Marjorie Ring Moore, age 32, disappeared from Tampa, Florida in December 1953.

Marjorie Adele Ring married James Moore in Geneva, NY at the young age of 18.   They had a son and a daughter before James was shipped off to WWII.  They divorced shortly after he returned.

As a result, Marjorie took a job waiting tables, and paid families to look after the children.  Marjorie’s son recalls he and his sister being shuffled through various homes of strangers.

This continued until 1951, when Marjorie sent for them.  She now lived in Tampa, Florida, and she sent plane tickets for the children to join her.

The children spent a wonderful two years in Tampa with their mother, living a normal childhood, for the most part.    Most evenings, however, Marjorie would take the children to the ritzy Tampa Terrace Hotel, where her son recalled her having ‘lots of boyfriends’.  While most of these boyfriends were short-lived relationships, one man who went by ‘Doc Ferris’ stood out.

His real name was Lawrence Grant Ferris, and he owned acres of citrus groves.  Marjorie’s son recalls that it was this Doc Ferris that bought him his first bicycle.

Just before Christmas of 1953, Marjorie asked a neighbor if she would watch the kids for a few days, promising to return before Christmas.   The neighbor was happy to help.  Marjorie packed a suitcase, and left without saying where she was going.

By Christmas Eve, the children were beginning to grow concerned that their mother hadn’t returned yet, but still had hope that she would walk through the door at any moment.  By New Years, however, they knew something was wrong.

Again, the children were shuffled through people’s homes, and eventually ended up in an orphanage, unsure if something had happened to their mother, or if she’d simply left the confines of parenthood behind.

At age 17, Marjorie’s son mustered up the courage to contact Doc Ferris – who, after hearing Marjorie’s son identify himself, said “I don’t know anything about that.  Don’t ever call here again.”   Ferris died in 1975.

A couple years later, Marjorie’s daughter traveled to Tampa, and checked into the Tampa Terrace Hotel.   She talked to waitresses and other hotel staff, hoping to find someone who knew Marjorie.   The following night, a man knocked on her hotel room door, and told her “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll quit looking for your mother.”

It is unknown if this man was Doc Ferris.

The newspaper article that featured Marjorie’s story refers to a curious quote found on genealogy site in reference to Ferris: “There was also a girl that died at his house. I don’t know who she was, I think they said it was a suicide.”

I’ve been unable to find this quote, although I did find a family tree type page which includes Ferris.   According to the article, the quote was written anonymously.

This is the oldest female UID listed in Florida – I do see some resemblance, although the chin is not quite right… but I’m not sure the timeline adds up anyway.  This UID was found in Pinellas County (which is not far from Tampa) in 1961, and was assumed to be deceased for 2 days – which means that if this were Marjorie, she was still alive when her son contacted Doc Ferris (ca. 1958).


Now that I’ve put them side by side, I don’t think the chin is as far off as I thought, if Marjorie’s photo wasn’t at an angle, I can see how they may look more similar.  I am still uncomfortable with the timeline, though.

Thoughts, anyone?

Marjorie would be 92 now.

UPDATE: In doing a bit more research, it turns out that ‘Doc’ Ferris was a very prominent member of the community, and by all accounts I’ve found, a good guy.   He was, however, married… and not to Marjorie.   More info about him can be found here.


Tampa Bay TImes



10 thoughts on “Marjorie Moore

  1. Although the UID does look like Marjorie, if it is her that would mean she just didn’t contact her kids for 8 years. I don’t think I’m buying that. If she really didn’t want the kids then why send for them in 1951. Also the children said it was a great 2 years. I just don’t think she walked away from them right before Christmas. I’m thinking it’s more likely that something happened to her right after she left the house. The way this Doc fella acted on the phone to the son and the man confronting the daughter at the hotel makes me think possibly Marjorie threatened to tell of the affair and someone shut her up. There seems to be a lot of info for the UID with fingerprints and dentals. I wonder if the son contacted the medical examiner there to submit a match.

  2. Some things I found while looking into this case. Doc Ferris’ great uncle invented the ferris wheel and Doc was one of the most highly respected businessmen of the time so much so that june 6th from 1961 til after his death in 1975 was declared Doc Ferris day. Obviously for an affair to come out would have been devastating to his family and reputation. Which keeps me on the theory that Marjorie didn’t just run off and leave her kids. Something happened to her. I also found looking into UIDs on september 23 1975 the upper portion of a female skull was found in an orange grove in Thonotosassa, Florida. Which after looking into is 20 minutes or 15 miles from Tampa. NAMUS # UP 197 or doe network case # 515 UFFL. DNA is available. The only thing that bothers me is the age is listed 17-25 and Marjorie was 32. I will say ages have been off on these sites before, they are just estimates. I tried to research who owned the orange grove since we know Doc owned hundreds of acres of citrus groves but I couldn’t find anything. I think the best bet would be for Marjories son to submit dna if he hasn’t already. I would appreciate any thoughts what do you guys think?

    • Based on what Marjorie’s son remembered about her going to a hotel most nights in a cocktail dress, and having ‘many boyfriends’ there, I am thinking she may have been a high society call girl. I didn’t see any other reference to her having a job after moving to Tampa, so I can’t help but think those trips to the hotel WERE her job… and I agree that he had a lot to lose if he was having an affair with Marjorie and it was found out. It might also explain the intimidation of her children who could potentially drag Ferris’ name into the media.

      Then again, she’d left her kids before, so I don’t find it completely impossible that she’d do it again.

      I believe I did see that Citrus County UID, but there were no photos and we have no vitals on Marjorie (height, weight, etc) so I didn’t really make a connection… although if it turned out to be on or near Ferris’ land, that would make a big difference…

      • This is why your blog is so nice to bounce ideas off each other. I never even thought of a call girl angle, that would open it up to anyone or anything happening to Marjorie. I know she left her kids before but she got settled and then sent for them which makes me think she was trying to get on her feet to bring her kids and the kids said it was a good couple of years.Just to clarify about the UID. She’s listed as Thonotosassa jane doe and they have a pic on NAMUS. Although the face looks similar to Marjorie the hair doesn’t. It’s a pity we don’t have any strats for her or clothing but that’s understandable with the kids being so young. There’s no info really anywhere on her disappearence besides the article about her son. It’s very sad.

  3. The source of that “there was a girl that died at his house” is actually not even anonymous, here is the source: http://www.illinoisancestors.org/knox/family_histories/ferris.doc
    which is linked to from http://www.illinoisancestors.org/knox/family_histories/ferris.html

    In that, it says:

    Kathy Shouse who lives in Floral City is responsible for gathering some of the above info and photos, and sending it to me. She encountered 2 of her friends one day and asked about Doc and the following is her report:

    “I found two of my “older” friends downtown talking this afternoon and had noticed on the obituary I found at the library that one of them, David Arthurs, was the publisher of the newspaper at the time of Doc’s death and had written an article on him. I stopped and asked the two to tell me about Doc Ferris. David quickly told me that he didn’t like the guy but that Walt (the other gentleman) was a good friend of his. They preceded to tell me about all the times they had spent drinking at Sweat’s Bar and that Doc often had a hard time making it home to Duval Island. He hit many a tree from what I gathered. There was also a girl that died at his house. I don’t know who she was, I think they said it was a suicide. He was known to be very tight with his money unless it was something that he personally wanted, they said. He had “a few” girlfriends and they thought perhaps IF there was a daughter, that would be the answer. His wife had no children with him. I can tell that I took them back to some good times though and they enjoyed reminiscing. When Doc opened the stores in Floral City and Crystal River, he bought lots of liquor and they had quite a party. I think it was David that told me that Doc had quite the ego. These two were the right ones to ask……they might be in their 80’s but they’ve had some parties in their lifetime, I can tell you that.”

    At first I was confused who Kathy Shouse told this information to, but it looks like it was to James “Jim” Ferris, who has contact details (http://www.ferristree.com/about.htm) and everything. So not really just an anonymous post on a genealogy website as described in the article.

    • Thank you, Agnes! That sure portrays him a bit differently than the other pieces I’ve seen about him. I wonder if the person they are referring to was a girl, as in a child, or a woman? I can’t imagine that he would have had another woman at his house, since he was married… I wonder if Marjorie could have been pregnant?

  4. i met marge around 1948 or 9. her older sister fran married my father & fran took us over to geneva, ny one sunday to meet her + jimmy & jana. she made brownies for us.
    a really beautiful lady. they had one brother named robert (bobby) who became a male nurse & graduated from sonye nursing school near mount morris, ny.
    i heard he committed suicide.
    fran left my father in 1951.
    when i tried to locate fran after my father died in 1984, the kids’ second wife told me how to get in touch with jana. so i called jana (who had kept in touch with fran) who told me that her mother had disappeared & it was thought that she was a high-priced call girl & that she had seen something she shouldn’t have or was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    fran died in 1992.
    their mother was married 4 times.
    i thought marge & bobby were from the second marriage, but they would not have had the ring surname if that was the fact, so i guess they were from the same father.
    all unnecessary info.

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