08: Charles Sumner Dolley and Elizabeth Gilman Dolley

Dr. Charles Sumner Dolley and Elizabeth Gilman Dolley

Dr. Dolley was a marine biologist. He and his wife, Elizabeth Gilman Dolley, came to Nelson in 1899. The land and residence the Dolleys purchased was located south of Lead Mine Road toward the Harrisville town line and was subsequently owned by Bruce White, Pamela White’s uncle.

Dr. Dolley came from a highly progressive family. His mother, Sarah Read Adamson Dolley (1829-1909), was the third woman in America to receive a medical degree, the first woman in America to do an in-hospital residency, a friend of Susan B. Anthony, and a woman of wide acclaim. She co-founded one of the first women’s medical societies in the United States, the Practitioners’ Society of Rochester, New York, which became the Blackwell Society in 1906.[42] She was one of the founders and the leader of the Fortnightly Ignorance Club, formed to discuss and take action on “vital topics of the day.” Members met every two weeks in the offices of their husbands and posed questions on subjects about which they were ignorant and through research, correspondence with notable experts, and pointed discussions, attempted to find answers. Some of their questions involved women’s suffrage, prison reform, and vivisection. [43]

Dr. Charles Dolley attended the Geneseo Academy, Geneseo, Livingston County, New York, and Syracuse University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his medical degree in 1882. He did post-graduate work in comparative morphology at Johns Hopkins (1883-1884) and was sent by the University of Pennsylvania to study marine biology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and at the zoological station in Naples (1884-1885). He taught biology at Swarthmore (1885-1888), at the University of Pennsylvania (1885-1892), and at Central High School in Pennsylvania (1892-1907). Later he went into business as a consultant in applied biology and did work in sanitation and chemical engineering in Mexico City and the Bahamas. His publications include The Technology of Bacteria Investigation (1885).[44]

In the Bahamas, Dr. Dolley purchased an interest in the Club at Old Fort Bay. The fort is believed to be the oldest building on the island, having been constructed as a Carthaginian fort by the Spanish. During his ownership new buildings were added and the grounds were vastly improved .[45]

Dr. Dolley was also an active lecturer. He was on the roster of the Avalon Summer Assembly, which had been organized “to afford teachers and others practical means for training themselves to a broader understanding of those subjects commonly taught, or which should be taught, in primary, grammar, and secondary schools.”[46]

A June 1893 issue of Science Magazine contains the following summary of Dr. Dolley’s Assembly speeches, in which he spoke of the proper method of educating the coming generation:

The keynote of Dr. Dolley’s address is struck by the following sentences …

They begin by moulding little birds’ nests of clay, or constructing cones and cylinders, cubes and octagons out of paper, without ever having examined a bird’s nest, other than that of the sparrow under the eaves, and knowing absolutely nothing of the interest to be found in a prism of quartz, a snowflake, or an icicle. They have been taught of the distribution of whales and camels and all sorts of exotic varieties, but are absolutely ignorant and blind to the wonders of nature to be found at their very doors; wonders requiring no text-books, no costly instruments, but which may be investigated by means as simple and inexpensive as the key and kite string of Franklin.

How few the teachers, let me add, who have the slightest inkling as to the wonderful history within the chalk or slate they daily use!

Missions and philanthropic societies do good work for this world, but much is wasted. ‘What is needed,’ says Dr. Dolley, ‘is a sanitary mission in every home, and this we can secure by training the children, by awakening in their minds a desire for something better, for more sunshine, more flowers, a wider horizon and more wholesome surroundings.’ How few the housekeepers who know the slightest whit about the yeast they use, the mother and flowers of vinegar, the moulds on jellies, the cause of rancid butter or the nature of contagion! ‘The tritest things of our mortal experience are the most mysterious.’ There is enough of interest in a mucilage bottle to keep a man studying a life time.[47]

Dr. Dolley and Elizabeth Dolley had three children:

Gilman Corson, Loilyn Carlotta, and Lester Adam­son. Their daughter, Loilyn Carlotta, married Homer Saint-Gaudens, son of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Car­lotta was an artist in her own right, and is featured as a member of the Cornish Art Colony in the book A Circle of Friends: Art Colonies of Cornish and Dublin, which covers the 1985 art exhibitions at Keene State College, the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and the University Art Galleries at the University of New Hampshire.

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