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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 2. Biographies
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
Abraham Lincoln once said: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." This philosophic utterance again and again finds demonstration in regard to politics. There have been occasions when unworthy men have been elected to office, but standing in the light of public criticism their acts have shown up at their true worth. When a man is again and again chosen for a position of public honor and trust it is indicative of the fact that the public have reason to place their faith in him, finding that he is always loyal to the interests entrusted to his care. Such has been the record of Maurice Dorney, chief of police at Chillicothe, Missouri, who for twelve years has occupied his present position. He was born in Livingston county, August 6, 1866, and is a son of Edward and Ellen (Toomey) Dorney. Edward Dorney, was born in 1830, in County Tipperary, Ireland, a son of William and Catherine (O'Brien) Dorney, who both passed away in the Emerald isle. He was third in a family of three sons and two daughters and, coming to the United States in 1850, spent his first winter in New Orleans, Louisiana. He then removed to Butler. county, Ohio, where he engaged in farming until he came to Livingston county in 1864. Here he rented land for four years and then purchased a farm in Blue Mound township, extending his acreage until he owned two hundred and thirty acres. His marriage took place in Butler county, Ohio, where he wedded Miss Ellen Toomey, a native of County Waterford, Ireland. They became the parents of eight children: William, who resides on a farm in Livingston county; John, who makes his home with his brother William; Thomas, who passed away at the age of thirty-two years; Johanna, who died in infancy; Michael E., who died July 30, 1909; Maurice; Dennis, who resides on the home place; and Ellen, who make, her home with her brother Dennis. Both Mr. and Mrs. Edward Dorney have passed away and were laid to rest in the cemetery at Chillicothe. The father died June 1, 1889, and the mother on the 25th of June, 1906.
Maurice Dorney acquired his education in the schools of Livingston county, which he attended to the age of twenty years. He then took up the occupation of farming which he followed in Colorado for about two years, and then returned to Chillicothe where he entered business circles as a barber. For twelve years he was thus engaged, at the end of which time he received appointment to the position of patrolman from Mayor T. Hoge. He acted in that capacity for a year and was then elected chief of police in 1901. For six consecutive terms he has been chosen for this office and will have served for twelve years if he remains in his present position until May, 1913. He has made many important arrests and has filled his position with credit to himself and to the city. He has arrested criminals of all kinds from those engaged in chicken thieving to bank robbers. Probably the most important arrest made by him occurred several years ago when he and two patrolmen arrested four bank robbers who dynamited the safe in the Iowa State bank at Udell, escaping with several thousand dollars. The robbers were in a saloon on the south side of the square when Chief Dorney and two of his men entered the saloon with drawn revolvers and compelled the culprits to throw up their hands. Each of the robbers carried two guns but were not quick enough for the Chillicothe officers and as a result of their crime are now incarcerated in the Iowa state penitentiary. In 1908 a gang of silk thieves were terrorizing the towns near Chillicothe and the officers were unable cope with the situation, Chief Dorney was called into the case and within two days he had five men under arrest and they are now in the penitentiary at Jefferson City. In 1909 there were occurring many bank and postoffice robberies in Livingston county and Chief Dorney assisted the federal authorities in rounding up the gang, all of whom were arrested and sent to the federal prison. Whenever a prisoner has been taken to police headquarters be has always been greeted by the chief, after which he has been searched, photographed and his measurements taken, preliminary to undergoing questions by the chief. Mr. Dorney does not believe in antagonizing the prisoner and thinks that if a criminal is handled carefully and with kindness he will be more apt to give out his story, but when occasion demands the chief 's kindness will make way for the "third degree." He does not believe in circumstantial evidence and always obtains the evidence before the case is called in court. If he is unable to secure such evidence as he feels will convict, the prisoner is discharged. Mr. Dorney always uses common sense in settling a case and has been very successful. During his twelve years' service he has never hit a man with his night stick or a blackjack and when a criminal has been taken to the station in need food or clothing the big-hearted chief would provide what was necessary, He is a believer in charity and thinks if the unfortunate men were treated with more kindness there would be less crime and fewer criminals in the country.
In politics Mr. Dorney has always been a democrat, giving stalwart support to the party. His religious faith is that of the Roman Catholic church. While he has been offered a number of good places at the head of railroad departments he has always preferred to remain in Chillicothe where he has a wide circle of friends and is held in highest esteem by the law-abiding citizens. His name has become a menace to those who do not hold themselves amenable to law and inspires a feeling of confidence in the virtuous, self-respecting class.