dell Marine and MOBRO Marine are examples of the legacy of M.D. Moody & Sons which all started with Maxey Moody Sr. and his business ambitions.

On March 10, 1976 Ethel Moody died at 85 years old. The death of Ethel left 411 Liberty Street to her daughter Jean Butler. Jean retained ownership of 411 Liberty Street until her death on July 28, 2001. Jean’s husband Walter Butler inherited 411 Liberty and the 15 acres of land on the St. Johns River. After Walter Butler died in 2011, the properties were transferred to their four children. In 2022 the house was sold to a private owner unrelated to the Moody family. Although the house is no longer owned by the Moody family it will forever be associated with the Moodys since it was their history that kept it standing for so many years.

A survey from 1952 of Maxey Moody Sr.’s property on the St. Johns River then under the ownership of Ethel Moody. Maxey Moody Sr. and wife Ethel would have most likely moved here from 411 Liberty if he did not die in 1949.

411 Liberty still remains standing 115 years later. The house was the residence of Maxey Dell Moody Sr. the patriarch of the Ocala-Jacksonville Moody family. 411 Liberty is where the Ocala-Moody family planted their roots in Jacksonville and continues to grow through their numerous grandchildren as well as their businesses MOBRO Marine and Dell Marine. The house continues to stand as a reminder that despite its current condition it will persist to weather anything that comes its way.

Article by Andrew R. Nicholas. Follow Andrew on Twitter at a_r_nicholas.