Jordan Cemetery has graves of early settlers, descendants

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

Since an event occurring in the Jordan Cemetery was covered in last week’s column, it seems expedient to share the known history of that location. Also, there are questions regarding this site to which someone might have answers. Any person who has any tidbit of information related to the cemetery and who might be able to identify any of the unmarked graves or the ones located by pieces of granite is urged to contact this writer.

The historic cemetery is located in an open field about 300 yards north of the Padgett Road and about 400 yards north of the Salem Church Road Junction. It is surrounded by property owned by the Barney Kelley family who has lived there for at least three generations. Members of this family took a personal interest in reclaiming it years ago and are maintaining it in a respectable state. It is understandable then that it has been referred to as the Jordan-Kelley Cemetery in recent years. It appears that the Jordan name came from the Jordan family who owned the surrounding land at the time the cemetery was created.

The cemetery proper is only about one and a half acres, and it is bordered by a chain-link fence. There are two gates on the south and east sides providing entrance with tall granite post bearing the name Jordan Cemetery. It is open and visible from the Padgett Road, and it must be accessed by a private lane passing by the residence of one of the Kelley sons. It is located near the Conecuh River and in an attractive and peaceful environment.

In addition to the headstones and unnamed markers, there is a large, old cedar tree near the southeast corner that has most likely been there for decades. There is a large oak tree in the opposite corner that provides some shade for that area. A few small trees are beginning to grow in a clump near the oak.

Although the cemetery has lasted from an early date of around 1870 according to the markers, it is probably older than that and is still being used as the burying site for some descendants of those buried there earlier. One example is the grave of Janie (Kelley) Lawson who was buried there in 1997. Her son, David Lawson, is currently looking after the cemetery. A cousin, Martin Kelley, who worked for a local monument company took a strong interest in reclaiming and maintaining the cemetery, It was he who placed the granite pieces to mark the unknown graves.

A number of years ago, Yancey M. Kelley, made a census of the graves and made it available for interested parties. He listed the following families as being the predominant families using the cemetery: Beck, Fuqua, Garrett, Goodman, Jordan, Kelley, Little, Montgomery, Rabren, and Watson. Also, in October 2008, Daniel and Mary Rabren made another census, which would include the few newer graves. Along with this, Lisa Franklin, Joan Hidle and Peggy Chesteen took pictures of all the grave markers and posted them with the census at Lisa’s web site,

The censuses identified the following graves:

Beck: Robert; M.D. and wife, Amanda Beck, and a child and infant; Tempie; and Elizabeth (Beck) Little, wife of H.B. Little.

Brown: Mrs. Jim Brown and two unknown graves next to her.

Bray: Infant of John and Clarice (Carter) Bray.

Collins, Lula.

Day: Elizabeth, wife of John G. Little

Fuqua: Mr. And Mrs. Fuqua (believed to be Edward Fuqua and wife); Hulda; and six unmarked graves next to them.

Garrett: James and wife, Irene (Gipson); John Jack and wife, Martha (Little), daughter, Florence Iola, and three unnamed children.

Goodman: Barnie, son of Columbus and Bett (Bray); Columbus; Sam, son of Columbus and Bett Goodman.

Johnson, Charles (Confederate Veteran).

Jordan, Robert.

Kelley, James K. Kelley and wife, Belle (Little), and mother, Beckie (Watson); Janie (Kelley) Lawson and husband, John A. Lawson; John Henry; Wiley H., son of James and Belle. (It is understood that John Henry has a marker here, but his ashes were strewn at sea in California.)

Lawson, John A.

Little: Dock and John, sons of John G. and Elizabeth (Day) Little; H.B.; John G.; Infant of John G. and Elizabeth; J. Wilson Little and wife, Dorthea (Rabren); and Rachel, daughter of H.B. & Elizabeth.

Montgomery: David and wife, Nancy.

Orr, Voncile.

Powell, Infant of John and Nancy (Little) Powell.

Prescott: Two graves marked only as Prescott.

Rabren: James H. and wife, Creasie; Dorthea, wife of J.Wilson Little; James W. “Jim” and wife, Lucrecy.

Spinks, Infant of Georgie and Lue Spinks.

Suggs, Infant of Chesley and Willie (Prescott).

Teet: Tom Jefferson Teet and his wife, Emma; and Emit, son of Tom & Emma.

Watson: Ezekial and his first and second wives and son, Bernard, and daughter, identified as Sister.

Williams, Gustie.

Wishum: Wife of John Wishum who is sister of Beckie (Watson) Kelley.

Alice (Lawson) Gilley reports that she recalls there being a number of infant and other graves near the east side of the cemetery that have disappeared over time. She recalls her mother mentioning that an early church building stood on the south side of Padgett Road across the highway from the lane that leads to the cemetery. Another Kelley descendant, Louise Rabren Neese, remembered that the building used for the church was actually a school, which was used for both. She has a photo of her parents sitting on the porch of that school before it was destroyed during the 1929 flood. A large sunken area was left where the building stood. It is believed that most of the folks involved with the church would have moved to the new Salem Baptist Church, which was located on higher ground.

In addition to sharing what is known about the Jordan Cemetery at the present, another objective of this writing is to gather additional information about it and the surrounding community. Anyone who has any facts about the community, the school, families who lived in the area, and identification of any of the unmarked graves in the cemetery is requested to contact this writer at the addresses below. Also, anyone who might have any correction to the above is asked to make that known as well. Contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: