In Celebration of 100 Years of Girl Scouting

Posted March 12, 2012 by Geni | No Comment

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, we’re happy to present a post by guest blogger Angela Kraft of Leaves of Heritage Genealogy, who gives us a few things to ponder about Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.

Thank you for allowing me to be a guest blogger! My name is Angela Kraft, and I am the owner of Leaves of Heritage Genealogy.  In honor of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, I will be sharing a few facts and misnomers about scouting and our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, best known as Daisy.

1. Daisy was born as Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon.

As of now I have found no evidence to suggest that Juliette had two middle names. She was named after her maternal grandmother Juliette Augusta (Magill) Kinzie. Daisy’s family naming tradition is to use the first name and maiden surname of an ancestor as a child’s first and middle name, thus Daisy’s name would be Juliette Magill Gordon. So far all of the documents I have amassed point to the conclusion that she only had the middle name Magill, aside from a few published works by mostly non-family members.

Though I am not in possession of all evidence of Daisy’s true name, so far the scale is in favor of Juliette Magill Gordon. Why does it matter you ask? Other than my desire to uphold the standards of my profession, I just have this need to get to the bottom of the matter, if possible. I’ll keep you posted!

2. Daisy married a wealthy Englishman.

William Mackay Low was born in Rhode Island to Mary Cowper Stiles, a Savannah, Georgia native. His father, Andrew Low, was born in Scotland but went to Georgia in his youth to take over his uncle’s company. He gained great wealth and was able to keep an estate in England. After the destruction of the Civil War on Georgia, and the loss of his second wife, Andrew Low took his children to live in England around 1867, when William was about seven years of age.  Willie, or Bilow as Daisy called him, began frequent trips back and forth to the states in his early twenties, meeting Daisy shortly after. They were married December 21, 1886 at Christ Church in Savannah.

3. Girl Scouting was started by Lord Baden-Powell and his wife Olave.

In 1907 then Sir Baden-Powell began a movement for boys that became what is known as scouting. At some point his sister Agnes began working with girls in a scouting environment, but by 1911 when Daisy met the Powells she became engrossed and helped their cause along. It was Sir Baden-Powell’s desire to keep girsl separate from boys. In some accounts it is said that he didn’t think scouting was any place for girls, and another account says he just wanted girls not to be viewed poorly as tomboys and such as that was not acceptable at the time.

Daisy began troops in London and Scotland before bringing her endeavor to the United States. Around this time, Lord Baden-Powell married Olave Soames who quickly imbedded herself in the scouting movement, slowly forcing Agnes out of the way, and even slowing or cutting off correspondence between Daisy and Lord Baden-Powell.

So Agnes and Daisy are given a small place on the shelf in the world view of scouting in Britain thanks to the efforts of Baden-Powells, but without them, the girl guiding movement may not have taken off the way it did.

4. Daisy died of breast cancer.

Daisy was diagnosed with breast cancer around 1923. The cancer metastasized in her body and her ultimate killer was cancer of the liver. She died on January 17, 1927 and was laid to rest in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, wearing her Girl Scout uniform with a telegram in her pocket from the National Board of Girl Scouts of the USA that read, “You are not only the first Girl Scout, you are the best Girl Scout of them all.”

5. Juliette Gordon Low is my cousin.

Well I am still working on proving or disproving this theory, but both of us do have Burbanks in our family line that hail from Massachusetts during the same time period. So for now, I say a big maybe! I’ll keep you posted on this one too.

So the bottom line is that Juliette Gordon Low was known to the world as Daisy and on March 12, 1912 she called her cousin Nina Pape and told her, “Come right over! I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” And so began a century of wonderful opportunities for girls that would not have otherwise been possible.

*source citations upon request