William Washington Gordon, Sr.

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William Washington Gordon, Sr.

Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: screven, Georgia
Death: 1842 (45)
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Ambrose Gordon and Elizabeth "Betsey" Gordon
Husband of Sarah Anderson Wayne Gordon
Father of George Anderson Gordon; Gen. William W. Gordon, II (CSA); Eliza Clifford Stiles and Gulielma Harrison
Brother of Mississippi Cuyler; Anne Wayne; Julia GORDON; Margaret GORDON; <private> GORDON and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
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About William Washington Gordon, Sr.


William Washington Gordon (January 17, 1796 – March 22, 1842) was an American politician and businessman. Gordon was born in Screven County, Georgia. He was named after American Revolutionary War General William Washington under whom Gordon's father, Ambrose Gordon, served as a cavalry lieutenant.


Upon the death of Ambrose Gordon in 1804, William Washington Gordon was sent to school in Rhode Island and then attended the United States Military Academy. He graduated from that institution in 1815 and was the first person from Georgia to do so. He remained in the army for half a year, serving as an aide-de-camp to Edmund P. Gaines. He then returned to Savannah, Georgia to study law under James Moore Wayne.

Gordon would also marry Wayne's niece, Sarah Anderson "Addy" Stites, in 1826 and purchase Wayne's unfinished Savannah home in 1830. Washington's granddaughter, Juliette Gordon Low – founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, was born and raised in the Wayne-Gordon House. The national Girl Scouts organization bought the house in 1953, renovated it and dedicated it on October 19, 1956 as the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, a museum in honor of Low. The house was Savannah's first registered National Historic Landmark.

Gordon became a member of the state bar in 1820 and served in several local public positions. In 1834, Gordon was elected as the mayor of Savannah and served in that position until 1836. During his mayoral service, he was elected to the Georgia General Assembly as a member of the House of Representatives in 1835. In 1838, he was elected to the Georgia Senate.

He founded and served as the first president of the Central Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia, which would later be reorganized as the Central of Georgia Railway. Today the Central of Georgia lines are a component of the Norfolk Southern Railway.

Gordon died in Savannah in 1842 from bilious pleurisy and was originally buried in Colonial Cemetery in that city; however, his grave was later moved to Laurel Grove Cemetery. One year later, in 1843 the railroad he founded desecrated the important Native American site of Ocmulgee National Monument, sacred to the Creek Indians, when it constructed a rail line through the site that partially destroyed the Lesser Temple Mound. In 1873, the Central Railroad built a second rail line through the site, this time nearly destroying the Funeral Mound which contained the graves of the ancestors of the Creek Indians. The workers removed bones and other artifacts from this burial mound further desecrating this sacred site.

On June 25, 1882, the Central of Georgia Railroad and Banking Company constructed a memorial to Gordon in Savannah's Wright Square. To do so they destroyed the grave of Indian Chief Tomochichi who had given General Oglethorpe the land on which to found the city of Savannah. Gordon's daughter-in-law, Nellie Kinzie Gordon, was outraged at this perceived insult to Tomochichi thus she and other members of the Colonial Dames of the State of Georgia erected a new monument to Tomochichi, made of granite from Stone Mountain, and located in the southwest corner of the square. Gordon, Georgia and Gordon County, Georgia are both named after Gordon.

After James Moore Wayne was appointed to the Supreme Court, he sold the house to his law clerk William Washington Gordon I, who was married to Moore’s niece, Sarah Stites Gordon. The Gordon family moved into the house in 1831 and made no major changes to the house, but continued work on the interior. William Washington Gordon I founder of the Central of Georgia Railroad, became involved in the actual construction of the rail lines. During one of his inspection trips to a construction site, he contracted a fever and died suddenly.After William Washington Gordon I died, the house was closed up. Sarah Gordon moved to New Jersey with the children so that they could be educated in northern schools which Mr. Gordon considered superior to the schools in Georgia. Sarah and the children remained in New Jersey for about ten years until the children had completed their education. During this time, they had an indoor bathroom added to the house in 1855 and also installed gas lighting.

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William Washington Gordon, Sr.'s Timeline

January 17, 1796
screven, Georgia
September 26, 1830
Age 34
Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, United States
October 14, 1834
Age 38
Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, United States
Age 40
Age 45