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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Our History

William D. Dorsey

Name:  William Daniel Dorsey

Date of Birth:  1877

Date of Death:  06/13/1920

Location of Death:  White County, GA

 

 

CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH

Prohibition Agents William Dorsey and Ed Carpenter were executing a Federal search warrant at the property of John Farmer in White County, GA.  Farmer was suspected of operating an illicit distillery.

During the search, the agents discovered a still hidden in the loft of a shed.  Farmer retrieved a Winchester rifle and began firing at the agents, killing Agent Dorsey and seriously wounding Agent Carpenter, who returned fire and wounded Farmer. Farmer was arrested and charged under State law with the murder of Agent Dorsey.

BACKGROUND

Agent Dorsey, known to his family and friends as "Little Bill," is the first known Prohibition Agent to die in the line of duty. During and after Prohibition, White County was known as one of the major producers of illicit moonshine in the South.  In fact, the (then) county newspaper, The Cleveland Courier, used the axiom "covers the mountains like moonshine" on the newspaper banner from approximately 1930 to 1976.

PERSONAL

Agent Dorsey was survived by his wife, Nellie Rogers Dorsey, who died in 1964. Agent Dorsey is buried at the Concord Baptist Church Cemetery, Hall County, GA.

RESOURCES