The Jordan Migration from North Carolina to Alabama

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This page was last updated on: November 10, 2008
William Enoch Jordan, Sr. Migration from NC to Covington County, AL

By Larry E. Jordan, William Enoch's 2nd great-grandson

My research into my ancestors started when my daughter was almost one year old. During her one-year medical exam, her pediatrician asked me for a medical history of my family and my ancestors. He indicated that past medical issues are often hereditary and that knowing them could help him diagnose my daughter's medical problems more quickly in future years. When he saw that I had the "deer in the headlights look," he took pity on me and helped me get started. He drew a simple genealogy chart on one of his medical forms. The chart had boxes for males and circles females. It looked simple enough. All I had to do was come up with the names of the people to put on the chart and their major medical aliments.

It has been 20 years since I started filling out that chart, and I have yet to finish. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that moment with my daughter's doctor and tell him to forget it. At other times I am elated that he started me on this search.

My search started in Covington County, AL. I spent my preschool years growing up on farms in the Blue Springs community and in the town of Opp. During those years, Jordan relatives surrounded me. Some I knew well. Others were distant shadows; I just heard stories about them from my father and his mother. However, they all had one element in common. They pronounced their last name Gher-den. It was not until my first Bible school class at Westview Baptist Church in Opp that I realized our entire family had it all wrong. Jordan was supposed to be pronounced Jhor-dan just like the River Jordan. When I brought my discovery to my father's attention, he was amused but insisted Gher-den was the correct pronunciation.

After years of research, I have decided my father was right. The Jordans have been Gher-dens for a long time. My first ancestor to come to Covington County, William Enoch Jordan, Sr., pronounced his name Gher-den as did his ancestors. This caused record keepers to make errors in recording the family name over the years. In addition to Jordan, the name was recorded as Jurdin, Jourdan, and Jourdain. The problem was that census takers were trying to use an English spelling for a name that was most likely French in origin.

Genealogy history texts indicate early members of the Crusades took the name Jordan from the River Jordan during their journeys to the Holy Land. Some of these crusaders were French and used the spelling Jourdain (pronunciation ghor-don). The English Anglicized the name to Jordaine and the pronunciation to Gher-den. The pronunciation stuck for many generations even though the spelling changed to Jordan when part of the family immigrated to America.

The first Jordans to come to America were part of the Jamestown colony in 1610. Captain Samuel Jordan, a descendant of a wealthy Jordaine family in Dorsetshire, England, built a plantation on the James River in Virginia. Some of the Jordans in the Southeast are descendants of this family. The Jordan Surname DNA Project has shown that at least nine unrelated Jordan families immigrated to Virginia and the Carolinas before 1800. The ancestors of William Enoch Jordan migrated from Amelia/Albemarle County, VA to NC to Laurens County, SC to GA and finally to Autauga County, AL. From Autauga County, the descendants moved south to Lowdnes/Crenshaw/Coffee/Covington Counties in AL. Some moved to Texas.

The Federal Census records list William Enoch Jordan as William in 1840 and as Enoch after 1850. After his eldest son Nicholas Enoch "Nick" was over 15, the Census records and other official records show both went by the name Enoch. William Enoch Jordan also named a son William. To eliminate any confusion, I use his full name William Enoch Jordan or William Enoch in this article.

The 1850 & 1860 Coffee & Covington County census (735 for 1860) shows NC as place of birth for William Enoch Jordan, his wife and eldest son. The 1870 census shows SC for William and his wife, but NC for the eldest son. In the 1880 census, Nicholas Enoch Jordan indicated his parents were both born in SC. I believe the NC birth location is correct for William Enoch Jordan, and his wife and Nicholas Enoch. The state line between NC and SC moved several times between 1770 and 1800. President Andrew Jackson was born in Anson Co., NC and had the birth state issue.

The Jordan Surname DNA Project has proven that my ancestor, William Enoch Jordan, Sr., is not a descendant of the Captain Samuel Jordan family. However, he is a descendant of another Jordan family that followed the same migration path from Virginia through North Carolina then to points South and West. The DNA Project has proven that William Enoch was related to the following Jordan males:
  - George Jordan, Sr b 1784, Bedford Co., VA
     o  George Jordan, Jr. b 1825 Bedford Co., VA
  - Jonas Jordan b 1755, Amelia Co., VA
     o  Felix Jordan b 1793, Amelia Co, VA
     o  Reuben Jordan b 1782, Amelia Co., VA
     o  Francis Jordan b 1786, Amelia Co., VA
     o  Thomas E. Jordan b 1802, Laurens Co., SC
     o  Archelus Jordan b 1813, Autauga Co., AL

William Enoch was born about 1803 and married his wife Jemima before 1830. The places of birth for William Enoch, his wife and first two children are not confirmed, but strong evidence points to Cumberland Co., NC or the Abbeville County area of SC. William Enoch's relative Reuben Jordan (proven through the Jordan Surname DNA Project) lived in Laurens Co., SC around the time William Enoch was born, but William Enoch may not have known that part of the family because of early separation of the families in Amelia Co., VA.

There is a lot of evidence that William Enoch Jordan migrated from NC to GA and finally to AL with Alexander McLeod b 1770 and his family. Alexander was born about 25 years after the last Jacobite uprising in Scotland and the horrendous defeat of the Clans at Culloden in 1746. It is almost certain his parents were among those who lived through the aftermath of that historic time. Although the MacLeods as a whole were not members of the Jacobite cause, declining to commit to Bonnie Prince Charlie due to the huge loss of men in a previous century's uprising, it is certain that the devastation of the highlands was felt by Clan McLeod just as it was felt by the rest of the Clans. Famine was felt throughout the country and it was likely part of the decision Alexander made to leave for America.

Many members of the Scotish clans immigrated to America before 1770 and were writing home of the beautiful and fertile lands to be found in North Carolina. In about the year 1775, a group from the Isle of Skye began to plan a mass emigration to the North Carolina. It is possible that Alexander's family were part of this group.

There is an Alex McLeod age 16-26 in Anson Co., NC 1800 census. A Norman McLeod age 26-45 lives next door to Alex. A later descendant of Alex's is named Norman. Norman could be the father, an older brother, or uncle. This same Alexander McLeod was in Monroe Co., GA 1830 census. William Enoch Jordan was in a nearby county at the time -- Baldwin, Wilkinson, or Washington.

Alexander McLeod's son Alexander b 1791 moved to Pike Co., GA and is there during the 1850 census. He has Elizabeth Jordan age 42 living with his family. She may be a caretaker or house keeper. She may be the wife of James Jordan age 49 who lives near Alexander. James has no wife in the household and Elizabeth appears to be the right age to be his wife. James is thought to be William Enoch Jordan's brother. Pike County is near Heard Co., GA where William Enoch Jordan lived in 1840. He moved to Coffee Co., AL between 1840 and 1850 as did Alexander McLeod's son Alexander J. McLeod and his wife Susan Jordan, William Enoch's daughter.

The key census record to locate William Enoch's birthplace is 1830. He was married at that time and still living in NC/SC with two daughters under five years old. Census records and other family documents indicate:
- Their daughter Susan was born in NC/SC about 1827
- Their first son, Nicholas "Nick" Enoch Jordan, was born in NC/SC between 1831 and 1832.  The next son, Robert Jordan, was born in GA in 1833. The remainder of William Enoch's children were born in Georgia except the last two, James and Andrew, who were born in AL.

In 1793, Eli Whitney received a patent for his cotton gin. Whitney had spent some time perfecting his gin and tutoring children in Washington Co., GA at John Talbot's plantation, Mount Pleasant. Many descendants of Matthew Jordan migrated to Wilkes Co., GA before and after this date. William Enoch Jordan may have gotten his training as a gin mechanic in Wilkes Co., GA.

William Enoch Jordan may have lived near William and Phebe Batson in Millegeville, GA (Baldwin County) after leaving NC. William Batson was born 1799 in VA and Phebe 1805 in SC. They moved to Coosa County, AL between 1823 and 1830 from Millegeville. Their first two sons, Nathan and William, were born in Millegeville.  The other children were born in Coosa Co., AL. Their daughter Elizabeth married William Enoch Jordan's son Nicholas Enoch Jordan in Autauga County, AL (near Coosa Co) on January 22, 1853.

Another possible relative from Millegeville was John Andrew Jackson Jordan  (father was William Theophilus Jordan) born November 16, 1840 in Millegeville and died in Pike Co., AL.  He married Frances Adeline McLeod born October 25, 1865 in Henderson, Pike Co, AL, daughter of John McLeod and Elizabeth Easters. His daughter Mary Saludi Jordan, wife of Charles Henry Mason, moved to southern AL about the same time William Enoch Jordan moved there. William Enoch's descendants treated them as relatives. John McLeod was likely a descendant of Alexander McLeod from NC.

Several Hall brothers, friends of relative Reuben Jordan, also lived in Millegeville before moving with Reuben to Autauga Co., AL in 1818.

During the Georgia Land Lotteries shown on web site:
a William Jordan from Wilkinson Co, GA Co, thought to be William Enoch Jordan, won a lottery draw on 7 Jan 1830 for lot 32, 14th District, Fifth Section in Carroll County. This lot is near George Scroggins who may have migrated to Covington Co., AL. (A William Jourdan from Elbert Co., GA also won lot 44, 13th District of Carroll Co., GA)

Parcel 32, District 14 ended up in Heard Co., GA when that county was formed in 1830. William Enoch's son William was born in that county in 1842. His wife Elizabeth applied for William's Civil War pension in Covington Co., AL July 1901 and indicated William was born in Hurd (Heard) County, GA. The 1840 GA census (District 788, line 25) shows his family in the Houston Militia District of Heard County -- about 50 miles southwest of Atlanta and near the Alabama state line.

The 1840 GA census shows one adult in William Enoch's household was in Manufacturing and Trades. The household had one slave woman 20-30 and a slave boy 5-10. An S-K Publications abstract from that census shows two adults in Agriculture and one in Manufacturing/Trades; the S-K abstract also shows one slave 55-100 and does not show the two slaves shown in the actual microfilm of the census record. The S-K abstract may be in error -- crossing between two households when it gets beyond the columns for free white members of the family. The microfilm and abstract agree up to that point.

There are no other Jordan families living in Heard County, GA during the 1840 census. This indicates that William Enoch Jordan moved his family there from another location leaving all of his relatives behind. This could indicate he was a younger son in his family and was willing to move away to acquire land. The fact that William Enoch is involved in manufacturing or trades and has at least one slave in 1840 also indicates he may have moved to Heard County from a more-populated area of SC, NC or GA -- one that had a large enough population to support manufacturing/trades other than farming. He was likely a mechanic for a mill or cotton gin operation. Montgomery County and Sampson County, NC are possible origins.

William Enoch and his wife had six children before moving to Alabama as indicated by later census records. In the 1860 Covington County, AL census, William's son Andrew is five and GA is his state of birth. At that time, William Enoch's oldest child living at home, Martha, was born in AL and is six.

William Enoch Jordan passed through Autauga County, AL between living in Heard County, GA and Coffee County, AL. William Jefferson (Bob) Jordan told me on 11/18/90 that William Enoch Jordan drove sheep through Georgia and northern Alabama before arriving in Coffee County, AL in the 1840s. On 9/1/2002, he told me William Enoch Jordan came through the Montgomery, AL area when he came from GA, but did not live there. His oldest son Nick married Elizabeth Batson in Autauga County in 1853 (marriage record confirms this). Autauga County is a rural area just northwest of Montgomery, AL and had a successful cotton gin by 1840. The Montgomery and Talladega Stage Road went through Georgia near Heard County, through Autauga County, AL and ended in Montgomery in the early 1800s.

One or both of Nick's older sisters may have remained in Autauga County. The sisters who were in the 1840 census in Heard County, GA are no longer living with the family during the 1850 census in Coffee County. In 1850, they would have been approximately 14 - 15 years old. By the time Nick married in 1853, both of the sisters were no doubt married. Their first names never appear in census records.

William Enoch Jordan migrated with Alexander McLeod and family from NC through GA and on to Coffee Co., AL; much intermarriage occurred between the families. Susan Jordan who married Alexander J. McLeod in Coffee County, AL was most likely William Enoch's oldest daughter. After her husband was killed in the Civil War, she lived on property owned by William Enoch Jordan and between William Enoch and his son Nicholas Enoch (shown in the 1870 Covington Co census); she also named a son Daniel Enoch. Her son George Washington McLeod has on his death certificate that his mother was Susan Jordan.

William Enoch Jordan appears in Coffee Co., AL in the 1850 Census. He moved there before 1845 when his son James was born. In the 1850 census, William Enoch's son James is 5 years old with AL as state of birth; all other children living at home at that time show GA as the state of birth.

In the 1850 Coffee County census, William Enoch indicates that he is a mechanic. This validates the 1840 census record from Heard County, GA in which he indicated one household member was in manufacturing. In this census, William Enoch Jordan has a female with a last name of Jordan age 70 living with him; her birth state is listed as NC.  This was probably his mother who was born around 1780. She was not living in his house during the 1840 Heard County census, so her husband may have died between 1840 and 1850. Her first name on the census record is difficult to read or was never recorded. It may be Julia or Joann based on the length of the space and a light indication of a J as the first letter of the first name.

William Enoch Jordan's neighbor in Coffee County during the 1850 census is Jarvis Fullingem. He is six years older and has the same migration pattern as William Enoch. He was born in NC and his children were born in GA except the last two (twins) who were born in AL in 1842. Jarvis may have come from the same area in NC. This information and the first name of the woman living with William Enoch in the 1850 census may provide the linkage needed to trace William Enoch back to NC. His mother would have been listed in a household somewhere in the 1840 census. Jarvis would have been listed also.

In less than ten years after arriving in Alabama, William Enoch made his move to his final destination -- Covington County. Around 1858, he bought property in Green Bay near the New Hope area and Clear Creek about 10 miles south of where Opp is now located. The area opened for settlement in 1850 and attracted a number of families because of the clear, pure water flowing in the spring-fed and cold Clear Creek. The early New Hope Missionary Baptist Church records show a map of the local residents, including Mason Dorman and Rigdon. The church records also indicate George McLeod, son of Alexander J. McLeod, lived nearby.

William Enoch Jordan and his family are mentioned in early records in the Clear Creek Missionary Baptist Church. William Enoch Jordan was a clerk in the church in 1865 when services were restarted after the Civil War. The church moved to Hurricane Ridge (later renamed Pine Level) East of Hwy 331 South of Opp, AL after the original one-room log structure deteriorated. The church eventually moved back to New Hope to be near the graveyard that was started in the 1850s. Some members of the church remained at the Hurricane Ridge location. Many descendants of William Enoch Jordan are buried in the graveyards at New Hope and Pine Level -- the graveyard is located in a field near that church.

During the 1860 census, William Enoch Jordan is living next to his son Enoch Jordan. His neighbor is John Scroggins b 1836 AL. Many Scroggins in Covington Co were descendants of or related to Lumbee Indians from Robeson Co., NC. John's ancestors may have come from Robeson. Riley Barnes, Henry Lowery, Cornelius Jackson and several Alpins moved to that area of Covington County from Robeson County.

William Enoch farmed the property near Clear Creek until his death. During the 1870 census, he was 67 and still living on his homestead with my great grandfather, George Fenel Jordan and his sister Martha Jordan, 22 and 18 year olds respectively. There are no other children at home in 1870. They do have a Mary Jordan, age 50 from NC, living with them. She may have been William Enoch's younger sister or a cousin.

William Enoch Jordan may have left a daughter named Emeline in Autauga County, AL when he came through on his way south. She is found in the home of Samuel Patillo in Autauga County, AL in the 1850 census. They all live in a multi-family compound that appears to be run by an overseer named W. C. Mathany from Virginia. Samuel Patillo is in manufacturing -- the same as William Enoch Jordan in the 1840 census in Heard County, GA. In the 1860 census, Samuel lists himself as a mechanic. He probably worked in Daniel Pratt's gin located near the compound. William Enoch may have worked for or with Samuel Patillo. William Enoch Jordan's son Nicholas Enoch came back to marry Elizabeth Batson three year later. A William B. Jordan is a clerk in the county during the same census. He may have worked at the Pratt gin and may be related.

Many of the descendants of William Enoch and his family were still living in or near the Green Bay area of Covington County in 1999. Others have spread all over the United States from Florida to California. The research goes own to find other branches of the family.

Although I have found little medical information during my ancestor research that would apply to my daughter, I have found some interesting coincidences. The one element that stands out about William Enoch is that he was mechanically inclined. He worked in the cotton ginning business as a mechanic when everyone around him were farmers. His trek south from North Carolina was from one cotton-gin town to another as the frontier opened to cotton farming.

My own family followed a similar pattern of mechanically inclined employment. My father, Astor Clinton Jordan, was a loom mechanic in cotton mills. Ironically, he started his work in Covington County and reversed the path of William Enoch by moving to western North Carolina for a period before ending his working career in Selma, AL -- not far from the Pratt Mill that attracted William Enoch to Alabama 125 years earlier. All of my brothers have been tool and dye makers or mechanics; one now owns a parts manufacturing company. I followed a similar pattern by working as an engineer for the parts of my career -- designing, building and operating nuclear power plants and designing residential buildings.

My daughter does not plan to follow the same mechanically inclined career, but she is making the French connection. She has studied French for five years, lived in France for a summer and plans to eventually live there full time. Perhaps she will run into a Frenchman one day who pronounces his name Gher-den. Now that would be closure!