WILLIAM SIMPSON DORRIS a well-known and highly esteemed miller of West Frankfort. was a resident of Williamson county for nearly thirty years. His operations as a farmer in his early life, followed by his subsequent mercantile experience, which he abandoned for the milling business, have all served to establish him most firmly as one of the representative citizens of his county.
Born in Robinson [Robertson] county, Tennessee, on September 17, 1851, William Simpson Dorris is the son of Josiah M. and Amanda (Hampton) Dorris. They were both born in Tennessee, and coming to Illinois in 1852 settled on a farm in Williamson county and spent the remainder of their life in that county. Josiah M. Dorris was a veteran of the Civil war, having served in the One Hundred and Twenty-eight Illinois Regiment. He was a Democrat, but was not in any sense a politician, although he served for years as a justice of the peace. They were members of the Baptist church and were numbered among the most valued workers in the church, being actively prominent in all branches of the work, particularly in that of the Sunday-school. Mr. Dorris was the leader in the work of organizing the church at Williamson Parish [Williams Prairie] in Williamson county, and took an active interest in the welfare of that organization thereafter. His father was a native of Tennessee, and his entire life was passed within the confines of the state. The maternal grandfather of William Simpson Dorris was also born in Tennessee, but he made frequent pilgrimages from that state into Illinois, and became so well known on the route he usually traveled that it was a common saying among his friends that he "could borrow meal on the road." He finally moved to Illinois, where he remained permanently, and where he finally died.
William Simpson Dorris was educated in the country schools of Williamson county. His schooling was of necessity limited, owing to circumstances, but he made the best of such opportunities as came his way. In his early manhood he bought a forty acre farm on credit, his good name being the only security asked. He lived on the farm for some time and eventually added to it at intervals. In 1896 he was prompted to go into the mercantile business in a small way, and in addition to his regular mercantile business he bought grain and traded stock to a considerable extent. He was particularly successful in this venture and made a good deal of money. In 1902 he moved to West Frankfort and there he engaged in the mercantile business in a more extended way than he had been previously involved, and in addition to the mercantile side he added the milling business. In 1911 he had so prospered in the milling business that he sold his store and since then he and his son operate the fifty barrel mill under the firm name of W. S. Dorris & Son. They have an extensive flour trade in Williamson and adjoining counties, in which district their product is well and favorably known.
In 1872 Mr. Dorris married Henry Ann Clayton, daughter of Dough Clayton. He was one of the oldest settlers of Franklin county, taking up land from the Government in his. early days, on which he passed his life and died. Mr. and Mrs. Dorris became the parents of one son, John D., who is associated in the milling business with his father. The wife and mother died, and Mr. Dorris married Rena Martin, the daughter of 0. C. Martin, who was for many years preceding his demise one of the most prominent stock men in Franklin county. To this latter union four children came. They are Arta, Delma, Lola and Marion, The family are members of the Baptist church, and are prominent in its activities at all times.