Katie Jordan Brady
August 28, 1919 – ???
The Rest of the Story
In the book, The Jordans of Black Creek, it was noted that Lon’s marriage almost fell apart in its early days because of “an affair.” Here is what happened: Lon’s brother, Charlie Zimmerman Jordan died August 16, 1916 at the age of 38 of typhoid and dropsy after an illness of 4 weeks. His funeral was conducted by Rev. James Daniel Purvis at Cross Roads Baptist Church. Charlie was described in his obituary as “a dutiful son, a good husband and a friend to all.” He left a sizeable family (6 children) and home responsibilities to his wife, Nora Steen Jordan (daughter of W.A. and Laura Moss Steen).
Lon apparently began to help Nora manage the farm which adjoined Lon’s property, and in the process began an affair with her which would have taken place between 1916 and the winter of 1918. My great aunt Ruth Purvis Baxley says only three children (Nezzie, Trudie and Blease) were born at the time and that Gabriela left Lon over this and returned to her home with the children. Gabriela’s father (Ruth’s grandfather) John J. Purvis, told her he could not afford to keep her at home since he had all the responsibility he could handle and that she would have to go back and work things out with Lon. She apparently did this and bore him 8 more children. (The timing is questionable here. Leonard was born in April of 1915—well before Charlie’s death. Wilson was born in February of 1917 and it is possible he was conceived while this affair was going on. If Gabriela took only 3 of the 5 children with her, perhaps she left the older ones with Lon.)
The affair with Nora produced a child, Katie Lee, born on August 28, 1919. While she is officially listed in the 1920 census records as Charlie’s child, she was born over 3 years after his death and there has never been any question she is Lon’s child. A glance at a photo from any period in her life confirms the resemblance to the Lon Jordan family. Ruth’s father, Rev. James Daniel Purvis, was close to both Lon and Charlie. He had preached Charlie’s funeral and now found himself in charge of dealing with this serious transgression of Lon, the man who always showed up at church early to help build the fire to warm the church. Lon was eventually excluded by this church for an unknown period of time, but was eventually reconciled. Ruth was an eyewitness to Lon’s return to the church and says a man named Melton (Willis Melton referred to in Newsom’s document?) yelled out loud with rejoicing the day Lon was accepted back into the church.
The trauma of this affair and its repercussions were perhaps the “straw that broke the camel’s back” with Nora’s mental stability and she was admitted to the Crafts Farrow State Hospital in Columbia, SC on June 14, 1921 at the age of 35 and was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic in August of 1921, having “had mental spells off and on for 2 years” but becoming “much worse several weeks before her admission in 1921.” According to records, she was “wild, deranged, had delusions of persecution and thought people wanted to hurt her and she threatened to poison her children.”
Nora and Charlie had 7 children and at the time of her commitment to the hospital the oldest was 14 years of age and the youngest was 7. Because she was unable to care for her children (and indeed might have been a threat to them) they were dispensed to family members to be raised, and Katie Lee was raised by Julius and Mary Hancock Griggs, a poor family in Mt Croghan, but with “a house full of love to give me” says Katie. (1930 census records show her in that household.) Although she was in and out of Lon’s house periodically, she was never told about the connection to this family until she was an adult and says she never had a conversation with Lon directly about this. Katie grew up interacting with Lon’s children and eventually married Frank Chivie Burr (born 12/4/12) at the age of 14 (1933) and they had 4 children:
Barbara Elizabeth (8/9/37)
Franklin Chivie Burr, Jr. (9/19/39)
Betty Jean Burr George (8/21/41)
Donnie Ray Burr (4/4/44)
Katie’s daughter, Barbara, went to Ruby High school with Ruby and Newsom and she and Ruby were friends away from school also. (Donnie also hung out with some of the same guys that Newsom did.) They all knew “the story” but did not talk about it. Ester did Katie’s and Barbara’s hair but never discussed the issue with either of them.
Ester visited Nora in the state hospital fairly often. She says Nora was expected to make beds and could make 20 beds in one day. Ester says Nora seemed fairly normal but if you asked her when she came to live in the hospital she always said “yesterday.” On one occasion, she became enamored of Ester’s purse. Ester found a grocery bag, emptied the contents of the purse in it and left the purse with Nora.
Nora remained in the state hospital and died July 13, 1966.
Katie Brady is now 86 years old and lives in Cayce, SC. [She is now deceased] Her daughter Barbara lives in Mooresville, NC (as does Barbara’s daughter, Lynn). Son Donnie lives in Cheraw [now deceased]. Junior Burr died in an automobile accident at the age of 22. Betty passed away Jan 7, 2001 of lung cancer.
Katie moved to Cayce, SC in 1963 and operated her own business there for 35 years.