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Friday, August 31, 2012

Family history, sometimes sad: George L. Dorman, mother Betty Mae Morris

This week, 28 years ago I lost my father.  In my family research I have discovered just how very little I knew about his life before he married my mom.  I knew him as a hard working man and a good provider for our family.  My mother didn't work except for a few weeks before Christmas a year or two, they had 7 children.  I also knew him as the disciplanarian, he was strict, with swift and decisive action.  No doubt learned from his years in the USAF.  He was someone who was always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on and would tell me it would all work out.  He came to see me when I was in the hospital as a child as much as he could which made me feel special.  He coached my brothers' little league baseball team.  He taught us to play cards.  I also knew him as a man who drank.

After 20 years in the service he retired and landed a job in information services.  He was promoted within the company and provided his family with a modest way of life.  He was killed in a single car accident when he was 51 years old.

I have discovered  things that have led to more questions then answers.  I have not even been able to prove that he was the biological son of the man's name he carried.

On April 12, 1933 he was born baby boy Johnson, to Betty Mae Johnson in Cumberland County, NC.  The father's info on the birth certificate has illegitimate written across that section.  My grandmother's maiden name was Morris.  I haven't been able to find a marriage certificate, directory listings, etc., so I do not know how she came to use the Johnson name.  The next discovery was that she did not marry the man I thought was his father  (Dorman) until my father was 3 years old in 1936, her maiden name Morris was the name listed on the marriage certificate.    Two years after they married, Fez was killed in a workplace accident.
I had so been looking forward to the 1940 census, hoping to find out where he was in 1935 and 1940.  Her last name is Strickland now and living in Zebulon, NC.  J William Strickland (the respondent) states they resided at the same address in 1935.  I believe Mr. Strickland lived there in 1935 but not my grandmother and father as she had not yet been married to Fez Dorman.  My father is listed as Mr. Strickland's stepson.  I do know at some point he lived with his granny Dorman, as the man in his mother's life at the time wanted him to work in the tobacco fields, but Granny wouldn't have that.  I am not sure how long he lived with her.  His mother moved them back and forth between Cumberland County near Fort Bragg and Wendell and Zebulon areas in Wake County.  I found a picture of my dad and his cousin and noted on the back is 1944, Spring Lake which is in Cumberland County.  I discovered he didn't have any stability or consistency in his childhood.  I have a better understanding now as to why he didn't talk about his childhood much.  I do know that he dropped out of school when he was in the 8th grade, liked to fish, play pool and joined the service as soon as he was eligible.

In May, 1951 a month after his 18th birthday and one week before he reported for duty, George L. Dorman obtained a delayed certificate of birth, with the father listed as Fez Linwood Dorman, mother was listed as Betty Mae Johnson.  At her death her last name was Dickerson.  I knew my grandmother somewhat, she passed away when I was about 15, but I just never got that warm and fuzzy feeling from her.

With each new name I have discovered, I have such a feeling of sadness.  What did my father, the little boy, experience in his childhood?  Was he taken care of?  Did he feel loved?  Was he lonely?  How did he learn to parent?  The more I learn about his childhood, I believe he did a pretty damn good job as the father of 7 children.

After my father's funeral, people told us story after story of how he had helped them out, bought food for them, always made sure they had a turkey at Thanksgiving, etc.  We never knew this.  He was buried with full military honors.  A send-off he deserved.  My quest is not over, I will always look for the answers.  I know there is more to this story ........

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


It will help you tremendously if you start from the beginning  keeping your research organized.  Both paper and digital records which you will have both types of media.  I keep my information together in family groups, that is just my preference so use a method that works for you.  Try not to use the "organized chaos" method, it will become overwhelming to you very quickly.  Also, when you are researching it is important that you note where and what sources you have searched, especially when you are researching an allusive relative.  This will keep you from duplicating your work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beginner's tips when using

The databases available on are an excellent way to begin your search.  When you begin your tree start with yourself then add your parents with their dates of birth/death and your great grandparents information.  You will begin to get hints, so as you get them read the record carefully to be sure it is your ancestor.  The further back you go you will have discrepancies in birth dates etc.  If you get another member's tree as a hint, look at it, but do not use it as a source!  Only use verified information you have obtained from a record or other source.  Many people just start building their trees and copy other trees' information without verifying that information.  When people do that they end up with a tree that is not credible, probably has numerous duplicates and is confusing and is not a true pedigree.  You want as accurate a tree as possible, right?

Talking with your living relatives is an excellent source of information, don't wait until it is too late!  The family bible is always a good source.  My mother had recorded her great grandparents names in her bible.  They were born & died in Italy.  Unfortunately that is all I have on them but, knowing their names helped me track my great grandparents when they came to the US. Some of the ships manifests asked for parents names so having their names enabled me to verify this was my ancestor.  I scanned the pages in her bible and added it as media to each person named on the bible page noting whose bible it came from.  I have talked to my aunt about old pictures I have found and noted the information provided by her with the picture when I upload it to my tree.  For example:  Minnie Archer Clouse Fegley Chipchase in Des Moines Iowa Circa 1940 possibly Capital Avenue per her granddaughter Sandra Oneth.

I have found ancestors' pictures on other trees but I send a message to the member and ask them if they would mind sharing information about how the pictures were identified.  One member told me he had sat down with his grandmother and went through the photo album together so I felt his pictures were more than likely correctly identified, and I credited the member and his grandmother with providing the picture and information.  If the member does not know how the identification was made, I do not use it.  If you find a picture with information on the back, scan the back or note: the information written on the back of the photo is (name) circa (year) in (location).

Always source your information, even the pictures!  If you don't, there will come a day when you won't be able to remember!  More tips to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do you have Native American roots? Minnie Archer(1882 - 1950): Florence Pearce Dorman (1888 - 1986)

When I began researching my family history 3 years ago it was mostly to find my native american roots.  There were family "stories" on both sides that claimed we had Cherokee blood.  So I started with the two women said to have been Indian.  My great grandmother on my father's side and my great grandmother on my mother's side.  As I began my search starting with those women, I was able to find a good amount of info  about my great grandma Archer, but no evidence of a native american link.  Also, I found no links on my granny Dorman's lineage.  Through out the last few years I have discovered that there are many family stories that, once really researched, are in fact not true. Who do you think you are?

I started my research using and quickly learned that some of the family trees (quite a few) are not proved or sourced, some trees are made solely from copying other trees with information that is not verified or sourced.  Don't fall into that trap.  Always source your facts, then your tree will be credible!

I received further proof of my lack of findings about native american roots.  I received my DNA test results from  47% British Isles,  53%  eastern & southern European.  So that is it, I got my answers right?  Oh no, I am hooked!  I have so many more unanswered questions.

Florence Pearce Dorman

Minnie Florence Archer

More to come ...