James Dornan was born in County Antrim, Ireland, and came to the United States in 1838, when about twenty-one years of age, taking passage at Liverpool, England, and landing at New York City, where he obtained employment the day following his arrival, owing to recommendations he had brought with him. He began clerking in King's dry goods store, but soon gave this up to come West with his uncle, James McCormick, and made the trip principally by boat, via Cincinnati, New Orleans and thence up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Mo, and from there to Boonville, where he remained about a year, and then came to Morgan County, where he has since resided. He purchased a tract of land near where Syracuse now stands, which he began improving. and about this time formed the acquaintance of Miss Martha, a daughter of William and Nancy (Bull) Ellis, of Morgan County, whom he afterward married, and by whom he became the father of three children: R. E. (sheriff of Morgan County, is married, and has three children), Dolly (who died in early womanhood), and Alice (the wife of Thomas B. Newkirk). Mr. Dornan resided on his farm near Syracuse until the late Civil War, when he traded it for 174 acres of prairie and timber land near where Akinsville now stands, to which he has since added 100 acres. His father, John Dornan, was a practicing physician, and was a graduate of a medical college of Edinburgh, Scotland, and was there married to Miss Jane McCormick, a daughter of James and Patsie McCormick. James Dornan is a Democrat in politics, and is a believer in the Catholic faith, but is not a member of any church. His son, Robert E. Dornan, is the present sheriff and collector of Morgan County, to which office he was elected in 1888 by the Democratic party. He was born in Morgan County in 1849, and was reared to a farm life, being educated in the common schools and an academy in St. Louis, Mo. After leaving school he managed his father's farm until his election to his present office, the duties of which he is filling in a highly creditable manner. He has always been interested in the county's welfare, and has given his aid to all enterprises tending to benefit the same. In 1884 he was united in the bonds of matrimony to Miss Julia McKay, who was born in Virginia, and by her is the father of three interesting children: James M., Robert E., and an infant. Mr. Dornan has shown his brotherly spirit by becoming a member of the A. F. & A. M.
History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.