It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here at Jordan’s Journey. Life happens, things change, and I just have not had the time to put into creating new content for this blog. I’m keeping it online for now as I think the posts are a valuable archive. People still visit the site, and I am grateful for that, even though I’m not sure when/if I will have the time to pick it back up and update regularly like I did in the beginning. That’s why I’m so thankful when readers want me to help them share information for the greater genealogical good. One such reader is Rhonda Locke.
Rhonda Locke is a fellow researcher of Armuchee Valley families, particularly those associated with Concord Church (on Concord Road in Villanow, GA). As a fellow descendant of the Keown family, she’s also my distant cousin (as I have always said–we’re all connected)! She sent me this wonderful photo and asked me to share it with you.Read More
I have a new article in the current issue (Summer 2014) of Georgia Backroads. Titled “The Language of History,” it is an expanded and slightly reworked version of the post “The Language of Genealogy” that previously appeared here on Jordan’s Journey. I really like the new version of this article, and I think you will too. You can order a copy online, or if you’re in an area that stocks Georgia Backroads, you can check your local newsstands.
This is my third article for Georgia Backroads. My other articles with the magazine are “The Scoggins Family and Subligna Go Way Back” (Winter 2012) and “We Are One People” (Autumn 2013). I have also published “We Are One People” as a limited edition artist multiple under my art name luke kurtis. The We Are One People multiple was part of the INTERSECTION exhibition at Massillon Museum and is available to purchase in the bd Shop.
I am delighted to announce the publication of my latest article in the current (Autumn 2013) issue of Georgia Backroads. “We Are One People” explores my ancestral ties to slavery, focusing specifically on the Armuchee Valley and Dirt Town Valley regions. My original photography, as well as antique images I curated, illustrate the piece. So much research and thought went into this article, and I feel this is one of my best pieces ever. Georgia Backroads has done a fantastic job putting together the issue with excellent writing, photography, and design. You can pick up a copy at newsstands or order the issue online.
If you haven’t seen my previous work for Georgia Backroads, check out the Winter 2012 issue as well!
For the other researchers out there, I thought I would share my bibliography for the “We Are One People” article (the sources are not printed in the magazine itself). Enjoy!Read More
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.Read More
It has been almost 15 years since I lived in Georgia. That seems like such a long time ago. All that time away from where I grew up is one of the things that enabled me to make Jordan’s Journey. If I had stayed in the same place, I don’t think I would have been able to see it with fresh eyes. Growing up, I never thought much about the place I lived. It was just normal. But now that I have such a wide range of experience to contrast it against, that little valley I call home is a beautiful spot. Diverse experiences in life are good. It helps you appreciate the world more because you see the unique beauty in your surroundings. I’m thankful my parents instilled in me an appreciation for travel and exploration.
As beautiful as the Armuchee Valley area is, it’s not exactly where tourists will likely visit. Most of the land is privately owned, much of it going back generations into the area families such as my Pope family. Most people enjoy the area simply by driving along the (officially designated) scenic byways. Just look at the photo I took along Pocket Road earlier this year. Sunset was approaching, and the mountains were bathed in a beautiful curtain of light. You can see how driving along the roads is an attraction in and of itself. In fact, a huge swath of the area around Armuchee Valley is part of the Chattahooche National Forest. While there isn’t much infrastructure to accommodate mainstream tourism, the National Forest does offer some publicly accessible hiking and camping, perfect for those of us with a bit of an adventurous spirit.
Two of the primary areas you can visit are located on Pocket Road. Pocket Road begins just east of the main Villanow crossroads where the old brick country store stands. About 4 miles down this road is the John’s Mountain overlook entrance. A road takes you to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy the view of East Armuchee and West Armuchee beyond that. Beware, though, as it’s an unpaved road–so be prepared for that.
The overlook platform was constructed in 1964 by the Accelerated Public Works Program. The spot where the overlook sits is the former location of the Johns Mountain fire tower. The original tower was built in 1940 by the CCC (see below). A new tower was built in 1961. Grady Richardson (of the Armuchee Valley Richardson family) was the foreman on this construction project (Fearrington 37). It was dismantled in 1979 and donated to the Walker County Correctional Institute. In 1980, the area officially became a recreation area. It was developed by the Youth Conservation Corps (Fearrington 52).Read More
Learning about family history teaches you a lot about history in general. The obvious areas are things like the Civil War and even World War II. When you connect your family to the collective stories of history, suddenly those grand narratives seem a bit more personal.
As a New Yorker, I can’t help but wonder how the next generation will look back and remember 9/11. As it is, I already know people who were not alive in 2001. But I lived through it. I watched those towers fall with my own eyes. I photographed them as they burned and fell (this is one of my photos here). I lived in the no-entry zone and had to show a photo ID just to get into my neighborhood. I walked over to the West Side Highway and stood with other New Yorkers cheering on firefighters who sped up and down the highway for weeks on end after those towers fell. How does my personal experience translate to the pages of history we see presented in books and documentaries? It doesn’t. The pages of history record the grand narratives and the dramatic events. But the quiet recollections of those of us who lived through it are just as important.
Often when people look at events around us–the events we know will one day be studied in history books everywhere–we talk about how much history has changed. In the case of 9/11, we use terms like “terrorism” to try and define what happened. Language, though, is limiting. The very moment we put words to tongue we somehow fail ourselves. Yet also those words are something we can’t do without. It’s important to be aware of the limitations we create through language, how our own words confine us, and how–hopefully–we can transcend them.
When we hear about violent events–say, for example, another shooting has made the news–many of us react with a “What’s happening to the world?” kind of attitude. The truth is that nothing is happening… at least nothing that unusual. We have a tendency to romanticize the past as if it represents some sort of ideal. This type of nostalgia for the past is something we all do, and it’s another way in which language fails us. Matt Novak, writing about the public’s perception of the history of the space program, warns that “romanticization of the past has real-world consequences because it breeds a certain kind of futility, a belief that we’re simply not able to accomplish things without every American behind the idea.”
For most of us, history is learned in language that glorifies the good parts, polishes them over for more than they’re worth, and skims over the bad parts. But those “bad” parts hold a lot of value and can, potentially, teach us just as much if not more than the “good” parts. History is not good. History is not bad. History just… is (or maybe “was”).Read More
The Puryear family is a well-known family in the Armuchee Valley area. While I do not descend from the Puryears directly, they do (like the Suttles) connect in my tree through marriage. Nancy Elizabeth Ward, my 3rd great-grand aunt, married Hamilton Young Puryear (1841-1903). Hamilton is a son of William Marcellus Puryear (1810-1866), and grandson of John Puryear (1786-1836). William Marcellus had a brother named John “Jack” Puryear (1822-1907).
Jack Puryear is among those old-time settlers of East Armuchee.
His homestead was located on lots 80 and 81 of Walker County District 26, Section 3 (Will; Property Tax Digests). In layman’s terms, this is located on the north side of Highway 136, around where Dicks Creek Road crosses the highway. Clements Pond is a feature on the map that is on this land (presumably named for C.A. Clements who, according to the Walker County Tax Assessor, later owned this land). It is interesting to note that these lots (80 and 81) are directly north of lots 101 and 100–the plots that made up my 3rd great grandfather Micajah Pope‘s (1808-1867) home place. So Micajah Pope and John Puryear were neighbors and certainly would have known each other (Deed). Jacob Goodson‘s (1808-1882, another 3rd great grandfather) home place was just to the east of these Puryear lots.Read More
Whenever I get the time, I love poring through old newspapers from Chattooga and Walker Counties, searching the bits of news for names of people in my family tree. The Summerville News and Walker County Messenger are littered with my ancestors far and wide. Most of the time when an ancestor is mentioned it seems inconsequential. The more I read through these things, the more I feel like I’m looking at a Twitter feed from over 100 years ago! Indeed, social media isn’t the phenomenon of the new millennium we think it to be. Sure, the bits and bytes shuffling back and forth between our smartphones and computer screens weren’t around in our ancestor’s time. But our ancestors were just as interested in everybody else’s “status updates” as we are today… only the medium for sharing those updates has changed.
This week I started combing my records for some of these “status updates” to assemble a selection for you here. Looking for a unifying theme, I noticed a lot of talk about rabid dogs and dangerous snakes. Yep, that’s what I said: dogs and snakes. Now I don’t mean dogs and snakes at the same time. But there seemed to be an awful lot of newspaper mentions about these two animals. I suppose for a rural country area you’re going to have a lot of dogs and, well, a lot of snakes. And I suppose it also makes a good news story to talk about the latest mad dog or venomous snake. Still, it gives me a chuckle to think that over a century later this is what I’m reading about. Like I said… inconsequential.
But apparently, to our ancestors, it was enough to make the newspaper.Read More
Today’s entry in the School Days series is quite different. Whereas the previous school photos were taken in the 1930s, today’s school photo was taken in 1990. It is, in fact, my 5th grade class from Armuchee Valley School. I love how this photo is labeled with all the names–making any detective work much easier!
The names in the photo are as follows:Read More
When I was growing up I always thought of the two sides of my family, mom’s side and dad’s side, as being completely segregated. Mom’s family was from Villanow, and Dad’s family was from Subligna. It seemed like two different places, and people from one place didn’t really know people from the other even though they were only 10 miles apart. It wasn’t until I started studying my genealogy that I realized the cross-pollination between these two rural areas–each located at opposite ends of East Armuchee Road–was much more extensive than I thought. I don’t mean today or even the years I was growing up, but going back generations before my parents or even grandparents were born.Read More
Today I have another entry for the School Days series. This time, I present a photo from the Villanow School, which stood in Villanow at the opposite end of the valley as the Subligna School photo I shared last time. The Villanow school was among the last one-room schoolhouses in the area. The school originally opened, judging by various references in the Walker County Messenger, sometime in the 1880’s. It operated until 1952 when the Armuchee Valley School opened.
This photo is from the late 1930’s or possibly very early 1940’s. It contains three close family members: my grand uncle Guy Adam Pope, my uncle Robert Jordan, and my aunt Mary Earl Jordan (though some of the others in the image connect in my tree as well). The writing on the image is by Uncle Robert.
In March 2012, Guy Pope was able to identify almost everyone else in the photo for me.
Front Row (L to R): Robert Jordan, Reba Eakers, Guy Pope, Raymond Carpenter, Davis boy, Bob Stansell, Betty Eakers, Mary Earl Jordan, Davis girl, Louis Roper, Elizabeth MorrisonRead More