Abraham Jordan

of Horry County, South Carolina
A Colonial Family
Written by Jim Farmer, 1981

The Jordan family was one of the early planter families of colonial South Carolina. They lived within the area that today is called Horry County and were some of the area's earliest settlers. They lived there we know for sure in 1736, for the jury list of that period listed John and Daniel Jordan as jurors. In fact, since the Jordans were some of the first land owners in the area, a creek in Horry County still bears the family name.

One of the early members of the family was Abraham Jordan. He could easily have been related to John or Daniel. The records do not show for certain how they were related but they all lived there at the same time. In the records found today there exist four different sources of information about Abraham Jordan. These records are part of only a few records found for the whole area. Fortunately, there does exist a jury list, some wills, and some land deeds that were kept at the colonial capital of Charleston.

In South Carolina the parish was the predecessor to the modern day county. Besides being used to determine church demarcations, it was also used to define secular boundaries. Before the colony of South Carolina would allow settlement to occur in any area, it had to be designated as part of a parish. Then land and tax records could be maintained and a church site could be decided on to server the constituents.

In 1736 the area of South Carolina that is today called Horry County was designated as Prince Georges Parish. When it was first laid out, it included a township called Kingston. Before 1736 doubtless a few settlers from neighboring parishes and from North Carolina were in the area, but no official settlement had occurred. In fact at this time the exact borderline between the two Carolinas had not been determined and people near the border were unsure which state they lived in. However, once the area was opened for settlement numerous families immediately started to move into the township.

Abraham Jordan was one of these early settlers for he appears in the parish's jury list of 1740. In order for any man to be on the jury list, it meant that he was already an established head of a homestead, owning property in the parish and paying taxes. At this time, Abraham's wife, it is known, was named Mary and his children included Joseph, Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Jean. Most of his children were born before the area opened up for settlement , but it is uncertain were they came from before starting anew in Prince Georges Parish. No doubt, Abraham Jordan and the others in the are came down from Virginia or North Carolina, but this is not known for certain.

Abraham Jordan did not come to the area with just his wife and children, but probably with other relatives. Another Jordan who also lived in the area and was about the same age (or generation) as Abraham was Robert Jordan. He descendants also lived in Horry County for generations. The only record we have of Abraham and Robert Jordan together, however, is on a muster roll of the Prince Georges Parish's militia where Robert Jordan was captain of the militia and Abraham Jordan was the lieutenant. The year was 1755.

By this time Prince Georges Parish was progressing, even if it was only sparsely settled. Scots from Pennsylvania were moving in. Enough came to start a presbytery in the township. Those that were already there were adding acreage to their original land holdings. Abraham Jordan, himself, received 500 acres of land in 1757 on the headright of ten slaves. He was probably producing rice on his plantations and since he had so many slaves, he undoubtedly was engaged in harvesting the pine forests for shipping goods. This record showed that he was one of the wealthiest planters in the parish at the time.

Along with Abraham Jordan's position in the community went a few problems. Recorded in the church records of neighboring Prince Frederick's Parish in the spring 1756 is the incident of Abraham's daughter Margaret running off with the radical Episcopal priest Michael Smith. Reverend Smith was the parish priest for Prince Frederick's Parish. Though his parish members had suggested that he take on a congregation in Prince George's Parish where no church had been established, they did not approve of the three months he took to do it. When he finally came back, the parishioners were also surprised to see he had taken a wife, Margaret Jordan.

In the end, the Prince Frederick parishioners were not happy sharing their priest. Nor were they sure they approved of his many other behaviors. For one thing, there was never an official record of his marriage to Margaret Jordan. To prove this, Margaret's father Abraham wrote a letter stating that Michael and Margaret were, in deed, not married, and that there was no one who could witness to the fact that they were.

The Reverend Michael Smith said otherwise---he felt he had the authority to confirm his own marriage without a witness. In fact he nailed a proclamation of his authority on the church house door. The ending of the whole matter is not revealed in the records except for the fact that the vestrymen of Prince Fredericks Parish received a new priest.

Two years later, in 1758 on December the 11th, Abraham Jordan wrote his will.

Like all wills of colonial South Carolina, Abraham's will was recorded in the capital in Charleston. Where most colonies allowed counties to file records and collect the fees at the county level, South Carolina centralized the process in Charleston. For Abraham Jordan and his neighbors it was a tiresome ordeal. They had to either go to Charleston themselves or arrange the legal requirements locally and let someone else carry out the filing Charleston.

Fortunately for us, Abraham's family did not shirk the legal responsibility of filing his will. Within his will is given his family. His wife was Mary, and his children who were: Joseph; Mary (with her husband); Margaret; Elizabeth; Sarah; and Jean (with husband). Grandson Abraham Bellamy was also mentioned.

The actual date of Abraham Jordan's death has not been found in the records of Prince George's Parish. When he died, however, he left a wife, a son, and five daughters. They continued to live in the area.

Some of them lived long lives, others did not.

Joseph Jordan, the only son of Abraham, was killed in an argument with the Kingston justice-of-the-peace, who was also the tavern owner in Kingtson. It made the news.

A witness reported in the Charleston paper that he saw the owner and Joseph at the tavern, where Joseph was eating, begin to quarrel, using oaths, and displaying knives, swords, and horsewhips. During the argument Joseph paused to eat the food a Negro woman of the tavern had placed in front of him. He was then refused any punch (drink) by the owner of the tavern so Joseph sent for some punch from somewhere else.

Evidently, shortly afterward, the owner wounded Joseph and pursued him to a smith's shop were he killed Joseph. This all happened in 1767. It is not known if Joseph had had any children by then. If in deed he had none, than the present day Jordans of Horry County would not be descendants of Abraham Jordan.

The only known descendants of Abraham Jordan are those descended through his daughter Elizabeth Jordan Bellamy. Elizabeth married John Bellamy of Prince George Parish sometime before 1750. John and Elizabeth raised at least six children. Today there are thousands of descendants of Abraham Jordan through his daughter Elizabeth.

The life of Abraham Jordan was different by our standards today. He probably died before he turned sixty, yet in his lifetime he was prosperous and adventurous. He and his wife and children frontiered a new home in a wilderness. He himself was a leading planter I the community and as an officer of the militia. He was part of a colonial system that used slavery and indenturement to grow rice, indigo, and cattle. Centralized control was the norm. It was used in government and religion as well as in families. Abraham Jordan and other planters ran their homesteads and plantations as autocrats. In this way his life was completely different from ours today.

Regardless of these differences, there is still a wealth of similarities between their society and ours. The responsibilities of the planter to his family are the same today. In addition, the desire to provide for the family for generations to come is also the same. Abraham Jordan no doubt met many of his goals. And he gave us a heritage to pass on that we can take further. We are not so far removed from our ancestors as the past two-hundred and thirty years would have us believe.

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