Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr was born on February 13, 1825, in Charleston, South Carolina. She was the daughter of William Young Ripley and Zulma DeLacy Thomas. When Julia was a young girl, her father moved the family to his native Vermont, where he devoted himself to the Rutland marble quarries. After William built the Rutland Opera House, Julia worked to develop women’s appreciation for the arts.
In 1847, Julia married Hon. Seneca M. Dorr, a lawyer and legislator from New York. They had five children. Seneca encouraged her writing, and he sent Julia's first published poem to “Union Magazine” without her knowledge. Her first published short story, “Isabel Leslie,” won her one hundred dollars in prize money. Julia's novel “Farmingdale” was published under her pseudonym, Caroline Thomas, again with assistance and support from her husband. In addition to being a wife and mother, Julia was a prolific poet, an author, a wife, a mother, and an inspirational community member.
After Seneca passed away in 1884, Julia devoted some of her time to another cause. According to her “A Women of the Century” profile, "she became the leader of a band of women who founded the Rutland Free Library, the success of which has been so remarkable" (253). Surely, her works were in that library, as Julia’s poetry, stories, essays and letters won respect from her townspeople and famous male writers such as Longfellow, Emerson, Whittier, and Holmes. She rightfully earned her place in American literary history. Julia was honored as Vermont’s “unofficial poet laureate,” and she was bestowed the honor of Doctor of Letters from Middlebury College in 1910.
Julia Caroline Riley Dorr died on January 18, 1913, and was buried in Rutland's Evergreen Cemetery.
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- The Bennington evening banner.(Bennington, Vt.), 04 June 1910. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn95066012/1910-06-04/ed-1/seq-3/>
- Middlebury register. (Middlebury, Vt.), 24 Jan. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn93063557/1913-01-24/ed-1/seq-7/>
- The Barre daily times.(Barre, Vt.), 20 Jan. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn91066782/1913-01-20/ed-1/seq-4/>
- Knoxville daily chronicle. [volume] (Knoxville, Tenn.), 11 Feb. 1871. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85033437/1871-02-11/ed-1/seq-1/>
- Pittsburg dispatch. [volume] (Pittsburg [Pa.]), 02 Aug. 1891. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024546/1891-08-02/ed-1/seq-13/>