The Gordon Family

Ambrose Gordon (1751-1804) came to Georgia from Monmouth County, N.J., sometime after the Revolutionary War and settled in Augusta. There he married Elizabeth Mead(e). The couple later moved to Savannah. Their son, William Washington (William W.) (1796-1842), was named for Lt. Colonel William Washington, under whom Ambrose served during the war. William W. married Sarah Anderson Stites (1806-1882), daughter of Richard Montgomery and Mary Wayne Stites. William W. was the first graduate of the United States Military Academy from Georgia (1815), a member of the Georgia legislature, mayor of Savannah, and founder and first president of the Central Rail Road and Banking Company (now the Central of Georgia Railroad Company). The children of William W. and Mary were George Anderson (George A.) (1830-1872); William Washington (W. W.) (1834-1912); Eliza Clifford, who married William Henry Stiles; and Gulielma C., who married George Evelyn Harrison of Virginia. George A., a lawyer of Huntsville, Ala., first married Caroline Steenbergen, with whom he had one son. After Caroline's death, he married Ellen Beirne. Beirne Gordon, the son of this marriage, became Uncle W. W.'s partner in business.

W. W. Gordon, a graduate of Yale University, was a cotton factor and commission merchant in Savannah. In the 1850s, he was associated with William Hayes Tison, who established Reed & Tison in Savannah with Elias Reed around 1853. When Reed died, Tison and William Mackay formed Tison & Mackay. This partnership was dissolved in July 1856, and W. W. became a partner with Tison in Tison & Gordon. Tison died in November 1877. In 1883, W. W. established his own firm, W. W. Gordon & Company, with Francis D. Bloodworth and Beirne Gordon as partners. Bloodworth resigned in September 1893. W. W.'s son Arthur joined the firm in that year and became a partner in the early 1900s. W. W. died in 1912, and the firm was reincorporated as Gordon & Company in June 1913. In January 1914, Beirne withdrew, and Arthur took over full ownership. From 1930 to 1934, the firm operated as the Gordon Cotton Company.

W. W. was a member of the Georgia Hussars, a Savannah cavalry troop, and entered the Civil War as a lieutenant. After the war, he served with the Georgia State Cavalry. W. W. served in the Georgia House of Representatives, 1884-1890. He entered the War of 1898 as brigadier general of the United States Volunteers. At the conclusion of the war, he served on the Commission of the United States for Porto Rico, which oversaw the withdrawal of Spanish troops from the island. Although he never again ran for office, he maintained an interest in Georgia Democratic Party politics throughout his life.

In 1857, W. W. married Eleanor (Nelly) Lytle Kinzie (1835-1917) of Chicago, daughter of John Harris and Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie. Juliette (1806-1870) was the author of The Chicago Massacre, first published in 1844 and later incorporated into her Wau-Bun (1856), which Nelly edited and published again in 1901 and 1912. Nelly also edited The Chicago Massacre for republication in 1912 as The Fort Dearborn Massacre. Nelly wrote Rosemary and Rue (1907) in memory of her daughter Alice and John Kinzie, the "Father of Chicago" (1910).

W. W. and Nelly's children were Eleanor (Nell) Kinzie (1858-1933); Juliette (Daisy) Magill Kinzie (1860-1927); Sarah Alice (Alice) (1863-1880); William Washington, Jr. (1866-1932); Mabel McLane; and George Arthur (Arthur) (1872-1941).

Eleanor (Nell) Kinzie Gordon (1858-1933), married Richard Wayne Parker, son of Cortlandt Parker, and lived in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., where her husband served in the United States Congress as Republican representative from New Jersey, 1895-1911, 1914-1919, and 1921-1923. Their children were Alice Gordon, Eleanor Wayne, Elizabeth Wolcott, Wayne, and Cortlandt.

Juliette (Daisy) Magill Kinzie Gordon (1860-1927), founder in 1912 of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, was a poet and painter who married William (Willie) Mackay Low of England. The marriage was extremely unhappy and ended, after much financial maneuvering and emotional distress over Willie's extramarital affairs, with Willie's death in 1905. Daisy was apparently charming and witty, but headstrong and irascible, especially when dealing with her mother. She lost the hearing in her left ear around 1885 and heard only poorly with the right ear in later years.

Sarah Alice (Alice) Gordon (1863-1880) died at a young age while she and Nelly were alone in New York. Alice's death apparently marked her mother's mental condition for many years, causing difficulties in her interactions with her other children, especially Daisy. William Washington Gordon, Jr. (1866-1932) was a lawyer of Savannah, graduate of Yale, and major in the Georgia militia. He married Ellen Buchanan Screven. Their children were William Washington ("B") and Margaret Eleanor (Daisy Doots), who married Samuel C. Lawrence. Mabel McLane Gordon married the Honorable Rowland Charles Frederick Leigh and lived in England with their children Rowland Henry Gordon and Margaret Ethel. Mabel was honored for her relief activities during World War I. She was the chief source of information for the rest of the family, especially Arthur, during Daisy's stormy marriage.

George Arthur (Arthur) Gordon, cotton merchant and civic leader of Savannah, married Margaret McGuire of Richmond, Va. Their children were Mary Stuart (1907- ), George Arthur, Jr. (1912- ), Edward McGuire (b. 1916), and Margaret Eleanor (1923- ). George Arthur, Jr., was a writer, and Edward died of an illness aboard ship during World War II. Arthur, a Yale graduate, was associated with his father in the cotton business. He was also active in the warehousing business, serving as president of the Savannah Warehouse and Compress Company, 1924-1941. In addition, Arthur served as captain in the Georgia State Troops; city alderman, specializing in monitoring police activities, 1907-1911; member of the Savannah Board of Education, 1920-1923; and trustee of the Chatham Academy. He belonged to many civic and social clubs and was a strong Savannah booster. He also was interested in Democratic Party politics at the national, state, and local levels. Arthur was Daisy's chief confidant during her struggles, and he and Mabel carried on a long and detailed correspondence throughout their lives.

Margaret (Peggy) Eleanor Gordon, daughter of George Arthur Gordon and Margaret McGuire, married the Reverend Robert S. Seiler. Between 1963 and 1968, they, along with their three children, lived in Manila, Philippines, while Robert Seiler worked for Church World Service.

(Based on note in the inventory to the Gordon Family Papers, Georgia Historical Society, and other sources.)