DWELLY (Fall River family). The name Dwelly is an uncommon one and the family not numerous in New England annals. The Fall River Dwelly family is a branch of the Rhode Island family and it of the Scituate (Mass.) family, the immediate Fall River family here considered being that of Dr. Jerome Dwelly, who for some threescore or more years has administered to the ailments of humanity in and about Fall River, where he has most surely been to this people the “beloved physician” and one of the city’s substantial men. In the succeeding generation, one of his sons – the late Frank H. Dwelly – was the treasurer of both the Tecumseh Mills and the Ancona Company, extensive manufacturing concerns of Fall River.

Here follows in detail and chronologically arranged from the first known American ancestor of the family the history of this Fall River branch of the Dwelly family.

Richard Dwelly, of Scituate in 1665, or earlier, probably the same who was in Lancaster in 1654, and in Hingham in 1663, sold his estate in Hingham and removed to Scituate. His farm in the latter place was on the road leading from the third Herring brook to the harbor. For service in King Philip’s war he received a grant of land between Cornet’s mill and the Plymouth road. He had meadow land at Till’s creek, which stream later took his name. He died in 1692. Besides Mary, baptized in 1664, at Hingham, he had children, Richard, Samuel and John. Of these, Samuel died in Phipps’s expedition to Canada in 1690. John married in 1693 Rachel Buck, and they had a large family of children, most of whom lived in Hanover.

Richard Dwelly (2), son of Richard, married (first) April 4, 1682, Eamie, daughter of Roger Glase, of Duxbury, and (second) in 1690 Elizabeth Simmons. ‘ He died Dec. 24, 1708. His children were:

  1. Mary, born in 1684;
  2. Richard, born in 1685;
  3. Elizabeth, born in 1687;
  4. Joshua, born in 1689;
  5. Ruth, born in 1691;
  6. Samuel, born in 1693;
  7. Lydia, born in 1695; and
  8. Margaret, born in 1696.

Joshua Dwelly, son of Richard (2), born in 1689, is said to have removed to Swansea and later to Tiverton, R. I. The town records of Tiverton show the children of Joshua and Alee Dwelly as:

  1. Mary, born March 13, 1749;
  2. Richard, born April 2, 1751;
  3. Deborah, born May 20, 1753;
  4. Jeremiah, born May 21, 1755;
  5. Roda, born Sept. 17, 1759;
  6. Pearce, born Aug. 18, 1761; and
  7. Thankful, born July 4, 1766.

Richard Dwelly, son of Joshua and Alee, born April 2, 1751, probably in Tiverton, R. I., married (first) Elizabeth and (second) Phebe, and lived in Tiverton, R. I., until about 1802, when he removed to the State, of New York, settling in Eagle Valley, in the new town of Manlius, in the new county of Onondaga. His children of record in Tiverton were:

  1. Sarah, born Feb. 11, 1777;
  2. George, born June 25, 1779;
  3. Godfree, born’ March 12, 1781 (all to the first marriage);
  4. Seneca, born Oct. 8, 1786;
  5. Elce, born Aug. 9, 1788;
  6. Daniel, born June 8, 1790:
  7. Mary born March 18, 1792; and
  8. Jonathan, born Feb. 9, 1794-95.

Daniel Dwelly, son of Richard, born June 8, 1790, in Tiverton, R. I., married April 12, 1813, Mary Borden Slade, born March 3, 1795, daughter of Jonathan and Patience Slade. Mr. Dwelly accompanied his parents on their removal from Tiverton, R. I., to Manlius, N. Y., but in later years returned to Tiverton, where he married and where were born his children, they being:

  1. Edwin, born Jan. 10, 1814;
  2. Phebe Ann, born Oct. 27, 1815;
  3. Patience B., born May 27, 1817;
  4. Jerome, born Jan. 21, 1823;
  5. Daniel, born Oct. 2, 1825;
  6. Leander, born Sept. 24, 1827;
  7. Jonathan S., born April 4, 1830; and
  8. Richard, born Sept. 24, 1832.

Jerome Dwelly, M. D., son of Daniel and Mary Borden (Slade) Dwelly, was born Jan. 21, 1823, some four and a half miles from the city of Fall River, in the town of Tiverton, R. I. Having become lame when quite young, he was sent to school at Fall River, and subsequently to Peirce Academy, in Middleboro, Mass., to prepare himself for college, with the idea of becoming a lawyer. After studying some three years, owing to ill health he was obliged to discontinue his studies for several years, and in the meantime his mind became changed and his thoughts directed to the study of medicine. Taking up the study of medicine under the direction of Dr. Thomas Wilbur, of Fall River, he later furthered his studies in the office of Dr. William E. Townsend, of Boston, whose father, Dr. Solomon D. Townsend, was then one of the surgeons of the Massachusetts General Hospital. While in Boston with Dr. Townsend he acted as assistant to his instructor, who was then one of the physicians of the Boston Dispensary. Here he witnessed the use of sulphuric ether as an anesthetic. It had but recently come into use at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In May, 1847, while attending an obstetrical case of an out-patient of the dispensary, under the care of Dr. Townsend, the use of instruments became necessary to save the patient’s life. Ether was administered, and the operation, which proved difficult, was performed by Dr. Channing, professor of obstetrics in Harvard Medical College. This was perhaps the first case of the kind in the State, and was reported as such by Dr. Channing.

Dr. Dwelly took his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, being graduated there from Aug. 25, 1847, and as it was but a short time before that the case above described happened he took as his graduation thesis “Sulphuric Ether,” in which he suggested that the inhalation of sulphuric ether would prove of great value in the reduction of fractures and dislocations on account of its powerful effects in producing muscular relaxation.

Returning to Fall River after his graduation he began the practice of his profession there Sept. 1, 1847, his office being at the corner of South Main and Pocasset streets. Up to this time ether had not been used as an anesthetic in Fall River, and very little elsewhere except at the hospital. Dr. Dwelly, however, resolved to put it into practice at the first opportunity offered; this was in November, of that year, 1847. A boy had a piece of wood two and a half inches long thrust into his back, and breaking off it became deeply and firmly imbedded under the muscles of the spine. A deep incision became necessary to dislodge it, which was made by Dr. Dwelly after having first administered ether, and the piece of wood was removed while the patient was unconscious of any pain. Dr. Crary, at that time a surgeon of much repute in Fall River, was present, and expressed much gratification and surprise at the effects of the ether. This was without doubt the first use of ether in a cutting operation in this part of Massachusetts.

On the inauguration of the city government in Fall River Dr. Dwelly was appointed the first city physician and served in that capacity through the cholera epidemic of 1854. Soon after the close of the Civil war he was appointed United States examining surgeon for pensions, which position he held for nearly thirty years. On the passage of the medical examiners’ law of Massachusetts he was appointed to the office of medical examiner and for fourteen years continued as such. Dr. Dwelly was a member of the Fall River school board for about twenty years. He was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and served as president of the Bristol County South Medical Society.

Dr. Dwelly has been continuously in the active practice of his profession at Fall River and vicinity for over sixty-two years, excepting the years from 1849 to 1851, which time he passed in California. The charm of his conversation and the cheerfulness of his manner have always brought hope and encouragement to the sick room; and this no doubt has had its effect on the Doctor’s great success.

On Oct. 18, 1848, Dr. Dwelly married Janette A. Cook, who was born April 4, 1829, daughter of George and Avis (Jennings) Cook, of Fall River, and fifty years thereafter they celebrated their golden wedding. The following children have been born to them:

  1. Edwin J., born July 17, 1849, died Sept. 15, 1852.
  2. Frank Henry is mentioned below.
  3. Arthur Jerome, born March 16, 1855, was for many years superintendent of the Slade Mills, Fall River, and later superintendent of the North Pownal Manufacturing Company, at North Pownal, Vt. He died Jan. 20, 1898. On July 2, 1884, he married Julia A. Thompson, daughter of James and Betsey (Slade) Thompson, and they had three children, born as follows:
    1. Avis Janette, March 6, 1886 (now wife of Dr. Forest L. Leland, of Boston);
    2. Edwin Slade, March 27, 1889; and
    3. Marion Louise, Nov. 24, 1891 (now wife of Arthur Wilcox, of Fall River).
  4. Avis Jennings, born March 29, 1858, married (first) in November, 1880, Charles P. Seabury, Jr., of New Bedford, and had one son, Richard, born Oct. 19, 1888, who died in 1890. Her second marriage, in 1898, was to Charles B. Woodman, of Fall River.
  5. Frederick Osborn, born June 1, 1861, is connected with the city government of Fall River.
  6. Mary Borden was born Nov. 18, 1869.

Frank Henry Dwelly, son of Dr. Jerome and Janette A. (Cook) Dwelly, was born in Fall River Aug. 31, 1852. He attended the local public schools until eighteen years of age, when, leaving the high school, he entered the office of the Tecumseh Mills. He became acquainted with manufacturing while holding an assistant clerkship in the mills and determined upon a mill career. After succeeding Edward H. B. Brow as clerk of the mills, he became, in 1883, the treasurer, which office he ever after held. In July, 1903, he was elected treasurer of the Ancona Mills, in this as in his earlier position proving his surpassing ability in mill management. He was considered one of the ablest mill managers in the city and handled the corporations with which he was connected with marked success. Quiet but progressive in business, his knowledge of his work extended to the utmost detail, and his attention to business was exact and highly intelligent. He was a shrewd trader, always thoroughly informed upon the condition of the markets, and was able to make profit in the face of business conditions which brought losses to other corporations similarly circumstanced. Those whom he served were conscious that he was giving them his best services. The new of his death, which occurred Jan. 25, 1908, caused general regret at the loss of a faithful and efficient man and exemplary citizen. His success was made only by hard work and he rose by his own merit. For five or six years, during the eighties, he was a director of the Massasoit National Bank. He was a Mason, and a member of the Quequechan Club. In politics he was a Republican.

On March 19, 1885, Mr. Dwelly was married to Mary A. Henry, who was born Dec. 14, 1856, daughter of James and Martha (Whitaker) Henry, and died Jan. 18, 1904, leaving one daughter, Martha Jeannette, born July 8, 1887, who married April 24, 1907, Andrew H. Gardner, of Fall River.