Isham Jordan Fought Indians, Opened Early Wiregrass Roads

Isham Jordan worked in 1823 to open John Coffee’s Road from Jacksonville, GA to the Florida line, thus opening for settlement old Irwin County which then encompassed Lowndes and Berrien, and other counties of Wiregrass Georgia.  Isham Jordan, along with Burrell Henry Bailey and others had worked to survey and mark the first public roads in Irwin County.

When Coffee’s road was cut, Jordan and the other hunters who supplied meat to the work party were honored in the songs and stories of the Wiregrass pioneers. Some of these verses were passed down in the works of Montgomery M. Folsom (see also Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek), whom Folks Huxford described as “a sort of grandson of old Troupville,” Georgia.

“Yonder comes ole Isham Jordan,
That ole ‘onest huntin’ man.
Glorious tidin’s he doth bring,
Swain has kilt another turkey hent.

We’ll allow the New Convention;
We’ll all allow the rights of men;
We’ll allay the Injun nation;
The volunteers and the drafted men.”

Isham Jordan and John Coffee were among the early pioneer settlers of Telfair County, GA. Telfair was formed from Wilkinson County in 1807, and named for Edward Telfair.

When Pulaski County was created in 1808, the legislative act,

“Provided, That until the court-houfe fhall be erected the elections and courts for faid county fhall be held at the houfe of Ifham Jordan.”

1822 map detail of Telfair County, GA and Pulaski County, GA

1822 map detail of Telfair County, GA and Pulaski County, GA

The first term of Pulaski Superior Court held in 1809 at Isham Jordan’s house on Jordan’s Creek, presided over by Judge Peter Early.  Early, whose family had one of the largest slaveholding plantations in Greene County, was an outspoken opponent of any attempts to outlaw the importation of African slaves.

Unfortunately, the first three census schedules for Georgia (1790-1810)  are missing, thus there is no 1810 enumeration of Isham Jordan.  Legal actions indicate that Isham Jordan appeared in 1813 before Justice of the Peach, Josiah Cawthorn, in Telfair County, GA where a judgement was found against him in the amount of $25 in favor of Adam G. Saffold. Saffold subsequently assigned the debt to his attorney, Griffin Mizell.

Georgia, Jones County:
Know all men by these presents that I do by these presents constitute and appoint Griffin Mizell my true and lawful attorney so far as to take full and complete control of a judgement in my favor on a note of $25 against Isham Jordan in the Justice’s Court held before Josiah Cawthorn in the county of Telfair; receipt for and receive the same & apply the amount to his own use. May 5th, 1813
(Signed)
Adam G. Saffold.
Carter & Mizell Correspondence

 

Telfair County court records show legal actions were taken against Isham Jordan and Nancy Moore in 1817. Apparently, a bench warrant was issued for their arrest for failure to appear in court. They were hauled before the court and subsequently posted bond in the amount of $800 against their future appearance.

The State vs Isham Jordan & Nancy Moore, Fi Fa, 1817

A rule having been obtained for the Sheriff to return into court the above fi fa with his actings and doings thereon or show to the contrary and cause having been shewn ordered that said rule be discharged.
Petit Jury Sworn
  1. Richard Wooten
  2. William Studstill
  3. Wilkins Fulwood
  4. Arch McLeod
  5. Joseph Fletcher
  6. Jacob Cravey
  7. Meriden Messec
  8. Stephen Hubert
  9. Joshua McCann
10. William Moore
11. William Mooney
12. Henry Jones

The State vs Isham Jordan & Nancy Moore

          William Hendry [sheriff?] surrendered the principles in Court it is therefore ordered that the said be discharged from his recognizance.
         Isham Jordan and Nancy Moore and Andrew Posey aknowledge themselves indebted to the Governor and his Successors in office in the Sum of eight hundred dollars to be void on the condition that the said Jordan and Moore appear at the next Superior Court and not depart without leave thereof.

         his
Isham X Jordan
mark

          her
Nancy X Moore
mark

Andrew Jolly

 

In 1818, it was Isham Jordan who reported the Battle of Breakfast Branch, subsequently conveyed by letter to Governor William Rabun and published in the Milledgeville, GA newspapers.

JOURNAL OFFICE
Milledgeville, March 11, 1818.
Skirmish with Indians.

The following was received this evening by express to the Governor:

Hartford, March 10th, 1818.

Sir :—I have this moment received information through Mr. Isham Jordan, of Telfair County, which I rely on, of a skirmish between the Indians and some of the citizens of Telfair, on the south side of the Ocmulgee River, in the afternoon of the 9th inst., twenty or twenty-five miles below this.

On the night of the 3d inst., Joseph Bush [Burch] and his son [Littleton Burch] were fired upon by a party of Indians, the father killed, and the son severely wounded and scalped, but he so far recovered as to reach home in two days after. The citizens having received information of the foregoing facts, assembled on the 9th instant to the number of thirty-six, and crossed the river in the forenoon to seek redress. Finding considerable signs of Indians, they pursued the trail leading from the river some distance out, where they came in view of a body of savages, fifty or sixty, advancing within gun-shot. The firing was commenced by each party, and warmly kept up for three-quarters of an hour. A part of the detachment effected their retreat, bringing off one badly wounded; four are certainly killed; the balance of the detachment has not been heard from; Major Cothom, (commandant of the Telfair Militia,) is among the missing. Four Indians were killed.

From information, the citizens below this are much alarmed, and leaving their homes, I have thought proper to communicate the foregoing to you by express. I am your Excellency’s most obedient servant,

Richard H. Thomas, Lieutenant-Colonel.

In consequence of the foregoing, the Pulaski Troop of Cavalry has been ordered out by the Executive, to scour the frontier and afford protection to the inhabitants. – The Telfair detachment we fear, has suffered greatly and we shall rejoice, if all who are missing have not perished. It would seem, that the Indians confiding in superior numbers, had sought to draw out the militia, by permitting the young man whom they scalped to reach the settlement.

Another Milledgeville newspaper added:

Rumour says, that the part of the detachment who are spoken of as having effected a retreat, fled at the beginning of the action, leaving the rest, most of whom have since returned, to contend with the Indians. Mitchell Griffin, Esq., Senator from Telfair, was among the killed.

Battle of Breakfast Branch, March 9, 1818 -Georgia Historic Marker

Battle of Breakfast Branch, March 9, 1818 -Georgia Historic Marker

Another account of the route of the Telfair Militia was included in Pate’s History of Turner County:

In 1884, Wash Graham, an aged mail carrier from Abbeville via Ashley, Grover and on to Wolf Creek, related the following story:

About 1818, Joseph Burch was building a house near Poor Robin Spring. He was killed and one son lay perfectly still and let the Indians scalp him. The young man recovered, and Mr. Graham afterwards saw and talked with him about the massacre and his escape. The white people came over from Telfair County and encountered the Indians at Breakfast Branch below Abbeville to punish them for their crime.

The white people were terribly and quickly routed by the numerical strength of the Indian band of marauders and murderers. Before the battle Capt. Mark Wilcox and Mr. Nat Statham had been carrying guns for each other. In the retreat Mr. Statham came across his deadly enemy wounded and being left for the torture of the Indians. Uncle Nat, a powerful man, threw his old enemy across his shoulder and carried him to a place of safety.

One of the party was shot through the knee and knowing he could not outrun the Indians, ran into an old cypress pond, got behind a log against which the trash had lodged and was all under the water but his nose and although they hunted the pond over carefully they failed to get his scalp. In the race for the boats in the river, the faster runners got to the river first and carried all the boats across, leaving the bravest to swim, drown or be killed by the Indians.

∫∫∫

The dead were a Mr. Nobels, William Mooney, William Morrison, Michael Burch (brother of the scalped Littelton) and Captain Benjamin Mitchell Griffin…Mark Willcox, son of John, was severely wounded with a rifle ball in the head but was saved by Thompson Nathaniel Statham…In addition to Mark, Moses Roundtree and John Lawson were wounded and both recovered…Others known to have been in the battle were Redding Hunter, Daniel Drawdy and Daniel Campbell… John Wilcox,  James Lea Wilcox.  Four Indians were known to have been killed. –  Thomas Wilcox Family

Unfortunately, the attack on the Burches and the Battle of Breakfast Branch helped to precipitate the Chehaw Massacre,  perpetrated by Georgia militia soldiers upon a village of Native Americans who were actually friendly to the American government.

By 1820, Isham Jordan and his family appear in the census records of Irwin County, GA.  The enumeration indicates Jordan was a neighbor of Burrell Bailey.

1820 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

1820 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

At the first term of the Superior Court of Irwin County, held September 21, 1820, Isham Jordan was drawn to serve on the first Petit Jury. The court was held at the house of David Williams, on land lot 147, 4th District of Irwin County. His Honor Thomas W. Harris was Judge, and Thaddeus G. Holt was Solicitor. The only business transacted was the drawing of the Grand and Petit Jury for the next term of court. Among those selected as Jordan’s jury mates for the first Petit Jury were Sion Hall and Drew Vickers. Burrell Bailey, Willis King, Elijah Beasley and Ludd Mobley were among those selected to serve on the first Grand Jury.

At the second term of the court the Petit Jury was not called for duty, but Isham Jordan faced charges brought by the Grand Jury for alleged adultery and fornication:

The second term was held at the house of David Williams on March 29, 1821. Judge T. W. Harris presiding, T. G. Holt, Solicitor-General. The only business transacted was by the Grand Jury as follows:

“We, the Grand Jury, for the county of Irwin, at a Superior Court held at the house of David Williams on the 29th day of March, 1821, make the following presentment. We present Isham Jordon and Nancy Moore for living in a state of adultery and fornication in the county aforesaid on the 28th day of March, 1821 and before that time. We present Alexander McDonal and Barbary Kelly for living in a state adultery and fornication in the county of Irwin on the twenty-eighth day of March, 1821, and before.”
(Signed)
Samuel Boyd, Foreman; David Hunter, Thomas Burnett, John Sutton, David Callaway, Achibald McInnis, Elijah Beasley, Redding Hunter, Willis King, James Rutherford, James Burnett, Ludd Mobley, David Allen, David Williams, William Hall, Daniel Burnett, Nathaniel Statum, Green Graham.

It appears that Jordan and Moore stood trial for the charge of adultery and fornication.  An undated Court record provides the following

The State vs Isom Jourdon & Nancy Moore
Adultery & Fornication
Verdict
We find the defendants not Guilty
Thomas Fulgham, foreman

 

 

Irwin County court records show Jordan and Bailey served together as a road commissioners.

At the July term, 1821, an order was passed establishing a public road in Irwin County beginning at the county line at Ludd Mobley and continue a river road, crossing House Creek at David Calaway ford and continue to the upper line, and Ludd Mobley, Willis King and Murdock McDuffie were appointed to lay out and mark said road beginning at county line up to House Creek and Green G. Graham, Burrell [Henry] Bailey and Isham Jordan were appointed to lay out and mark said read from House Creek to upper line of county.

At July term, 1822, an order was passed appointing David Calaway, Isham Jordan and Nathaniel Statum, commissioners, to lay out and mark a river road beginning at David Calaway ford on House Creek and up to line of the county.

Isham Jordan subsequently appears in the 1830 census of Irwin County.

1830 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

1830 Census enumeration of Isham Jordan in Irwin County, GA

Related Posts: