Charles Hamilton Fitzgerald

CHAUFFEUR, 1920-1925

Brother to James R. L. Fitzgerald, Sr.

Charles Hamilton Fitzgerald (October 17, 1894-April 7, 1952), a white mechanic and driver, worked as the Dooleys' chauffeur from 1920-1925. According to his nephew, Aubrey H. Fitzgerald, Hamilton (as he was known) was born in Nelson County, Virginia, near Afton Mountain. His older brother, James, worked previously for the Dooleys as a chauffeur.

It appears that when he was hired in 1920, Mr. Fitzgerald had previous experience as a chauffeur-mechanic in Waynesboro, Virginia. No doubt he was recommended by his older brother; a surviving letter indicates that he was referred to the Dooleys as well by G. G. Dalhouse, Swannanoa estate manager, who mentioned his previous employment for a Mr. Fishburn around 1910.

Hamilton Fitzgerald was added to the Maymont payroll in June 1920, when he was twenty-six years old. A Richmond store invoice of that year shows that he was outfitted by his employers with an "Alp Coat." His initial wage was $32.50 per week. In the fall of 1920, repairs and improvements were made at Maymont to "chauffeur's room on 2nd floor" of the "new garage"—a waste pipe and radiator were added. It is not clear if this is a residential room or a work space. Improvements were also made in 1921 to the three rooms in the second floor of the barn at Swannanoa for Mr. Fitzgerald and his wife.

Surviving documents indicate that Mr. Fitzgerald and his wife resided both at Maymont and Swannanoa, depending on the Dooleys' itinerary. A June 1925 payroll showed an additional $7.46 to cover expenses for travel to Richmond. It appears that Mr. Fitzgerald was the driver for the Dooleys, family members and guests at Swanannoa. Another driver, C. M. Speck, was paid by the trip for "taking servants out."

Mr. Fitzgerald had some purchasing authority on behalf of the Dooleys. Several extant invoices from Richmond auto companies and auto parts businesses bear his initials or signature, "C.H. Fitzgerald." A slip of paper dated 18 January 1921 shows Mr. Fitzgerald's hand-written tabulation of the Dooleys' city and state auto license fees for that year. Hamilton Fitzgerald was bequeathed $1000 in Sallie Dooley's will.

His nephew, Aubrey, stated that "Uncle Ham" was married twice but had no children. After Mrs. Dooleys death and through the 1930s, Mr. Fitzgerald relocated to Albemarle County where he managed Copeley Farm—a large dairy farm owned by the Massie family near The University of Virginia.

With a second wife, Julia Cheney, Mr. Fitzgerald relocated to Hagarstown, Maryland, where he began a long career as a horse trainer. He was known, especially, at the track at Charlestown, Maryland. At his death in 1952, he was recognized as one of the region's best trainers. His obituary states that Hamilton Fitzgerald "spent his life training and breeding thorough-bred horses." He is interred in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagarstown, Maryland.

C. Hamilton Fitzgerald, 1949. Photo courtesy of his nephew, Aubrey H. Fitzgerald.
C. Hamilton Fitzgerald, 1949. Photo courtesy of his nephew, Aubrey H. Fitzgerald.