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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Rev. Eleanor Elizabeth Gordon

The Rev. Eleanor E. Gordon has exerted a lasting influence upon the lives of hundreds, indeed thousands, of Iowa people, among whom she has worked chiefly since her ordination into the Unitarian ministry in 1889.  Seven years in Sioux City were followed by terms of service in the churches of Iowa City, Des Moines, and Burlington, and two years in Fargo, North Dakota.  She has been secretary of the Iowa Unitarian Conference for seven years and still holds that position.  For three years of this time she had charge of the field work and also edited the state paper, Old and New.  For the last four years Miss Gordon has had charge in the winter of the Unitarian church in Orlando, Florida.  This is a winter parish only and the work can be done easily by one who has a four months' vacation.  Miss Gordon's work has been characterized by practical accomplishment and she has achieved her ends by her own hard work, rather than by exercising the art of getting other people to do it.  She might say with the Tennessee Sheriff:  "I seen my duty and I done it."  She has sought results rather than personal glory.  Whenever the Unitarians have had a forlorn hope it has been the rule to send Miss Gordon there because she was willing to make the sacrifice and her good sense, tact and intellectual power were counted on to put the cause right.  Her most important work probably was saving the church at Iowa City, the seat of the State University.  Numerous men had been trying it for many years, supported by the American Unitarian Association and had not made much impression.  Miss Gordon made the Unitarian gospel respected there and gave the church its first real grip on the university so that now it has a real reason for being.  Cheerfulness and unselfishness, as well as intellectual ability of high order, have given Miss Gordon her strong hold upon the affections of the people she has served.  Her preaching has always been sane and wholesome.  She understands human nature and is charitable and broad in her views, so people have trusted her and been helped by her counsel.  Her grasp of affairs and tactful way of getting on with people were well shown in her management of the Woman's Suffrage Campaign in the State Legislature.  Miss Gordon was president of the State Suffrage Association for two years.  In this work, as in all her parishes, she commanded the devoted support of loyal friends, and these friends she holds through life, for they never fail to find her friendship helpful and uplifting.

Miss Gordon was born in 1852 at Hamilton, Ill., the daughter of Samuel Gordon and Permelia Alvord.  The Alvords were of English origin.  The Gordons were Scotch Presbyterians, driven from Scotland under the Catholic persecution and settled in Ireland.  They came to America in 1745, and the old Gordon homestead still stands in Peterborough, N. H.  She was educated at the Iowa State University and at Cornell University, N. Y.  Her address is Hamilton, Ill.



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