Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


When the immortal Humboldt, traveling in Mexico, discovered the dahlia and called the winsome flower after his good friend, Professor Dahl, of the University of Berlin, he little thought what a century or more would bring forth, and what, for example, would be accomplished by that other nature lover, Leslie E. Doolittle, who, as a dahlia specialist, with his unrivalled dahlia gardens and exhibits, has helped to make Del Monte world famous. A native son, he was born in Madeira, June 8, 1882, the son of James E. and Ida (Bailey) Doolittle. His father came to California in the early '70s, and both parents are still living, in comfortable retirement and cheered by appreciative friends.

Leslie E. Doolittle attended the public schools of Fresno, in which town he spent his youth, and then for a time engaged in commercial pursuits in Alameda. He next removed to San Jose, where he first became interested in growing dahlias. In 1914 he located at Pacific Grove, and it was he who first commenced to grow dahlias at "the Point" in Pacific Grove, his place becoming famous for its beauty of the "Dahlia Gardens." In 1916, however, he transferred his enterprise to a new location, the one now so pleasantly associated with him in Del Monte, where he has planted four and one-half acres to dahlias of every description and some of great rarity. He also has the same amount of land on the Kendall road, where he raises more dahlias. In 1915, he won the medal for the best general exhibit at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition against all competitors and his catalogue for 1923 contains one hundred and seven-five varieties, and three-fourths of these are of his own introduction. His Wizard of Oz is the finest dahlia in existence. He promoted and organized the first dahlia exhibition given at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. He is a member of the Dahlia Society of California, the National Dahlia Society of America, and the American Dahlia Society. Considering all that he has attained, in science and in art, the sentiment of the medal given him at the Panama-Pacific Exposition is peculiarly appropriate: "With divine touch man unites the different elements."

Mr. Doolittle married Miss Mary J. Baumgardner, and the children born to them are: Harold L., who is in the high school; Wallace E., in the Del Monte school; and Kenneth J., Lyle L., Stanley M., and Jean Comfort, who complete the family. Mr. Doolittle belongs to the Knights of Pythias in Monterey, and he is a supporter of the republican party.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.