I’ve never written that much about my Jordan family branch on this blog. I guess that’s because I have focused chiefly on posts related to the Armuchee Valley area of Walker and Chattooga counties, while my Jordan family roots are over in Whitfield County. But my grandfather Earl Jordan and his brother Bill lived in the Villanow area, so it’s high time to give that side of the family a little attention.

My grand uncle Bill Jordan lived right in the heart of Villanow in what used to be the old Love family home. I barely remember the house from when I was a little kid; it was torn down when I was very young. Before Uncle Bill lived in that house, though, he lived in the far eastern part of Walker County. Just before you get to the Whitfield County line, his house was on Joe Roberson Road. My aunt Charlotte can recall going there for Jordan family gatherings.

One such gathering took place in about 1937, probably a Jordan reunion celebration, as the Jordan reunions were usually held around William Brownlow Jordan‘s (my great grandfather) birthday. Here’s a photo from that reunion:

From left to right are Jack Jordan, Kathryn Sue Jordan, Isabell Anderson Jordan in chair, Frances Turner holding Charlotte Jordan, Ernestine Jordan with hands on unknown baby, Mary E. Jordan, Lynn Turner, and Earl Jordan on roof in background.

All these folks are Isabell Anderson Jordan (pictured) and William Brownlow Jordan’s grandkids. Earl, Isabell’s son and my grandfather, sits on the roof in the background. I always liked this image and wanted to recreate a version of it with me sitting in for Earl.

You see, I’ve always had a particular affinity for my papa Jordan. Not only did I share his name, but he also had a bit of a rebel spirit that I inherited. This quality manifested in different ways between us, but I have a strong connection with him for sure.

So here I am at the old home place in June 2013. The old house is no longer there, and this old shed, dug into the side of the hill, has no doubt been re-roofed at least a couple of times. But the trees are probably the same. And the ridge along the horizon, most certainly the same hills looked over by generations of my family and the American Indians before them.

Overall, it was a fun way to spend part of an afternoon. It’s not what you think of as family research… but it shows how creativity–in this case, photography–can be combined with genealogy. This may, in fact, be the way to pull in certain people and get them interested in their past. Perhaps you can take your child or niece or nephew to some family spot and recreate a photo like I did here. If you don’t know *where* a photo was taken, that’s ok too. Maybe you can use a family heirloom or, heck, just re-create a family scene in your own backyard. When approached creatively, there are a million ways to engage with your family history to bring the story alive.

I love looking at the two photos together–the original from about 1937 and my “recreation” from just this year. It helps me envision the color and flair of what things were like so many years ago. It wasn’t all black and white the way the picture tells us! What color was my great-grandmother’s dress? Was the sky filled with clouds like the day I sat on that roof? What did it feel like to be there? Historical research can help you understand certain things about your ancestors–always document what you can. But it is never a substitute for your imagination–that’s where your family history can really come to life.

Take a trip into the past

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