Who were Ellen and James Dorsey?

July 17, 2015


Don Wilcox dug up this mystery headstone in his backyard.

Don Wilcox dug up this mystery headstone in his backyard.

by Doug Robinson

What would you do if you found a piece of history while gardening in your backyard?  Such is the dilemma for Hudson resident Don Wilcox.

While gardening last weekend, Don’s shovel struck an object, which he perceived to be “just another rock.”  Don’s back yard is full of beautiful flowers such as lilies and irises, as well as fruit trees, trumpet vines, various hosts, a water fountain, two birdhouses that stand 10 feet tall, and stone animal decorations.  His backyard has been a “work in progress” for many years.

Gardening is Don’s hobby.  “My daughter will be married in this backyard next year, and I want it to be very beautiful,” he said.  “I grew up always planting, and I really enjoy my time working the soil and creating this beautiful yard.

“As I dug into the soil to plant another lily, my shovel just stopped.  I wasn’t even at the full length of my shovel into the dirt hole.  I scraped away the dirt to see the edges of the object that I thought was another rock.”

It was, in fact, a headstone.

“When I brushed off the dirt and got closer, I first saw the back of the stone, which appeared to be marble, and I saw handmade etching scratched into the stone or marble that looked like blocks laid upon each other.  I continued to move the dirt away with my hands, and I lifted the rock out of the hole and laid it upon the ground next to the hole.

“Still looking at the etched blocks, I then turned the stone over to look at the other side.  I then realized that I was looking at the headstone for Ellen and James Dorsey.  Out of respect for the Dorsey family, the stone rests today, where I found it, and I hope we can bring some knowledge to who these folks are.”

The Dorsey headstone seems to be made from marble and it looks that it once rested upon a base.  The top of the head stone appears to have a dove, or a bird of some kind, engraved on the stone.

Many questions about who the Dorseys were and what their life stories were.  One of Don’s neighbors told him that his backyard was once a road between the two existing streets that parallel his house.  He has also been told that his house was once located on the “Adam’s Estate.”  Don lives on St. Laurent Drive in Hudson.

Questions like these come to mind:

  • The headstone states that Ellen died in 1919.Did she die from Scarlet Fever or did she die in World War One?
  • Did Ellen or James work in Hudson, Litchfield, or Nashua?
  • Did the Dorsey family have children
  • Was James Dorsey husband, brother, or child to Ellen?
  • What did the original stone look like?
  • Why does James Dorsey not have a date listed?
  • Are family members buried on the land somewhere?

If any reader has answers to those questions or has knowledge of the Dorsey family, we at the HLN would love to continue and find out the answers.

“I wish to bring the stone back to life and I wish to provide the family with the dignity for these who once lived here.  Hopefully, we will get some answers and be able to afford the Dorsey family all the respect they deserve,” said Don.