Jim Jordan rose to
manhood with the first literate generation that followed
the Civil War. He had been among the first children to
attend the new colored free school that opened in the
Exposure to the
ex-slaves and their old masters, now growing fewer in
number, gave him an intimate understanding of
ante-bellum customs and beliefs.
New conditions and
events began to appear on the horizon. The economy
struggled for improvement as the cotton and bacon era
drew to a close; railroads, automobiles and highways
came slowly. Jim changed with the changing conditions,
the speed up in communications; lived a life of many
dimensions; but was as up-to-date in his ideas and
business in his mature years as when he was young.
share-cropper father he was muscular and essentially a
farmer at heart; but after harvest he found work with
logging operators and saw mills. His normal work week
was until Saturday noon; and during the weekend he
courted the girls, drank intoxicating liquors, and
sported around with other young men.
He was especially
fond of children from early manhood to old age; pampered
and played with them all his life.
In the 1890’s he’d
“cut dat leg aroun’ ” and dance with the younger
ABOUT 1890 Jim and
his younger brother Paul made several visits to their
Uncle Allen and his two sons, Jim and Carey, fifteen
miles away at Menola. He became interested in his
uncle’s conjure practice; began to bring patients to him
for treatment. The uncle reciprocated, taught Jim and
Paul how to read the cards and mix up herbs to control
the spirits. Jim persisted while Paul soon lost
interest. Jim continued to visit his Uncle Allen
occasionally during the following twenty years. Jim
Vaughan says his cousin made his professional visits at
night when other people were asleep; for conjure doctors
took great care to guard their secrets.
Jim’s early work
appears to have been limited and profited little more
than to command greater awe-inspired respect from
JIM AND HIS
BROTHERS continued to work with their father several
years after they reached manhood. J. J. Jordan of Winton
had bought the 450-acre B. T. Spiers Quarters from H.
McD. Spiers in 1888, and made his old friend Isaac
overseer of the 16-horse farm. The Jordan family moved
into the six-room Great House.
Isaac proved a good
overseer, and Jim undoubtedly profited by his father’s
example; for in later years he was assigned positions of
JORDAN of Winton as a boy often rode with his father to
visit the farm. He admired Isaac as a man with “a good
heart and intelligent face.” He was of “ginger cake
color, stood about five-feet-nine, weighed about 180
pounds, had a round belly, dressed well in his wife’s
homespuns and carried himself with dignity.”
HARRIET, the wife
and mother, in the meantime, was industrious. When time
from other tasks would permit she set to work spinning
and weaving. She spun her thread and wove her cloth many
years after other people were “buying out of the
stores.” She too pride in her handwork and sought to
make her materials look better and wear longer than the
store-bought goods. She went to the creek for green moss
to make a dark green dye, cut the bark from the sweet
gum tree for purple, and bought copperas from the store
for light green. She mixed colors for shades she wished,
dyed her thread and wove it into a variety of patterns.
These were usually checks of varying sizes and colors.
JIM WAS ENJOYING a
carefree life. Whiskey was still flowing for him and his
friends from taps of licensed bar rooms in Murfreesboro
and Winton. The large apple orchard on the Taylor farm
north of Como was providing stocks of brandy.
Jim put off
marriage until he was 28. Strong drink delayed the
ceremony three months. It also almost cost him his life.
By 1899 Hertford
County had ceased licensing private bar rooms and
established instead a dispensary bar at the county seat
in Winton. So December 24, Christmas Eve 1899, Jim
hitched his dapple gray horse Bragg to the buggy; took
his brother Paul and neighbors Deleware Hoskie and Rufus
Percy to Winton.
All liquored freely
before leaving town. Two miles homeward by way of
Parker’s Ferry at the Hollow Bridge Jim and Rufus
engaged in a fight. Rufus pulled a knife and slashed a
deep wound in Jim’s neck barely missing the jugular
Paul rushed his
injured brother home to Spiers’ Quarters; startled the
family in the middle of the night as he cried, “Come
here, come her; Rufus has cut Jim to death.”
looked at the wound and knew what to do. She sheared the
fur from her husband’s best hat, mixed it with spider
webs and packed the gash to stop the bleeding. Dr.
William G. Freeman of Murfreesboro came next morning,
admired her work, and stitched up her son’s wound.
Jim had lost so
much blood he lingered near death several days. Percy
grew afraid and fled to South Carolina.
JIM COULD NO LONGER
SING as well as the other young people after h is neck
had healed. He now turned from a carefree to the quiet
and solemn man later generations remember.
He and Cleveland
Cooper’s daughter Adell had planned to marry during the
1899 Christmas holidays. The rites were delayed until
March 29, 1900, with Preacher William Reid, pastor Mill
Neck Baptist Church, officiating. Jim listed his age on
the marriage license as 24 while he was 28, and his
bride gave hers as 19.
Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan • ©
Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing Co.• Murfreesboro, N.
* * *
update 23 June 2008