Descendants of Phillis Gordon, who was enslaved by former Mayor John Gordon of Gordonsville, TN, prior to and following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, will visit the site of the former plantation Saturday, July 16, at 9:30 a.m. The celebration of her life is part of the family’s biennial Family Reunion, being held in Nashville. Family members from California, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia
Gordonsville Mayor John Potts and local historian John Waggoner will welcome the family at the Gordonsville Funeral Home, 71 E Main Street, in Gordonsville, which is adjacent to the former home of then Mayor John Gordon. The family will walk to the property and visit the gravesite of the former mayor.
“For generations, our family has passed down stories of Phillis and her son Gilbert and their time on the Gordon plantation,” said Dr. Princess Gordon-Aziz, a coordinator for the event.
“Stories that Phillis’ son was fathered by former Mayor John Gordon were part of our oral history until it was recently confirmed through a DNA match on Ancestry.com. In a will written by Alice Amis Gordon, the mayor’s widow, in 1865, she bequeathed to her children several human beings, including Phillis Gordon, our 3 rd great- grandmother; her son, Gilbert, and several other enslaved people including her sons Eli, Edmond, and Prince.
“According to the will, the slaves she owned and their children and their children’s children, etc., were never to be free. They would remain the property of the family forever.
“John G. Moore, of Indianapolis, IN, a cousin and fellow historian, will join us for the celebration as his 2 nd great-grandfather, William Gordon, was sold by Mayor Gordon, his father, to the Moore family, changing his last name but not the fact that William was also one of the mayor’s children.
“The purpose for this celebration is to give honor to those who endured the ravages of slavery. If not for their resilience and the grace of God, we would not be here today to tell their story, our family’s story.”