George Poole Dorris was born on 16 October 1807 in Robertson County, Kentucky. He died on 29 November 1882 at the age of seventy-five in St. Louis. He married Sarah Henderson on 3 November 1831 in Todd County, Kentucky. Sarah was born on 12 December 1813 in Lynchburg, Virginia. She was murdered on 28 January 1882 at the age of sixty-eight in St. Louis.

During the gold fever, George went to California where he engaged in trade and made a lot of money in digging gold and gambling. “Dorris was always a gambler. Before the war he was a n– trader and many is the time I have seen him in the market, buying and selling slaves.” Sarah and her husband repeatedly used a scheme for making money in the slave trade. They would buy a nursing mother at very low price, take the baby away, and have staff raise the child, then sell the mother for a quick profit and later sell the child.

George won a string of houses along Olive Street (1105 to 1109) in a poker game. He built a mansion at Kingshighway and Olive in 1869 at a cost of $80,000. It was a three-story red brick home with a mansard roof.

Sarah “was a very hard old woman. She could drink more whiskey than most men and was always headstrong and willful.” She was murdered by her grandson, Russell Brown, in January 1882. He had come to their home looking to get money for gambling, and when she didn’t comply, he strangled her to death, stealing the jewelry she was wearing.

George Poole Dorris and Sarah Henderson had the following children, all born in Platte County, Missouri:

    1. John Henderson Dorris was born in 1835 and died in 1855 in Weston, Missouri.
    2. Martha “Mattie” Dorris was born in 1837. She was twice married and died in 1883 in St. Louis. Martha was described as “a very dissipated woman and was her mother’s companion on many a wild spree.”
      1. Martha’s son, Russell Brown, was born in 1861 in St. Louis. He died in 1891 at the age of twenty-nine in Montreal, Canada. Russell murdered his grandmother in 1882 and was sentenced to ten years in prison for manslaughter. After two years, he escaped and fled to Montreal where he lived with a prostitute. He was convicted there of larceny and again sent to the penitentiary. His family secured his release after which he committed suicide “with a dose of bromide of Potassium in the house where his mistress formerly lived.”
    3. Thomas “Tom” Dorris was born in 1839. He died of tuberculosis in 1895 in San Antonio, Texas. Tom seems to have acquired many of his father’s worst qualities. “Tom Dorris, the only son, is a worthless fellow; his father disowned him years ago.” Like his father, Tom was a gambler and stock speculator. An article written at his death said, “The dead gambler was about 55 years of age. He was miserly and very repulsive in his habits.”
    4. Anna Barbour “Annie” Dorris was born in 1839. She married in 1861 and died in 1918 in Versailles, Missouri.

Written by Ted Steele
February 2023

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Last Modified: 18-Jul-2023 13:11