photo by canstock

Genealogy starts with a single person with a particular surname.  Pedigrees are constructed to show the lineage (also referred to as the lines) that particular person belongs.  How many of you have heard or read where researchers are bickering about kinship based on the spelling of a surname? Work on early North Carolina families and you will reach a point where you are forced to confront confusion with how folks with similar surnames living in close proximity are truly related.   When I began tracking our JORDANS I found records for our immediate line spelled differently from how we spell our name now.  Had an ancestor decided to alter the spelling at some point?  Was the confusion with the spelling why our earliest ancestor Matthew M Jordan was an enigma?

I wondered about the many spellings of the surname JORDAN.  I even tried to hone in on the different pronunciations some families used.  Could I locate our Matthew’s parents by concentrating on the surname details?   Was the spelling of our JORDAN surname some how tied to an unique migration ribbon of Jordans who moved into NC from VA.  So many genealogies and histories claimed most who called NC home during the 1700s had originally arrived and lived in VA during the 1600s! Maybe there was a particular country our Jordans called home before coming to America and the way the surname was pronounced would help me?  My questions were ones genealogists and family historians have wrestled with for centuries.


I read over and over when someone was publishing a genealogy for any JORDAN family, the same surname history was included.  The JORDAN surname originated at the time of the Crusades,1095 – 1291 AD.  The story goes a man was to knighted for valor.  Surnames were not commonplace at that time and surnames belonged to only select people.  JORDAN was chosen because the knighthood occurred along the banks of the Jordan River.  The Jordan was and is an ancient river located in Middle East.


The name was given to the River before the Crusades!  The word itself, JORDAN,  was derived from the Hebrew word ‘yarad’ which means “to go down”.   The Jordan River is precious to Christians around the globe.History books mention it as a regional geophysical boundary.  The Holy Bible provides accounts where the Jordan River was where miracles happened proving God’s power and promise.  Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River near Jericho (Joshua 3:15–17), and John the Baptist baptized Christ Jesus in the Jordan River (Matt 3:13;Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21).

Fast forward to the 1700s, and my JORDAN Surname Project and one finds the Jordan surname can be found in every European Country!  Men born in any of them could have carried that surname to North America!   When exactly did our JORDANS arrive?  And from where?


SURNAME information is genetically passed ONLY from father to son.

For generations family history work included collecting paper records (both public and private) from all repositories, oral histories, published genealogies and histories of places, people, and events.  Pedigrees were conclusions based on the information gathered.  Different JORDAN researchers, like the renowned Valentine Jordan whose collection of work was published by friends after his death, attempted to use the way JORDAN was spelled as one of the criteria to determine kinship.  We now know this methodology was and is flawed.

CLASSIC Genealogy – gathering all paper records, oral histories etc.- is fundamental to any one researching their ancestors. However, classic work is not sufficient.  WHY?  Because the paper trails may include many different records and properly evaluating those records requires understanding the SURNAME aka Family Tree you actual belong and should be working.  And that takes DNA!  Specific genetic information passed from father to son will provide you the ability to check your classic work and stay on track with the right JORDAN FAMILY TREE.  The same rules apply to any surname.

Each of us is a walking repository but not each of us received the exact same information from each of our parents.  BOYS are the only ones who receive Ymarker information.  So only boys carry SURNAME information.  If the JORDAN surname was your dad’s, paternal grandpa, or a collection of great+ grandpas, you need only to find a boy in your immediate family to establish your branch to find your JG tree!

If you are investigating a maternal JORDAN connection – perhaps your mom, maternal or paternal grandma, or a great grandma or any of the great+ grandmas in your pedigree work, you will need to identify the JORDAN Family Tree that she belonged before you can accurately build back to her parents and move your Jordan work further.   You will need to find a boy who connects at the generation node where your female JORDAN was a child, find a brother or uncle who carries the JORDAN surname and connects to her generation node (see chart below) and build forward the line tracking boys who carry that precious information passed from father to son until you locate a boy Jordan cousin who can confirm your direct line of Jordans!

Keep in mind the SURNAME our legal documents like our birth certificate, marriage license, etc show may or may not be the same as passed from father to son.  In order for sound and accurate CLASSIC genealogy it takes submitting Ymarker tests.  Ancestry’s autosomal test is ripe for flawed genealogy to continue.  You see, autosomal DNA does not include the Ymarker information so there is no way to establish or confirm any surname. You could actually match someone and because your pedigree work is the same you each assume the surname information is correct and you both start down a primrose path of flawed genealogy work.

When I began my work I read court documents about an early Thomas Jordan who was made guardian of some Flewelling children in the late 1600s.  They had been orphaned. We have a Fluellen great+grandma and I wondered if I tracked the Flewellings if I could find any connections.   I discovered the surname FLEWELLING is also an early NC surname considered part of the Jamestown migration set. However, the surname morphed over time – from Flewelling to Fluellen to F’Ellen and finally Ellen.  There were not that many of them so the job of tracking was less complex. Yet there remains bickering as to whether the REAL original surname was Llewellyn or Flewelling!

For Jordans we have no short cuts.  The way the name appeared on a deed or census report or court record does not help us isolate a particular branch or even a particular tree of Jordans!  Does it matter we pronounce our name Jurdon?  No. Well, maybe…

Right now there are two particular DNA Jordan Family trees who each claim that pronunciation.  The JG3 and JG8 each have folks who want you to know the right way to say their name.  The commonality is not the tree but the location in NC where these families lived.  The why behind it is still a mystery.

WHY is the mystery still in play?  Because there are still Jordans who are born and bred in the South and some specific branches who have called Carolina home for the last 200 years who have yet to establish their specific line or branch of Jordans by submitting a Y37 or greater test through  (

For me it is particularly painful because I need help to confirm our Matthew’s branch and I need help to understand if and how our Jordans were related to other Jordans who also called Carolina home during the 1700s.

For 8 years I have tried to reach out to missing branches to get their help.  It’s time to be brutally honest about what I have learned along this eight year tract and where I am at this moment.

It is my hope JORDAN researchers will understand what is at stake and we can work together whether we were born and raised in Virginia, one of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Texas, or Maryland!  I have found the early JG (aka Jordan Group) Family Trees can be found in these great states today.  Their ancestral roots rest along the Atlantic coastline somewhere.   I can’t do this solo nor can anyone else.  We need to work together!  And we need to each one understand that our published pedigrees will not stand alone using only classic genealogy tools.  DNA must be used in concert with the paper trail and the conclusions made without first hand information from our ancestors.

The Jordan surname is an old one.  If you google it you will find the account the name was first used during the Crusades offered to a Knight along the Jordan River.  Who knows if this is true.

Right now I know the name JORDAN is an ancient name.  If you look the name Jordan can be found in every European Country before there were ships sailing the oceans in the 1500s.  There were Scandinavian Jerdens, French Jourdains, English Jordans, …

And when the ships pulled away from their Old Country ports there were Jordons and Jardons and Jourdaines aboard along with all of the previous identified Jordan surname spellings.  Some were captains of vessels, others skilled ship carpenters or builders or crew, and still others seasoned fishermen.  There was mention of musicians and gifted horticulturists bearing the surname JORDAN.  The Jordan name was found in vineyards,groves, and crops all over Europe.  Some Jordans raised live stock for Kings and Queens. And there were warrior Jordans who served in military conflicts.

Fast forward for the late 1400s to the mid 1600s and there were pockets of Jordans all over the North American Colonies.  It didn’t matter if French, English, Dutch, Swedish, or Swiss planted a settlement. Each had Jordans.  And yes I do mean plural!  Some folks want so desperately to isolate and pull in the reins to claim a paternal relationship with Samuel Jordan who arrived in the early 1600s somewhere close to Jamestown.  He helped to build and shape the early Virginia Colony.  But the paper trail is a mix of speculation, not a finite autobiography by Sam.  Or even one of his sons. In the early 1900s a Parker researcher who was wrestling with nests of Jordans along the James River all the way to the mouth of the Tar River developed an easy solution.  He simply claimed the earliest found near Rich Square to Henrico all were able to trace back and claim Sam as the single progenitor of most of the Jordans who for centuries were stumped at some 1600 or 1700 ancestor.  DNA has proven that Mr. Parker was wrong. There is no evidence (and logic would have expected there to be) in the Virginia records of any son for Sam who lived to adulthood.  There were two daughters but their fate seems to have blurred away.

Connecting the dots and understanding particulars for each unique  JG JORDAN Tree depends on current researchers doing their best work and that means including DNA in their family history work.

If you have a Jordan in your family history WHAT is their JG Tree?