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James H. Dooley : biography

January 17, 1841 - November 16, 1922

James Henry Dooley (January 17, 1841-November 16, 1922) was a Virginia lawyer, business leader, and philanthropist based in Richmond during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age.

Biography

James Henry Dooley was the son of Irish immigrants John and Sarah Dooley. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, one of nine children. His father, John Dooley, Sr. was a successful hat manufacturer. The Dooley family was prominent in the community and the parish of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church.

He attended Georgetown College (now Georgetown University) and was the first student to rank at the head of his class during each of his four years, graduating in 1860. Soon after, James and his brother John enlisted in the Confederate Army, joining their father's unit, the First Virginia Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Williamsburg during the Peninsula Campaign in May, 1862. He was captured and confined for a short time. He later worked in the Confederate Ordnance Department in Richmond. Although he never attained rank in the army, in later life he was referred to by the honorific "Major."

After the war, he completed a Master of Arts degree at Georgetown and returned to Richmond. During the postwar years when Richmond was beginning to rebuild its business district, he began his career as a lawyer. He married Sarah ("Sallie") O. May of Lunenburg County, Virginia in 1869. Dooley was elected to the Virginia General Assembly and served from 1871 to 1877.

In 1880, he became a board member of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, which expanded into a multi state system of over 3,000 miles which, in 1894, became the basis of the Southern Railway. He headed the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad company, which built tracks along the towpaths of the defunct James River and Kanawha Canal, served as a director of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and was a leader in the founding of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. He was also involved in steel companies and banking.

In 1893, Major Dooley had a large stone mansion built on a large estate overlooking the James River in the western portion of the Richmond area which he and his wife named Maymont. The Dooleys also maintained a mountain retreat, Swannanoa, in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia in Nelson County.

According to Richmond's Maymont Foundation, "Major Dooley's leadership of various civic endeavors runs as a continuous thread through the history of Richmond, from the early 1870s through the early 1920s." He was a board member of St. Joseph's Orphanage, served on the board of the Medical College of Virginia and, in 1919, gave the funds for the construction of the Dooley Hospital (now part of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Death and afterward

Major Dooley died in Richmond at the age of 81. He first was buried with his former Confederate comrades in Hollywood Cemetery, and later reinterred with his wife Sallie in a mausoleum at Maymont.

The Dooleys, who were themselves childless, left a record 3 million dollars to the St. Joseph's Orphanage, a charitable organization which continues its work in family and children services in modern times as "St. Joseph's Villa" on the North Side of Richmond in Henrico County. Mrs. Dooley gave a half million dollars to build the Richmond Public Library as a memorial to her husband.

Their home, Maymont, was left to the City of Richmond as a park and museum subsequent to Mrs. Dooley's death. Today, Maymont Park is a major Richmond attraction on the James River, with a museum, formal gardens, native wildlife exhibits, nature center, carriage collection, and children's farm and petting zoo.

Works

Papers

  • Dooley, J. H., Daniel, J. W., & Daniel, J. W. (1891). Payment of gold contracts in silver : correspondence between James H. Dooley and U.S. Senator John W. Daniel. Richmond, Va: J.L. Hill Printing Co. OCLC .
  • Dooley, J. H. (1900). How may state receive return for money spent on education. S.l: s.n. OCLC .
  • Dooley, J. H. (1902). Has our country passed the climax of its prosperity? A reply ... to the address of Mr. F.A. Vanderlip, New York, N.Y., at Wilmington, N.C.. OCLC
  • Dooley, J. H., & Tuller, W. K. (1911). A national constitutional convention and its possible consequences. What limitations can be imposed upon the powers of a convention called to amend the Constitution of the United States?. OCLC .

Biography

  • Caravati, C. M. (1978). Major Dooley. Richmond, Va: [Published for the Maymont Foundation]. OCLC .

Category:1841 births Category:1922 deaths Category:Virginia lawyers Category:Georgetown University alumni Category:People from Richmond, Virginia Category:People of Virginia in the American Civil War Category:Burials at Hollywood Cemetery (Richmond, Virginia) Category:19th-century American railroad executives

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