Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 22, Number 2, Fall 2010 Page: 4
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Patriot, Rascal, Traitor, Lover, Mayor
By TH(ONAs H. SMITH
notice on the third page of the August 1,
1868, Dallas Herald reported that Dallas Mayor
George William Guess had died of sun stroke
while aboard the I ictor, a Mississippi River boat,
twelve days previous and was buried in
Memphis' Elnmwood Cemetery He was only 39
years old. The clipping sent to the local newspa-
per was fiom the July 21, 1868, lcmipllis
Avtlanclie. No other mention about Guess or his
demise appeared in the Dallas Herald.'
George Guess had a fast, somewhat trag-
ic, and certainly tumultuous life. Born in
1829 and educated as a lawyer, the
North Carolina native moved to
Dallas some time before 1856,
when he married Mary Miller,
the fifteen-year-old daughter of
William Brown Miller. Miller
was one of the richest men in
Dallas County before the Civil
War and one of its leading citi-
zens. Guess and his wife had one
son, George W., who died on
December 26, 1859, a little over
one year old. Mary contracted tuber-
culosis and died just over a year later, on Mary Mill
January 17, 1861; she was 19.-
His alliance with the prominent Miller fam-
ily no doubt helped Guess's entree into Dallas
civic affairs. In 186() he was elected to the first of
three terms as a city alderman. In July 1858 he
assisted District Attorney John C. McCoy in
prosecuting Andrew M. Moore for the murder
of Alexander Cockrell, and that November he
served as plaintiffs' attorney in two cases before
the Texas Supreme Court. In April 1861 he
partnered with J. K. E Record and advertised
they could practice in the surrounding counties,
the 16th Judicial District, and the Texas Supreme
Court. Within a month, Guess apparently con-
sidered running for judge but xvithdrexw
announcing in the Dallas Hcrald,"My friends are
so much opposed to my being a candidate." At
Guess's request, his partnership with Record was
dissolved in December 1867. Like many laxvvers,
Guess owned slaves, whose labor may have
helped supplement his income.
According to the 1860 slave census, he
owned three female slaves, ages 48,
13 and 6.
Actions can define an individ-
ual, and studying Guess during
I his years in Dallas and his years as
a Confederate officer, an assess-
ment could be made that he was
impressive looking (especially in
his uniform), handsome, fully
bearded, intelligent, well-spoken,
held a colnmand presence, and was
somewhat cunning, opinionated,
er Guess arrogant, ambitious, avaricious,
unscrupulous, bold, manipulative, and cer-
It appears that Guess was not too visible in
the secessionist activities in Dallas leading up to
the Civil War. However, he wvas on the City
Council and regularly attended the meetings.
Dallas at that time was a very small place. A cen-
sus taken in June 1861 by Alexander Harwood,
a United States Deputy Marshal, showed Dallas's
4 LEGACIES Fall 2010
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 22, Number 2, Fall 2010, periodical, 2010; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146050/m1/6/: accessed July 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.