Bartholemew Jordan, A Vintage Vignette
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
October 22, 2008
The Madison Station Historical Preservation Society is in possession of a 7th grade “graduation” certificate made out to Sue Jordan in 1917. From the census records of Madison County, it appears that Sue was likely a daughter of William and Willie Jordan, both born in Tennessee (as was Susie) but living in the town of Madison in 1910. The connection, if any, of this family to area pioneer Bartholomew Jordan is unknown at this time. However, many members of the Bartholomew Jordan family remained in the area, while some of them moved into Mississippi in the 1800s.
Bartholomew Jordan was a veteran of the American War for Independence. The time of his arrival in northern Alabama was mentioned in a letter from Dr. J. W. Jordan (a direct descendant) of Lexington, Mississippi, published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper in 1929. In this letter, information was given that “…Bartholomew Jordan settled in what is now Richmond, NC, about 1777-80”. The letter further stated that Bartholomew Jordan was “…married to Charlotte Gregory, and about 1810 he moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and settled … a few miles from Huntsville.” What was “a few miles from Huntsville” in the family traditions of 1929 today is well within the Huntsville city limits.
From old land records, it is now known that Bartholomew Jordan purchased and patented parcels of land along what today is Bob Wallace Avenue. Originally, the road was called Brown’s Ferry Road from just south of Huntsville’s historic district westward all the way through Limestone County to the ferry site on the Tennessee River. Portions of it later came to be known as Old Madison Pike (well after Madison became a significant town in the late 1800s), and in the 1950’s a small portion became Bob Wallace Avenue in Huntsville as that town grew. When the arsenal was created, Bartholomew’s land formed the northern portion of that reservation. Portions of his holdings are still part of the arsenal, while other portions are around the Botanical Garden and Morris Elementary School.
Bartholomew’s influence on the town of Madison began soon after he moved to the area. The Jordan family became charter members of a new Methodist Episcopal Church that began to hold camp meetings on Jordan’s land around 1819. The church met on the land of Robert Lanford, just to the south of the Jordans, until that site was abandoned in favor of an acre donated by Bartholomew in 1826. The church became known as Jordan’s Chapel, with a cemetery where Bartholomew was buried. That cemetery is believed to be located on the boundary between Morris Elementary and the Botanical Garden. The church endured until the mid-1850s, when the railroad came through the area, but several pioneers who were later to become residents of Madison attended or preached at services there before the church disbanded.
Furthermore, Bartholomew’s daughter Temperance was married to Isham J. Fennell, Senior. They lived on the east side of the Jordan holdings, along what today is Jordan Lane. Their daughter, Charlotte Fennell, married William Lanford as his second wife, after his first wife Emily DuArmond died. William was a son of the Robert Lanford who first deeded land for the church that became Jordan’s Chapel. William Lanford constructed the Lanford-Slaughter house on Old Madison Pike around 1850. He and Charlotte had a daughter (Mary) who married Dr. John Slaughter, for whom Slaughter Road is named. Their daughter, Charlotte (“Lottie”) Slaughter, married Madison merchant James H. Cain, whose store still bears his name at 202 Main Street.
Furthermore, Bartholomew’s granddaughter Charlotte Fennell Lanford had a brother Isham J. Fennell, Junior, who in the 1860 census was enumerated as living in the Madison precinct. His monument in Maple Hill Cemetery is one of the tallest in that Huntsville cemetery, a very high obelisk topped by a statue of an angel with a sword. He was obviously one of the wealthier men of the area for his time. Yet, the grave of this man’s grandfather, American Revolutionary War patriot Bartholomew Jordan, is today unmarked and has been lost for generations as he lies in the ground near Morris Elementary School.