Thursday, August 20, 2015

52 Ancestors Week 33-Defective Ancestors-The Dorritys

  Census records can be very informative records of our ancestors.
They can show family units, approximate birth dates, occupations and other information depending on the year.
 In 1880, a special census was taken. The Defective, Dependant, and Delinquent Census recorded those labeled in their communities as blind, deaf-mute, idiotic, homeless children, paupers, and prisoners.
 While some of these terms are not considered appropriate today, we can learn something about our ancestors physical and social conditions with this document.
 Week 33 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, by Amy Johnson Crow, asks if we have any family members listed in this unique census.
 Several years ago while researching my  Daughrity/Dorrity/Dority line from Sumter County, South Carolina, siblings Elizabeth, John and Arthur Dorrity were found on the 1880 Census for the Idiotic and Deaf-Mute. Carolina Department of History and Archives; Columbia, South Carolina; U.S. Federal Census - 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes; Year: 1880; Roll: 2. Sumter County, Springhill Township, pg.A, Dorrity

The Idiots portion asks these questions:

 Is this person self-supporting or partly so? 
Age at which idiocy occurred. 
Supposed cause of idiocy (if acquired)
 Size of head (large, small or natural) 
 Has this person ever been an inmate of a training school for idiots? If yes, name the said training school. 
What has been the total length of time spent by him (or her) during life in any such training school or training schools? 
 Date of discharge (year only) 
Is this person also insane?
Is he (or she) also blind? 
Is he (or she) also deaf? 
Is he (or she) also an epileptic?
 13) Is he (or she) paralyzed? And if yes, on which side? (right/left) 

All three of the Dorrity's had the same answers.
  They were not self-supporting, their condition was from birth, head sizes "appeared normal", and they had never been in an institution. Although all three appear on the Deaf-Mute list, only Elizabeth has a check mark by deaf on this census. : South Carolina Department of History and Archives; Columbia, South Carolina; U.S. Federal Census - 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes; Year: 1880; Roll: 2 ,Sumter County, Springhill Township, pg. B, Dorrity

The Deaf-Mute section asked for the following information:
Is he (or she) self-supporting or partly so? 
Age at which deafness occurred
 Supposed cause of deafness, if known. 
 Is this person semi-mute? 
Is he (or she) semi-deaf? 
  Has this person ever been an inmate of an institution for deaf-mutes? If yes, give the name of such institution.
What has been the total length of time spent by him (or her) in any such institution? 
 Date of his (or her) discharge (year only) 
 Is this person also insane? 
Is he (or she) also idiotic? 
 Is he (or she) also blind? 

Again, the answers for all three are the same.
They are not self-supporting, their conditions began at birth, the cause of their infirmity is not known, they were never in an institution and were also checked as idiotic.

   What was the cause of their condition? The census states that it was from birth. My Grandmother, Azile Juanita (Daughrity) Roberts Sullivan (1921-2009) said she heard the boys had come down with polio following a chill caught while swimming in the pond on the family property.  She wasn't aware of their older sister Elizabeth.
 She was incensed by seeing her paternal Uncles and Aunt listed as Idiotic. She remembered her Uncle Arthur singing and disputed the indication that he was a deaf-mute.
 John Dorrity (1874-1934) and Arthur Dorrity (1875-1935) are alluded to in the Sunter County, South Carolina Civil War Widow's Pension Application of their mother Mary Elizabeth (Stafford) Dority (1843-1930):

Widow Pension Application
Mary Elizabeth Dority
Sumter County, South Carolina
South Carolina Department of Archives and History

We, the undersigned County Pension Board of Sumter County have made a careful examination of the application of Mary Elizabeth Dority
We are of the opinion that the said applicant is entitled to a pension thereunder for the following reasons.
(1) That her husband Manning Dority was a bona fide Soldier in the late war between the States.
(2) That she is 74  years of age and was married prior to 1890
(3) That her income does not exceed $500.00-does not exceed $1,000.00 from all sources.
(Here state any other reasons which influenced the Board to grant or reject this position)
The applicant is in most needy circumstances there is in addition to her standing two(2) sons aged 44 and 46 who are helpless invalids who are not able to do for themselves.
County Pension Board 
These two sons are most likely John and Arthur. There is no mention of daughter Elizabeth Dorrity (1869-after 1880).

This pre -1932 picture in an album of my Grand Aunt lists
Mary Elizabeth Stafford Dorrity, along with sons Arthur, Asa, Charlie, and John. It is not clear which is which.
  Further research has not found what became of 11-year-old Elizabeth Dorrity after the1880 census. John and Arthur Dorrity lived with their mother until her death in 1930 and brother Asa until his death in 1932. Charlie Dorrity, another brother, took care of them until their deaths. John died in 1934 after succumbing to the flu, and Arthur passed away in 1935. Both are buried in the Sumter City Cemetery, Sumter, South Carolina.
 Childhood illness, or something hereditary? It is not known what caused three of seven children in the Dorrity family to be listed on the Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Census of 1880. Their inclusion gives insight into the lives they lead.
 Have you looked at this census record? Who, if anyone, did you find?

Are we kin? Please contact me. Together we can find our people.
Thanks so much for stopping by!



  1. Guess there was no politically correct term for disabled people at that time. That's unfortunate. I have never used that particular census. Looks like it has lots of information.

    1. A great resource to find out more about your family. I recommend giving it a try.Thanks, Colleen!