Full Time Practice
Doctor Jordan opened full time practice in 1921 when
he was fifty years old. He had several good reasons.
His older sons, nearing manhood, had grown strong and
skilled in farming.
His professional business had been improving several
years and prospects for a greater intake of money was
MOST OF ALL, he was growing older. Pulling the
cross-cut saw ten hours a day was not so easy as it had
been in his younger years … when his muscles waxed
healthy and strong at ardous work rafting logs and
pilings up the narrow Meherrin River and running them
down stream to big water of the Chowan where tug boats
would take them to Foreman Blades Lumber Company at
Elizabeth City, Camp Manufacturing Company at Franklin,
Virginia, and other points; loading cars for an old
Mammy T Ford to pull along the tracks to Sears Wharf on
the Meherrin River and loading them on barges; working
in the logwoods for the companies and individuals.
One hot afternoon in 1921 was so exhausting he made
the important decision.
The story of Doctor Jordan’s resignation from hard
labor is told by several of his old acquaintances, like
Elbert Boone, Brodge Watson, Peter Britt, Olie Cooper
and Peter Edwards. The account essentially is:
Jim Jordan and Jake Ruffin, employed by Southall
Lawrence, were sawing mine props on the Myrick place
north of the Meherrin River near Murfreesboro for use in
West Virginia mines.
At the end of a hot summer day Jim, tired and sweaty,
lay down the saw, mopped his brow and told Jake, “This
is my last day; I don’t plan to get my living this way
“What can you do?” Jake asked.
“I’m going to doctoring.”
“If you’re quitting, I’m quitting too.” Jake paused a
moment and added, “If you’re going to be a doctor, I may
as well be a preacher.”
Jim soon built a profitable conjure business; Jake
became a holiness preacher of moderate success.
Peter Britt pertinently observes “Jim already was a
man of great knowledge, and Jake had been doing previous
church work.” The appropriate time had arrived for both
men to ease up from hard work.
While Jim’s success eventually became almost
fantastic Jake managed to make a modest living. He
turned to evangelistic work and “a lot of people went to
This work at first rewarded him, with little money.
He did several odd jobs; carpentered, sold junk, raised
and sold vegetables.
The automobile helped build Doctor Jordan’s business.
And he bought all kinds of cars … from the rattling Tin
Lizzie to the sleek Cadillac.
Brodge Watson gave the doctor a catalogue sent out by
a Chicago mail order house that sold conjure books and
supplies. Son Isaac says his father ordered and studied
the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th
and 10th Books of Moses. Lucky Star Dream
Book, Palmistry, Secrets of the Psalms, and The master
Book of Candle Burning.
CITY FOLKS, in the meantime, who found their way to
Doctor Jordan’s home off the beaten way at Vaughan’s
Quarters were bringing with them an important message.
“The big money is in the northern cities among the
higher class and more prosperous clientele.”
Hundreds of old men and women were telling fortunes,
locating stolen goods, furnishing love philters,
crossing and uncrossing people in the cities. The “New
York Age” stated that the Negro quarter around 135th
Street of the city was overrun with conjurers, many of
them from the West Indies and practicing the rudimentary
Doctor Jordan’s patients often said they had visited
several of these doctors but got no relief. He gave each
one special care; provided whenever possible the relief
they sought. They returned to the cities, told their
The fame of Doctor Jordan began to spread. During the
next forty years thousands of these people would come to
Como and bring with them hundreds of thousands of
Ola A. Chitty and Guy Hill, mail carriers serving
Doctor Jordan, took note of the increase in his
Chitty began as rural carrier April 1, 1916, and
served him for twenty-five years. The doctor “always got
mail, much of it registered and special delivery.” The
volume began to increase after the carrier’s first few
Hill, who was to serve the doctor after Chitty, began
as Como carrier November 1, 1921. At Vaughan’s Quarters
the doctor’s house was “about a half mile down a rough
and muddy path. Often there were a number of cars from
New York, New Jersey and other states parked beside his
Jim was drinking regularly on weekends and rainy days
during the early 1920’s and sometimes sported around
with his friends. Randolph Whitley (1915_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _) recalls an incident in 1922 after the doctor
moved from Vaughan’s Quarters to the Cype Whitley place
to cultivate a 40-acre farm subdivision two years.
One Sunday morning when I was about seven years old I
was playing with some other children at Barrett’s Cross
Roads near my home.
Jim Jordan and Sam Riddick, a tenant on my father’s
farm, raced Jim’s horse and buggy along the dirt road.
They wheeled around the tree in the cross roads too fast
and run a wheel down. The two drunks tumbled out onto
We children laughed when they got up cussing, brushed
off some of the dust from their duds and staggered down
the road after the frightened horse.
The doctor retuned to Vaughan’s Quarters in 1924. A
few years later he moved onto the black top highway and
really “went to town.”
Source: F. Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor
Jim Jordan • © Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing
Co.• Murfreesboro, N. C.
posted 14 May 2006 / update 23