Sarah O. Dooley

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Sarah O. Dooley (May)

Also Known As: "Sallie"
Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Locust Grove, Lunenburg County, Virginia, United States
Death: September 5, 1925 (79)
Swannanoa Palace, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Richmond, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Henry May, Dr. and Julia May
Wife of "Major" James Henry Dooley

Managed by: Linda Kathleen Thompson, (c)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sarah O. Dooley

Sallie May Dooley, Daughter Of The Old South

A descendant of several old Virginia families, Sarah ("Sallie") O. May, the eighth of nine children, was born on June 7, 1846, in Lunenburg County at Locust Grove, the plantation of her mother's parents, Peter and Sally Bacon Jones. Her father, Dr. Henry May, was born in Petersburg and was a descendant of Nathaniel Harrison of Brandon Plantation and Sir Edward Digges, one of the early royal governors of the colony (1655-58). Her mother, Julia Jones, died when she was no more than seven years old. Thereafter, she spent lengthy visits with her older, married sisters who resided in Staunton, Virginia. She married the promising young attorney James Dooley in 1869, and they began their life together in Richmond.

In 1886, the Dooleys acquired a tract of farmland along the James River. The childless couple, both in their forties, set about the transformation of the property. Soon it was recognized as a showplace that rivaled any of the new estates that were springing up throughout the country. Mrs. Dooley was an avid student of horticulture, and took an active role in planning Maymont's gardens and overseeing their maintenance.

Sallie Dooley was also a writer, and her poetry and stories express both her passion for gardens and her love of the rural, antebellum world of her childhood. Her book, "Dem Good Ole Times," published by Doubleday, Page and Co. in 1906 (second printing, 1916), is a collection of reflections and stories told from the perspective a former slave. In the local color tradition of 19th century fiction, the book is written in the black dialect of Southside Virginia that Mrs. Dooley knew from her childhood in Lunenburg County . Her book is an example of the romanticized literature of the Lost Cause. In 1892, Mrs. Dooley became the founding regent of Virginia's first chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Old Dominion Chapter. She was also a charter member of the Society of the Colonial Dames in the State of Virginia, a member of the Order of the Crown (Americans of royal descent), and a supporter of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and the Virginia Historical Society. Mrs. Dooley and her husband hosted lavish parties, several attended by hundreds of guests and catered by a New York firm. As prominent members of the community, the Dooleys took part in the important social gatherings of the city.

Sallie Dooley died at her summer home, Swannanoa, on September 5, 1925 at the age of 79. Her will included several sizable bequests: $500,000 to the Crippled Children's Hospital, $500,000 to the Richmond Public Library and $250,000 to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. She designated that her jewels be sold to benefit Episcopal missions. As recommended by her husband, she left Maymont to the City of Richmond to be used as a public park and museum. It opened to the public in March 1926.

Source: _____________________

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Sarah O. Dooley's Timeline

June 7, 1846
Locust Grove, Lunenburg County, Virginia, United States
September 5, 1925
Age 79
Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Richmond, Virginia, United States