Jordan Anderson was born around 1825 somewhere in Tennessee. When he was around 7-years-old he was sold as a slave to General Paulding Anderson.
He was a personal servant and also a playmate of general’s son Patrick Henry Anderson since they were both around the same age.
As years passed by he became one of the most reliable and able workers on the Anderson family plantation in Big Spring, Tennessee.
He married Amanda McGregor in 1848 and in 1864 and they would eventually have eleven children together, after 32 long years in the service of his master, Jordan Anderson and his wife, Amanda, escaped a life of slavery when Union Army soldiers freed them from the plantation.
When his freedom was granted he left the plantation immediately. His master Patrick Henry Anderson was so angry that Jordan was leaving the plantation that he tried to shoot him, but a neighbor managed to grab Patrick’s pistol from him. He vowed to kill Jordan if he ever set foot on his property again.
Jordan started working in a hospital where he became close friends with a surgeon called Dr. Clarke McDermont. In 1865 when the Civil War ended, Dr. Clarke McDermont helped Jordan and his family move to Dayton, Ohio where his father-in-law, Valentine Winters, was living and could help Jordan to secure work in the town.
Jordan was living a quiet life with his large family but in July of 1865, he received an urgent letter from his former master. Since he couldn’t read he took the letter to Valentine Winters and asked him to read it to him.
As it was written in the letter the Anderson’s plantation had fallen into complete disrepair and Anderson found that he could not keep up his holdings after losing his captive labor force so he decided to ask help from Jordan.
Apparently, Jordan’s former master was in total financial ruin. He promised that Jordan would be paid and be treated as a free man if he returned.
After few days Jordan decided to write back to his former master. You can read the full letter which appeared at Letters of Note below.
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.