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Bedford Branch Library (734) 847-6747
Blue Bush Branch Library (734) 242-4085
Carleton Branch Library (734) 654-2180
Dorsch Memorial Branch Library (734) 241-7878
Dundee Branch Library (734) 529-3310
Ellis Library & Reference Center (734) 241-5277
Erie Branch Library (734) 848-4420
Frenchtown-Dixie Branch Library (734) 289-1035
Ida Branch Library (734) 269-2191
L.S. Navarre Branch Library (734) 241-5577
Maybee Branch Library (734) 587-3680
Newport Branch Library (734) 586-2117
Rasey Memorial Branch Library (734) 848-4572
Robert A. Vivian Branch Library (734)241-1430
Senior Outreach (734) 241-5770
South Rockwood Branch Library (734) 379-3333
Summerfield-Petersburg Branch Library (734) 279-1025
Bedford Branch Library
8575 Jackman Rd. Temperance, MI 48182 Phone: (734) 847-6747
Fax: (734) 847-6591
Mon - Thu: 9:00 am-9:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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Blue Bush Branch Library
Blue Bush Branch Library
2210 Blue Bush Road Monroe, MI 48162-9643 Phone: (734) 242-4085
Fax: (734) 242-4085
Mon - Tue: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Wed: 1:00 pm-8:00 pm
Thu: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am-2:00 pm
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Carleton Branch Library
Carleton Branch Library
1444 Kent Street Carleton, MI 48117-0267 Phone: (734) 654-2180
Fax: (734) 654-8767
Mon: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tue - Wed: 9:00 am-8:00 pm
Thu: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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Dorsch Memorial Branch Library
Dorsch Memorial Branch Library
18 East First Street Monroe, MI 48161-2227 Phone: (734) 241-7878
Fax: (734) 241-7879
Mon - Tue: 9:00 am-8:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am-8:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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Dundee Branch Library
Dundee Branch Library
144 East Main Street Dundee, MI 48131-1202 Phone: (734) 529-3310
Fax: (734) 529-7415
Mon: 9:00 am-6:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am-6:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am-2:00 pm
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Ellis Library & Reference Center
Ellis Library & Reference Center
3700 South Custer Rd. Monroe 48161-9716 Phone: (734) 241-5277
Toll Free: (800) 462-2050
Fax: (734) 242-9037
Mon - Thu: 9:00 am-9:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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Erie Branch Library
Erie Branch Library
2065 Erie Rd. Erie, MI 48133-9757 Phone: (734) 848-4420
Mon: 1:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tue: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Thu - Fri: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
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Frenchtown-Dixie Branch Library
Frenchtown-Dixie Branch Library
2881 Nadeau Road Monroe, MI 48162-9355 Phone: (734) 289-1035
Fax: (734) 289-3867
Mon - Tue: 9:00 am-8:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Thu: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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Ida Branch Library
Ida Branch Library
3016 Lewis Ave. Ida, MI 48140-0056 Phone: (734) 269-2191
Fax: (734) 269-3315
Mon: 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Wed - Fri: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am-1:00 pm
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L.S. Navarre Branch Library
Navarre Branch Library
1135 East Second Street Monroe, MI 48161-1920 Phone: (734) 241-5577
Fax: (734) 241-5577
Mon: 1:00 pm-7:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am-7:00 pm
Wed - Thu: 1:00 pm-7:00 pm
Fri: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am-2:00 pm
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Maybee Branch Library
Maybee Branch Library
9060 Raisin St. Maybee, MI 48159-0165 Phone: (734) 587-3680
Fax: (734) 587-3680
Mon: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tue: 12:00 pm-5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am-2:00 pm
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Newport Branch Library
8120 N. Dixie Hwy. Newport, MI 48166-9703 Phone: (734) 586-2117
Fax: (734) 586-1116
Mon: 12:00 pm-6:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am-8:00 pm
Wed: 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Thu: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am-2:00 pm
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Rasey Memorial Branch Library
Rasey Memorial Branch Library
4349 Oak, Box 416 Luna Pier, MI 48157-4572 Phone: (734) 848-4572
Fax: (734) 848-4572
Mon: 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Tue - Wed: 2:00 pm-8:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Fri: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am-1:00 pm
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Robert A. Vivian Branch Library
2664 Vivian Road Monroe, MI 48162-9212 Phone: (734)241-1430
Fax: (734)241-1430
Mon: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Wed: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am-2:00 pm
Fri: 12:00 pm-5:00 pm
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Senior Outreach
South Rockwood Branch Library
5676 Carleton Rockwood Road S. Rockwood, MI 48179 Phone: (734) 379-3333
Fax: (734) 749-7485
Mon: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Tue: 1:00 pm-6:00 pm
Wed: 1:00 pm-8:00 pm
Thu: 1:00 pm-6:00 pm
Fri: 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am-1:00 pm
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Summerfield-Petersburg Branch Library
Summerfield-Petersburg Branch Library
60 East Center St. Petersburg, MI 49270 Phone: (734) 279-1025
Fax: (734) 279-2328
Mon - Tue: 10:00 am-7:00 pm
Wed - Thu: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am-1:00 pm
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Custer Collection Blog Header

Custer’s Black White Man – Isaiah Dorman

Little is known about the early life of Custer’s interpreter Isaiah Dorman.  Sources conflict on his birth year and place.  It has been written that he was born a free man in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while other sources state that he was born a slave on the D’Orman plantation in Louisiana or Alabama.  Facts prior to 1865 have been murky.  It was historian Robert Ege, in his 1966 article, Braves of all Colors, who made the suggestion that Dorman was an escaped slave from an escaped slave wanted poster.  It was not until recently that Dr. Lilah Morton Pengra shed more light on Dorman’s background.  In her article My Search for Isaiah Dorman she found decisive evidence that Dorman was employed as a body servant of Captain Alfred Sully from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Through the Sully connection, Pengra was able to find Isaiah’s father George, a porter at the Library Company of Philadelphia and establish family connections.

Early historians picked up Isaiah’s story in 1865, where Isaiah was hired by the military to carry mail between Fort Rice and Fort Wadsworth.  W. Boyes relates in his booklet Custer’s Black White Man that along with employment as a mail carrier, Dorman also was a wood cutter or woodhawk, for the firm of Durfee and Peck at Fort Rice.  During this time he married a Santee Lakota woman and was accepted into the tribe. He was able to move freely through Indian country.  He was known by many names among the Sioux which include: Azimpi, which means teat and Wasicum Sapa, which means black white man.  Dorman’s knowledge of the Sioux language and people provided a natural transition to guide and interpreter for the military.  After working for the Northern Pacific Railroad as a guide in 1871, Custer requested Dorman for the Little Big Horn Expedition.  Special Order No. 2 was sent on May 14, 1876:

…The Commanding Officer Ft. Rice, D.T. will order Isaiah Dorman Post Interpreter to proceed to this post and report for duty to accompany the expedition as Interpreter – during his absence he will still be borne on the rolls of the Post Quartermaster at Fort Rice. 

                                                                                                                By order of Brevet Maj. General George Custer

                According to author Thom Hatch, Dorman was attached to Reno’s battalion and was killed during Reno’s retreat, not far from where Charley Reynolds died. Even in death Dorman remains a mystery.  It is known that the troopers’ bodies were badly mutilated on the battlefield.  There are stories made by the Indians that Dorman’s body was left unmolested because Dorman was a friend of Sitting Bull, that Sitting Bull even offered him water but soldiers that witnessed the after effect of the battle state that he was tortured because of his participation with the white man.  His body was buried on the field and he is listed on the Battlefield Monument only as Isaiah.    

                A new, modern day mystery has developed around Isaiah Dorman.  Research for this article unearthed a 2013 manuscript titled The Secret History of Isaiah Dorman included in family papers held at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.  The manuscript is the story of Irene Gonder, Dorman’s great-great- granddaughter, who claims that Dorman was also Jewish, proven by her genetic DNA markers.

                According to an end note to her 2014 article, Identifying Isaiah Dorman, Dr. Pengra hopes to publish the first biography on Custer’s Black White Man and share a history of a man that has been identified but has remained a mystery in life and in death.

The resources below were used in the creation of this brief biography of Isaiah Dorman and can be can be found in the Lawrence A. Frost Collection of Custeriana.

Braves of All Colors: The Story of Isaiah Dorman, Killed at the Little Big Horn, Montana Magazine, Winter 1966

Custer’s White Black Man by W. Boyes

Identifying Isaiah Dorman, Greasy Grass, May 2014

Isaiah Dorman: Custer’s Black White Man edited by Tom O’Neil

Isaiah Dorman: Interpreting the Evidence by Lilah Morton Pengra

My Search for Isaiah Dorman, Little Big Horn Associates Newsletter, November 2008