From the Shadows
Ole Satan am a liah an’ a conjure too;
Ef you don’t mind out he’ll conjure you.
But James Spurgeon
(Jim) Jordan, one of the more successful conjure doctors
of the past century, said he never joined forces with
“Ole Satan;” instead, “walked beside de Lord” rendering
help to people in the measure needed.
This man gained
nationwide repute among conjure clientele; spent his
entire life in Maney’s Neck Township, Hertford Country,
North Carolina . . . 90 years . . . June 3, 1871,
to January 28, 1962.
His life may never
be quite duplicated; no one, develop so great a depth of
conjure understanding. For it was a growth from vivid
experiences by intimate contact with people of the Old
South and the area’s transition to greater educational,
social and economic maturity.
While he possessed
a kind disposition masses of people of his Como
village-community and neighboring areas, seemingly
harboring dark fear of the mysterious workings of the
spirit world, would not abandon suspicion he abstained
completely from black magic. They insisted he at times
had crossed up folks the same as the Devil and witches.
Maybe they spoke
truthfully. If so, it must have been during the long
early years of his practice that began in fading
nineteenth century and before he moved from the woods
onto the highway and rose to greatness as a man of
When success rushed
along to meet him and spread far and wide his reputation
a large majority of his more prominent acquaintances
characterized him as an honest and liberal man; said he
wouldn’t take a penny from a patient or patron unless he
was certain his services had been helpful. Admiration
was shared by medical doctors, business and professional
people, and law enforcement authorities.
himself as a faith healer during the last score or more
years of practice. Nearly a half century he had been a
doctor of varying ability and acceptance. He was visited
by patients with so great a variety of complaints it
became hard for folks to decide with accuracy his kind
of practice. During the 1890’s when he took his first
jobs most of the conjure doctors of the region were
called trick doctors; for they used an assortment of
simple tricks to impress patients with their power to
deal with the spirit world. Yet at other times Doctor
Jordan was loosely described by the many titles given
various cults of American conjure doctors following the
Civil War … root doctor, gummer doctor, gombre doctor,
voodoo doctor, horse sense doctor. In recent years he
even was called the poor man’s psycho-doctor.
One thing is clear.
Doctor Jordan’s practice underwent important changes
during its 70-odd-year span. Shadows of ignorance were
still dark when he was born to his ex-slave parents;
slow in receding. It accompanied the rising
enlightenment by education and the revolution in
transportation and communications.
Doctor Jordan we’ll use the word conjure, for it is the
general term designating those people who perform tricks
by sleight of hand; in doctoring, those who also cast on
or remove spells by exercising their influence upon the
spirit world … a practice known to the common man as
crossing and uncrossing.
Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan • ©
Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing Co.• Murfreesboro, N.
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posted 14 May 2006 / update 23 June