Collection SC/041 - Eleanor Lytle Kinzie Gordon letters to Mary Williams (Mrs. Eliphalet W.) Blatchford

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Reference code

US ILfC SC/041

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Eleanor Lytle Kinzie Gordon letters to Mary Williams (Mrs. Eliphalet W.) Blatchford




Name of creator

Biographical history

Eleanor (Nelly, as she wrote it, or Nellie) Lytle Kinzie Gordon was born in Chicago June 18, 1835. She was the "daughter of John A. [sic] and Juliette (Magill) Kinzie." Eleanor Lytle Kinzie married Mr. William Washington Gordon II. Gordon rose to the rank of Captain in the Confederate army during the Civil War. and was given the rank of Brigadier General in 1898 (Spanish/American War) when he volunteered for the U.S. Army at the request of President McKinley. He was appointed to the Puerto Rico Peace Commission. After their marriage, they lived in his home city of Savannah, GA, in what now is known as the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (Low being the founder of the Girl Scouts, 1912). Mary Willliams Blatchford apparently was a friend from her younger days, during her first twenty-two years in Chicago, 1835-1857. By 1861 and the opening of hostilities between the Union and the Confederacy keeping up old friendships across the Mason-Dixon line would have been difficult. These two letters apparently represent a re-kindling of this old amity between the women over a half century after Gordon had left Chicago. But the warmth of Gordon's letters to her old friend is palpable.

Eleanor Kinzie Gordon published in 1910 apparently at her home in Savannah, Georgia, John Kinzie, the "Father of Chicago--A Sketch: .

Nelly Gordon's first letter, to her old Chicago friend Mrs. Blatchford, perhaps of early July 1910, is a response to a "thank you" note for a copy of her 1910 sketch of Gordon's grandfather, John Kinzie or McKenzie (1763-1828), father of John H. Kinzie (1803-1868). Mrs. Gordon asks Mrs. Blatchford to report to Mr. Blatchford (a founder of the Newberry Library) that she has more copies of her privately-produced 1910 book.

The second letter, dated July 27, 1910, is written in response to receiving a group of photos of the Blatchfords from Mary, and she also sends them a copy of her collection of poems in memory of a deceased daughter, Sarah Alice Gordon (b. 1863).

Another daughter of Mrs. Gordon's, Juliette Gordon Low, was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace museum, Savannah, is the Gordon home near Low's later home that also served as the first Girls Scouts headquarters. The the 1910 sketch of John Kinzie, mentioned in the letters, and the subsequent 1914 second edition of the Juliette (Mrs. John H.) Kinzie account of the Battle of Fort Dearborn with its appended family history both served to deal with the issue of the legitimacy of the children of the John Kinzie second "marriage" to Eleanor McKillip, notably Mrs. Gordon and also by 1914 her increasingly high-profile daughter, Juliette ("Daisy") Gordon Low (1860-1927).

The two letters were purchased ca. 1988-90, at the book sale of the Newberry Library.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection contains two letters from Nelly (Eleanor) Kinzie Gordon to Mary Williams Blatchford (Mrs. Eliphalet W.) in the summer of 1910, a duplicate copy of 1914 second edition of her mother's, Juliette Kinzie's narrative of her mother-in-law Mrs. Kinzie's account of the 1812 Battle of Fort Dearborn, and a short reference file granting a brief overview of Kinzie family background. Mrs. Nelly Gordon was the spouse of General W. W. Gordon II of Savannah, Georgia, and the mother of Juliette Gordon Low, founder in 1912 of the Girl Scouts in the U.S.A.

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This collection is held in one box and in clear sleeves within separate folders.

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Custodial history

On file in the Special Collections reference file, since the 1990s.

Immediate source of acquisition

Purchase, $3.00, for Rosemary and Rue (1906) with the two Gordon to Blatchford letters.

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Related archival materials

Rosemary and Rue, ed. Eleanor Kinzie Gordon (New York: Dutton, 1906), a collection of poetry collected over many years by Mrs. Gordon in memory of her daughter Sarah Alice Gordon, and with a presntation from her in 1910 to Mary (Mrs. Eiphalet) Blatchford.  See catalog record:

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