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Saturday, August 11, 2018

1st Sgt. George Jordan, Medal of Honor recipient 1848-1904, Company K, 9th United States Cavalry Buffalo Soldier

George Jordan was born and enslaved in Williamson County, Tennessee in November of 1848. When he was about 18 years old, on Christmas Day 1866, shortly after he gained his emancipation, he joined the United States Army in Nashville. He enlisted in the 38th Infantry Regiment but by January 1870 he transferred to the 9th Cavalry’s K Troop, where he served for the next twenty-six years. 
George Jordan's enlistment records
The 9th Cavalry was part of the “Buffalo Soldiers” who fought Native Americans in the Indian Wars the western US states. 

Jordan and his comrades in the K Troop were sent initially to West Texas. 
In this portion of his military records you can see that Jordan and some of his comrades from K Troop have been sent "Patrolling and guarding [the] country" at the Rio Grande River, August 1873
For eight years they patrolled from the Rio Grande River and into the Chihuahuan Desert. Jordan was promoted to corporal in 1874 and sergeant in 1879. Later the unit transferred to southern New Mexico, Colorado and southeastern Arizona for 12 more years. 
9th Cavalry - George Jordan is identified in the front row, with his legs crossed

This portion of Jordan's military record shows him present at Fort Garland, Colorado in July, 1879

Corporal in the 9th Cavalry in the snow near Denver, Colorado - this gives an example of what Sgt. Jordan might have worn and the way his horse might have been equipped


Victorio
Defending Fort Tularosa from Victorio.  On May 14, 1880, Jordan led a group of twenty-five men in successfully defending Fort Tularosa, New Mexico from about 100 Apache warriors led by Victorio. Late in the day of May 13, 1880, Jordan learned that Victorio was planning an attack on a small community near the abandoned post of Fort Tularosa. He rallied his 25 men - who had just completed a grueling day-long march in the Mogollon Mountains - to march all night across mountains to reach the women and children at Tularosa. Under Jordan's direction, the Buffalo Soldiers erected a stockade and guard posts, and sheltered the settlers inside. At dusk Victorio attacked but Jordan and his men managed to hold them off. Victorio then tried to stampede the settler's animals so Jordan sent ten men out to turn them away and they were able to drive off the Apaches without losing a single man or animal. 

According to Frank Schubert's book Black Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898, Jordan said, “The whole action was short but exciting while it lasted and after it was all over the townspeople congratulated us for having repulsed a band of more than 100 [attackers].” Sgt. Jordan’s commander recommended him for the Medal of Honor. However, he would have to wait for his recognition.
This gives an example of what Sgt. Jordan and his comrades would have worn and looked like.

Nana
Preventing an Ambush by Nana at Carrizo Canyon.  By next year, the Apache leader Victorio had died and Nana took over leadership of the warriors.  Nana engaged the Buffalo soldiers in seven battles in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico.  On August 12th, 1881, Capt. Charles Parker with a small group of soldiers were following Nana and his warriors when they were ambushed in the Canyon by 40 or more Apache warriors.  He ordered Jordan to take a small detachment of men, get to higher ground and fire down on the Apaches to allow the soldiers to escape. It was a fierce battle, with both sides suffering casualties. Jordan's small group was attacked for hours but was able to hold their position and allow the troops in the canyon to retreat. In his report of the incident Capt. Parker described Sgt. Jordan's actions this way: he “stubbornly held his ground in an extremely exposed position and gallantly forced back a much superior number of the enemy, preventing them from surrounding the command.” 

9th Cavalry near Wounded Knee, South Dakota - this gives an example of what the K Troop's camp might have looked like


Birds eye view of 9th Cavalry going to camp from drill, Pine Ridge, AG?, South Dakota - This gives an example of what Sgt. Jordan's camps might have looked like

Awarded the Medal of Honor and Certificate of Merit. In 1890 Jordan was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Tularosa and a Certificate of Merit for his valor at Carrizo Canyon. Sergeant Jordan is the only soldier from Williamson County to have ever been awarded the Medal of Honor and is believed to be the only African American soldier from Tennessee to ever be awarded this honor.

Retirement and Death.  By the time of his retirement in 1896 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska Jordan had served ten years as first sergeant of a troop renowned for its performance against the Apache and Sioux. Jordan moved with other Buffalo Soldier veterans to nearby Crawford, Nebraska 
where he was a successful landowner. Diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 1904 Jordan was denied admission to the Fort Robinson hospital because of the color of his skin. He "died for the want of proper attention" in Crawford on October, 25 1904. 

Sergeant Jordan was buried with full military honors at Fort Robinson, Nebraska on October 29, 1904. His permanent gravesite is at Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, Nebraska. 

Jordan Elementary School Named for George Jordan.  On August 10, 2018 - almost 137 years to the day of his bravery at Carrizo Canyon - Jordan Elementary School in Williamson County opened its doors.  The school was named in honor of George Jordan's incredible life and legacy.  Born enslaved in Williamson County, once he gained his freedom, and immediately upon attaining full citizenship he volunteered to fight for his country by joining the US Army.  His bravery in defending women and children in peril, and his ambushed comrades, demonstrates the incredible courage and strength of character he possessed.  Williamson County is proud to call him one of our native sons.

The Lynching of Calvin Beatty 1860-1878

On today's date - August 11 - 1877, 18 year old Calvin Beatty died of the result of wounds received in a lynchng attempt. He had been accused of raping (or trying to rape) a young daughter of a prominent local farmer.

Below are excerpts from newspaper accounts describing what occurred over the next few days.

********************************************************************************************************

Beatty was taken to Franklin and jailed. The jailer had cause to believe he might be lynched, and for several nights keep the jail guarded. No attempts at lynching having been made his suspicions were lulled, and the guards were dismissed at eleven o’clock last night, promising to send two guards, however, in their place. An hour afterward the tramp of one hundred and fifty horses were heard, and then came a knock upon the jailer’s door. “Whose there?” Asked the jailer. “Friend.” Was softly responded. “What do you want,” asked the jailer. “We have come for Calvin Beatty, and we intend to have him. We don’t want to frighten you nor harm you; we are aware of your position and respect it. Just quietly give us the keys and stay in your room. “ “You can’t get any keys, I will die before I give them up,” said the jailer. “Knock down the door,” said the man in an undertone, and it was done. Three men rushed into the hall through the breach, when the jailer and his wife met them, she exclaiming, “Oh gentlemen, just consider what a terrible thing you are doing before going any further. Said they: “Madame, we took the whole matter into consideration before leaving home and our minds are made up now.” They then passed into the jail, knocked off the lock to Beatty’s cell, told Beatty he was wanted, and pushed him along out the door and took him away.

“Where they rushed me outside of the jail they put me on a horse behind a man and rode rapidly away.

They asked him if he raped the child, and he replied that he saw her, but never touched her. The mob sneeringly cried that he was a damned liar, and laughed and joked.

When they came to a tree one said, “Here’s a good place; let us hang him here.” But they all said, “It is too bushy here; let’s go further.” So they rode on until the man who had me said: “Here, fellows, let’s hang this d—-d n*****; I don’t want him to ride behind me all night; I am getting d—d tired of him.” So they stopped at a hickory tree, when one of them climbed it and threw a rope over the limb and placed the noose around my neck; the man in the tree then fetched it a jerk and it choked me mighty bad; the moon was down and it was very dark; between fifty and sixty were around me; got my right hand out of the rope to which my left was tied behind me, and slipped it easy-like up to the rope on my neck, and worked it, unbeknownst to them, until I got it around my ears and off my neck; then the man in the tree says: “When you stand away off dar for, you d—-d fool; come close;” get close to the tree, when the man in the tree there an end of the rope down, and says, “Ketch hold, dar.” They ketched the rope, and I looked ‘round to see where to jump; so when the man rode off to let me swing, I fetched a big lunge and lit right among the horses, the man up the tree say: “The d—-n n***** is gone; look out dar,” I got down long the horses, and they were afraid they would shoot one another; and, at last, I saw an opening andI darted through; one man says, “there he goes,” and then they began to shoot, and that blinded me; they shot in my face and all around me; I never heard the like; while they were shooting I ran against an old stump and fell just as a head of them shot; at last one man shot me in the hand, and just before I got to the fence another man shot me in the side; he galloped up close to me and fired, and I fell; and he says, “I’se got him.” But that made me jump again, and then I come to a rail fence, and I saw dar was a rock fence by it, and I jumped over that, and I got mighty weak and didn’t go but a few steps before I fell in a clover patch; lay still and heard them hunting and shooting all around, but they didn’t find me; I lay dar till ten o’clock yesterday morning and I got so bad off for some water, I walked and crawled through some beech woods, and got to a black man’s house and told him not to tell where I was; but he got scared, and said if I died there the white folks would get after him.” He was then surrendered to the officers and brought here for safe keeping.

Wednesday night about dusk a negro went to Judge Cook at Franklin and said that Beatty was out in the country badly wounded. 

Dr. House kindly visited the patient. He found him at a cabin on the road-side on the farm of Mr. Jeff Walker, near two miles from the place of the attempted hanging, and near four miles from Franklin. He placed him in an express and lodged him in the calaboose where crowds soon collected to get a view of him. When I visited him his wounds were being dressed by Drs. House and Hughes. He lay on his back with his body bare, and all over the right side of the chest and abdomen were small punctures about the size of No. 3 shot. There were a great many, possibly a hundred or more. The side was puffed up and hard. He had been vomiting blood and also passing it by the bladder. He was evidently in a bad fix.

Being asked if he recognized any of the mob, Beatty said he did, and named two. His escape was almost miraculous, . . . The authorities of Williamson county express the determination to make it hot for the lynchers. 

Calvin was transferred to the Nashville jail for "safe keeping" by order of Judge William S. McLemore. When the train arrived he was conveyed by express wagon to the jail, where "a good many colored people were waiting to see him.

He died there from his injuries.

Fayetteville_Observer_Thu__Aug_15__1878
Nashville Daily American_Fri__Aug_9__1878
Memphis_Daily_Appeal_Thu__Aug_8__1878
Memphis_Daily_Appeal_Fri__Aug_9__1878


Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Young Family of Franklin

On this date in 1877, Charlotte Young of Franklin, Tennessee published an ad in the Southwestern Christian Advocate (New Orleans, LA). She was seeking information about her mother and brothers who were sold to "speculators" during slavery near Alexandria, Virginia.
“Mrs. Charlotte Young,” Lost Friends Ad, The Southwestern Christian Advocate (New Orleans, LA), August 9, 1877, Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, accessed April 22, 2018, <a href="http://informationwanted.org/items/show/1203" rel="nofollow">informationwanted.org/items/show/1203</a>.
Charlotte was born about 1832 in Virginia.  I have not been able to determine any information about her early life, but assume based on this ad that she may have also been enslaved by Barnard Hoe near Alexandria, Virginia.  I think that it was around 1840 when her mother and brothers were sold away from Charlotte.

At some point, Charlotte met her husband Samuel and in 1849 - when she was 17 years old - their son Sam Jr. was born in Virginia.

Around 1850, Charlotte, her husband Sam and their infant son were brought to or sold to Franklin, Tennessee.  It was a common practice during this time period for enslaved people to be redistributed from the Upper South to states further south and west where cotton farming was more profitable.

Lewis Miller, Sketchbook of Landscapes in the State of Virginia, 1853-1867. Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia; slide 84-896c.
This sketch, entitled, "Slave Trader, Sold to Tennessee" depicts an all too common scene at the time of people being sold - in this case from Virginia to Tennessee.  People were shackled together, two-by-two in "coffles" or chain gangs.  They were forcibly marched long distances where they were sold like animals.  It is possible this is what happened to Charlotte, Sam and their infant son.  Or perhaps they were moved to Franklin along with the other possessions  - like furniture and livestock - of the people who enslaved them.  

Charlotte and Sam's next son Moses was born in Franklin, Tennessee in 1851, and Eli joined the family in 1857.  Perhaps the gap in time between Moses and Eli indicates that Charlotte and Sam Sr. were separated for a time.


The family lived through the Civil War and all the fighting that raged in and around Franklin from 1861-1865.  On Christmas Day 1865, Sam Sr. entered into a one-year labor contract (along with two other African American men Nelson Wilson and Ryal Atkison) to farm about 212 acres for C. A. Merrill. Young and his partners agreed to "take charge" of the farm and "furnish [21] hands and cultivate" the farm in "good order". The men were to farm 100 acres in cotton and the balance in corn or a mixture of corn and oats. Young and his partners agreed to deliver the cotton to Merrill's cotton gin the same day it was "pict from the fields."  They were to commence to plow the farm "immediately."  The contract implies that a "dwelling house" was provided on the property because they were instructed not to cook in it and to deliver it in good condition at the end of the year. They were also instructed not to have "any crowds . . . assemble there that may annoy the neighborhood."  Merrill was to receive half of the crop at the end of the year.  The large size and relative sophistication of this share cropping arrangement implies that Sam Young and his partners were well-respected and trusted. 

However, tensions remained high between many African Americans employees and landowners - the complete reversal in the social structure, and to some degree the political structure was hard for many whites to accept.  In July 1867 an armed conflict broke out between two rival political groups - divided largely along racial lines - in Franklin. Sam Sr. was involved and was wounded.  He was interviewed and his affidavit appears below. According to his statement, he was working to keep the peace and was marching with the members of the Loyal League (a group of largely African American men who generally aligned with the Republican Party) when they were fired upon by Conservatives and former Confederates on the public square in Franklin.  He was injured, but not seriously.  [The topic of the Franklin Riot deserves a fuller exploration than I can give it here, but this brief synopsis will give you some sense of the conflict.  I also have many newspaper articles from the time period clipped here if you would like to read the original sources.]



During this time it is likely that Sam's sons were working with him - either farming or as stone masons - which was Sam's primary skill, but they were also learning to read and write. Middle son Moses must have displayed some aptitude for school work because in 1869 his name appears as a second year student at Central Tennessee College in Nashville - a school for students of color.  That same year, his older brother Sam Jr. married Nancy Southall in Franklin. In 1870the family was shown in the federal census living in Franklin.  Sam and the two older boys were working as stone masons.  Sam Jr. and his wife Nancy had added a granddaughter to the household   By 1872Moses was employed as a school teacher in Franklin, according to a bank deposit record with the Freedman's Bank in Nashville. 



In 1873, Sam Sr. appears to be farming as well as working as a stone mason, because his cotton entry into the Williamson County Fair that year won him a $25 prize.

Nashville Republican Banner, October 7, 1873, page 3

By August 1877, Charlotte was searching for her mother and brothers and published the above ad looking for them.  Its not clear whether she ever found them.  Tragically, the following year, Sam and Charlotte's family home was destroyed by fire.  The loss was reported in the Nashville newspaper.

Nashville Republican Banner, Saturday August 3, 1878
During this time period, Sam Jr, and his wife added several children to the family, but Sam Jr died in 1879 of heart disease, and I suspect that his wife Nancy also died.

In the 1880 Federal Census, Charlotte and her husband were still living in Franklin.  They were raising their five grandchildren and living with another daughter in law.  I think their youngest son Eli had passed away, and I can find no record of Moses.  Sadly, I also lost the trail for both Charlotte and Sam Sr.  

One of their grandchildren - Annie Grace - married and stayed in Franklin the rest of her life.  She worked as a hotel cook as a newly wed while her husband James Mitchell worked as a mail carrier.  Later James would become a popular minister in town.  He was employed as a pastor at various churches in town and worked for Presbyterian, Methodist and AME Churches throughout his life.  The couple never had any children, but were active in the community.  Annie went to college and worked as a teacher later in her life.  They lived on Columbia Avenue in Franklin where they often hosted meetings of the various clubs that they participated in.  The legacy that Charlotte and Sam left behind through their contributions to Franklin and those of their children and grandchildren is long lasting and enduring.  

Thursday, August 2, 2018

John Merrill, elected constable in 1878

In honor of Election Day, today we remember that on this date in 1878 John Merrill, an African American man, was elected constable in Williamson County. This was a remarkable accomplishment during a time of strict Jim Crow segregation and the suppression of black voting rights.

John Merrill was born around 1822 and worked as a carpenter in Franklin. Merrill lived in the Hard Bargain neighborhood. He was a leader in the community; he was a member of organizations such as the Mosaic Templars of America. He moved to Nashville around 1909 but upon his death in 1923 was buried in Franklin’s Toussaint L’Ouveture Cemetery. His legacy lived on through subsequent generations - his great-grandson Robert Murdic Jr was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II and his great-great- grandson Tom Murdic was past president of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bishop Otey and the enslaved

On July 31 (today's date) 1842 Bishop James H. Otey of the Episcopal Church baptized his own infant son at St. Peter's Church in Columbia, Maury County, TN. At the same time, he also baptized two African American children - an infant boy named Charles and a girl named Rebecca. They were the children of a woman named Hannah. I believe that all three were enslaved by Bishop Otey. He is known to have enslaved people during his time as a priest in Franklin, Columbia and Memphis, Tennessee.





Saturday, July 28, 2018

How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women

This NY Times editorial - How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women - explains an important piece of often overlooked history. 

What’s significant to recognize is that some white women thought gaining the vote was a way to preserve white political power by adding to the numbers of white voters and continuing the suppression of the black vote through education tests and poll taxes.


Nashville, TN Suffragette, Anne Dallas Dudley, identified often as Mrs. Guilford Dudley, helped assuage fears re: the "negro problem” or what she also called the "menace of the negro vote" this way: "It is true that there are some counties in the south where Negroes greatly predominate. But it is also true that in those counties, there is a greater degree of illiteracy, and the educational qualification operates to exclude the vote. There is no need to fear that the southern men and women of today will not know how to uphold the integrity of their government. We are not living in the reconstructon period, but in the year of our Lord 1918. The horrors of that period are past, never to be revived. The only possible approach to it might come through the failure to give the white women of the South the power of the ballot."

As we begin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of (white) women gaining the right to vote, we need to remember those left behind. 

The_Tennessean_Fri__Jan_4__1918


Monday, May 28, 2018

Dedication of First 29 Pavers in Veterans Park in Franklin, Tennessee

Today was an incredible day. The first 29 pavers were dedicated in Williamson County's Veterans Park honoring some of the 300 African American veterans of the Civil War from this community.  The ceremony focused on their sacrifices and contributions.  My friend, Gary Burke, the great-great grandson of a member of the 17th USCI, and a re-enactor of the 13th US Colored Infantry participated.  Additionally, some of the histories of a few of the men whose pavers were dedicated was shared.  Ms. Thelma Battle, local historian, who recently discovered through DNA analysis that she is related to Private Felix Battle spoke about him. Four members of the local American Legion Post 215 shared the stories of Corporal Abraham McGavockPvt. John DubuissonPvt. Freeman Thomas, and Seaman Stephen Bostick.  It was a wonderful day.  I hope others are inspired to sponsor pavers so that we can continue to share their stories and honor their legacies. Please visit our website to find out how to be a part of this effort - www.SlavesToSoldiers.com


The Williamson Herald always provides wonderful coverage of our project and this event was no different. Thankful for their interest in sharing these stories. http://www.williamsonherald.com/news/article_c4848e84-5f37-11e8-b43a-ab64f7e26c9b.html We also had great coverage in the Tennessean about our project and the exhibit to share their stories at the Williamson County Archives.  The exhibit will be on display through the end of the summer.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2018/05/27/black-civil-war-troops-tennessee-geneaology-research/632999002/