The Stolen Boy

Dorothy Durflinger was 18 and unmarried when her son was born in 1922. She was struggling financially, so she left her boy, who she’d named George Francis Brown, in the care of a married couple, Albert and Margaret Horr, when he was fifteen months old.

Dorothy married George Brown in January 1925 and she wanted her son back. She made seven court attempts to have him returned to her, but the court declared she had an “inability or neglect” to care for him and she was refused custody every time. Out of desperation, Dorothy and her husband snatched little George and ran off to Omaha, Nebraska, on June 5, 1927. They were captured a month later, charged with kidnapping and sent back to Denver.

The arrest of the Browns was covered in the local newspaper:

Governor McMullen honored a requisition Saturday from the governor of Colorado for the return of George C. Brown and Dorothy Brown from Omaha to Denver on the charge of kidnapping Clarence Brown, five years of age, alleged to be their own child. The complaint alleges that the child was placed in the legal custody of Albert A. Horr, as an incorrigible child, by the order of the juvenile court of Denver and that the Browns stole and secreted the child June 5 and had left the state of Colorado and were reported to have been arrested and held at Omaha.

Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska), July 9, 1927

George Brown_back_marked
Back of George Brown’s identification card

It seems that labeling a child “incorrigible” was a legal way to take him from his birth parents. Dorothy and George never got custody of little George. He was returned to the Horrs, who adopted him and changed his legal name to Clarence Albert Horr.

By 1930 Dorothy worked as a chambermaid in a rooming house in Pueblo, Colorado. Her husband didn’t live with her and may have been in prison for the kidnapping. Her son lived with the Horrs and their second adopted son, Paul, about 120 miles north of Pueblo in the Denver suburb of Englewood.

George Brown had remarried by 1942. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he worked in a hardware store.

The stolen boy grew up with his adoptive family, graduated from high school, went to college, got married and worked as a chemist.

Featured photo: George Brown’s mugshot photo taken by the Omaha Police Department on July 8, 1927. Collection of the author.

6 thoughts on “The Stolen Boy

  1. If he wasn’t legally adopted until after the birth mother snatched him – what legal rights did that married couple have to keep the boy? Were they previously known to the mother? No info on why she chose them…an informal foster system? Maybe the married couple had connections in the legal system. They obviously had more money.

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    1. They were known to the mother. She left her baby with them but wanted him back, probably after she got married to George. The court labeled the boy as “incorrigible” which may have been a legal way to place him in a different home. The court also declared she was unable to care for the baby.

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      1. hmmm yeah. I just was scrolling FB and ran across the intro to this story and reread the part about incorrigible and legal custody. My bad. I save stories to read later and forget the beginning! And, I’m afraid I do that esp to your site! You have such good stories that I open a tab with the longer story and then go back to what I was doing and wait til I take a break or get ready for bed and then go back to read the rest. Somedays I have waaay too many tabs open and then have to just read it all (or delete ones that become outdated for events, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

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