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About Juliette Magill Kinzie Low (Gordon)
Juliette Gordon Low (born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon in Savannah, Georgia, October 31, 1860 – January 17, 1927) was an American youth leader and the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912.
Juliette Gordon Low's mother's family came from Chicago and her father was a Confederate Captain in the American Civil War and a Brigadier General in the United States army during the Spanish-American War. She was always called by her nickname "Daisy" to her friends and family. Another one of her nicknames was "Little Ship." She acquired this nickname while staying with her maternal grandparents John H. Kinzie and Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie in Chicago at the end of the the Civil War. The families of Confederate officers were required to leave Savannah after the December 1864 surrender to General William T. Sherman. Daisy went with her mother, Eleanor Kinzie Gordon and sisters Alice and Nelly. Daisy loved to hear the story about her great-grandmother, who was captured by Native Americans. Even though she was a captive, she was always joyful, so the Native Americans started calling her "Little-Ship-Under-Full-Sail." She was the adopted daughter of the Seneca chief Cornplanter in the years she dwelt with the tribe. Eventually, the Seneca said they'd give Juliette's great-grandmother whatever gift she wanted, and she chose to go back home. The Seneca let her go. The shorter version of the nickname was bestowed on young Juliette. Daisy was always jumping into new games, hobbies and ideas.
Juliette was educated in several prominent boarding schools, including the Virginia Female Institute (now Stuart Hall School), Edgehill School run by Thomas Jefferson's granddaughters, the Misses Randolph, Miss Emmett's school in Morristown, NJ and and Mesdemoiselles Charbonniers (a French finishing school in New York City).
When she was about 25 years old, Juliette suffered an ear infection. she persuaded the doctor to try and experimental treatment, an injection of silver nitrate. This treatment damaged her ear, causing her to lose a great deal of her hearing in that ear.
At the age of 26, she married William Mackay Low, the son of a wealthy cotton merchant in Savannah and England. His mother was a native of Savannah, Georgia. Their wedding took place on December 21, 1886, which happened to be her parents' 29th wedding anniversary. A grain of rice thrown at the wedding became lodged in Juliette's good ear. When it was removed, her ear drum was punctured and became infected, causing her to become completely deaf in that ear. Her hearing was limited for the rest of her life.She used a variety of hearing horns and hearing aids.
Her marriage to Low was childless. She has many surviving relatives. Her niece, Peggy Seiler is the daughter of her brother George Arthur Gordon, and there are a number of great and great-great nieces and nephews in Savannah, New york, Boston, Denver and other cities. The couple moved to England and after a two year search purchased Wellesbourne House in Warwickshire, not far from the Low home in Leamington Spa. Despite their intentions, the Lows never returned to live in Savannah, however they did vist the United States almost every year. they spent summers in London, went to Scotland in the fall for the hunting season, usually visited the United states in the Winter. Daisy also traveled to Europe between returning for annual visits to her parents and brothers in Savannah and her sister in New Jersey. She also traveled to Egypt and India after her husband died. During the Spanish-American War, Daisy came back to America to aid in the war effort. She helped her mother organize a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers returning from Cuba. Her father was commissioned as a general in the U.S. Army and served on the Puerto Rican Peace Commission.
By 1901, her husband had repeatedly requested a divorce. Upon returning home from a visit, she discovered his mistress, Mrs. Anna Bateman ensconced in their home, at which point she acquiesced. They were legally separated. However, her husband died from stroke in 1905 before the divorce proceedings could be finalized. When his will was read Daisy learned that that her husband had left his money and entire estate to to his mistress, Mrs. Batemen,with only an allowance for Daisy to be administered by Mrs. Bateman. Daisy with help of her British solicitor and her brother sued for the widow's portion. In 1911 that Juliette met Second Boer War hero (and founder of the Scouting movement) Robert Baden-Powell. The B-P recruited her to the Girl Guiding movement. He had gotten his sister Agnesto organize the Girl Guides by recruiting the thousands of girls who had sprung up in scout troops across England. Daisy and Sir Robert (later Lord) Baden Powell shared a passion for sculpture, poetry and art. She also enjoyed working with iron. She had hired the Wellesbourne village blacksmith to teach her iron and copper smithing so she could create iron gates for her home, Wellesbourne House.
While in the UK, Daisy organized a troop in Scotland and two in London before she decided that she would start the movement on her next visit home to Savannah. On returning to America in 1912, Juliette placed her historic telephone call to her cousin, Nina Anderson Pape: "Come right over! I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" They feverishly recruited girls and leaders throughout Savannah—from the Female Orphan Asylum to Mickve Israel, to the steps of Christ Church, and the daughters of the powerful and influential families. On March 12, 1912, Daisy gathered 17 girls to register the first 2 troops of American Girl Guides. Margaret "Daisy Doots" Gordon, her niece and namesake, was the first registered member, but did not attend the first meeting. by May 1912, Daisy was on her way back home to London, but her mother wrote her that some mysterious benefactor was converting carriage house behind the house Daisy was renting to the Nash family to "club rooms" for the Girl Guides. Daisy's mother guess the benefactor is in fact Daisy. The Nash family were an illustrious occupant. Ogden, 10 years old in 1912, grew up to be the famous American poet. He immortalized "Mrs. Low's House" in one of his poems. Eleanor was one of the first "Guide Mistresses" as they called leaders. Mr. Nash continued to pay rent for the carriage house even after it was converted for use by the Girl Guides, becoming one of the first financial supporters for the fledgling movement. The name of the organization was changed to Girl Scouts by 1913. The organization was incorporated in 1915, with Daisy serving as president until 1920 when she was granted the title of founder and turned all her attention to the world wide movement. "Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting can be the magic thread which links the your of the world together"
In personality, Daisy was known for being eccentric and charming. One commonly related anecdote recounts how, at an early Scout board meeting, she stood on her head to display the new Girl Scout shoes that she happened to be wearing. She also wrote poems; sketched, wrote and acted in plays; and became a skilled painter and sculptor. She had many pets throughout her life and was particularly fond of exotic birds like her macaw and her parrot, Georgia mockingbirds, dogs, cats, and a few horses. Daisy was also known for her great sense of humor.
Juliette Gordon Low developed breast cancer in 1923, but kept it a secret and continued diligently working for the Girl Scouts. Low died January 17, 1927, from cancer, and was buried in her Girl Scout uniform in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.
In Savannah, Georgia tourists and locals can visit three historic sites which relate to the life of Juliette Gordon Low. The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is one of the most visited house museums in Georgia. she inherited The Andrew Low House after the death of her husband William Mackay Low in 1905, and The Girl Scout First Headquarters is the former carriage house of the Andrew Low family. Daisy converted the carriage house into her Girl Scout "club rooms" for the girls shortly by May or June 1912 and willed it to the local Savannah Girl Scouts upon her death in 1927.
During World War II, a Liberty ship was named after her, the SS Juliette Low, hull number 2446. This ship was launched in Savannah, Georgia, on May 12, 1944, and scrapped in 1972.
On July 3, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill authorizing a stamp in honor of Juliette Gordon Low. She was only the eighth woman to be honored with a stamp. There have been three Girl Scout U.S. postage stamps.
In 1953, Girl Scouts of the USA purchased and restored Juliette Low's childhood home in Savannah. It became known as the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center, and is often referred to in Scouting as the Birthplace. In 1965, the house was designated a registered National Historic Landmark.
In 1954, the city of Savannah, Georgia, honored her by naming a school after her. A Juliette Low School also exists in Anaheim, California and Arlington Heights, Illinois. On October 28, 1979, Juliette Low was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
On December 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill naming a new federal building in Savannah in honor of Juliette Low. It was the second federal building in US history to be named after a woman; the first was the Mary Switzer Building.
In 1992, a Georgia non-profit group honored Juliette Low as one of the first Georgia Women of Achievement. A bust of Juliette Low is displayed in the State Capitol.
In 2000, The Deaf World in Wax, a traveling exhibit, featured Juliette Low as a famous deaf American.
In 2005, Juliette Low was honored as part of a new national monument in Washington, D.C. named The Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway. The monument's medallions, laid into sidewalks adjacent to the White House, form a one-mile walking path.
Today you can visit Juliette's home in Savannah,Georgia.