Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dolley Madison's Birthday

On May 20, 1772, there was born to the prominent Payne Quaker family of Virginia a daughter whom they named Dolly, Dolly Payne was destined to become one of the sweetest and most gracious ladies ever to occupy the White House.

Note: For the correct spelling of Dolley Madison's name, please see The Dolley Madison Project.

The above excerpt was harvested from a promotional recipe book titled Beloved and Beautiful Dolly Madison Whose Name Honors America's Outstanding Quality Ice Cream, Deliciously Different. As is the case with most of these promotional cookbooks, there is no publisher per se or publication date. I'm guessing by the small numbers on the inside back cover, 9-55, it was probably published sometime in 1955. There's a wonderful selection of Dolley Madison ephemera at The Dolley Madison Project website. I have provided a link below in the resource section. You really should visit the site if you want to know more about Dolley Madison's place in American History. It is filled with unusual information about her which encompasses her "life, letters and legacy." Here is what it is written about Dolley Madison's place in Pop Culture:

Pop Culture & Dolley Madison

A famous hostess, her name and portrait were suggestive of good food and fine entertaining. Food companies and advertisers used her image to suggest that any woman could entertain, as did Dolley Madison. There were companies named after her: the Dolly Madison Bakery, the Dolly Madison Diary, and the Dolly Madison Ice Cream. There was even Dolly Madison popcorn and Dolly Madison wine. These companies not only put her name on their own wares, they produced advertising collectibles that carried her name -- such as clocks and thermometers. There are still Dolly Madison snacking cakes and Dolly Madison Ice Cream. In one of the odder combinations that you will see on this site, Charles Schultz agreed in the late 1950s to let Dolly Madison cakes use Peanuts as a new advertising logo. We presume that the cake company was reluctant to change its name, but wanted a new "look" that would appeal to the youngsters of post-war America.

The booklet continues with its version of the Dolly Madison story. I mean to say, it sounds a bit like a fairy tale.

Until she was 14, Dolly lived in Virginia on a large plantation where there were many slaves to look after her and love her...Dolly is described as a bright gay and spirited youngster with blue eyes, black curly hair and a most ingratiating disposition.

I know there are many places aboard the world wide web which are just overflowing with biographical information about Dolley Madison but quite frankly, I didn't really find any that offered any less than wikipedia plus, I got to "pick" this image of her there also.

Dolley MadisonShe was born in New Garden, a Quaker community located in the area now known as Guilford County, North Carolina, on May 20, 1768. There is now a street in Greensboro, NC named after her. Her father was John Payne, a not-too-successful farmer and erstwhile starch manufacturer, and her mother was Mary Coles. Other accounts suggest she was born in the village of Payne's Tavern in Person County, North Carolina. Dolley Madison was born while her parents were in North Carolina, visiting her maternal grandparents. She had four brothers and three younger sisters. The Payne family lived in Hanover County, Virginia, where they were planters...
...Dolley Madison was influenced by momentous events during her childhood, including the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Declaration of Independence, and suffering at Valley Forge. In July 1783, John Payne freed his slaves and moved the family to Philadelphia to allow better educational opportunities for the children and to be more closely associated with their Quaker roots. Dolley spent her teenage years in Philadelphia, and attended Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (source)

I suppose the above version wouldn't sell as much ice cream. The booklet:

In 1787, the family moved to Philadelphia, and soon Dolly was one of a gay group of young belles. Her remarkable beauty, grace of manner, modesty, and goodness attracted many of Philadelphia's eligible bachelors, among them John Todd, a prominent and wealthy lawyer. Early in 1791 Mr. Todd and Dolly, then only 19, were married. Mr. Todd died in 1793, only two years after his marriage to the beautiful Dolly Payne...
For today's' celebration, I'm going to continue with the booklet version as it leans in the direction of how Dolly Madison contributed to ice cream fashionability in American history.
At 21, Dolly was a rich and charming widow. After a year of mourning, Dolly took her place again in Philadelphia society. There, surrounded by numerous suitors, she devoted herself to many charitable activities. Among the young men who courted her was James Madison, a brilliant member of Congress from Virginia. Dolly fell in love with him and in December, 1794, they were married...The young couple made their home in Montpelier, Orange County, Virginia, with the senior Madisons. "Jemmy," as the younger Madison was called by his bride, continued to serve in Congress, which was still holding its sessions in Philadelphia, until 1797. During the sober dress and manner of the Quakeress for attire better suited to the part she was destined to take as leader in society. No contact with the world ever robbed her of that softness of manner and gentle dignity, which she inherited from her parents...After Madison's election as President to succeed Thomas Jefferson, the presidential mansion became more than ever the center of gay and brilliant society. The stiff formality and rigid ceremonials which had marked the reign of Martha Washington, were exchanged for ease, freedom, and lively conversation, all unnecessary etiquette being banished. Mrs. Madison's own manner was distinguished by a sweet and amiable courtliness that adorned her high station admirably...The summer home of President and Mrs. Madison was a beautiful place, less than a day's journey from Monticello where Jefferson lived. Their house was large and commodious, arranged more with a view to comfort than ornament, and stood at the front of a lofty and densely wooded hill, commanding a view of scenery remarkable for its picturesque beauty. One wing of the building was appropriated entirely to the use of mother Madison. The aged matron was attended by her old family servants, and surrounded by children and grandchildren...Never was Dolly Madison so lovely as in her loving attendance on this venerable woman. She also took delight in the society of the young, and participated in their pleasure to which she always contributed by her presence. A more affectionate and devoted wife never existed; and tenderly did she nurse and comfort her husband in his long illness...Ever since Dolly Madison gave it her gracious sanction at the White House, Ice Cream has been known as the most popular of all refreshments. She knew the importance of serving unusual, interesting refreshments in a day when there was no ways of getting Ice Cream in every conceivable form-large or small- appropriate for all occasions and seasons.

Well, I suppose we're still under a veil when it comes to just How Dolly Madison Made Ice Cream Fashionable in America? However, I did find more clues at the What's Cooking America website.

Legends and Myths of Ices & Ice Cream
-1813 - Mrs. Jeremiah Shadd (known as Aunt Sallie Shadd), a freed black slave, achieved legendary status among Wilmington's free black population as the inventor of ice cream. She'd opened a catering business with family members and created a new dessert sensation made from frozen cream, sugar, and fruit.
Dolly Madison wife of President James Madison who was the fourth President of the United State, heard about the new dessert, went to Wilmington to try it. Mrs. Madison enjoyed Sallie's ice cream so much it became part of the menu at her husband's Second Inauguration Ball in 1813, as well as the official dessert of White House dinners. Her White House dinners became renowned for their strawberry "bombe glacee" centerpiece desserts.
1832 - African-American, Augustus Jackson, is credited for the modern method of manufacturing, (not discovering) ice cream, and the multiple ice cream recipes he developed around 1832. He uniquely used ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of his special mix of ingredients. Unfortunately he never applied for a patent. He left his position as a cook/chef at the White House, moved to Philadelphia and created several popular ice cream flavors and methods of manufacturing ice cream. He distributed it in tin cans to Philadelphia’s many ice cream parlors. Today Jackson is called the "father of ice cream."

There isn't much information freely available about Augustus Jackson except to suggest that he may have been born in Shreveport, Louisiana possibly on April 16, 1808. However, it is well documented that he was a cook at the White House well into the late 1820s and then moved to Philadelphia where he started his own catering business. According to Chilly Philly, "He made ice cream for his own customers as well as two other African American owned ice cream parlors on South Street. He ran a successful business for at least the next 30 years and became one of Philadelphia's wealthiest African American citizens. One source claims that African Americans had a monopoly on the ice cream trade in the mid nineteenth century. The following quote may help to explain their success..." Sorry to leave you hanging but, if you like, you really should read it yourself...
Augustus Jackson never applied for any patents. His method of manufacturing ice cream which involved the use of salt is still used today. He never patented any of his ice cream recipes either. Without a doubt, Augustus Jackson has his place in the history of Philadelphia Ice Cream right up there with Benjamin Franklin.

A Treatise on the History of Ice Cream in Philadelphia
Franklin invented ice cream in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. And we've all heard of Dolley Madison, doyenne of the American hostess and famous first lady who made a splash in the social scene by offering up ice cream at the White House. Before marrying James Madison, however, Dolley Payne Todd resided at 4th & Walnut in Philadelphia and is thought to have first served ice cream to guests here!...By the turn-of-the-nineteenth-century, ice cream was to be had regularly in Philadelphia, although only if one had money. In the 1820s, an African American chef named Augustus Jackson moved to Philadelphia and set up catering and selling ice cream. Jackson had been previously employed as a cook at the White House. A hard worker and savvy businessman, Jackson devised recipes and innovated manufacturing techniques which led to a large clientele for his ice cream. In fact, many free blacks in Philadelphia made a decent trade in ice cream well into the nineteenth century when racial prejudice led to their decline. source

I was delightfully surprised to discover a microcreamery in Boston, MA. where their mission is to make "the best vegan ice creams you've ever tasted."Now, as most of my visitors probably know by now, I'm not a vegetarian but, according to the Wheeler's Frozen Dessert Co. website,they use the same method to manufacture their ice cream which was mastered by Augustus Jackson. Naturally, I would like to share a few recipes from the booklet with you. I have scanned a few below.

During her husband's political life, Dolly Madison was noted as a gracious hostess, whose sassy, ebullient personality, love of feathered turbans, and passion for snuff (tobacco) seemed at odds with her Quaker upbringing. However, probably her most lasting achievement was her rescue of valuable treasures, including state papers and a Gilbert Stuart painting of President George Washington, from the White House before it was burned by the British army in 1814 during the War of 1812. She could not simply pull it off the wall; the frame was screwed onto the wall and she had a caretaker cut the painting out of the frame.

According to Margaret Truman's book, "First Ladies," Dolley Madison was enraged at how American soldiers fled rather than fought the oncoming British, and even slept with a sabre near her bedside should a British soldier show up in the middle of the night. Dolley Madison remained a popular figure in Washington, D.C. long after her husband's presidency ended, and was the only private citizen (much less a woman) to be allowed to sit in on Congress, on the congressional floor, while it was in session. Resources

  • 1. The Dolley Madison Project (A website devoted to the life, letters, and legacy of Dolley Madison.)
  • 2. Pop Culture & Dolley Madison
  • 3. First Lady Biography: Dolley Madison
  • 4. Dolly Madison Notable Women of North America
  • 5. How Dolly Made Ice Cream Fashionable In America
  • 6. Homemade Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker (scroll down)
  • 7. Augustus Jackson @ wiki
  • 8. Augustus Jackson @ Souther Foods Connection
  • 9. Why is George Washington considered the Father of this nation?
  • 10. Wheeler's Black Label @ The Conscious Kitchen Blog
  • 11. Banana Gelato Recipe
  • 12. Spaghetti Ice Cream?


  1. I never knew that about Ice Cream in America. Great informative post.

  2. A wonderful post full of delicious facts...I know that in manyold cookbooks "Philadelphia ice cream" usually means a really creamy rich ice cream, and that Philly was THE ice cream city. But I didn't really think about why until now - thanks for the enlightenment!

  3. Hi Louise - I have visited Montpelier in Virginia. It is a lovely estate with some very interesting features. When I was there, they were continuing to restore a portion to the time of the Madisons, but the other half of the estate is circa WWII modern as it was owned at that time by members of the Dupont family!

  4. Hi Courtney,

    Thanks for visiting!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    You just never know what will be revealed within the pages of a recipe book but, I'm sure you know that:)

  5. Good Morning Lidian,

    Thank you so much for visiting and for the kind words.

    I would have never thought there could be such a difference.

    Indeed, "Philadelphia Ice Cream" does have a creamy rich past...

  6. Hi T.W.

    Nice to "see" you. Thanks for stopping by...

    It must have been wonderful to stand in Dolley's backyard where she held her notorious summer barbecues...

    I wasn't aware the Dupont's shared the estate. I'm not sure how I feel about that...


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise