MOTHER ELVIRA IN THE NEWS
Elvira family reunion: Four local families trace their ancestors
to a plantation in Nesmith
Georgetown Times Newspaper
published August 14, 2013
Georgetown County, S.C. —
Florence Dorsey-Flowers had a vision in the early 1980s to have her family come together. They had migrated to different states and she felt she didn’t know anyone anymore.
Discussing her thoughts with her first cousins, the late Thelma White-Milner, a former school teacher, and the late Kelly White, a former college professor who taught French, the three began a tradition that has survived 30 years.
The Elvira Family Reunion, which started in Nesmith, S.C., made its debut out of the state in 1993 in Washington, D.C. and was held in Jacksonville, Fla. this summer.
The family includes local residents, Latasha Dorsey of Nesmith, Eunice Gary of Kingstree, former Andrews mayor Curtis Dorsey, and other members of the Dorsey, Green,McGee and White families.
The reunion is governed by a national committee and the host committee of the city the reunion in which it resides.
The three-day events have been held in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Wilimington, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Myrtle Beach, S.C., which brought together more than 1,000 family members, the highest amount of attendees so far.
Latasha Dorsey, the former chairperson for the reunion, said she looks forward to these events held every two years.
“Each time, I get to meet more of the family. Especially since I’m young, it is nice to meet young members of the family,”Dorsey said.“And the older ones inform us about our history and our family. Every time I go to a reunion, I learn something new about our family.
Tanya Jones-Boland of North Carolina, who has served as the family historian for about 10 years, spoke at this year’s reunion.
She told the family members who attended about their ancestors, a slave named Elvira and her four children —Grace, Hampton, Rhina and Rosena.
She also found out who the four children married: Grace married George Dorsey, Hampton Green married Rosalina Mack, Rhina married Travis McGee, Rosenna married Jeffrand White.
The Dorsey, Green, McGee and White families formed Dorsey Town in Nesmith, which also included a school named Dorsey Town School.
Boland told them that she was amazed to discover a marriage settlement document — that should have been in Barnwell, S.C. — in the Williamsburg County Courthouse in Kingstree.
The document, which is comparable to a modern day prenuptial agreement, shows that slave owner Lawrence Porcher Hext of Barnwell gifted for $5 Elvira and children to his daughter, Mary Brisbane Hext and her husband, John Thomas McConnell of the Black River area of Nesmith on June 20, 1857.
Boland said she went to the courthouse when it was being renovated. She ventured into a small room stacked with books, and was “led” to a reference book.
That book referred her to a conveyance book (or deed book), out of which fell the document she had been searching for, revealing an important piece of family history.
Dorsey said she was teary-eyed when she heard about this discovery.
“This is something she has been looking for and she finally found a connection,” Dorsey said.
Gary, who is Boland’s aunt, said she was also excited to hear about this news.
“I commend her for the work she has done,” Gary said.
“She stays in the courthouse for days, not even taking a lunch break. I believe she is guided spiritually.”
Legacy of land ownership
Boland has also discovered that George Dorsey, the husband of Elvira’s eldest daughter Grace, had a mortgage for 77 acres of land from the McConnell family and that he was one of the first African Americans registered to vote.
George and Grace Dorsey obtained a mortgage for $165 from J.Z. McConnell in the division
of the estate of John Thomas McConnell, the former owner of Elvira and her daughters, on
January 21, 1892, Boland said.
On March 12, 1892, two months later, they received the deeds in hand — the loan was paid in full, Boland said.
The second generation continued the legacy of ownership with the purchase of approximately 400 acres of land called Sand Hill in Nesmith, Boland said.
Brothers Mose and Peterson Dorsey, children of George and Grace Dorsey, Stephen White son of Rosenna and Jeffrand White and Charlie Chandler, continued the vision of prosperity like their parents.
The land title of Sand Hill land was purchased from Lawrence B and Gertrude Steele to the four men on November 28, 1917 for $4,000, Boland said.
George Dorsey believed in voting, land ownership and family,” Boland said. “The goal of wanting something more for himself and his family was passed on to his children and his children’s children.”
or the Facebook page at Elvira’s Children.
By Clayton Stairs
Tanya Jones-Boland contributed to this story.
MOTHER ELVIRA REUNION
Family honors proud history
The Sun News
Posted Sunday, July 27, 2003
She is known as Mother Elvira.
She was the mother of four children born slaves in the 1840s and 1850s in Barnwell. The children - Grace, Hampton, Rhina and Rozena - traveled with Elvira to Williamsburg County after being sold. They called her "Grand Mudder," family research shows.
Still, she is Mother Elvira to hundreds of descendants who gather every other year to celebrate their history and family.
The Dorsey, Green, White and McGee family this weekend held the 25th Elvira Family Reunion, featuring a series of events in Myrtle Beach. The four names represent the last names of Elvira's children, and today, their family tree has branches throughout the country. The family is so large it has national officers, several local chapters and a scholarship fund.
Family members said this year's reunion, which will end today with a church service and farewell banquet, is the largest yet. Linda Dorsey, who was registering family members at a picnic Saturday at Myrtle Beach State Park, said there were about 650 people in attendance.
"It's a treat," said John Milner of Raleigh, N.C., who is national president of the family organization. "You get to meet some people you didn't even know."
Saturday's festivities, with children playing tug of war while adults laughed and snapped pictures, are a long way from where Elvira's journey began.
Family historians Kelly White and Tanya Jones said Elvira most likely was born a member of the Ashanti tribe in Ghana before being transported to South Carolina as a slave. White, 77, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., and teaches French at Morris College in Sumter, came to these conclusions after traveling to Ghana.
He began his search for the family's beginnings when helping a first cousin look into ancestors' backgrounds. Before the cousin died, she asked White to continue the research.
He interviewed older family members about their knowledge of Elvira and her children and has spent more than a decade seeking answers.
"I do it for my family," he said. "I do it because it's a part of our family."
Jones, 32, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., occasionally visited her mother's relatives in Nesmith and Hemingway during her youth but didn't wonder about family roots. About four years ago, she started asking questions and following up on the information White had compiled through oral tradition. Jones made many trips to Kingstree and Columbia, digging through record books and documents. What she uncovered changed her life.
"When I went to sleep, I dreamt it," she said. "I could feel their lives."
Jones learned her great-great-great-grandfather, George Dorsey, was a registered voter and property owner. She found his name in the January 1896 Mingo Township, Williamsburg County voter registration book.
"Just the strength these people had, I find it amazing. In the '60s, there was Rosa Parks, but I have someone [in the family] I can say was fighting for the right to vote."
Jones also learned that George Dorsey, who married Elvira's oldest daughter, Grace, in 1865, purchased 77 acres of land in Nesmith for $165. He paid the land off in two months, she said.
"For me to look at this man's deeds, it was like, 'Oh, my goodness,'" Jones said. "This man, this family gave me so much strength to try anything."
Perhaps her greatest find came in May when she discovered George Dorsey's grave in an area known as Millpond, not far from Belin Cemetery in Nesmith. Jones' research had taken her to this spot near the Black River, where she and her uncle saw George's large, inscribed marker sitting near the water.
"We had no idea there would have been a headstone," she said.
Jones' mother, Corliss Jones, was amazed how engrossed her daughter became with the family story.
"It was 24-7. We were sick of it," she said with a laugh. But she appreciates her daughter's work.
"Just thinking that the land was given to us all these years, and then she discovered ... the land was purchased," she said.
Today, Dorseys, Whites, Greens and McGees still live on the land and throughout Nesmith. There is even a community known as Dorsey Town. Family members have moved to nearby places such as Hemingway, Andrews and Georgetown. Others are as far away as California, Detroit and New Jersey.
June C. White of Sicklerville, N.J., attended the reunion with her children and said this year was her second time at an Elvira family event. Her husband, Richard White, died nine years ago.
"We're here because we know he's smiling on us," she said.
Others, such as Mary Lee Davis, 69, of Nesmith haven't missed a single reunion since it started more than 25 years ago at Mary Dorsey's house in Nesmith. There were a few more than 100 people at that gathering, she said. The family originally held reunions annually but later moved them to every other year because they grew so much. The site for the gathering also has rotated through the years. Past reunions were in Wilmington, N.C., Washington, D.C., and Columbia.
"Our ancestors would be proud," said Hampton Chandler of Fort Washington, Md., vice president of the national family organization. "I really believe it's an answer to their prayers and their cry."
"I think they would be saying, 'We've overcome,'" said Leevern Burroughs of Nesmith.
Tracing Roots In Williamsburg, SC
MYRTLE BEACH - She was known only as Elvira, shown here on the right with two of her daughters in a family photo that dates back to the 1800s. They called her "Grand Mudder," and over the weekend, more than 600 of her descendants held their 25th annual reunion in Myrtle Beach -- just over 50 miles from where the former slave emigrated with her family into Williamsburg County.
If your name is Dorsey, Green, White, or McGee, you can likely be related to this huge family of a woman thought to have been born in Ghana and transported to South Carolina as a slave. When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1865, Elvira and her four children migrated from Barnwell to Williamsburg County where records indicate they settled down in the area now known as Hemingway and Nesmith.
One of the ancestors was a George Dorsey, a registered voter and property owner in Mingo Township in 1896. He is the great-great-great-grandfather of Tanya Jones, 32, now lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, but has lately compiled much of the written history of the family into a web site at www.elvirachildren.com
Jones says George Dorsey married Elvira's oldest daughter, Grace in 1865, purchased 77 acres in Mingo Township for $165, and paid off the land in two months. Her most recent discovery about Dorsey was the location of his grave this past May in an area known as Millpond, not far from Belin Cemetery in Nesmith. Even to this day, there is a community in Williamsburg County known as Dorseytown.
"For me to look at this man's deed, it was like "Oh, my goodness, this man, this family gave me so much strength to try anything," Jones said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer.
According to Jones' history, all four of Elvira's children -- including Grace, the eldest -- were born slaves and set free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation. The other daughters included Rozena, Hampton and Rhina.
Rozena was married to Hampton Green II in 1871, and their purchase of 50 acres of property for $90 in Hemingway (then known as Johnson Township) on Nov. 4, 1904 is said to be the first deed recorded in the county courthouse at Kingstree.
The youngest of Elvira's children, Rozena married Jeffrand White in 1872, and like McGee, has no deed on file for his land, but courthouse records indicate his property was located "east" of George Dorsey. White is also listed in the 1884,1885 and 1901 Treasure Tax Book for paying taxes on land and personal property.
"Although Dorsey, Green, McGee and White are the main lines of the family we can't forget the daughters who married," Jones said. "You're still immediate family if your name is Washington, Nesmith, Swinton, Scott, Mack, Weaver, Ceasar, McCrea, Miller, Cooper and McKnight."
Some of the original homework on the family ancestry was done orally by Kelly White, now 77, and living in Charlotte. He teaches French at Morris College in Sumter, and made trips to Ghana to find clues, while also interviewing older family members about the family's beginnings.
Jones took up the cause about four years ago with numerous visits to her mother's relatives in Nesmith and Hemingway, as well as many trips to Kingstree and Columbia to dig through record books and documents. Her family says he persistence on the project was virtually "24-7."
"When I went to sleep, I dreamt it, I could feel their lives," Jones says of her intensive research. "Just the strength these people had, I find it amazing. In the 1960's there was Rosa Parks, but I have someone I can say was fighting for the right to vote."
|Historian or Public Relations
I truly enjoyed the 25th Silver Family Reunion in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. How can one capture such a magical event?
Four families came together and dined in banquet hall that held 1000 persons.....YES 1000.
I contacted Channel 13 news, but missed their phone call at the Picnic.
The most rewarding blessing came Thursday, July 24, 2003 when I met reporter Mary Craft at the Crown Reef Resort where the family reunion was held.
She and I sat and chatted as she filled her note pad with information about our Family History. She captured my thoughts as she filled each line in the Sun News.
Not only did it stop there, a Professor of Benedict College contacted the website as he read the news artical in Columbia, SC.
Ken Wilcott, Publisher of moosenews.com contacted the site as he added the website to his newspaper with over 300 subscribers from all over the world.
Our family news artical has been released in many cities, such as Charlotte,NC... Durham, NC... Charleston, SC, Florence SC,.. Myrtle Beach, SC...& Columbia, SC.
Mother Elvira is still beating all odds.
Tanya Jones-Boland, Historian
PAMELA V. FLOOD AND KENNETH M. MORRISONPublished: January 28, 2007
Pamela Vanessa Flood was married yesterday to Kenneth Maxwell Morrison at Wyndham Sugar Bay, a resort on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr. officiated, assisted by his wife, the Rev. Dr. Lakeesha Walrond. Both are Baptist ministers.
The bride, 36, is the controller for Cornerstone Promotion and Fader Magazine in Manhattan. She graduated from Pace University and received an M.B.A from Dowling College. She is a daughter of the late Ruthie M. D. Flood and the late Melvin W. Flood, who lived in Westbury, N.Y.
The bridegroom, 39, is the vice president of Lemor Realty, a Manhattan property management and development company that he owns with his father, Leroy W. Morrison, of the Bronx. The bridegroom is also an owner of the Essence Bar and Restaurant in Brooklyn. He is also a son of Catherine Morrison, also of the Bronx.
The bridegroom’s previous marriage ended in divorce.
The couple met in September 2003 through Rhonda Lucas, a cousin of Mr. Morrison’s and a friend of Ms. Flood’s.
Ms. Flood had just purchased a home and needed help finding tenants, so Ms. Lucas gave her Mr. Morrison’s number for advice.
It wasn’t Ms. Lucas’s first attempt at getting the two together, but when she had attempted a match-up before, Ms. Flood and Mr. Morrison were dating other people. Now they were both unattached.
After a phone conversation that Ms. Flood described as “very professional,” they decided to meet at Mr. Morrison’s restaurant. “We chatted but I didn’t feel any kind of connection,” Ms. Flood remembered.
Mr. Morrison wasn’t doing cartwheels, either. “No sparks or anything like that,” he recalled.
A month later, they met again, this time at a wedding reception.
Mr. Morrison was now in the mood to do that cartwheel.
“She had a sense of style that I liked,” he said of Ms. Flood. “We danced and talked all night.”
Ms. Flood then left for an eight-day cruise to the Caribbean. But when she returned, her cruising days — and his — were over.
“We really connected at the reception, and I thought about him on the cruise,” she said. “He was different than all the other guys I had met in terms of personality. I knew he was the one.”
You can find this article in the NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPER
PAMELA FLOOD- MORRISON OUR PAST NATIONAL TREASURER SECRETARY IS THE DAUGHTER OFTHE LATE RUTHIE FLOOD AND GRANDAUGHTER OF THE LATE ETHELEEN DORSEY GRAYSON.