Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DORSEY, Sarah Anne, author, born in Natchez, Miss., 16 February 1829 ; died in New Orleans, La., 4 July 1879. Her maiden name was Ellis. She received a careful education, and enjoyed the advantage of extended foreign travel. Her mother was a sister of Catherine Warfield, author of "The Household of Bouverie," who died in 1877, and left in Mrs. Dorsey's hands a mass of manuscript, the greater part of which is still unpublished. Mrs. Dorsey's mother married General Charles G. Dahlgren, afterward of the Confederate army, and the daughter, in 1853, married Samuel W. Dorsey, of Ellicott's mills, Maryland, who was then practicing law and planting in Tensas parish, Louisiana. Mrs. Dorsey used her pencil with artistic skill, and performed on the harp with exquisite taste. She spoke fluently several modern languages, was a proficient in Latin and Greek, and a student of Sanskrit. She began her literary career by writing for the New York " Churchman," receiving from that journal the pen name of "Filia Ecclesiae."
Mrs. Dorsey built a chapel on her plantation, and devoted much time to the religious instruction of her slaves, teaching a class of fifty or sixty Negroes every Sunday. In 1860 she sent to New York, to be published, the choral services that she had arranged and used successfully among her black pupils for years, but the war began, and the collection remained unpublished. Mr. Dorsey lost nearly a quarter of a million dollars by the civil war. Their home was burned in a skirmish, and several men were kiiled in the garden. They took their slaves to Texas, where Mrs. Dorsey acted as nurse in a Confederate hospital. After the death of Mr. Dorsey in 1875, she removed from her plantation in Tensas parish, and resided at Beauvoir, a small place on the Gulf shore, which, by her will, was given to Jefferson Davis. Here she continued her literary labors, acting also as amanuensis to Mr. Davis in the preparation of his " Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government." She ,afterward removed to New Orleans, and submitted to a surgical operation for cancer, which proved unavailing. Her published works are "Recollections of Henry Watkins Allen, exgovernor of Louisiana" (New York, 1866); " Lucia Dare " (1867); "Agnes Graham " (Philadelphia, 1869); "Atalie or a Southern Viileggiatura" (1871); and "Panola; a tale of Louisiana " (1877).
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