The Jordans in Yokohl Valley

This information was received recently. The author is unknown by me, but I strongly suspect it was William Francis Jordan, son of James Buchanan. Some of the information is duplicated but much is not and is very worthy of posting.

The first Jordans to see the Yokohl Valley was when Captain John Jordan and his sons, William F."Bill" Jordan, Silas Tolburt Jordan, when they built the Jordan Toll Trail up through the valley. The only family up in the valley at that time was the Micajah Brooks family, who were raising sheep.

Uncle William F. (Bill) Jordan was born in Texas, November 14, 1838. He came to California with his parents, Captain John and Eliza Jane Sadorus Jordan in a covered wagon train in the year of 1850. Bill being 12 years of age at that time.   He helped his father Captain John Jordan and his brother Tolburt build A Toll Trail across the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1861. The trail went up through the Yokohl Valley. This valley took Bill's eye while viewing it when building the trail.

Early May 1862 he went back over the trail with his father, his brother, Tolburt and two other men to set up way stations and were on their way back May 18th. The weather had turned warm and when they reached the Big Kern River it was flooding its banks and very swift and angry looking. It was impossible to ford, so they decided to wait it out. They expected the weather would cool off and the river would go down or subside. It never did, so they built a log raft and started across the river with a long push pole. They were making good headway and about 3/4 way across, when the raft hit a large partly submerged rock. The raft literally broke up and at that time Captain Jordan yelled to the men to catch and hold onto the pole. He grabbed for it, but missed. They saw him come up for the third time and never saw him come up again. They spent some time looking for his body and could not find it. Uncle Bill and the others had clung to the pole and made it safe to the west side of the river. The party got back home and consoled their mother, Eliza Jane Jordan, and made arrangements for her to carry on with the farm and home.

In the late summer of 1862, Uncle Bill Jordan went up into the Yokohl Valley above the Brooks Family and found that the Lee's, Jess and Harley, had squatted on some good land on both sides of the Yokohl Creek, so he went on to the east of the valley and south of the Yokohl Creek up next to the Bald Hills and squatted on some very good land with a large spring. He built a small cabin and settled down to make a living raising sheep. He started off with a small herd. As the years went on he enlarged his sheep herd and added a few head of cattle.

In the late 60's he built a nice home and in 1870 he took on a wife. He married Hennrietta Ann Brooks, the daughter of Micajah Brooks, the large sheep man to the west.   He and Hennrietta were very happy and doing well for several years and they built another and better home on the south side of the Yokohl Creek. Their family grew to 7 children as they lived on.

Bill prospered and enlarged his ranch to over 4000 acres of land of good quality cattle and sheep range and much farming land. As time went on much sorrow came over them, as they lost 5 of their children over a 2 year period, with diphtheria and scarlet fever. They buried them on the ranch.

They overcame their grief to some degree and were living well. They built another home to the north near the large sycamore spring. They piped the water from the spring into their new home and had plenty of water for gardening. They set out a lemon grove of 5 acres. This house was the only house up in the Yokohl Valley that had running water in the home.

October 26, 1882, Uncle Bil1 lost his beloved wife Hennrietta, which left him in much grief and alone and with two children to raise, Laura, 9 years and Alma, 1 year 8 months.

In the year of 1888 he married Mary Sydnor Combs, and soon settled down to a good life again. To this marriage they had four boys, William S., Alien Sadorous, John Cuthbert and Howard Samuel Jordan. Bill loved his family, He was a very good family man.

The year of 1893 a world wide panic hit the economy and Uncle Bill could not sell his live stock or farm produce. With no income, he had to borrow finances to carry on his business. In a year or two things became better, but again in 1897 there was another light panic and this put Bill in a bad way and in 1899 he sold his ranch to his brother James. B. Jordan, retaining his home and 480 acres of land. Uncle Bill passed away in 1901. His widow, Aunt Moley, sold her home and the 480 acres of land to James B. Jordan and moved her family into the town of Exeter, where she lived out her years, and sent her children to school. Uncle Bill Jordan lived all his married life up in the Yokohl Valley, some 40 years. He raised two different families of 11 children. What a good long life.

Silas Tolburt Jordan, brother of William F. (Bill) Jordan filed a homestead about 1873, north and east of the Sycamore Spring, close enough that he got all his domestic water from that spring. He lived there until he improved upon his homestead and got a patent to it. He then sold his land to his brother Bill, and at that time he took his family out of the Yokohl Valley for other parts of California. The early day people up in the Valley made a merger living by raising a good garden and livestock, raising also a few hides of animals and tallow.

James Buchanan Jordan born November 27, 1856, in the small town of San Juan Bautista, Montery County. He moved to Tulare County with his parents Captain John and Eliza Jane Sadorous Jordan when he was not yet one year old. His parents made their home 10 miles east of Visalia, near the Kaweah River or north east of the town of Exeter. His father Captain John Jordan was drowned in the Kern River, while building his Toll Trail in 1862. Young Jim was 6 years of age at that time.

His mother Eliza Jane had control of the Farm and finished raising this large family with the help of her children. Eliza Jane had a small band of sheep and when Jim was old enough, 10 years of age, she put him in charge of herding and looking after them. They took the sheep, in the summer, up in the foothills on government land, east and south of Lemon Cove. After that it was called the Jordan Flat Country. It was more or less flat up there.

Young Jim looked after and herded the sheep, after school let out in spring and until school took up late in the fall. It must have been lonesome and scary for a young lad to stay up in those hills and alone during the nights. Of course he had an old mussel loading rifle with him to back him up. Back on the farm he had to look and care for the sheep before and after school.

While herding the sheep up there in the hills alone he read the Bible, which was all the reading material that was available in those days. He read the Bible through several times during his sheep herding years. He could discuss the scriptures accurately with anyone during his later life. He also helped with the other chores around the farm. The ones he hated the worst was holding an old goose while it was being picked of its down feathers. An old goose could pinch a hunk of skin from your arm or any other place, and did it hurt. The other job was picking the cotton off the seed. His mother was a whiz spinning cotton and wool yarn with the old spinning wheel.

Just before he became 21 years of age he told his mother that he was going out in the world for himself and he did. He spent 5 years in the mines of Arizona and New Mexico. The last year in the mines he got lead poisoning which kept him i1l for several years. The only cure for lead poisoning was to eat limes. For several years he ate limes where ever he could find them. They were not to plentiful in those days. We all thought that the lead poisoning shortened his life span, as he only lived to 67 years of age. That is young for a Jordan.

After he got back from the mines he went to Kern County, near the town of Delano on Poso Creek, and filed on a homestead out of the Bakersfield Land Office. After he improved upon his homestead in 1884 he came back to Tulare County, where he went to farming grain near his mother's farm.

In the year of 1889 he and his brother E. F. Forney Jordan, formed a partnership farming grain by consolidating their resources. They farmed grain and raised turkeys for the market.

Jim Jordan took on a wife. He married Elener Ann Myers March 23, 1894 in Bakersfield, by a Justice of the Peace. Her parents were Joseph and Matilda Fancher Myers. Their home was up in the foothills east of the Mehrten brothers holdings. He took his bride to his home, which he had rented from Barney Mehrten, and from there they moved to the Dale farm house on the Dale Ranch, of which he had rentals. Their first three children were born. Claud was born on the Harney Mehrten farm and Grace and James E. were born on the Dale Ranch.

Jim and Forney farmed together for many years, making money most of the time. They were the first farmers in this region to introduce the combined grain harvester, a ground driven machine, pulled by 32 head of horses. This was quite an event for that day and time.

Jim and Forney dissolved their partnership when Jim bought brother Bill's ranch up in the Yokohl in the year of 1889. He immediately started sowing a grain crop. In the late spring, 1900, he bought a new combind harvester (Prince), after his grain crop turned out to be abundant. Up in the Valley he lived in his brother Bill's second home, where Harvey, Preston, Ethel and William were born. This house was on the south side of the Yokohl Creek.

In 1906 he moved the Harley Lee's 5 room house on the north side of Yokohl Creek closer to the school house. This made it much better for his children. It kept them from wading the Yokohl Creek. When the creek was at flood stage his children had to stay home from attending school. Those born in the new home were Robert, Fred, Leonard, Lora and Certrude. Certrude the youngest was born January 25, 1912. This made a family of 12 children. Yes, quite a number to feed and clothe by one bread winner.

Jim farmed grain for a short time and during this time he harvested his neighbors grain too. He sold his combine harvester in 1904 and went into the hog raising business. He grew grain and planted pie melons and pumpkins on the south side of the creek, which was fertile and flat. The older boys, Claud, James and Harvey, although Harvey was quite young yet, cultivated and hoed weeds in the pie melon and pumpkin field. The grain he grew was fed standing in the field. After the frost hit the pie melons he turned the hogs into the field. The melon crop was so thick on the ground one could hardly walk through them. The boys and father went out every morning with an axe apiece and cut the melons in half. The cold frosty mornings the melons would pop wide open with one chop of the axe. The hogs could not get into those tough hided melons otherwise.

After the first hard freeze in the fall every year he started feeding the market hogs for the market. The pie melons and the standing grain made a good feed combination. In about 40 days of feeding, the hogs were ready for the market. In those days a marketed hog had to weigh over 300 pounds. The hogs were driven to Exeter or Visalia and loaded on the freight train far the market in San Francisco and other cities in the north. The few late fatting hogs were hauled to market in wagons. The pumpkins were hauled in and stored in long ricks and fed to the sows and pigs. Some pumpkins so large that it took two men to load them on the wagon.

By 1907 the hogs brought enough money to pay for the ranch. Jim then decided to go into the cattle raising business to get away from the hard work. It has been said that hogs will pay off the mortgage. They certainly paid off for Jim. While he was in the hog raising business he rented out his range land to cattle men. Jim made good in the cattle business as he had the best cattle range in the state as it turned out the earliest fat cattle in the spring for the market anywhere. From there on he and his family took care of the cattle without any help. Jim prospered in the cattle business. He bought out two more small cattle men, bringing his holdings up to 6000 acres of land. He kept his children in school at all times if possible.

In 1903 the Yokohl School District built a new up-to-date school house. Jim was a trustee of that school from then on. He was chosen clerk of the board which he served on until closing down the school in 1920. In that same year the Yokohl School District consolidated into the Exeter Lincoln School District. The consolidated school bought a new school bus mounted on a new 1920 model T truck chaises. The seats were mounted parallel along each side back of the cab. It was covered with a peddler like top, and when the weather got bad curtains were let down with the back end open. The children boarded the bus from the rear. They put brother Preston Jordan in charge of the bus and he was the chief bus driver and had to care and keep up the bus.

The bus was stationed at the J. B. Jordan Ranch. Brother Preston was in high school at that time. The bus route was down the Yokohl Valley road to the junction of the Captain Thew Road and then proceeded over Captain Thew Hill, then due west and then due north into Exeter, over 12 miles one way. The bus picked up 7 Jordan Children, one at the Gill Ranch, two Osborn children, two Hughes children, two Andersen children and the three Testerman children, who were west of Captain Thew Hills. There were 17 children in all. This filled the bus to capacity, with three up in the drivers cab.

This bus ran for two sessions and by this time most of the children thinned out. The consolidated school trustees decided to let each family drive their own children to school with a small mileage fee paid to then. That was in the fall of 1922. That fall Jim Jordan bought two new Model T touring automobiles. One for his own use as his old car was worn cut, and the other for his children to drive to school. By this time there was only two families left up in the Yokohl Valley.

During all this time, the Jordan boys helped with the cattle raising. Rounding up, branding and cutting out the fattening cattle and placing cattle back on the range every year. They also built new fences and kept the old fences in repair. As this took place over the years the elder children left the ranch and then it was up to the younger children to carry on. Lucky enough there were plenty of boys to do the job, Jim just did the supervising which was good training for them.

Each boy had his own horse and riding gear. As the elder boys left the ranch this left horses for the girls, who helped some in the round up. The girls main job was to help mother in keeping house and preparing the meals, which was not a small chore.

The large J. B. Jordan family was blessed as there was only two disasters. Brother Robert died with lockjaw in the fall of 1917 and Harvey was killed in World War One in France while fighting for his country. It happened just before the armistice was sighed in 1918. There was almost another disaster when sister Lora was small, fell off the foot bridge into the Yokohl Creek. She was going over to the old barn to the south with the other kids. Luck was on her side: as the creek was wide and shallow and the water not very deep and not swift. One of the kids ran to the house yelling bloody murder and told mother. Mother ran to the rescue and waded out into the middle of the creek and caught Lora, and at the same time grabbed her by the feet with head hanging down and jerked her up and down, not easy, to run the water out of her lungs, which done the job. This saved her life. Her hair was full of sand and other debris.

For spending money, the boys trapped skunks, raccoons, wild cats and coyotes in the winter months when the fur was prime. They sold the hides. This was done before school and after school and they had to do their daily chores. Brother Bill was a bit late with his catch one morning and too late to change his clothes and went on to school. He didn't smell bad until it began to warm up in the class room and then all skunk scent broke loose and the kids began to hold their noses. They pointed to brother Bill and the teacher sent him hone to change clothes in short order. This all can happen in a little one room school house out in the country.

In 1912 when brother Bill was in the first grade there was 71 children in that school year and from there it got smaller every year as the children graduated and the families started moving from the valley.

The Jordan boys all had jobs or chores to do before and after school as there was wood to be cut and packed in, cows to milk and sheep to be corralled every night. Father was very strict on these chores. If the sheep were not corralled every night, the coyotes would kill one or two , especially the lambs and young sheep.

The sheep kept the family in fresh meat most of the year and every winter there was hog killing time, when the frost was on the ground for bacon, hams and lard. Yes, there was sausage to make, pigs feet to be pickled and hog head cheese to make. This was stored part of the year. The bacon and hams kept all year.

For entertainment there was the school Christmas party at the school house. Every student took part in it in a big way, and there one or two dances in the school house each winter. There was always an Easter picnic party out in the opening somewhere for all the neighborhood. Plenty of ice cream on hand and it was made there an the picnic grounds in several hand turning freezers.

One of the neighbors would drive down to the Meriman cold storage plant and pick up two large cakes of ice in a two horse buckboard. It was always wonderful times on days at these get togethers.

Father J. B. Jordan past away March 19, 1924. His funeral services were held in the home on the ranch March 22, 1924. Just as the services began it started to rain hard and it rained all day. He was buried in the rain in the Exeter Cemetery. The rain was welcomed very much as it was the first rain of the season. It had been very dry up to this time. No green grass. The cattlemen lost money, starving cattle and father. Cattle died too.

From March 22, 1924 to all the month of April was all the rain for that season. Also green grass. The grass was short, but made good cattle feed. The cattle got fat by feeding a grain supplement and got them off to market a bit late, but in good shape. That is the cattle market.   After J. B. Jordan's estate was settled, mother formed a corporation and issued every child and herself equal shares in the corporation. The corporation took over after electing officers and they operated the ranch for several years. The family decided to dissolve the corporation and sell the ranch and holdings in 1930. This was done and the proceeds divided share and share alike. Each share holder took their money and went their own way. That ended the Jordans up in the Yokohl Valley.

The holdings of the Jordans up in the Yokohl Valley spanned over 68 years, from 1862 to 1930.