John and Barbara Moore’s trip to Jonestown, May 1978

Jonestown Photograph

In May 1978, John and Barbara Moore visited their daughters – Carolyn Layton and Annie Moore, two women in the Temple leadership – and their grandson, Jim Jon [Kimo] Prokes in Jonestown, Guyana. While the Moores were aware of the obvious isolation of the community from the rest of the country – and even more so from the United States – and while they observed elements of paranoia due to both real and imagined persecutions of the Temple leadership, they were genuinely impressed with what they saw.

The Moores wrote a report of their visit upon their return, and it is published in both the original form and one with minor spelling corrections. Peoples Temple used it as a promotional tool as a means to refute the Concerned Relatives’ descriptions of Jonestown as a concentration camp. Critics have attacked the report as painting an overly-optimistic picture of Jonestown, and to the degree that it omits the reservations that the Moores felt, the charges have some weight. But the report is in keeping with the longstanding practice of the Moore family, to affirm their daughters and respect their decisions in public settings, and to express their misgivings to their children in private.

Nevertheless, the report does include some factual inaccuracies. John Moore “presumed” the houses and dorms had running water, but they didn’t. He says that he “saw nothing to suggest any truth” in the assertion that people were being held against their will, yet by this time, the community was at least restraining the disaffected, practices that eventually included sedation of some members. Even so, his depiction of the group as a community trying to create a utopia is both heartfelt and basically sound.

Before leaving Guyana, the Moores spent a couple of days at the Temple’s Georgetown headquarters at Lamaha Gardens, where they gave their opinions of the agricultural project to with Guyana government figures.

In addition to writing their report when they returned to the U.S., thre Moores participated in a press conference to describe their trip to the media. Called by the Temple’s attorney Charles Garry, the conference also included several other relatives of Jonestown residents who were sympathetic to the Jonestown project.

It should be noted that John and Barbara Moore were the parents of Rebecca Moore and father- and mother-in-law of Fielding M. McGehee III, the managers and researchers for this website.

Notes and Reflections on our trip to Guyana, RYMUR 89-4286-1939, pp. 6-9.
Original version
Edited version

Georgetown Meeting of late May 1978 with John & Barbara Moore, RYMUR 89-4286-BB-32-h-2 – h-3.

Q 884, Press conference called by Charles Garry.