My Dorsey Research

My grandmother remembered well her grandfather, Augustus Dorsey, of Conway Springs KS. If you’ve ever driven up I-35 from Oklahoma toward Wichita, you were about a mile from his farmhouse and the cemetery where he’s buried, near the first Kansas Turnpike tollbooth. My grandmother gave me copies of his obituary, proud facts about his Civil war service, including Andersonville Prison, and the knowledge that he was a native of Somerset Co PA. I wrote her uncle, a son of Augustus’s second marriage, and he filled in small details, such as descendants, and what looked like great information, but which I now know to be incorrect, that Augustus’s father was named Patrick Dorsey.

So I wrote the Somerset Co PA Genealogy Society and asked about Augustus, son of Patrick. Their longtime head genealogist, Eber Cockley, mailed me a list of Dorsey data, which later appeared in a 1971 article in exactly the same words, in the Laurel Messenger, their genealogy society newsletter. I was pleased to see confirmation that there was a Pat Dorsey and he had a son Augustus. It took me about 20 years and a lot of genealogy experience to realize that Mr Cockley had used me as his source for that relationship. I spent that 20 years searching for Pat.

By the late 1980s, I knew Augustus’s father was more likely a member of William C Dorsey’s family, and I was concentrating on finding out who this man was. In 1987 I found Augustus’s second marriage license which showed his parents as Loyd Dorsey and Sarah (Moser) Dorsey.

The Dorsey Dreams newsletter published by Lois Bennington, mentioned in one issue several Hancock Co OH Dorseys, whose names corresponded to some of the children of William C Dorsey. The Genealogy Society there forwarded my letter to Kim Carles-Hammer. This gave the names of all of William C’s children, and his wife as Mary Black.

The NSDAR Library in DC has a chart put together by Montgomery Cumming ca 1900 and a typed manuscript by Edith L Burrell of Findlay OH. The chart is similar to what Edith used in her book. Kim also had access to a notebook, which shows that Loyd and Lloyd Dorsey are the same, and that Augustus and his father Lloyd were son and grandson of William Cumming and Mary (Black) Dorsey.

I have not been able to obtain a copy of the entire notebook or a statement from Tom Dorsey, who has the notebook, giving its provenance. 

Edith Burrell corresponded with Montgomery Cumming and Jean Muir Dorsey, who wrote a large book in 1947 about the Maryland Dorsey family. Too bad Mr Cumming wasn’t more specific about his sources; no one apparently has ever been able to find them.

Jean Dorsey’s letter to Edith was dated after the publication of her book and contradicts people who say “she didn’t extend the line of Edward and Sarah (Cumming) Dorsey; therefore, she must have agreed they had no children.” 

Recently DNA studies of descendants of William C Dorsey and of his brother Richard Dorsey of Washington Co KY demonstrate that they were members of the Maryland family.

© Kathy Alvis Patterson  2008

Published in: on August 21, 2008 at 11:22 am  Comments (5)  

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  1. Kathy,
    In early Washington Co TN tax record searches, there should have been 3 Donica family members, James and Thomas who both married Willoughbys. I know that John was there as well but i have not found him. Thomas Donica has been easy to track, but James Donica was much more difficult.
    I think that my great grandfather, Randall Gordon Donica, born in 1817 in Kentucky is the son of James Donica who married one of the Willoughby girls. My office is in transition right now, and I cannot place my hands on these records.
    Another point of interest is Randall Gordon Donica who was married 3 times in Vigo County IN, twice to Smith sisters. Benjamin Willoughby lived within a half mile.
    Charles W. Wiseley

  2. I noted your surname Dorsey and one surname Cumming. Apparently you’ve done no Cumming research. Is there any chance your Cumming ancestor was a CUMMINS? I have a Dorsey Cummins in my family line. I always wondered where the given name Dorsey came from. May be a connection with your family. Who knows?

    • I have done enough research on the father of Sarah (Cumming) Dorsey, wife of Edward Dorsey of Maryland and Washington County, Kentucky, to know that he was William Cumming, who was born in Scotland ca 1725, immigrated to America after the Battle of Culloden and fought against the British again in the Revolutionary War. He is approved as an NSDAR Patriot.
      My uncle also had the given name Dorsey. Depending on when your Dorsey Cummin was born, he may have been named for one of the famous band leaders or for some other family connection.
      Good luck, Kathy

  3. Can you tell me if there is a direct connection between Edward Dorsey who resided in MD and George or David Avis who resided in VA?

    • The Dorseys and the Alvises are from different branches of my family, many years and miles distance apart until my parents’ 1945 wedding. Mom is the 11th-generation descendant of the first Edward Dorsey, who drowned in Kent County, Maryland, in 1659; and my dad was the 5th great-grandson of David Alvis, son of George, that is, the 7th generation from David.
      Using the relationship finder at, I see that my parents were 10th cousins, both descended from Richard Belden family of Hatfield MA, but that is neither the Dorsey nor the Alvis line.

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