In the November 2001 issue of the Georgia Dental Association Journal, former editor W. Louis Johnson penned "Beyond the Sea,"1 a perceptive editorial in which he reviewed NDA II: The Story of America's Second National Dental Association,2 the recently published book about Black dentists in the United States. He commended the historical work and its authors Clifton O. Dummett and his wife, Lois Doyle Dummett. Dr. Johnson believed the tragic events that occurred the previous month on September 11, 2001 challenged Americans to reflect upon patriotism and increased tolerance among the world's peoples. He concluded the editorial with thanks to Dr. Dummett for his history as an "American from beyond the sea."
Just over one year ago, in another fateful September (2006), the Dummetts mourned the death of their beloved son Dr. Clifton O. Dummett Jr., the victim of a malignant brain tumor.3 He was a professor and head of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Patriarch, The First Generation: Alexander Adolphus Dummett (1874–1949)
Cliff Dummett Jr.'s career path in dentistry represents a tradition initially forged by his grandfather Alexander Adolphus Dummett. Born in Georgetown, British Guiana, South America, a colony of Great Britain, Alexander Adolphus was the eldest of five children. His father was an industrious brick mason, devoted to the welfare of his family, from whom young Adolphus learned the basics of the trade. He attended school and then trained as chemist/pharmacist and became qualified. Following a sojourn to Africa, A.A. Dummett returned to the Colony's capitol city where in early 1900 he opened a drugstore in Georgetown's industrial area and developed a lucrative business. Eventually he became interested in the patient-care side of the health profession and sought training in dentistry as a dental apprentice to one Dr. Rogers, an American dentist who had migrated to Georgetown from a prior practice in Barbados, B.W.I.
Pursuant to educational practices of his time and place, A.A. Dummett fulfilled existing Colonial requirements for qualification and in 1906 he became a registered [End Page 1] dentist in Georgetown.4,5 Larger quarters were procured to accommodate both drugstore and dental clinic while management of the drugstore was shared with his brother Allan Allister Dummett.
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A.A. Dummett took up residence at 62 Hadfield Street in 1910. This was the same year Dr. Adolph L. Hymans of Dutch Guiana graduated from Howard University Dental College. Hymans returned to South America, this time to British Guiana, and began his practice in Georgetown. He and A.A. Dummett were colleagues. A family connection developed the following year in 1911 with A.A. Dummett's marriage to Eglantine Johnson, whose eldest brother Reginald Fitzherbert Johnson, an Edinburgh-educated physician, was married to Annie Hymans, elder sister of Adolph Hymans. Eighteen years later in 1929 Hymans became the first dentist of African descent named to Fellowship in the International College of Dentists.6
Dummett's marriage produced one daughter and three sons. Following the death [End Page 2] of brother Allan Dummett in 1921, the drugstore was leased and the dental clinic was established at the Dummett residence on Hadfield Street. Alexander Dummett served a broadly mixed clientele that included the poor and underprivileged of Georgetown's multiracial populations. His caring demeanor and helpful attitude contributed to establishing a highly successful general dentistry practice for 38 years.7
The Second Generation
Devoted to the goals and philosophies of the health professions, A. Adolphus Dummett looked to his children to travel that path. His family concerns were fully supported by his wife Eglantine Annabella, a musically talented and well-educated daughter of Hannibal Johnson, a successful boat builder. The Dummetts' eldest child, a daughter, Ella Adolphine, was urged to study pharmacy in 1928. She completed her studies, but subsequently gave up her pharmacy career for marriage to Dr. Philip Gladstone Barrow, a physician. The Dummett's eldest son, Hannibal Alexander, was encouraged to study dentistry in the United States where his father believed superior dentistry was taught...