Weakness With Strength
DR. L. E. BARNHILL,
young Murfreesboro general practitioner, began attending
Doctor Jim Jordan in 1960. The medical doctor invariably
was called to the home of the conjure doctor. So it had
been during the 45 previous years when he was served by
Doctors L. M. Futrell and Q. E. Cooke.
The conjure doctor
never impaired his image in the eyes of his patients by
visiting the office of a medical doctor.
Upon early visits
to Jordan’s Store Dr. Barnhill observed the conjure
doctor had an attractive girl in his employ. Once the
old man asked, “How do you like my girl friend?” and
after a slight pause, “We’re going off and get married.”
The young woman
THE CONJURE MAN,
“awfully alert for his age,” had been a ladies’ man for
about 70 years. The women he had known intimately would
have filled a small harem.
While he had only
one wife he openly claimed children who went under at
least six family names.
He told his sister
Jennie Mae that his manhood failed when he was 88 but by
then he had begotten 42 children.
During more than a
quarter of a century Dr. L. M. Futrell delivered “up to
five children a year” at Jordanville. Some, however,
were the conjure doctor’s grand children and other
belonged to people in his employ.
Jim had been a
“courting man” about ten years before he married Adell
Cooper in 1900. A few years later Adell’s mother died;
her father Cleveland Cooper, a brother, and Minnie, a
young sister born in 1890, moved into the Jordan home.
An unusual family
relations saga soon began. Adell favored her sister with
motherly care. Eventually Jim began sharing his
affections between his wife and her sister. Both women
bore children with no apparent disaffection. Minnie had
two sons and three daughters before she married Horace
Reid and moved with him to Franklin, Virginia. Both sets
of children called Adell “Mama” and her sister “Minnie”.
The Cooper children
remained with the Jordan family. Minnie explained, “He
(Jim) can take care of them better than I can.”
IN LATER YEARS when
Doctor Jordan enjoyed a seemingly limitless’ income he
surrounded himself with several women. Some were in his
employ and he was helping others. At one time he had “a
yard full of women folks,” says James C. Flythe.
Adell had suffered
a stroke several years before her death in 1954. She,
however, never openly objected to her husband’s
She took pleasure
in being the boss of the household. Jim’s sister Jennie
Mae says when she spoke “somebody heard,” and “Jim heard
when he wished.”
LOVE FOR CHILDREN
was one of Doctor Jordan’s lifelong obsessions. Dr.
Futrell says the quality was so extraordinary it added
greatness to Jim’s personality.
Sister Emma says
the doctor was forever teasing his sisters and nieces:
me that baby.”
you do with him?”
him home with me.”
everywhere came to love Jim almost as if he were God.
He really fed them
. . . his own and the many others around his place.
insisted on paying delivery bills for all the children
born at Jordanville, says Dr. Futrell. Some years the
cost totaled several hundred dollars. Upon his death he
had 33 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren by his
legal children . . . unknown numbers by his outside
He cared for many
children other than his own. Unwed mothers sometimes
left children for him to coddle and feed; and he also
sheltered children of broken marriages.
During his later
years he was cheered by the company and love of six
little boys. They were his three adopted sons Donald
Everett, Larry and Richard Jordan; McKinley, Bernard and
Donald Worthington, grandsons of Cassell Steward,
treasurer and office manager.
After the doctor’s
death Cassell with the aid of his children have been
caring for them.
They called him
“Granddaddy,” and their stories reveal Doctor Jordan had
a tender heart.
One day, taking
turns, the boys explained:
birds and wild animals; he wouldn’t let us shoot them
around the place.
three dogs. Red Buttons and Little Sis sat on each side
of his desk during the day and slept under his bed at
night. Junius, the black pincher, was kept tied
outdoors. When he was turned loose he would run into the
house to Granddaddy.
A car killed Little
Sis before Granddaddy died. Red Buttons grieved a long
time after Granddaddy was carried away. She lay under
his bed several days and wouldn’t eat.
We knew how the
dogs felt, for they loved him like we did.
PEOPLE in NEED
found help and understanding from Doctor Jordan. He
aided uncounted number of men and women to better lives.
He stood for
several men released from prison on parole. David
Worthington says he first would set their minds straight
and then put them to work on the farms and in the
logwoods. “None of those men ever went to prison again.”
One is Hosea Cuffy
of Norfolk who continues at Jordanville as a logwoods
employee of the doctor’s son Matthew. Hosea was serving
time for murder. His parents came to Doctor Jordan for
help. He heeded their request and set to work to have
the young man paroled to him. Hosea came to Jordanville
three weeks before the doctor’s death. Nonetheless he
impressed the parolee he must lead an useful life. Now
everyone at Jordanville speak highly of Hosea. He is a
hard worker and considerate of others.
jobless women were seeking the doctor’s helping hand by
1930. Noteworthy is his care of a mother and her three
Cunie Porter of the
Hertford County St. Johns community moved with her three
brothers to Courtland, Virginia, to share-crop Doctor
Jordan’s three-horses farm. They continued a year or two
after the doctor sold the farm, then moved to
left her, and one day she and her three children got off
the bus at Jordan’s Store.
Doctor Jordan took
them in; sheltered and fed them several years until
Cassell Steward is
one of Doctor Jordan’s more devoted admirers, and here
lost their farm in the 1930’s. Doctor Jordan cared for
them and their ten children until they could find
security. He gave Cassell a job at his store, and she
worked for him 24 years. When the doctor’s wife suffered
a stroke Cassell managed the household work. Later the
doctor made her his cashier with responsibility of
handling his flow of money by the thousands of dollars.
Soon before his
death he gave her the farm her parents had lost.
Three days before
the doctor’s death blood tests were made in preparation
for marriage to Cassell. Quick weakening of his
condition interrupted marriage plans.
There is the case
of Lula Bright of Norfolk who came to the doctor jobless
and homeless. He gave her employ and helped her pay for
Jessie Deloatch and
her two children received Doctor Jordan’s care three
years until they found security.
Others include an
alcoholic girl of Weldon whom the doctor helped to
sobriety and usefulness; his sister Emma’s daughter
Bernice of Suffolk he cared for two years while treating
for a spasmatic condition; Elmer Carey and her brother
of Boykins, Virginia, he sheltered several years; and
unrecorded numbers of other people who need food and
lodging until they could find gainful employ.
He was a members of
Mill Neck Baptist Church, Knights of Pythians, Order of
Love and Charity, all of Como, and Ahoskie Masonic
Lodge. He collaborated with conjure doctors and faith
healers in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and other
Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan • ©
Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing Co.• Murfreesboro, N.
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posted 28 December 2006 / update 23 June