Destinations, Explanations, and Documentations
This research was hard. I’ve spent countless hours digging through useless, sometimes stupid possible sources of history through which I could trace my family. Unfortunately, Dorsey’s in my line are only know to get drunk and die. Most of the time, we helped others get drunk and die, too. Sometimes, like recent years, a Dorsey is an amateur race car driver or a bootlegger, but most all Dorsey’s are known for alcoholism, drug addiction, or religious devotion; these are our addictions, if you will. What’s more, is that several men of my line have served a military, including my earliest ancestor to step on this continents soil.
I decided to focus on my Dorsey family history and my grandfather. My Dorsey line is pretty rich in somewhat secluded American history; I chose my grandfather because he has been through alcoholism and religion, making him a different type of Dorsey while still adhering to our familial traits. Since he has traveled the world, but decided home is here, it was only fitting to focus on our family history in America, especially since our American roots are older than the nation itself. Our first American ancestor was actually fairly comparable to my grandfather; he was in the military, he sailed the seas, and he is almost certain to have been a drinker. The largest difference is that my Paw Paw had not lost his life in the military, and also his privilege to maneuver heavy machinery at high velocities in competition. Edward Dorsey, the English-Irish immigrant to bear our line here in America, had but one wife, yet she bore him several children who migrated from modern day Maryland to South Carolina colony and stayed there for generations. In these generations, the Dorsey name was represented by people who no longer joined the governing military branches, but instead secluded themselves along the Savannah river to make and sell their ‘shine. For over a century, my family hopped from Georgia to South Carolina and back to avoid heat in either state as they would sell their product, until one ancestor of mine shot a Georgia revenuer and this practically banished my family from Georgia, lest they feel the wrath of the revenuers. Walhalla, Oconee, and Anderson are the general region my family stayed after all of that mess, up until this past century, where they’ve moved back to Georgia and even other states, another Dorsey migration, if you will.
Now that I know what I need, so I checked all over online; I attempted to get most of my sources from Google’s ‘scholar’ or ‘book’ search engines, but had to include a few extra contents that were too interesting to pass. I wanted to include his adventure as a driver and how it is tied to our family history of alcoholism, Southern living, and even media in America today.
These dozen sources help to shed light on the path of the Dorsey line throughout these last few centuries. They show the ways and hows of living in our province of Dorsey, if you will, and to a small extent, a prediction of where our line will end up in the near future. I can only hope to infect you with a little bit of my own line of life’s excitement.
- Fall of Nascar:
Mickle, Tripp and Buarelein, Valerie, “Nascar, Once a Cultural Icon, Hits the Skids.” Wall Street Journal, Feb 2017
Nascar lacks money, because they need sponsors, and most businesses don’t want to sponsor a fading sport. It would seem the sport that attracted what is arguably the equivalent of a cult following for a sporting event, with die hard, dedicated fans and many checks to keep the wheels turning is actually starting to lose speed and traction on its inevitable path to the bowels of forgotten entertainment. While Nascar doesn’t necessarily lack a plausible fan base, we can see in the article that they have. on average, lost a good bit of their income. This means less fans in the stands, which means less money and eyes in the stadium, which means less money for anyone invested in the stadium; sponsors don’t like this, because they lose more money than they earn. It is only a matter of time before Nascar is relieved of all of its sponsorship obligations. Perhaps racing will continue on in another legacy, but it seems to me that stock car racing has simply hit the skids.
As stated, it looks like Nascar will be fading away from television. This will be heartbreaking for my grandfather and his brothers, because they are true fans. It may be that Nascar will simply have to contract to more localized districts; a deflation to stay profitable, albeit nowhere near as it used to be. If, however, Nascar localized to places in the country where they have a large fan population density, then they may save their company, as Paw Paw and his brothers would hope.
I can’t imagine how furious he would be if Nascar wasn’t going to be on television one year. I’m sure he would resort to donating his own savings to Nascar before he would sit and watch it crumble. Personally, I don’t think much of it. He’s going to tell me all about it either way.
2) Racecar Drivers
Talladega Nights: The Balad of Ricky Bobby. Adam McKay, Columbia Pictures, 2006. DVD and Blu-Ray.
This movie depicts the life of a podunk Alabama boy with a deadbeat daddy and an urge to go fast. Ricky Bobby is born in a car going faster than necessary, and was competent enough that he drove before he could even reach the pedals. Firstly, Ricky Bobby has his best friend, Cal. Cal helps Ricky become and be the very best race car driver America had ever seen. A French rival appeared, and threatened to remove Ricky from the entire life that he knew. Eventually Ricky has a break up with both Cal and his wife, only to make up with Cal and forgive both in the end. This is where Ricky Bobby becomes the best again, and proves so by beating his adversary at the Talladega speedway in a footrace after every driver’s car had crashed at some point or another, disqualifying our hero and villain from Nascar’s tournament. Since the rivalry was a personal vendetta/challenge, Ricky’s victory was accepted, and our French villain returned to his home, but the win of the race was given to Cal, who reconciled with Ricky, resealing the bonds in their fractured friendship.
My grandfather had a friend named Herman that was basically his go to in their races. While Paw Paw didn’t ever race on a super speedway, he spent several years on the Hartwell speedway.
My grandfather doesn’t drive anymore, but he still goes to races sometimes, and watches them almost religiously. He still works on cars, almost as much as he did as a driver, but mostly for their utility than to make them fast. Given what I’ve seen, I think my Paw Paw could have easily become Ricky Bobby and gone pro, but he had a wreck that startled him too much and ended up enjoying his life in the navy. In the film, there’s a scene where Ricky Bobby is in a bad wreck, and can’t race after that. It messes with his head so much that he gives up his life and even his ability to drive. Unlike this, my grandfather simply realized the danger was on the track more than it was behind the wheel. Where my grandfather lead a normal life after his accident, Ricky Bobby made a comeback that was all but impossible from a typical person, but of course a movie is never about one of those.
Between the money, alcohol, and cars, my grandfather pretty much was a race car driver that didn’t go as far as he could have. Of course, things were probably more complicated than simply being extremely good at driving; my grandfather undoubtedly had other responsibilities and engagements.
“Edward Dorsey, I (1619-” Geni.com, https://www.geni.com/people/Edward-Dorsey-I/6000000001200705614 03/06/2017
History on the immigrant named Dorsey to whom I and my family are most likely related. His actions and journeys have left us with results leading up to my current family. This reveals some of the lesser known history in America, specifically some of Maryland’s first farmers.
Edward wasn’t well known, judging from his records, or rather the lack thereof. In any case, it is known he sailed from England to the Virginia colony, and worked there until getting his land in Maryland. After his claim, he married and begat children.
At the end of his life, Edward Dorsey was still hard at work, and eventually his work consumed him quite literally. Edward was a shipwright and eventually got his own ship and crew to lead. He and his men were lost at Chesapeake bay in the Summer of the late 1600's.
More information can be found, including children, death, and possible roles played in the journey from Britain to America. Edward had a son, Edward Dorsey Jr. It is not said in this article where Edward Dorsey Sr. gets his title of Major, but it is presumed to be a clerical error, or else Edward Dorsey Sr. didn’t actually get to that rank and is being misrepresented.
Edward Dorsey Sr. married to Anne and had four children, the first of which was Edward Dorsey Jr that was granted the rank of Col. himself.
4) Rural Bootleggers
The Dukes of Hazzard. CBS. America, 1979–1985.
Bo and Luke Duke are two brothers featured in this saga about bootlegging brothers. Obviously, Bo and Luke are moonshiners who soup up their cars and tear up Hazzard county to get the good folks their highly desired spirits.
These boys had more spirit than just in their bottles, because those brothers were wild and their car, The General Lee, was even wilder. These boys perfectly exemplify the antics and troubles my ancestors and perhaps even grandfather got into. My grandfather once took his brothers for a joy ride that ended up in destruction when he was 15, but he wasn’t running liquor. However, he did love to tear up dirt and rubber.
While my Paw Paw never bootlegged, our ancestors presumably did. None in my Dorsey side of the family are alive to answer that question, but I’m sure they did, because my great grandfather, Horace Gibson, was a bootlegger; he forfeited school and grew up poorer than most, much like my family has been for a century at least. It is everything except undeniable to claim my Dorsey ancestors held a position of bootlegging at some given point, and they, too, would have souped up cars to tear up narrow, dirt paths and deliver ‘shine to all of the good folk that hate taxes and the government regulations. While TV may not ‘go too far’ like scenes in life play out, my ancestors did. It’s safe to assume an appropriation of The Dukes of Hazzard set a century before its air date would describe my family to a ‘T’: drunk, rambunctious, and confident.
5)Life Near the Savannah River:
Tom Poland. Georgialina: A Southland as we Knew it. Univ. of South Carolina Press, Nov. 24 2015.
This book shows some of the stark contrasts from the lives on the Savannah river and around it now to how things were before they got here; what was initially a barren wilderness, save from the dotted Native American tribal lands, became a metropolis of an entirely nonexistent culture. From the woodlands, to the shacks of pioneers, beyond those came the stores and homesteads, and now we have asphalt and cement nearly as ubiquitous as the grass and leaves that once veiled this entire part of the continent.
It definitely reflects how I feel about my family’s progression through time here, because the book mentions that churches would shut windows and nix fans for air conditioning, which reminds me of how less connected my family is compared to what it used to be. These churches would separate themselves from the world that made them so grateful and full of worship, like how my family fades from each other, despite how strong these bonds once were. I, personally, am very guilty. I’ve never been much of an ice breaker, even if the conversation is with a close friend. We are all kind of separated in how we view different things, despite our similarities. I’m not sure if it’s ever by design, but we Dorsey’s often shut out the other Dorsey’s we think are ‘too hot,’ like my father. My father is the scum of the Earth, but he is a Dorsey, and sometimes is invited to family events. Nevertheless, I will shut every door, screen, and window on him to keep my cool, and I know most of my family would. It’s for the best, ultimately.
Regardless, this book also shows how cuisine, religion, and more evolved in the exact area that my family has lived for over a century. This book basically tells me who my ancestors were before we became so separated, and what my great grandma probably grew up around. It’s also nice trying to imagine a lot of these things going on at the same time as bootlegging. It’s funny to picture a woman in old clothes washing on a wash board while the men would attempt to make liquor runs in their souped up model T’s or something.
6)Illegality of Moonshine in America:
Jason Stone. What is the History of Moonshine Laws? Whiskey Still Company Blog, November 14, 2012. https://www.whiskeystill.net/blogs/whiskey-still-co-blog/6875775-what-is-the-history-of-moonshine-laws 03/06/2017
I like this site, because it sells and ships parts of distilleries such that a person can have a private distillery in their own home and I recently turned 21. Additionally, it will send you a recipe/guide to moonshine/whiskey as well as explain how the parts of the distillery are made. It’s an extremely interesting concept and Whiskey Still has a good blog, in which was a post about the history of illegal spirits in America.
This site’s significance is solely to serve as evidence to the illegality of moonshine at the time, thus implying there would be fewer official records of my family, assuming the logical conclusion that they would try to avoid nearly all parts of the government for many decades. This information, coupled with the heridarity of alcoholism, points to the aforementioned conclusion: we’ve been moonshining for a long time. However, it is worth clarifying, like the document does, that private stills do exist and have been in use since before the American constitution. In fact, it tells us about how alcohol was made in spirits by the Native Americans before America even existed.
However, one should note the significance of just how long alcohol in America has been taxed, which is basically as old as the nation, itself. This is important because it is what gave rise and the literal definition to bootlegging: the act of selling/transporting liquor without paying taxes. My family made moonshine for as long as our living family can remember, but I found we’ve been here since before liquor taxes. Ultimately, I think the natural conclusion is that the whiskey rebellion of 1794 had a little bit of Dorsey in it, and that we’ve made moonshine since moonshine’s been made, until the 20th century, when my family got more into cars.
The Whiskey Rebellion took place when spirits were first taxed under George Washington in 1794; people were revolted at the idea that you could tax a drink or food, let alone their favorite drink and medicine. Naturally, they fought back, and some did so quietly. Mostly, people would actually shoot or fight with the government officials that would attempt to collect said taxes, but some would just avoid civilization to get their fix quietly, without interruption. Knowing Dorsey’s, I’m sure Edward Dorsey(probably his sons) outright fought against the tax with the initial uprisings/riots, but somewhere along the line, we went into hiding with our product and worked from there, because the rebels were eventually defeated and resistance was crushed. Many people turned to darker corners for their businesses instead of giving up their work, though, such as Dorsey’s.
7) Bootlegging as a Life
Edward Butts. Outlaws of the Lakes: Bottlegging and Smuggling from the Colonial Times to Prohibition. Thunderbay Press, Aug. 2, 2004
Back in the day, bootleggers around large bodies of water grew and interacted almost like its own culture or hidden civilization. After the whiskey rebellion was squanched, many liquor enthusiasts that brewed for pleasure or profit would attempt to do so in hiding from the government, save for the ones that blatantly attacked tax collectors after their property; those were the ones that got hurt, but that is another story. This tale is more of a collection of knowledge than it is a narrative, but the depth is all the same; many moonshiners would take residence in the great lakes bordering Canada and on rivers, but the book focuses more on the great lakes. They had coves, caves, crannies, and nooks ripe for all kinds of sneaky colonials, and picked they were. For centuries, people would hide their operation and product only to ship them out later in seclusion. The moonshiners got better at what they did, and eventually started to get good with motor vehicles, too. Once moonshiners became bootleggers, all bets were off. Not only were cars a thing, but people had fashioned and started using motorized boats as well. When prohibition started, the bootleggers thrived like you wouldn’t believe, especially in the northern parts of America, where the great lakes had its still well hidden residents. Now, taxes are more reasonable on the re-legalized status of spirits and alcohol in general.
Comparing and contrasting what I’ve learned about bootleggers in the South Eastern part of the US is that my family’s bootlegging experience was probably more violent, but everything is basically the same: You needed hideouts, water sources, and capital, as well as the ability to ship it without much hindrance. It was literally a business, but an illegal one that had to outrun police/revenuers. Luckily, this book tells me about things I could never learn from the existing documentation of my family: the seclusion in natural nooks, the use of rivers and water to use the distillery, and even hiding or outrunning the revenuers. I’m not sure how it would exactly play out, but I love learning how my ancestors would probably do their business, hide their supply, and outrun the fuzz in general.
Regardless, my family isn’t like this anymore, and we don’t remember what that was like anyway, because most people alive can’t even recall if their parents ever made their own brews at some point or not. This has become an important clue to my family history that tells me who they may have been at that time.
8) NASCAR’s Start
Nick Houston. NASCAR’s earliest days forever connected to Bootlegging. Nascar.com November 1st, 2012. The stories would be very nearly clichéd, if they weren’t at the same time oh-so true. If you’re even remotely familiar…www.nascar.com
Initially, moonshiners used whatever means necessary to get their product distributed and sold, and that still probably holds true. Eventually, cars were invented, and moonshiners became bootleggers. Bootleggers would soup up their cars to make it go very fast without looking like a suspicious car. This way they could outrun police, and eventually each other. Bootleggers became racers as the thrill of high speed chase gave way to the thrills of the modern day high speed race. This shows how bootleggers, or moonshiners, began racing which developed into NASCAR, my grandfather’s favorite sport and source of entertainment for as long as I can remember. It will be key to a question regarding my assumption that NASCAR and alcoholism may be associated with each other in my family.
I would also like to point out the typical NASCAR culture includes beer, an alcoholic beverage that is consumed by many American alcoholics per their personal choice; fitting the bill of my grandfather who drank a case a day. Additionally, it is important mostly to my grandfather and his generation, I presume. Our family did the very thing that gave rise to Nascar for well over a century, but now my family does neither, except that my grandpa once raced amateur tracks in and around Hartwell. It’s probably occurred to him that he could have lead a completely different life if our family had managed to be one of the ones to make Nascar, but it’s not stopped him from doing all the things a Nascar fan does (except alcohol). He still loves it when the race comes on and visits the super speedway whenever it’s convenient.
Regardless, my grandfather used to be the bootlegging type. He once upon a time would drive for fun, sober or dunk; he loved to go fast, and worked on cars to do so, usually junk ones; and mostly he loved the crowd there, because he made many friends and stories from those times. It’s hard to imagine how similar a local, amateur dirt track can be to a stadium for a super speedway with a few dozen-thousand people, but my Paw Paw lived a little bit of that life.
9) IMI’s webpage
IMI is a company whose goal is to safely maintain, transport, and install heavy machines for some of the South East’s largest factories and plants. This is a great way to get an idea of all the things IMI can capably perform, all of which were led by Paw Paw at some point. He had a story from every kind, and this additionally serves to show the interesting correlation that Dorsey’s still tend to use their hands, especially since I currently am employed for maintenance (Feb. 22, 2017).
From most of his stories and their website, IMI is a dependable company used to help machines in hydroelectric dams, maintaining Beretta gun manufacturing, relocating a Clorox plant, and more. I know my grandfather had tons of tools (literally, I suspect) in his work truck, all provided by IMI, and he would also need to drive to distant places in the South East to actually work on the machines with his crew. Often enough, he would use tractors, forklifts, cranes, and similar heavy machines to help with his heavy machines.
Additionally, it lets one know how skilled my grandfather actually is. He can build cars, machines, and probably a house. I have helped him do everything with all kinds of equipment, except tractors, cranes, and other super-heavy machines. He is diligent and thoughtful; he likes to do things right, not twice.
IMI has been a great fit for Paw Paw and his lifestyle. He has managed to stay on top of everything IMI has given him, and teach others along the way. This website serves not only as a source, but a reference to what all my grandfather can do. He pretty much is IMI.
10) The Heritability of Alcoholism
Verhulst, Neale, and Kendler. Cambridge University Press
There are many genetic variances in any given population larger than a a few organisms, depending on the genome of that species. In humans, we have the ability to process ethyl alcohol written in our genetic code. This means that the code controls how we handle the alcohol we consume, and that this gene can vary, which would affect how one handles their alcohol. The “Asian glow,” a phenomenon observed when people of Chinese or Japanese descent become flushed after a small amount of alcohol, is a very real genetic trait caused by a variance in there gene that regulates, not ethyl alcohol, but the toxin your body converts it into: alcohol-dehydrogenase, and it is processed more slowly for people with this altered gene; this slower gene means the toxic effects are more prevalent and for longer. Likewise, there exist variants of genes that handle alcohol quite well, and those people also are at a higher risk of alcoholism.
This evidence shows that my family and all of my ancestors had a probable predisposition for alcoholism, which shows the likelihood that my family has made spirits for ages, especially when coupled with the evidence that we’ve always been near a body of water, a requirement for older, obsolete distilleries.
A probable alcoholic isn’t definitively an alcoholic, though. However, it should be noted that all of the men in my Dorsey family have been at some point been a noted alcoholic. It is safe to assume that alcohol was used quite commonly for many things, from recreation to medicine. This would mean high demand, low stigma, and ripe economical grounds for sowing a moonshine operation, one alcoholics would presumably do better than nondrinkers.
Since I have reasonable evidence to assume my ancestors enjoyed alcohol, it is only befitting that they became moonshiners. The alcoholism of my family has did a number on all of us, but most who suffered ended up better. This is reassuring, because it makes the notion of a family line making it this far much more plausible, and my future look brighter.
11) Oconee County, SC Grave Index
OCONEE COUNTY, SC CEMETERY INDEX FILE CARD DRAWER #12
Name Range: Loelle DONAGHUE - William DUNCAN
Version 1.0,30-Apr-2001, CIFD-12.TXT, D12
This site is dedicated to a cemetery, in which lies resting many of my ancestors and extended family that ultimately shows that Dorsey’s have been in South Carolina for over a hundred years. It is concrete evidence of my lineage for as long as we’ve stayed in and near Anderson county, which is near Oconee, a place where many records say my family line took residence. Given that so many of my family’s name are buried here over the course of a century (1880’s — 1990’s), I can’t help but call this an interesting piece of information, and it makes one wonder again if my ancestors would have been bootleggers at the height of their time, because the cemetery is not far at all from the Savannah river. Keep in mind, the location of Anderson county was proximal to the Savannah river, was mostly rural, and touched Georgia’s border. This made it the ideal place for a family of moonshiners.
This would be the area around which my family has stayed for over a century. My ancestors would stay after Andrew Dorsey shot the revenuer, until some time around 1900. In fact, Andrew Dorsey is the very first Dorsey listed in that index. Additionally, it is the area from where my older relatives come, and as such, Paw Paw should have more knowledge on our family history in the area. What he wouldn’t know is what life was like for us when we were moonshiners. Luckily, my family stayed here, and I can basically trace the culture of the South East back to through to America’s inception.
Clearly we were moonshiners, but Oconee county wasn’t too close to the Savannah river. This anomaly is presumably due to the low profile nature of the Dorsey’s, who would have a primary residence in addition to their distillery. It’s also the location around which Andrew got the gun that is now our heirloom, and our gravestones are their. My conclusion is that either Anderson wasn’t a city/county at the time of the older (before 1900) records stating my family lived in Oconee or that was our house and the Dorsey’s of the house didn’t eat where the outhouse was.
12) A 1600 Irish Immigrant (Before Irish-Scotch War, but not Conflicts)
Paulson, Timothy J. and Asher, Robert. Irish Immigrants. pg. 18–20
Infobase Publishing, January 1st, 2009.
This text allows insight into the life of an Irish immigrant in the 1600’s. Most Irish at the time were dirty, poor, and ignorant. Additionally, many Irish were tired of being under England’s fat thumb. So, many did whatever they could to arrange for passage to the new world. It is important to show that most Irish immigrants came to America with nothing more than the knowledge of their name and the clothes on their back; although Edward Dorsey was listed as a possible Englishman, despite his Irish DNA, most Immigrants with nothing came as indentured servants, and Edward was not recorded as to having anything, but rather mentioned how he had gained wife, home, and children. This leads me to believe with good reason that Edward was “in service” to his lord as an indentured servant.
Some people refer to these Irish as slaves, but indentured servitude is a contractual service subscription; slavery is ownership of a person. I would like to dispel that myth, and I would additionally emphasize that Edward Dorsey came “in service.” This text backs up the reasoning that Edward Dorsey came here as an indentured servant, who typically weren’t defined as property in most situations. While racism of the Irish really hit after the mass migration correlated with the potato famine, it is not explained if racism was very a prevalent problem for the Irish in time of the colonies.
From here, we can understand how Edward learned to be a shipwright (if he wasn’t already) and why he was in service for the entire time he was in America. His learned skill would have allowed him to save up money to buy property and betroth his wife after his contract ended. This basically is the foundation upon which my family is built and how we became rooted in America, as descendants of an indentured servant who happened to pick up a trade and do it well.