Moves on Highway
A COUNTRY STORE operated
unsuccessfully as a partnership gave Doctor Jordan his
first footing on the highway as a motor car travel began
to rise to importance.
The right-of-way was straightened
when the blacktop road replaced the winding country way
and left Aunt Daisy Gatling’s general store hanging over
the western side of the highway a mile south of Como.
The doctor, his brother Paul, Elbert
Boone and Clinton Myrick formed a partnership, obtained
the old store, tore it down, and used its timbers in
constructing a two story frame store building east of
the new highway in 1925.
Three of the men took turns at
looking after the business. Jim was too busy with his
conjure practice at his Vaughan’s Quarters home to share
his time, but he employed a clerk. The business was
bankrupt two years later, and in 1927 bought out his
He immediately built an annex for his
office and made his living quarters on the second floor.
The site came to be known as Jordan’s
Store and headquarters for several business enterprises
that were to develop.
The third phase of his conjure
practice began as he replaced palm reading art taught
him by Aunt Jo Minton with his later framed crystal
ball. He began buying roots, patent medicines and
ready-made conjure bags from mail order houses. He went
into the woodlands less frequently, only for a rare root
A salesman from a Baltimore house
started calling on him regularly, and Jerry Gibbons says
“that man kept calling as long as the doctor lived.”
The doctor, nonetheless, stocked good
medicines. Henderson Vaughan of Murfreesboro tells this
Spring of 1940 a traveling man passed through the
country selling patent medicines.
I bought $12.00 worth with the understanding I would pay
after I had harvested my crop.
A bottle containing a wine colored medicine hope me a
whole lot. It was rejuvenating, for it got rid of my
I paid the salesman that fall and asked for more, but he
“I’m sorry, but I’ve sold out. Jim Jordan bought all I
Charles Chitty of Murfreesboro quotes
a patent medicine salesman as saying about 1950 Jim
Jordan was buying more merchandise from him than the
local drug store.
WITH MONEY COMING IN Doctor Jordan
began buying farms in 1929, entered the logging business
in 1935, but it was after 1937 when his conjure practice
began bringing in the big money.
He had been doing a good business
more than ten years, but Doctor Futrell observed he was
drinking too regularly and advised:
Jim, you’ve got a good business, but you can’t look
after it half drunk all the time. Lay off and you ought
to become a millionaire.
Doctor Jordan turned to sobriety
until a few years before his death. He began to make
money from all his enterprises and about two million
dollars passed through his hands during the quarter of a
century that followed.
The doctor’s son Isaac estimates that
he took in over a hundred thousand dollars a year for
fifteen of those years, which alone would cap a million
and a half.
Attorney Thomas Jones of Murfreesboro
estimates the doctor’s conjure business frequently
netted him $1,000.00 to $3,000.00 a week. Jones
sometimes would go to the cities to collect large sums.
Isaac estimates $3,000.00 a month would be a low average
for his father’s conjure business the twenty years from
1940 to 1960.
More money orders came to Doctor
Jordan than to all other Como Post Office patrons. The
mail box was removed at Jordan’s Store. Mail had become
voluminous and valuable. Rural Mailman Hill would blow
his car horn for someone to come and receive the pack.
Paul Jenkins once obtained an idea of
the size of some of the doctor’s fees:
An automobile bearing New York license plates stopped at
my store. A white man got out and asked how to get to
A few days later I asked the doctor, “How much did you
get of that New York white man?”
“Five hundred dollars; how did you know about him?”
I explained, then asked what was his trouble.
“Somebody had crossed him.”
Charles Chitty offers another sample:
Two Pennsylvania men came to my store after arriving in
Murfreesboro by bus. They asked the way to Doctor
Jordan’s. I replied, “I’ll carry you,” for I had a bill
against the doctor.
The doctor thanked me for bringing the men but asked
that I return three days later for my money.
The men were still at Jordanville when I returned. The
doctor asked me to return them to Murfreesboro to catch
the express bus.
“Did the doctor do you any good?” I asked on the way.
“Yes, sir,” one spoke; “I was almost a dead man when I
come down here; now I feel fine … but it cost a lot of
“How much did the doctor say?” I asked.
“A thousand dollars.”
“Did you pay him that much?”
“Almost; he let me have enough to get back home on.”
The doctor had guaranteed this work; said if the
treatment didn’t work, come back and it wouldn’t cost
“He told me though I’ve gotta have faith in his
medicine. I’ve got faith; I already feel like a new
A few weeks later Doctor Jordan came in my store and
laid a $100.00 bill on the counter.
“Jim, you don’t owe me any money,” I told him.
“Now … you brought that man over to see me; I feel like
I owe you a hundred.”
James D. Flythe of Murfreesboro:
About 1940 Jim bought a Corbett tractor-trailer. He gave
the salesman a $16 thousand check. The man called the
bank to make certain it was good.
“Jim Jordan is good for several like it,” the bank
cashier was quoted as replying.
Flythe recalls that about fifteen
years earlier Jim couldn’t pay cash for merchandise he
bought for his little store. The beef salesman collected
after Jim made his sales. And Brodge Watson says that in
1901 he couldn’t get credit for a twelve pound bag of
Carol Parker of Severn:
About 1940 I stopped by Jim Jordan’s place to collect a
bill for Luther Holloman, Mapleton sawmill man. While
there a Cadillac bearing New York license plates pulled
up. One of two white women got out, walked right in
Doctor Jordan’s office as if she had been there before.
A few minutes later I overheard, the doctor say “Dat
will be $25.00 … en if dat don’t work, when you come
back by from Florida, I have one more thing … but dat
will be $150.00.”
The women drove off. I presented my bill; asked on the
side, “Doctor, what kind of medicine do you have that is
“One of my concoctions … but it works … for it is all in
During Jim’s rise to prosperity he at
times ran short on cash and borrowed from Dr. Futrell,
who says “I lent him $3,000.00 to $5,000.00 at a time.”
Jim was ever prompt in repaying.
By 1950 Doctor Jordan had over $100
thousand cash in two banks strengthened by a large and
W. W. (Billy) Hill of Murfreesboro
says he was lending money freely. He was paying off
delinquent notes on automobiles for people of his
neighborhood … so frequently that “the GMAC
representative would go to him before bringing
Bruce Cooke, former North Carolina
State Highway Patrolman, arrested one of Doctor Jordan’s
patients for speeding, and an investment story
A new model Oldsmobile zoomed at 87 miles an hour by my
speed clock a half-mile south of the doctor’s place on
Highway 258. I gave chase and arrested the driver after
he drew up in front of the doctor’s office.
The man was from Philadelphia; at Murfreesboro Justice
of Peace Jarvis Parker set bond at $200.00. The patient
didn’t have enough cash with him to stand his own bond.
I called Jim and asked, “Do you want to see this man?”
“Yessir, Mr. Cooke; run him over here.”
The man was following me into Doctor Jordan’s office.
Forest Dixon, employed by Jim in a Murfrees-general
store, stopped him. “Wait a minute nigguh; if Mr. Cooke
wants you, he’ll call you.
I told Dixon it was okay for the man to follow.
Jim looked the man all over. His eyes penetrated him
like an X-ray.
“Got your switch keys?”
“Let me have ’em.” Stuck the keys in his pocket.
“Now, Mr. Cooke, where’s that there paper you want me to
Before arriving at the doctor’s office I had learned
this was the man’s third visit for a stomach disorder.
The doctor’s office was full when he arrived, and one of
Jim’s sons suggested they ride to Murfreesboro to kill
the time. The son visited around town and killed too
much time, and the patient was impatient on their return
to the office.
Cooke offers the opinion the doctor’s
son was pumping the patient for information. The many
folks often seen about his office were used at times as
PATIENTS OF ALL CLASSES, both white
and colored, arrived at Doctor Jordan’s office by all
modes of travel.
For a long time after 1890 it was not
uncommon to see one plodding the winding way with a
foot-tied chicken tucked beneath his arms or a piece of
middling meat slung over his shoulder. Then the patients
came by ox, horse and mule drawn carts, wagons, road
carts and buggies. Later ramshacled cars kicked up
clouds of dust. Then a wide assortment of motor vehicles
from the farmer’s stable manure hauling pick-up to the
mirrowing black city Cadillacs appeared. The airlines
eventually joined the conveyance parade. Some patients
flew from distant cities to nearby airports and
continued to the doctor’s humble place by taxi or bus.
Willie Bryant, general store operator
and the doctor’s near neighbor after 1937, says some the
patients inquiring their way seemed high class. Some
looked sick, others perfectly well. The number of men
and women were about evenly divided.
Cecil M. Forehand, Jr., employees at
Underwood’s Esso Station, the Murfreesboro bus stop, got
so “I could always spot a Doctor Jordan patient; there
seemed something unusual about them.” Several of them
arrived by express bus nearly every day and continued
the five miles to the doctor’s office by other
conveyance. (Some got off at Franklin, Virginia, and
traveled the seventeen miles by other means.) Forehand
I got so I could tell the high paying patients making
repeat visits. They’d get on the telephone, call the
doctor’s office, and one of his Cadillacs would come
over for them. Others would either wait for a local bus
or use a taxi.
Most of the doctor’s patients coming by bus were women
and the white women, Yankees. Most appeared in the
average income group while a few seemed in the high and
During World War II the traffic to
the doctor’s place by bus was heavier than at any other
time. Carson Revelle of Murfreesboro recalls a story:
One afternoon during the war I was coming home from
Norfolk on a local bus. The driver took no note of the
village of Como as we passed, but a mile further he
cried, “Doctor Jordan’s Store.”
I was amazed. A crowd of folks got off the bus and
another crowd got on.
AT THE END OF THE WAR Doctor Jordan
was widely known in several of the northern states.
Henry Ricks, truck driver for
Riverside Manufacturing Company in Murfreesboro for 14
years, made frequent trips to Washington, D. C.,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and
Connecticut. He observes, “People everywhere seemed to
know of Doctor Jordan of near Murfreesboro. They would
see my license plates and ask if I knew him. Sometimes
they would ask if he could do anything. I usually
replied, ‘All that I can tell you is that he keeps
plenty of business from everywhere.’ ”
Ricks says people knew the name
Murfreesboro so well at times on Friday night “A car
would fall in behind me and trail me several hundred
miles. Then when I’d stop for a pop or something down
near Richmond they’d stop too and ask directions to
Doctor Jim Jordan’s place.” Rick would tell them to keep
on following him and he’d let them know where to stop.
Source: F. Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor
Jim Jordan • © Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing
Co.• Murfreesboro, N. C.
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posted 14 may 2006 / update 23