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Woodrow Wilson's Daughters
About North Georgia

by Randy Golden exclusively for About North Georgia

Woodrow Wilson was about to be elected President of the United States on a brisk Georgia morning in November, 1912. It was heady times for the state of Georgia and for north Georgia in particular. Wilson's opponents: the rotund sitting president, William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt of the Bull Moose Party. Roosevelt's deep north Georgia ties came from his mother, born Mittie Bulloch in Roswell, Georgia. Yet, in Gainesville, Georgia, it is not the Bull Moose Party candidate who is garnering most of the attention. It is the square-jaw New Jersey governor that wins the hearts of this Georgia town.

Ellen Axson Wilson
First Lady Ellen Wilson is Georgia born and bred (and buried in Rome's famous Myrtle Hill Cemetery). Many people forget President Wilson grew up in Augusta, moved to Atlanta, where he was a successful attorney. Wilson was a frequent visitor to Savannah and Rome while courting Axson, his first First Lady. "Tommy" Wilson, as a young boy of six, met Ellen when she is just a baby. Twenty years later he again saw Miss Ellie Lou and began courting the lovely young woman. Married in June, 1885, the Wilsons shared a cottage just off the campus of Bryn Mawr, where the future president teaches while earning his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins

The story of Gainesville's love for President Wilson dates back to 1886. It is a simpler time in north Georgia, and an experienced midwife normally handles births, tending to both the new mother and baby. Hospitals are not involved unless a problem occurs. Ellen Axson Wilson returned to Gainesville to have the couple's first child in the home of Mrs. Wilson's closest living relative, Louisa Hoyt Brown. Ellen chose the Gainesville home of "Aunt Lou" because it is comfortable, well-furnished, and her aunt has a good deal of experience as a midwife. There is no proof that Mrs. Wilson makes the journey to Gainesville to "make sure her babies weren't born Yankees."

On April 16, 1886, Ellen Wilson gives birth to her first child, Margaret, in Aunt Lou's house on South Bradford Street. Woodrow arrives that June, shortly after completing his post-graduate work and stays until August, when they return to the cottage in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Wilson comes back to Gainesville again the next year to have her second daughter, Jessie. Eleanor "Little Nell" is born at Wesleyan University in 1889.

Woodrow Wilson becomes President of Princeton University in 1902, and Governor of New Jersey in 1910. Two years later he resigns that position to successfully run for President of the United States. His three daughters add much to the White House during his first term, including two weddings. Margaret, the Wilson's first child, took over many of the duties of the First Lady after the death of her mother on August 6, 1914, serving in that capacity until Wilson married his second wife, Edith Boling Galt on December 18, 1915.

County: Hall County

Bradford St., Gainesville, Georgia





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