Dorcus – Wild Cat Catcher

With so many dreams and schemes boiling away in my mind, I can only hope to find the fortitude to take the reigns of this New Year “With presence of mind, and courage amounting heroism” of my 3rd great-grandmother, who was “plucky” as all get-out.

Dorcus White is one of my maternal 3rd great-grandmothers. She was born in 1855 in Weld, Maine, the youngest daughter of Captain Ira White (1817 – 1880) of Weld and Catherine Watson (1824-1860) of Bridgton, Maine. In 1873, Dorcus married Greenfield Preston Corburn of Carthage, Maine, who was ten years her senior.

Searching for anything about Dorcus’ family has been an interesting endeavor. The family resided in Weld, a very small town in Franklin County. Few digitized records from the town have been transcribed, meaning any information that is sought after needs to be done in person or digging through the digitized tome of town records. (Transcribing these records is a task I have begun as, well, I’m digging through them often enough so I might as well do it while I research!)

In a bid to try to find information out about the family, I started searching in the online newspaper archives. I wasn’t sure if I would find much, but thankfully the name “Dorcus” wasn’t a popular one in Maine around that time, and I was able to find one of the most fantastic pieces of family history!

The article from the Oxford Democrat is short – not really an article at all, but more of a mentioning in a “goings on” column, as was common during the time period. Found in the edition printed on the 4th of February, 1870, was the following:

4 February 1870 – Oxford Democrat

“A plucky girl in Weld names Dorcas White, was met in the road by a wild cat, which was being pursued by her brother, who had been hunting it with a gun. With presence of mind, and courage amounting to heroism she took her shawl from her shoulders, threw it over the vicious beast and held him till her brother came and dispatched him.”

At 15 years old – 15! – she wrapped a wild cat in her shawl and held it until her brother shot it.

How did this gem get forgotten? How did no one think that Grandma Dorcus deserved to have such a memorable moment be handed down through the years?

While I can only imagine how traumatizing the entire incident might have been, what better story to be thrown about regarding the tenacity of woman in the family?!

This has been, by far, the most fascinating piece that I have yet found in my research.

This blog post is done in part for Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors challenge. To learn more, visit