Portrait from the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1934.
One of a bevy of oddly named men elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in the course of its nearly 200-year history, Dorah Elijah Maples is also on a shortlist of odd name male political figures who were unfortunately saddled with a female first name. Briefly featured on this site's Facebook page in July of last year, Maples was a man of many hats, being a teacher, farmer, lumberman, coal dealer and a four-term state representative from Christian County. Interestingly, Maple's second and third terms were spaced twenty-five years apart!
Born in Clever, Christian County, Missouri on December 14, 1860, Dorah Elijah Maples was the son of Noah and Sarah Anne (Greenaway) Maples. The son of a Civil War veteran, Maples visited his wounded father in a Cairo, Missouri hospital when just three years of age, and during that visit met President Abraham Lincoln, an encounter that Maples would remember for the remainder of his life. Maples later recounted the meeting in a 1935 interview with the Jefferson City Post Tribune, relating:
"I was only a small boy, can't remember many things that happened in those days, but I can vividly recall the time my mother took me to the Cairo hospital to see my father who was dangerously wounded, his army shot away. While we were standing at my father's side, a tall ungainly looking man, with stubby whiskers came walking down the rows of cots."'Mother', I said, 'that man's clothes don't fit him!'' "'Sh--', she said, trying to quiet me. 'That's the president of the United States.' "When he reached us, he put his hand on my head and said 'little boy, be good to your mother.'"
Maples' early education began in the common schools and he would go on to attend the Drury College in Springfield. He married to Lucy Eva Craig (1869-1947) in December 1890 and the couple's fifty-three-year union produced four children, Samuel Bernice (1892-1951), Horace Bertrand (1894-1980), Lura Nalan (1896-1980) and Gladys Jewel (1908-1982).
A farmer and teacher in Christian County, Maples entered the political life of that county in 1902 when he became the Republican candidate for the state house of representatives from his district, and in November defeated Democratic nominee J.W. Henry by a vote of 1574 to 949. During the 1903-04 session, Maples sat on the committees on Roads and Highways and the State Library. He won a second term in 1904 and during this term "was an author of a measure relating to Civil War records."
Dorah E. Maples, from the 1905-06 Official Manual of Missouri.
Maples' second term in the house concluded in 1907 and wasn't a candidate for renomination the previous fall. For the next two decades, he is remarked as having been a coal dealer and lumberman. In 1924-25 he was serving as a Republican committeeman for Christian County and in 1932 was elected to a third term in the legislature, defeating Democratic candidate H.E. McSpadden by a vote of 2, 708 to 2, 343. Returned to state government after an absence of twenty-five years, Maples took his seat at the start of the 1933-35 session and served on the committees on Education, Eleemosynary Institutions, Mines and Mining, Permanent Seat of Government, and the State Library.
While period sources mentioning Maples remain difficult to come by, two newspaper write-ups from the mid-1930s reveal him as a legislator with both a backbone and strong sense of humor. In the January 31, 1935 edition of the Macon Chronicle-Herald, Maples is mentioned as having shouted at fellow representative J.A. Gray, admonishing him for remarking that he "wouldn't dare face the folks who elected me if I voted to increase the costs of government."
From the April 5, 1935 Macon Chronicle-Herald.
"Dorie" Maples would also reveal himself to have a warm sense of humor (see newspaper mention above), and in early 1935 entered into a legislative argument as to whether "3.2 beer was intoxicating or non-toxicating." As Maples later stated:
"If you don't get this settled soon, I'm agoin to find out for myself, I'll buy me a whole keg of the blamed stuff. And if-they throw me in jail for a drunk, I'll call on Bill Lafferty and John Taylor and some of the rest of you fellows to pay my fine."In November 1934 Maples won his fourth term in the house, once again besting Democratic nominee H.E. McSpadden. His final term saw him sit on the committees on the Criminal Costs, Education, Employees and the Clerical Force, and Purchasing Supplies. Maples left office in January 1937, at age 76, and retired to Clever, Missouri. He died on August 4, 1944, at age 83 and was survived by his wife of over fifty years, Lucy. Following her death in 1947, Lucy Craig Maples was interred alongside her husband at the Wise Cemetery in Clever.
Portrait from the 1935-36 Official Manual of Missouri.