Jordan’s Fort History

Jordan’s Fort was the first settlement made by Americans west of Equality. The Indian troubles kept even the hardiest pioneers close to the more accessible country near the Ohio or the Mississippi. The Kaskaskia’s were overwhelmed by the Shawnee’s in a pitched battle fought by agreement on Townmount prairie, Franklin County, in 1802. But the seven Jordan brothers, William and John Browning, William Barberry, and a family named Estes dared the Indians and wild animals in 1804 to make a settlement near Liberty church, two and one-half miles southeast of Thompsonville in Franklin County.

They built a stockade with their cabins inside, and lived on the country with no attempt to farm. In 1812 James Jordan and Mr. Barberry were gathering wood, when a sudden attack was made and both were wounded. James Jordan ran to the fort, but Mr. Barberry was killed and scalped. The Indians were followed as far as the Kaskaskia River, but not overtaken.

A trail led from this fort to the ford where Charles Humphreys had a small blockhouse. This early Jordan trail crossed Schoharie and Herrin’s prairies and was the first purely local road in the county. The Humphreys family used it when word of an expected Indian attack sent them to Jordan’s fort which offered greater protection.

Francis Jordan, one of the brothers, left his family at the first fort, and built one of his own on what is now the section line between 5 and 8, Corinth Township. In 1810 he found Indian mounds there, two feet high and twenty feet across, built as foundations for wigwams. This elevation was necessary to keep out the waters of Pond Creek, fifty yards away.

On this ready-made foundation, Frank Jordan built a stockade of upright timbers that enclosed nearly an acre. Inside there were four cabins and a well. As soon as the land office was opened at Shawneetown, Frank Jordan made his squatter’s rights legal by entering this land. This 1814 land entry is the first of all the land transactions that have taken place in the county.

John Dunlap, an Indian doctor, lived with the Jordan’s in this fort. He found his medicines in the roots and herbs of the woods, an art he had learned from the Indians among whom he lived as a boy.

As the country filled with people and the Indians quieted, the fortification was no longer needed and allowed to fall. But the cabins were used by other settlers, and the name Old Station replaced Frank Jordan’s fort.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939 which is on sale at the Williamson County Museum)