Missing :: James Dorsey Alexander & the Lawrence Brothers


I spent the weekend that I planned to spend doing yard and house work instead by researching my Alexander branches.  My beloved great-grandmother Dorothy was an Alexander and she was very proud of her name.  She passed away last year but she left sets of wonderful journals and memories of an independent lady full of helpful anecdotes when you needed them most and stories of family and love.  She really was amazing.  She was the only older family member still living when I started researching our family tree and she was a wealth of remembered information.

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I was in a gifted class in my elementary school and we were studying the Oregon Trail.  I mentioned that my grandmother had traveled by covered wagon quite a bit and she was promptly invited to come speak to the class about her experiences.  I remember when I walked her out that day I thought about what she’d seen and I almost cried.  I was 10 or 12 years old people!  But even then, the massive life she’d lead inspired me.

I could go to my Granny’s house and ask her about so-and-so in town and she’d remember.  At different times in her life she was the old telephone operator here in town, the head cook at our high school (when both my mom and dad attended), and a cafe owner, the latter which gave her pride and meant that all the townspeople loved and adored her.  She was the daughter in law of the last Sheriff our town had and she was the sister in law to the long-time town barber.

When talking over family with my Granny she always mentioned the man that went missing, left and never returned.  His name was James Dorsey Alexander and he was born around 1911, probably right here in Pulaski County, as were his siblings.  Her journal entries remind me that James “left his family March 16, 1935 and was never heard from again”.  His children, I know from journal entries, were Bob, Shirley, and Dick, though I do not know his wife’s name.

My Granny always asked me to find James, who sometimes went by Dorsey.  To be honest, while she was alive I never put my effort into that.  I’m sure that occasionally I picked up his name and did a few quick searches but when someone wants to disappear, as it appears James did, they’re often hard to find, even with much more information than what I’ve got.  That man could have went to one of any of our 50 states so finding him will be a chore.

The only information I could find yesterday was the 1930 census, which shows that in that year James (called Dorsey) was still living with his parents James L. and Nancy (Decker) Alexander in Laclede County, Auglaize Twnshp.  Along with them lived his brothers, Barney and Emmett, and next door to them lived another brother, Ray, with his wife Floy (who my Granny loved and who I remember sitting on a proch swing with) and their children, Eunice, James, and Paul Alexander.

With just an approximate birthdate, I’m still searching for James Dorsey.


Another entry in my grandmother’s journals concerns the other side of her family, her mother’s side.

Tonty, his real name was John Carol, was born in Carrol County Arkansas.  He told me he had a little brother to die on that trip from Tennessee and they buried him beside the road.  Later he married Sidney Lawrence and they had five children.  Jack died during the flu of WWI.  Uncle Bob, John, Florence, and Virgie, who was my mother.  Grandpa’s brothers were Lish, Perry, Hoston, Walter, Ed, Florence, and Green.
Grandma was a Lawrence.  She had two brothers that left for Kansas and were never heard from again.  She had a sister Nellie.

Granny had always asked me to see what I could find about these two men also.  That’s my mission today.  At one time I had their names but a quick census search should remind me.

Do you have missing family members?  Are there any special tactics you used to find them?  Has anyone ever had a happy ending to their missing ancestor story?


One Response to “Missing :: James Dorsey Alexander & the Lawrence Brothers”

  1. 1 Julie Allee

    I have been researching my own family tree for some time and out of curiosity began looking for my husband’s family. I was told this would probably not work since my husband’s great grandfather disappeared when his children were young and was never heard from again, so the family line was unknown. It seems that this article is about my husband’s family. They are interested in finding more information as well.

    Bob (his name is actually Robert) Alexander is my husband’s grandfather. They now live in Camden County, MO. They have long searched for information about Dorsey, with little luck. However, if you would like more information about the children and their decendents, I would love to hear from you. We are also wondering where Dorthy Alexander would fit in the line (they remember an aunt Dorthy, but don’t know if this is the right one). If you could help me give them information further back than Dorsey, they would be most appreciative as none of them know anything about thier history.

    Julie Allee

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