Willie and Nellie: A Love Story & A Ghost Tale
On October 31, 1860, in downtown Savannah, Georgia, Juliette Gordon, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA, was born to Nellie and William Gordon. The Gordon family was well-known and very prominent in Savannah. William was the first person from Georgia to graduate from West Point and he was also a founder of the Central of Georgia Railroad.
During the Civil War, Willie fought with the Confederate army and was wounded at the battle of Atlanta. After their wartime separation, Willie returned home to Savannah in 1865. Willie also bravely fought in the Spanish American War as a general.
When Willie died in 1912, his body was escorted to the Laurel Grove Cemetary. After Willie's passing, his children feared for their mother's sanity. He was her first and last love.
Just days before Nellie passed away, she told her daughter-in-law Ellie, "When I die, I don't want anybody to wear mourning clothes. I don't want any tears. I will be so happy to be with my Willie again, everyone should be happy for me and celebrate."
Nellie died in her home on February 22, 1917. Her five living children were with her at her moment of death. Nellie's daughter-in-law, Margaret, was sitting quietly in an adjoining bedroom that had belonged to the general, William Gordon. She began to stand when she heard Nellie's bedroom door open, but sat right back down when she realized who she was looking at. Standing right in front of her, wearing his familiar grey suit, was the general himself. He walked through his old room and down the front stairs.
Margaret sat frozen in place for a few moments. When she was finally able to gain her composure and make her way downstairs, she saw the family butler standing there with tears streaming down his face. The butler told the same story as Margaret. He had seen the general, in his grey suit, walk down the stairs and out the front door, as he always did.
Daisy Gordon Lawrence, a niece of Juliette's, had this to write of Nellie's last moments: "Her children said that when she died, her face took on the radiance of a bride, going to meet her bridegroom."
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