• Isaac Gordon Biographical Research Project

    John at the Gravesite

    Madison High School Senior John Turvey has just completed extensive research on Isaac Gordon, a former slave who settled in Madison after the Civil War.  Gordon, who is buried in Hilltop Cemetery, was brought to the attention of the Madison Historical Society by a member of the community who wanted to know more about him and his life here in Madison.  Dr. Mark De Biasse, who is the History Department Chairperson and who also serves on the Historical Society Board of Trustees, invited Turvey to conduct research and present his findings under the auspices of the new service learning program at Madison High School. 


    In addition to exploring the Historical Society archives, John conducted research at the North Jersey History Center in Morristown and on the internet.  He also traveled to Washington, North Carolina where Gordon was a slave and escaped to Union lines during the coastal campaign of 1862.  Turvey discovered that Gordon provided crucial intelligence to the Union Army that led to victories in several key engagements in the region.  After the war he traveled north with his sponsor and friend Colonel Potter, who settled in Madison to become a "gentlemen farmer". 



    John presented his findings to a capacity crowd at the February 21 Historical Society meeting.  According to De Biasse, "John undertook an extremely challenging task and succeeded beyond everyone's wildest expectations.  He has brought an obscure and long forgotten member of our community to life and helped us all to realize the contribution that Isaac Gordon made to his country and to the community of Madison".  We are all very proud of John and look forward to hearing more about his passion for history as he continues his studies in college.