Corinne Elliott Lawton, Obituary, Savannah Morning News, 1877

Savannah Morning News, 1877 edition from January 1 – December 31, 1877, page 337.  We later went in search of the address of her home, BUT we don’t know if it was EAST Perry Street or WEST Perry Street.  Regardless, there are no homes at either location, only newer buildings or concrete parking lots.  We wonder if the house number is a typo.

Jan. 25, 1877:  3/1 – Funeral invitation –

Lawton – The friends and acquaintances of General and Mrs. A. R. Lawton are invited to attend the funeral of their eldest daughter, Corinne, this morning at 11 o’clock from their residence 135 Perry St.


(Edited on 7/10/13)  If you would like to read an account of Corinne’s last days as written by her mother in her diary, click here.  If you would prefer to believe the trashy stories that are still being spread about her, by all means, don’t bother clicking the link.  But believe me, if someone was making up lies about you and yours, I hope that someone will step up and defend you.

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43 Responses to “Corinne Elliott Lawton, Obituary, Savannah Morning News, 1877”

  1. bob Says:

    i was there on 7 apr 2010 and looked back over my shoulder with a start because i thought someone had sneaked up on me, but it was hollow-eyed corrine peering down at me. i’ve just included the incident in a novel i’m writing. thanks for mentioning the legend of her life and death. very interesting.


  2. 2010 in review « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] Corinne Elliott Lawton, Obituary, Savannah Morning News, 1877 July 2010 1 comment 5 […]


  3. Frank Barcellona Says:

    is the statue sitting on the grave supposed to be HER??? I know its creepy, but I am in love with that statue, and make it a point to go out and see her whenever I am in Savannah. I was there a couple of weeks ago, and that section has had all the markers power washed…..she is a gleaming white, and upon my visit, someone else had placed camellia blossoms in what is left of her one outstretched hand. Beautiful!!


    • ruthrawls Says:

      I have guessed that the statue is her, but I don’t have any proof. I’m amazed at how much attention this post gets. The stats on this blog show that every week, and sometimes almost every day, people do searches using “Corinne Elliot Lawton” as a search term. Why are we so fascinated by her?


      • Karen Says:

        Hi Ruth: I read your “A Florrie Story” about Mz. Florrie in Garnett, SC. Gosh, I know Ms. Florrie, my grandmother lived next door to her. I would sure like to talk to you further. Please reply. KP


    • Valorie Jeffords Says:

      Yes, Frank Barcellona. Her Parents Commisioned Famous Sculptor, Benedetto Civiletti, From Palermo, Italy, To Create Her Statue From Photographs & The Recollection Of Her Parents. Corrine Is Captivating. She’s Lifelike Just Like The Statue Of Little 6 Year Old Gracie Watson Also Interred In Bonaventure Cemetery. The Same Process Was Used In Both Artistic Creations, By Different Sculptors. I Think We’re Drawn To The Humanity Of The Sculptures. Their Uncanny Likeness, They Have Expressions & Are Real People That Had Lives & Stories. Bonaventure Is Hauntingly Beautiful & I Found Corrine’s Monument While Just Wandering Around & Was Immediately Drawn To Her Beauty & The Artistry. She Seemed So Alone. So Sad. I Stood There & My Heart Grieved For A Young Lady I’d Never Known. I’m In Deep Southern Georgia & I’d Go Back As Often As I Could If I Were Closer. I Think It’s Wonderful That You Can Visit Bonaventure Often & Spend Time With Corrine. I Also Believe That The Young Lady Would Be Extremely Flattered. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel Lynne Says:

    Why are we so fascinated by her? I think because she died so young and the statue is breathtaking. My designer used her as part of my website and I didn’t even realize it was Corinne until I revisited Bonaventure last Saturday to take pics. I am writing a series of blog posts on Spectral Savannah as experienced by a fictional reporter for the Paranormal Post and this Friday she visits the spirits of Bonaventure :). I’m taking a lot of poetic license with the stories but it at least I get to throw in Savannah’s fabulous history.
    Thanks for the research, I haven’t made it down to Bull Street lately. Has anyone ever verified how Corinne died? I’m going with suicide but I can’t confirm it.


  5. Gayle B Says:

    I too have been mesmerized by Corinne Elliott Lawton for years..As I was strolling thru Bonaventure last fall I was near the river (where she supposed drown herself) yet could not find her stone..As I looked towards the Heavens I asked her for help to find her stone, when I opened my eyes and walked just a few feet I saw her..I have a post on my Facebook page of me sitting on her stone..I’ve had several people ask if we are somehow related..
    Truly enjoyed all the stories here..


  6. TheBarnTales Says:

    I know I visited your post because your post title/url includes “obituary.” I’d rather research RESEARCH than … well… some of the other things that popped up. 🙂


  7. james Says:


  8. GullringstorpGoatGal Says:

    Hej from Sweden!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and liking my recent post.
    Oh what a sad post. To prefer to die rather than marry someone that you don’t love. Just too sad.


    • ruthrawls Says:

      Goat Gal, I don’t “like” your goats, I *LOVE* your goats!
      Sugar and I are planning a trip, and I hope we can squeeze in a trip to the university to view the collection. Then we might know the real story.


  9. RIchard Says:

    During a Bonaventure guided tour back in 1999, the guide claimed that Corinne died in a boating accident out in the river, and that’s why her statue’s back is facing the river, in protest of the tragedy.


  10. In Search of Lawtons & Basingers: 1877 Letter of Condolence from Stuart Robinson to the Family of Corinne Elliott Lawton | Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] can read more about Rev. Stuart Robinson by clicking here.  You can also read the funeral invitation which I transcribed from the abstracts of the Savannah Morning News which does not mention a […]


  11. Joanna Catron Says:

    The story of Lawton’s untimely death (a drowning) is categorically untrue. It is an urban myth. According to family letters in the possession of the Southern Historical Collection, Chapel Hill, she died of typhoid fever. Please help to put a stop to such misinformation by posting a correction.


    • ruthrawls Says:

      Hi Joanna, and welcome to the blog!
      We actually went to UNC-CH just a month ago with the express purpose to view the materials in the Alexander Robert Lawton Family Papers in the Southern Historical Collection. I have published what we found beginning with this post – .
      We searched in the folder for the time period of Corinne’s death. We did not find anything that said specifically that she died of typhoid fever. Indeed, we did not find a cause of death at all. While it’s possible that someone removed those letters from the collection, it’s not probable. We think that we will be able to find specific letters in the Hillhouse collection, which will require another trip to UNC-CH.
      Do you have a copy of a family letter with Corinne’s cause of death? If you do, you can email it to me, and I’ll publish it here.
      Thank you for adding your voice to this discussion. Every day I get hits on the blog with the search term “Corrine Lawton”. She is a subject of great interest, and I would be relieved to publish more information about her.


  12. Joanna Catron Says:

    I have been studying the Lawton family history for some years. it is important to me that the memory of its deceased members is respected and when I saw a flurry of interest in your site as a result of your posting the romantic “drowning” and the subsequent snowballing of the story, I decided to step forward to dispute it as incorrect. I haven’t seen anything to document or even imply that Corinne Lawton drowned herself over an unhappy engagement to Ulysses Wade. According to family letters and Sarah Lawton’s personal journal entries for Jan 1877( in the possession of the institution I work for, Gari Melchers Home and Studio), Corinne was sick in bed for a matter of 5 or 6 days, this amidst the worst yellow fever (malaria) outbreak in Savannah since 1820, . . . sorry about the typhoid remark, I keep confusing them. In the SHC at Chapel Hill, in the letter composed by Dr. Robinson, he also mentioned a short illness and there is a very telling letter from E R Cumming which points to yellow fever as a possibility, . . . though it is not absolutely conclusive, in any case she most definitely did not drown herself.

    From call number 415, series 1.2
    Feb 8

    To Sarah Lawton-“ Last summer when the arrows of death were flying in the midst of our friends and family connections, I thought ‘Oh, this year of 76 how I wish it was gone-What will happen next?’ And now the new year at its very threshold is saddened by these two so dear and near to me- “
    E R Cumming

    This was a remarkably happy and tightly knit family and find the story impossible to believe.


  13. Sarah Alexander Cunningham Helps Me Solve A Mystery | Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] a weird phenomenon on my blog.  Everyone wants to know more about Corinne Elliott Lawton.  She has a magnificent marker in Bonaventure Cemetery, and, in an effort to learn more about her, […]


  14. Steeped in Noble #Savannah Heritage: Presidents’ Quarters Inn | Presidents' Quarters Inn - PR & Innkeeper's Blog Says:

    […] Corinne, this morning at 11 o’clock from their residence 135 Perry St.” — Source: Ruth Rawl’s Blog.  **Note: Today the address is 15 West Perry Street, overlooking Chippewa Square. It was built in […]


  15. Chris McEvoy Says:

    Hi from London!
    I visited the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetary, and was actually there last week, and I was taken aback by the serenity and sadness of Corinne’s grave.

    We were told that Corrinne weighed herself down with rocks and threw herself in the river, indeed at protest against not being permitted to marry the man she loved, she would rather die than marry a man she didn’t.

    In reference to her statue, we were told it it is actually facing away from the status of Jesus at the kingdom of heaven, as she had committed suicide, thus would not be permitted in. Her clothes also give reference to what her family thought of her, as a woman with no morals. The loose clothing and exposed shoulder.

    Corrinnes story is beautiful as it is tragic … and there is a lot of energy round her grave.

    A truly amazing place!

    Chris McEvoy / London


  16. ruthrawls Says:

    Hello Chris, and welcome to the blog!
    I am horrified at the stories you were told. Did you read my follow-up post with the real story about what happened?
    I’d like to address your points, and if it sounds like I’m angry, I’m not angry at you personally, just angry that these myths are still perpetuated.
    1. There are no rocks here. There’s no bedrock. There’s no river rocks. She couldn’t have possibly have weighted herself down with rocks.
    2. She couldn’t have thrown herself in the river. There’s no riverbank or cliff. The river is far out past the pluff mud, and that pluff mud will hold you fast, and weighted with rocks? No. It’s a tidal river that ebbs and surges. She’d need a boat, and probably an accomplice. Nobody’s every mentioned a boat or an accomplice.
    3. I’ve read her mother’s diaries. When Nora and Louise were getting married, there were many entries regarding the wedding arrangements, the parties, the clothing, etc. There’s no mention of Corinne’s engagement before the time of her death, and no mention of a fiancé. There’s no mention of unhappiness or family turmoil.
    4. She didn’t commit suicide. She died of yellow fever.
    5. She wasn’t buried in Bonaventure first. She was buried in Laurel Grove. When she was re-interred at Bonaventure, there was no statue of Jesus at the archway. It hadn’t even been commissioned and carved yet, because it was created for her father who died in the 1890’s.
    6. That statue of Jesus? He’s not even looking at her. He’s looking across the cemetery.
    7. Her family adored her. Read her mother’s journal. If her family had been disgusted with her, then why did her sister name her daughter “Corinne” in memory of her? Why did her family mourn her passing on every anniversary of the date?
    8. Loose morals? Somebody needs to prove that to me. I’ve been to two historical libraries in two different states, and I’ve read copious letters and journal entries from many different people, and loose morals are never even hinted.
    I would suggest that the people with the loose morals are those that perpetuate the soiling of an honorable family’s name, all in the name of sensationalism and making a buck.
    I appreciate your voice in this discussion. Thank you for sharing.


    • TheBarnTales Says:

      That’s the story I heard when I visited the cemetery! I don’t remember where my sister-in-law heard it herself, but I think she had taken a guided tour of the place when visiting Savannah before… which leads me to wonder if the tour guides are telling it.


      • ruthrawls Says:

        Hi TheBarnTales! My friend Sharon found my blog after visiting Savannah and taking the cemetery tour and hearing the suicide tale. I’ve told the folks at the Georgia Historical Society when I was researching Sarah Alexander Lawton’s diaries, and they read and approved my blog post refuting the suicide.


  17. Corinne Elliott Lawton: Update, 8/8/2013 | Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] Her obituary which caused a commotion.  Click here. […]


  18. Chris McEvoy Says:


  19. Gullringstorpgoatgal Says:

    Hej from Sweden!
    Thanks for liking my recent post! Welcome back anytime.
    Happy New Year!!


  20. Lawton J Dodd Says:

    Ruthrawls: thank you for this story on Corinne Lawton. Her surname was given to me as my Christian name by my mother Corrine Lawton Jordan ( now Corinne Jordan Dodd ). I believe Corinne Lawton is a great great aunt if the family history was passed on to me correctly and my memory is accurate. — Lawton J Dodd / Monterey CA

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Michael Karpovage Says:

    Hi Ruth, I am so very glad you corrected the story on Corinne Lawton. That falsehood was being perpetuated far too many times. Just today even I had to correct another article by an author who failed to do her research. Anyway, many thanks to you for doing the right thing at the request of the family members. I also wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about my newly published, highly popular Bonaventure Cemetery Illustrated Map. It was just released in January, 2016 and it sells at the cemetery by the Bonaventure Historical Society, also on and Amazon. For people visiting the cemetery, it shows the most visited gravesites and gives historical backgrounds on the notable people buried there. It is a must-have map or else you’re almost guaranteed to get lost as I did many times visiting in the past. You can see the map on my website at
    Best Regards,
    Michael Karpovage

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      Hello Michael, and welcome to the blog! I will be happy to share your links to the Lawton Family Association.
      I also approached a ghost tour business owner about having Corinne’s image removed from a billboard and also on the ghost tour website. She refused and said that she had too much invested in the company to recreate her signage. I would have preferred a more thoughtful response, especially in light of the fact that there are no ghost stories surrounding this family. There are hundreds of family members in the association, and for a tour operator to use one of the family members as a marketing tool to sell ghost tours smacks of shabby, cheap-and-easy, snake-oil peddling. And everyone knows that snake oil peddlers can’t be trusted, even if they give us a little thrill in the process.
      I have seen your map, and it is quite marvelous.
      Thanks again for your thoughtful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Michael Karpovage Says:

    You’re very welcome, Ruth! And good for you for trying to get that billboard changed. It’s the effort that counts and hopefully she’ll never do it again once her advertising deadline expires. Looking forward to your blog posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Sarah E Lupton Says:

    Reblogged this on writersarah1.

    Liked by 1 person

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