Let’s talk GEOGRAPHY – Early American Geography to be exact. Eight long years ago I began my family history work. And I joined Ancestry.com. It was (and still is in my opinion) the perfect site to pedigree build because of its vast records holdings. I also used Familysearch.org, Archives.org, Library of Congress, … to read books about the various North Carolina counties and anything I could find about the earliest histories. My aim was to uncover any information with the surname Jordan as well as learn the geography, settlement and migration patterns.
Remember when the first explorers arrived in what would become North Carolina the land had no name at all, no boundaries with any other colony because there were no other colonies! Most all historians agree the year was 1526 and the explorers were Spaniards. Some historians claimed the Spaniards only visited for a brief time and left. Some claim they left and returned a few decades later. Still others claim they never left! The surname JORDAN is routinely recognized as a FRENCH or NORMAND name. But the reality is the name was and is found in Spain! So did the earliest Jordans arrive from Spain?
As I was submerging myself in early NC history I learned of an archaeological dig occurring not far from Morganton. The BERRY Site dig was uncovering a fort/mining camp named Fort San Juan used by the Spanish in the 1500s to extract and send precious metals and gems from our land to take to the Crown of Spain! There was supposed to be a road leading from that fort to Mexico!
And as I researched more I discovered there were supposed to have been four such sites stretching from the Morganton site following close to the Catawba River Basin. The Catawba River basin is not contained inside the boundaries of North Carolina. It travels to South Carolina and empties into the Santee River watershed and it finds it way to the Atlantic in what is now South Carolina.
The history of the region is murky from 1526 – 1750s. Today we have well defined maps with distinct boundaries for states and counties. But this was not the land the earliest settlers found. These exploration families didn’t find roads, at best there were paths or trails created by Natives. They arrived via ships and used water vessels to traverse the terrain. If one looks at the development of the Jamestown sect, one will find development occurred along the banks of the James and Potomac Rivers.
Most North Carolina family historians have adopted a view and timeline put forth by North Carolina historians. It goes like this:
1526 – The Spanish arrived and immediately left never to return! (obviously this is being challenged by the ongoing digs)
1562 – The French arrived and while they never left, there is only fragmented and conflicting information about them!
1587 – The English arrived, the notorious LOST COLONY, and perished waiting for supplies to arrive. (also being challenged)
after 1607 – The majority of settlers to North Carolina were supposedly settlers who disembarked in Virginia after Jamestown was established and they or their descendants moved to North Carolina to avoid taxes or achieve religious freedom.
If one comes from a JORDAN line (or any number of other early Carolina family lines) within the Carolina coastal plains you will find migration ribbons back and forth across the Virginia border. (I like to call them rubber band connections) Cities like Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and even Richmond, the capital are filled with people with early North Carolina roots who moved (and some who owned property in both places) and some continue this rubber band connection today! The question I found my self asking was which was first?
Carolina history is filled with conflicts and holes. Virginia has done a terrific job of marketing JAMESTOWN as the first colony! But honestly, we now know while it may have been one of the earliest English settlements, those roughly 100 people were not the first to land in North America.
Look at the map showing settlements for North America in the 1700s. It clearly shows the majority of settlers covering much of the land which would become the USA were French settlers. NOTE: this doesn’t mean they were actually French citizens but were people brought to North America BY the French. The map shows North Carolina was supposed to be entirely English planted. There was no recognition of the Swiss effort of New Bern or even a geo point for BATH, which was supposed to our first town. NOTE: Historians claim the most populated place in NC in 1760 was PORTSMOUTH ISLAND;yet historians also claim Bath was the first “port”.
If one looks at the geography of NC – over 300 miles of land abutting the Atlantic Ocean with multiple navigable rivers-and reads the early 1700s account provided by John Lawson one must see there were many points of entry which did not involve first disembarking somewhere between Virginia Beach up to the James River and then trekking down to Carolina!
Is it any wonder the family historians who are working backwards find tracing their earliest ancestors challenging? If you (like me) explore the North Carolina State Archives and the South Carolina State Archives you will find conflicting accounts of the earliest settlements and datelines. Our ancestors have passed down information to us. This information has not been erased or lost because of time or elements or war. We each are walking repositories carrying our true family history inside us. Genealogical DNA tests can help us bring this information to light and in the process help write the honest and true chapters of Early American History and give Caralana its proper recognition.
After submitting my first JORDAN DNA kit to FamilyTreeDNA.com (the only lab one should use) I discovered our family was only the second truly NORTH CAROLINA JORDANS to have established our branch! It has been eight long years now. I find there are pockets of Coastal Plains families who are determined to cling to old genealogy work done before DNA was possible even though there is now enough DNA submitted to disprove or at the very least cast doubt on the validity of this pre-DNA classic genealogy work. It is imperative for coastal plains Jordans, be they in VA, SC, or NC to properly establish their branch! This requires a boy (the older the better) who carries the Jordan surname to submit a FTDNA kit. The kit should include the Ymarker 37 or greater test (the 67 marker test is now the recognized best choice but one can start with the 37 marker and then upgrade if they prefer) and the kit should also include the Family Finder test. You see the Ymarker will give you the information passed from father to son going back 26 generations. The Family Finder test will help you anchor your families to specific geo nodes and migration ribbons! Ancestry.com offers a Family Finder ONLY test and their test is subpar to FamilyTreeDNA.com’s.
What Ancestry.com does offer which is fantastic is the ability to connect to others who are working the same family lines! And their site offers some unique information like geographic population cluster information based on surname. Can you see the problem with their efforts when it comes to the surname JORDAN? The starting date is 1840. Remember the Jordan surname tracks back to the earliest chapters of American History which began sometime in the 1500s. Ancestry did not include all spellings of the surname in their population cluster maps and their maps used ONLY select census information. They did not even begin with the first head of household census taken in 1790!
My nc1700sJordans independent research project was created to help folks advance their genealogy work and hopefully (provided there is enough participation) connect each family to its proper JG Jordan Tree and branch here in North America as well as connect to the line which remained in Europe!
Ancestry has updated their surname population cluster maps. It is a different color scheme now but they still have not improved the chronological data points for their work. If you are researching JORDANS you know there are now multiple different JORDAN FAMILIES who are not part of the same tree. Since Ancestry.com does not do any Ymarker tests they do not have the ability to separate Jordans into their proper trees. The best they can do is provide global information on the name itself.
Here is a current snapshot.
NOTE: Ancestry.com has made a big deal about their NEW Population cluster maps and their ability to provide unique information to aid one with their family’s geo nodes and migration ribbon when one submits DNA through their lab/site. Ancestry.com operates many different sites and their DNA offering is a separate feature within their Ancestry.com site. I am not sure how it works if one doesn’t have an Ancestry.com account. I do know there are many folks who do not set up their Ancestry DNA account correctly and include a pedigree chart so anything that Ancestry is generating is incomplete. While one can attach a pedigree chart to a kit, Ancestry’s site does zero to make sure any pedigree work is accurate based on their dna database. I could go on and on with flaws and problems where Ancestry’s DNA goes. But this page is specific to Geography. So I will try to stay on point. Ancestry uses submitted pedigree work alongside histories of a region to develop their “DNA STORY” maps. Some folks have confused their Surname Population Cluster Maps with their DNA Population Cluster “DNA Story” maps. I have included both for you to see. Keep in mind, Ancestry’s autosomal only DNA test cannot isolate any surname! So while the title of the DNA map uses a particular name, autosomal tests cast a net across many different surnames and the test does not isolate any single line or geo node. The reach of any autosomal test is 4-7 generations (and Ancestry’s is reliably known to be 4-6 ) from the person who does the kit. In Ancestry’s case the kit is a spit vial. In FamilyTreeDNA.com’s case the kit is a set of swabs. FTDNA’s kit gathers a better sample of DNA so their reliable reach is 5-7 generations. Ancestry’s sample method can be contaminated by plaque or mucus. I have submitted over 150 kits to FTDNA and all have gone smoothly. I have submitted two to Ancestry and the second one still is outstanding because of problems with the lab being able to process it! So all I have is one lone DNA kit for our Jordans for which I can share experiences. And to date, Ancestry’s site has been terrific with allowing me to locate folks who are researching my same lines, but their DNA feature has not helped me establish or confirm a single surname in any line of our pedigree! Ancestry’s DNA also has not helped me locate family connections in the early or mid 1700s for any of our lines. It can’t. The test submitter would have had to been 130 years old for that test to work. This is why it is so important to locate the eldest living boy JORDAN and get your branch established NOW, before your best candidate moves on to glory and your genetic research window shrinks when it comes to autosomal DNA work.
Remember the early NC lines of Jordans are easily found in the early to mid 1600s and there is no way to reach back that far using only an autosomal test no matter which lab you use! I included a graph on the DNA tab to explain the age of a tester and the reach of the autosomal test and I include it here again because it is so important to understand! Please understand when it comes to learning what we need from our ancestors who were born during the early 1700s and before, it will take the Ymarker test! And that test can only be done via FTDNA.com! Ancestry may claim a lot of things but when it comes to early NC research it has been eight long years and I have matched only one other Jordan of NC (none from VA or SC) and that family was from Union NC and until they move their work to FTDNA our connection will not be able to be resolved!
Here is my experience when it comes to geography and Jordan work specific to Ancestry.com. The second kit I submitted was for our Jordans and I submitted it through Ancestry. At the time I needed to evaluate both FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry to determine if both labs/sites would be necessary, if one was superior, and what the specific pros and cons were for each.
This map (the second snapshot simply shows the same map zoomed in to see the North American clusters) would appear to some to show migration ribbons which connect our Jordan submitted kit to kits submitted in Europe. NOT so! This diagram simply shows a migration ribbon created by someone(s) in the USA whose kit also matched our Jordan kit and who had a line (NOT JORDAN by the way) which claimed a connection to a particular place in Europe! It is so very misleading! There is not a single node or ribbon which applies to our JORDAN branch – that is all of the families for the JORDAN man who did our kit! Also disappointing, the only migration ribbons denoted are for lines from the maternal side of this JORDAN kit!
And the geo node/cluster provided is of no help what-so-ever because we KNOW we are from Eastern NC! We are still there! So this feature may help someone whose line has migrated from NC but for those of us who are working on early 1700s and before families Ancestry.com does not help at all!
Finally, I have found over and over where flawed genetic genealogy work has been able to take wings on Ancestry similarly to the way old flawed classic genealogy was passed along as gospel from one to another and the misinformation contained in Valentine Jordan’s published papers and Mr. Parker’s paper were accepted as fact! One has to do the right tests through the right lab, period.
It is critically important for folks working early NC families to do their work using the best tools we have. This included DNA. Even if you think you know your JORDAN (or other lines) you need to use DNA to confirm your classic work! If the ever morphing historical reference nodes are not reason enough, than the fact there are over 530 kits submitted through FTDNA so far and the work continues to show there is only one JG tree which has any direct migration ribbon so far to early VA and the rest of us are either staying in the Carolinas as we work back or we are connecting with Canadians or we are stuck just before or after the Revolutionary War should make you realize the necessity to KNOW which JG tree and branch your family belongs!
The DNA right now begs the questions:
Did some of the early Jordans arrive as soldiers to help us win (or prevent us from gaining) our independence from England?
Just when and where did the earliest Jordan arrive on the North American Continent?
The answers to all rests in the DNA of the men who carry the JORDAN surname.
If we do our best work and those who carry the surname on either side of the Atlantic submit DNA kits via FTDNA we can accomplish our best results. understand the earliest chapters of American history, and our families struggles and successes to bring us to where we are today!
Please don’t let time slip by before you get your branch established. The older the submitter the longer the reach – both chronologically and geographically!