Finding Your Folks: … and the Dormans fell from heaven

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Sometimes it just happens like that. The heavens open up and stuff is dumped right into your lap. God just smiles and gives you a gift. That is what he did for me last week. There is no other answer. It just happened and I am not questioning why. I have waited for more than a year.

Now, this is not really about anyone from around here, except that it may give descendants of the Fayette Dormans a long-awaited answer to a long-ago-posed question. That answer is that their John Dorman who married Lucinda Fenn/Fann is not the son of Mitchell Dorman of Edgecombe County, N.C. Mitchell did have a son named John but he died about 1797-1799 in Edgecombe County, leaving a wife and sons to mourn him - Edwin, John and Geraldus. His wife was named Clary (probably Clara).

There were many, many John Dormans in North Carolina I am learning. My "mentor" in all this is attempting to help me straighten them out. He is descended from John Dorman of Edgecombe and his son, Geraldus, he has been at this for more than 40 years, he lives in North Carolina and I trust that he knows his Dormans. His name is Marvin K. Dorman and he fell from heaven along with the Dormans last week.

So who are these people to me? They are the ancestors of my paternal great-grandmother, Mattie Dorman Blake (actually Martha), who lived in Alabama all her life and who was the mother of my grandmother, Lula Gadsey Blake Fowler. "Miss Mattie," I am told, was quite a little spitfire. Must run in the family, huh?

My grandmother Fowler died in 1948 in East Point and is buried at Hillcrest Cemetery. I had tracked the Dormans back to Allen Dorman who died in Twiggs County, Ga., in 1831. But, except for a tentative connection to this Mitchell Dorman, I really could go no further with any certainty. Allen's grandson, also an Allen Dorman, was an entry in my mother's family Bible as Mattie's father. That is really where my journey began.

About a year ago, I posted a message at Genforum, one of the online genealogy message boards, stating why I believed my Allen (the elder) was the son of Mitchell. I also mentioned that I believed Allen's brother, Cullen Dorman, married Rosannah Fort. No one had mentioned a given name for her. I found the name "Rosinda Dorman" in some early church records in Warren County, Ga. where Cullen was refused membership. It was a clue, albeit a small one. I had also found spotty records on Allen, Cullen, Willie (Wiley) and Mitchell Dorman as they moved across Georgia. Things start getting very difficult when you get back that far and we were getting ready to step back into the 1700s.

Last week Marvin answered my post and showered me with gifts. He sent a package which contained, among other things, a book he had written on abstract of court records from Edgecombe County 1744-1746 and 1757-1794. What a gold mine! He also sent me photocopies of deeds, wills and court records that date back into the 1740s. I am still reeling from the shock of all this new information and the overwhelming generosity of a stranger. He just wrote a note this week saying he was sending more. I am speechless (and for me, as all of you know, that is really something).

What Marvin uncovered for me was two more generations of Dormans. It appears our earliest was a Michael Dorman of Nansemond County, Va. who has records dating back to 1715 in Chowan County, N.C. Through deeds, Marvin discovered that Michael's land in Edgecombe later was deeded to Mitchell who made it his home place. This land was about a half mile south of what became the border of Halifax County, N.C., when it was formed in 1758-59.

Mitchell Dorman's birth year is not known, but he married first Olive Perry, daughter of James and Patience Perry, I believe about 1762-ish. Just from online research, I have learned that Patience's maiden name may have been Rawls and she was from the same Rawls family who later came into Coweta. I have a copy of James Perry's will dated 1770, and he has a son named Rawls Perry. Good clue. Mitchell married second, Mrs. Mary Harper, widow of David Harper, who had at least four sons, Robert, David, Reuben and James. Mary Dorman died in 1801 and left property to these Harper children.

Mitchell and Olive Perry Dorman had at least eight children. Named in the estate distribution were John, Allen, Willie, Cullen, Mitchell, Delilah and Ann. Another daughter, Nancy, was named as one of Mitchell's orphans after his death in 1784. The widow, Mary Dorman, received the same share as the children. Each received land and a slave or slaves valued at 125 pounds, 13 shillings and 3 pence, plus proceeds from the sale of several other slaves. (I hope I read that money value correctly.)

It was amusing to me, but not amusing at the time, I'm sure, that Archibald Dancy, the father of two illegitimate children with Mitchell's daughter, Delilah, produced in court a document he claimed was the will of Mitchell Dorman. The will left Mitchell's entire estate to Dancy, to the total exclusion of Mitchell's wife and children. A protest was filed and the subscribing witnesses testified that the will was made under duress. It was thrown out and Mary Dorman, the widow, was appointed the administrator of Mitchell's estate. Juicy stuff, huh?

I am still going over all the documents Marvin sent but I'll be glad to discuss any of these families with those who are interested.

Family histories about your ancestors who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send them to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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Submitted by Michael Burk on Mon, 11/12/2007 - 1:25am.

Hi Cuz
I just found your blog. and see the massive leep that you have made in the Dorman Genealogy. Great.
Your Cousin
Michael E. Burk
Yucaipa, CA

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