What can I say about our grandfather? Stories about him are legendary (and not all flattering) but this is a man of great determination, a good businessman as well as a stern disciplinarian. I don’t remember him as particularly warm, but he was tenderhearted—a trait which many of the Jordans inherited.

The Murder

He was born on Christmas Day in 1886, the second youngest of 8 children. His father (Dock, also known as J.B. or Joseph Berry) was stabbed to death when Lon was 5 in an argument over an ox he was purchasing from Smiley (Bud) Miles. The two of them were cousins and had married sisters, and Dock Jordan offered to buy the ox if Smiley would bring it over to see if Dock’s wife (Frances Lugenia, my great grandmother) liked plowing with it. She liked it, so he paid $5 and offered to send the balance the following Wednesday when he took his load of turpentine to town. It rained heavily and he did not get his turpentine to market so was late paying. Smiley came to collect, there was a confrontation in the field where Frances was plowing with the ox. The court records state that when Smiley tried to retrieve his ox, Dock picked up a stick to stop him, hitting him several times. Smiley pulled out a pocket knife to defend himself and stabbed Dock and left him to bleed to death in the field. So both sisters were left to raise children without husbands—Dock was dead and Smiley was sentenced to the penitentiary to serve 5 years. Because of the circumstances, numerous people—including Dock’s widow—signed a petition asking for mercy regarding the sentence. Smiley was released after serving 2 years and the families were friendly to each other after that.

While the family did not have many material possessions, Lon was among the first to own an automobile (1921), a 1918 T model Ford, driving 14 miles round trip to and from Ruby, SC by wagon to take driving lessons. Later he owned a 1927 T model Ford flatbed truck which allowed him to take crops to Charlotte and other places to market. He would use that same truck to take his children and numerous others picked up along the way to Cross Roads Baptist Church several miles away.

Lon after tornado damage in 1956

Judy Jordan reports that an early census report indicates that both he and Gabriela could read and write. And he was a trustee on the “school board” that recruited Tincie to the area as a teacher (see the notes under Trudie’s section about their courtship).

Among my favorite memories about him is riding with him in his 1949? Ford pickup (black, of course) when I would visit. It was as plain as they come, without a radio or any extras and a long stick shift with a big black knob. I was fascinated to watch him change gears and hear the truck rattle along the dusty washboard dirt backroads—sometimes to check on animals and sometimes to visit Uncle Gib who lived a few miles away (perhaps the closest neighbor).

Once, he told me a joke which I didn’t understand at the time, but he laughed vigorously when he got to the punch line. It goes like this: A man was in court for shooting another man who had stolen something from him. The judge asked if he shot him in self-defense. The man replied, “No, I shot him in the ass and he jumped the fence.”

It is still awe-inspiring to me to realize what Lon had to do to clear the land around the homeplace and turn it into a productive farm producing the resources to raise a family. Newsom’s excellent document details some of the arrangements he made to pay for the land, but you can understand why the boys had to leave school after just a few years to work full time on the farm. Imagine our parents “standing in each other’s shade” as they picked cotton in the blazing South Carolina sun—sun so hot that the sand would burn your feet (as I can attest).

Granddad’s family almost fell apart after only three children (Nezzie, Trudie and Blease) because of an affair. Cross Roads Baptist Church excluded Lon over this transgression for some years, but he was later reconciled with the church. My great aunt Ruth Purvis Baxley, who now lives in Toomsboro, GA, 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.

According to several sources, Granddad died having sex, a fact I’m not sure my mom ever knew—at least she certainly never shared with us. I was always told he pulled the light string to go to bed and died as his head hit the pillow. I’m sure my mom would be more comfortable with that story.

On April 18th, 1957, just 34 days before Grandpa’s death, a major tornado came through the property—within 250 feet of the homeplace, causing a major setback for him, and devastating the outbuildings. I remember my uncles traveling to the homeplace to help with the restoration which included repairing several barns and the tenant house up the road (where my mom began housekeeping and my brother Harley and my sister Ginny were born). Numerous trees were downed and in the photo it appears Grandpa is standing in a war zone.

Lon was pro-active, perhaps even controlling. (Is that a Jordan trait???) I remember him taking charge at my dad’s death and organizing and helping my mom arrange things. He even went to the cabinet shop next door and insisted that they stop hammering because it was disturbing my mom who was suffering from a serious headache, and I would guess, shock.

Lon’s death came as the third major shock to my mom, Trudie, in 3 years, losing her oldest son Harley in 1954, my dad in 1956 and her dad in 1957. I remember how devastated she was and pictures of her by his casket confirm this. I would have been 10 years old at his death, but I remember how upset the family was as we gathered at the homeplace and prepared for his funeral. Lon’s death (of a heart attack), in its suddenness, was a precursor to how many of his children would die as well.

 


A note about Gabriela…..

 

Gabriela tombstone replaced by joint headstone

It is a shame we have so little information about this wonderful woman who gave my Granddad 11 of his 13 children in just a 19-year span. Looking at the only existing photo of her, it is difficult to see much resemblance to her offspring (which you can see looking at Granddad’s photo). However, you must know that birthing 11 children in the homeplace as well as caring for all of them was more than a full-time concern. My mom talked fondly of her and Ester says she was a gentle person who enjoyed inviting numerous young people from the church to her Black Creek home where she would wring the necks of enough chickens to feed the crowd. (Great) Aunt Ruth confirms this, saying it was a special treat to ride from Cross Roads Church to Lon’s on the flatbed truck (which required frequent pushing out of the sand ruts). Ruth also says her brother Caston said Gabriela was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She also notes that Gabriela was deadly serious about church and that she was frequently seen “sshh-ing” anyone’s kids who got out of line.

 

Gabriela (Sis) Purvis Jordan was born on March 28, 1890, and died February 27th, 1934, at the age of 44, of measles and pneumonia, leaving Granddad with 11 children—Kitty and Bo (twins) being the youngest at 7 years old. According to my mom, most of the family was sick with measles—such that Uncle Gib would bring food and deliver it through the window to keep from getting sick himself. My mom (who lived in the tenant house up the road) was so sick with pneumonia that she could not attend Gabriela’s funeral, so the hearse stopped at her house en route to the church and brought Gabriela’s body in for mom to pay her last respects. Just over 15 months later, Lon remarried. A single tombstone marked Gabriela’s grave. It was later replaced by the current one which has Lon, Gabriela, and Tincie on it. The original tombstone features the gates of heaven opening and is still on Blease’s farm (see photo), standing against a tree. The inscriptions say “Come Ye Blessed” and “Mother was the sunshine of our home. She is now resting with Jesus.” (In some documents you see her name spelled without the “a” at the end, but her two tombstones both have it. Apparently, Lon called her “Gabriel.”)

The Newsom History

 

Note: the following document was written by Newsom Jordan.  It is transcribed here with minor corrections on April 21, 2005 JH

 

The birth of our grandfather, Joseph Barry (Dock) Jordan on January 16th 1849, (the eldest of two sons of Turner and Rebecca Miles Jordan, our great grandparents), and the birth of our grandmother, Frances Lugenia Hancock on October 17th, 1852, combined with their marriage in the early 1870’s, marked the beginning of the Jordan Clan as we personally know them, and to this union were born eight children, four boys and four girls, with their life spans as follows:

 

Elijah Catherine, known to us as Aunt Kat, 1872-1948;

Ada, known to us as Aunt Ade, 1873-1953;

John Turner, 1876-1950;

Charley Zimmerman,  1878-1916;

Rebekah Jane, 1882-1972;

Dock Gilbert, known to us as Uncle Gib, 1884-1971;

Lonnie Franklin, 1886-1957;

And Hattie Lou, known to us as Aunt Hat, 1889-1970.

 

They chose for their place of residence, the Black Creek community of Chesterfield County, South Carolina with grandfather getting established in the then well-known turpentine business for himself, and also in the mercantile business, with his store located on the curve almost in front of our grandmother’s house, located just north of this home site, being approximately 16 by 22 ft. in size, and built of the best heart pine material, with a Mr. Joel Douglass operating the store for him.  He used teams of oxen, called “spike teams,” (3 oxen to the wagon), to haul his raw turpentine products in wood barrels weighing approximately 600 lbs. each, with 2 barrels per wagon considered a load, from his turpentine “still” located on this tract of land, to Cheraw, South Carolina, where it was sold according to quality, and loaded aboard boats that came up the Great Pee Dee River from Georgetown, South Carolina taking two days for a round trip to Cheraw, approximately 25 mi. one way with the nights being spent at the “Ole campground,” located in the vicinity of the present Ingram hotel in Cheraw.  Cheraw being one of the closer marketplaces for all commodities, he would load up his wagons with merchandise for his own store, and for other people in the mercantile business in the Black Creek Community, for his return trip home.  He was described to me by my father to be a short, stocky, “much of a man,” hard-working, reckless person.

 

Through his hard working ability, he managed to acquire a sizable tract of land, possibly 1,000 acres or more, but reaching from Big Black Creek to and including a water-powered corn mill located on Little Black Creek, the living site of our great grandfather, Turner Jordan, but later lost the corn mill site on Little Black Creek, by being forced to sell it off to pay a note he had gone on for a friend, with this particular tract of land “our home place” being purchased for 10¢ per acre.  He came to his death on June 17th, 1891 at the age of 42, being stabbed with a knife by a neighbor, Smiley (Bud) Miles, in an argument over an ox, and was laid to rest in the Cross Roads Baptist Church cemetery, leaving his family of eight children to be raised for the most part by our grandmother, who lived to the ripe old age of 89, and passing from this world on January 19th, 1942.

 

The Lonnie Franklin Jordan clan originated in the year 1907, with the marriage of Lonnie Franklin Jordan, to Gabriela Sis Purvis of Ruby, South Carolina, on April 14th 1907, and after her death from measles and developing pneumonia, on February 27th, 1934, the remarrying of Lonnie Franklin Jordan to Tincie Rodgers from the Mount Pisgah community of Kershaw County, South Carolina on May 16th, 1935.  To these unions were born 13 children in the following order:

 

  1. Nezzie Geneva, on July 3rd, 1908;
  2. Trudie Cleo, on October 18th, 1911;
  3. Daniel Blease, on July 13th, 1913;
  4. Leonard Horace, on April 10th, 1915;
  5. Lonnie Wilson, (named after his father) on February 23rd, 1917;
  6. JB. (named after his grandfather) December 8th, 1918;
  7. James Lloyd, on October 2nd, 1920;
  8. Ester Lougenia (named after her grandmother) on April 9th, 1923;
  9. Virginia Aline, on December 23rd, 1924;
  10. Mamie Clarice and
  11. Robert Maurice, (twins), on March 21st, 1927;
  12. Thomas Newsome, on June 28th, 1936;
  13. Ruby Irene on May 14th, 1938.

They also chose for their residence the same Black Creek Community of Chesterfield County, South Carolina, living with his mother for less than a year immediately after their marriage, and then moving out on their own with a gift from his mother of $5, with which he bought a saddle for $2.50, and two pigs for $2.50, to the nearby Mangum Place, starting his lifelong farming career, living there three years and giving birth to their first child, Nezzie during this time.

 

Realizing that her children needed a place of their own, his mother decided to sell the boys 50 acres of land each, with Lonnie Franklin’s part consisting of 12 acres of open land, seven of this directly in front of this home site, and 2 acres of low ground across the now canal, for $1,000 and the following consideration:

 

that for all the cultivated lands on the said place, the said L.F. Jordan shall pay to F.L. Jordan, his mother, the sum of 1.50 per acre each year, except a certain 12 a. cleared and taken in by him, which he is to have two more years after 1913 for clearing.  Any land cleared or taken in by him hereafter, he shall have three years for clearing before the 1.50 per acre each year shall become due, and except the sawable timber on the land which is not deeded to L. F. Jordan here and, but which I reserve unto myself; it being my intention to cut and remove the said timber from the said land during my lifetime, but in case I shall fail to sell or remove the same during my lifetime, then in such event all the time remaining thereon on shall become the property of L.F. Jordan, his heirs or assigns at my death. This transaction taking place on September 25th, 1913. 

 

It is my opinion that our father started building this house about the year 1911, apparently without having a deed for the land, beside a rail fence and hedgerow of sweet gum trees, still standing in the front yard of this home site.

 

The original house consisted of four rooms and a porch; a kitchen as it now stands, two bedrooms, the front outside room and the now dining room, and a sitting room with a chimney built of sand and rock, with a curtain separating the sitting room from the larger bedroom.  Now that he had a shelter for himself, he proceeded to build a shelter for his farm animals, tools, animal feed, etc., this being a log barn, no longer standing, located about 150 ft. south of this home site.  A well was also needed, the front yard chosen as its location, but now abandoned, dug, and curbed with 36 in.  heart pine lumber, with some of the same lumber being used in the log barn, and also to build Uncle Charlie’s coffin in August 1916, under the shade of the same sweet gum trees standing in this yard.

 

As time and the size of his family progressed, now with five little ones, the time for an addition to the home place was in order, with the addition of a third bedroom, now being used as the bathroom, built on about the year 1918, and sometime later, about 1926, the need was seen for still more addition, with four more rooms and an extended porch being added to the house with the wood material coming from Dad’s portion of land sold to him by his mother, with Mr. Duncan McGregor sawing the lumber, and with the use of Uncle Gib’s log cart to get the logs to the saw mill site.  The four room addition was engineered by Mr. Willis Melton, paid at the rate of $4 per day, with Mr. Alma Honeycutt as his helper, paid at the rate of $2 per day, with Red Eye Jim Johnson building the double chimney to replace single chimney, and with Jack Tillman (colored), pencil marking outside chimney to living room.  The brick for the chimneys and pillars were hauled by Dad and Blease from Ruby, South Carolina, on Dad’s wagon and one borrowed from Mr. Lon Watson, with 400 bricks per wagon considered a load.  Cypress shingles of all sizes from 3 in. to 14 in. were bought to cover the four-room addition.  The attic vent, on the north side of the house, cost Dad $4 in labor for Mr. Willis Melton to make, taking all of one day to build it, since one custom made could not be found, but with the total cost of the four-room addition for labor and materials that had to be bought, amounting to $440.

 

Now that he had sufficient housing for his family completed, a need for more land was seen with which to support his family, and with this in mind, he bought an additional 75 acres from his mother for $1,100 on September 7th, 1922 with payments of $125 per year and with the following stipulations:

 

Provided I reserve unto myself for and during my natural life two rooms of my dwelling house on lands herein conveyed with all rights incident thereto, and reserve on said place until January 1st, 1924, the buildings where John T. Jordan now lives, and he has the right to remove said buildings within the time limit.

 

These aforementioned land purchases represent this, our home place, with the exception of Uncle Charlie’s portion, which was acquired sometime later.  Following this land transaction, Uncle John, who had been living in the original log house used, but not built by our grandfather for his residence on this tract of land, being approximately 18 by 30 ft. in size with a separate kitchen of approximately 16 by 20 ft., did move the existing buildings for barns and other uses, and relocated across the “Little Ditch,” building his house as it now stands in the year 1923.  Another tract of land known as the John Deese place in the White Oak Community was bargained for by Dad sometime in the 1920s, but after farming it one year with disappointing results, he decided he would not obligate himself for it, giving it back to the Federal Land Bank.  Later in 1939, the place known to us as the “Upper place” was acquired by Dad for $600.

 

The plots of land known to us as the Gulledge piece and a plot above the Taylor Old Field were some of the first lands to be cleared, with the 5.0 a. plot located directly behind the home site on the east side of the place being cleared in the year 1929.  Dad and some of the older boys went to Charlotte, North Carolina and bought a new Hercules wood saw to use in cutting up the wood from this plot of land for home use primarily, this day being quite well remembered by some of the older children as being Groundhog Day, the weather being fair in the morning but it started raining about the time they got home with the wood saw, and continued to rain for 40 days.  The clearing of the now pasture lands was first begun by cutting around the trees with an ax in August, this causing them to die, and later by building hog lots in various places to kill the trees and undergrowth.  The 5.0 a. field next to Uncle John’s and a 1.0 a. plot around this home site proved to be some of the best-producing land year after year, and Blease relates to me remembering Dad having told to him a number of times, had it not been for the 2.0 a.  low land field across the canal, he could never have provided means with which to support his family.  This particular plot of land was fertile enough to substantiate a double crop each year, being first planted to oats for his livestock, then being followed with corn and pole beans.  The ditching for the place was done primarily by a Crawford colored man, being paid for his labor with meat and homemade glasses, with the lands being stumped with a hand shovel by Mr. Hardy Eason for 20¢ a stump.

 

Apparently realizing that he needed a source of labor to help him raise his family, dad built a tenant house, with wood shutters used for windows, on the knoll in the field directly in front of this house, with Jim Covington (colored), and his family is the first family to live with him as tenants, then little Lon Jordan and his family moving here and staying until the tenant house was destroyed by fire in 1920, along with enough heart pine lumber stored in the attic to build another house.  After losing his possessions in the fire, little Lon left Dad, owing him a sum of money and left his younger brother, Lester Jordan, to stay with Dad and work for his board and clothes only, for one year, to help pay his brother’s debt.

 

Transportation for Dad and his family consisted of mule or horse-drawn wagons and buggies until the year 1921, when a 1918 T model Ford car was bought by Dad.  Since he had not yet learned to drive, the car was bought and brought to Ruby and left, with Dad traveling back and forth, 7 mi. one way, to Ruby by buggy for driving lessons from Mr. Tom Edgeworth.  Although this may sound strange to some of the younger folks in our midst, it is my understanding that this car was one of the first motor-driven vehicles to be owned by anyone in the immediate community.  As time progressed and better cars and trucks came into existence Dad later owned a 1927 T model Ford truck with which to transport his farm commodities to markets such as Charlotte, North Carolina and other cities that heretofore had been out of reach due to lack of a means of transportation.

 

As awkward as the aforementioned means of providing a living may seem to some of us, let us not fail to mention that Dad and his family of 11 children, at the time, were faced with the Great Depression of the late ’20s and early ‘30s, a total collapse of the United States economic system, a disaster that only a few of us can even remember, and a situation, that in my opinion, the younger of us cannot comprehend in terms of economic destruction and monetary erosion.  The absolute only source of income other than the farm in this section of the country during this time, and as late as 1934, was work provided by the U.S. government in building the same roads that you and I traveled on to come here today, a project known as the WPA with a standard pay rate of 50¢ per 10 hour day for the common laborer, and $1.50 per day for the few who were fortunate enough to be made a timekeeper.  For the farmers in the community who had wagons and teams of horses or mules, Dad being one of these, the government would hire the team and wagon from the farmer for road building use at the rate of $1 per day.  Several of the older boys along with Dad, worked on the project for supplemental income to support the family.

 

As our Dad related to me personally in his later years, although he was not a rich man in material wealth, he considers himself more richly blessed by having had the opportunity to be the father of 13 healthy, sober children, with the kind of love and respect from each of them that is due of children to their parents.  To our Dad, this was a joy and satisfaction unsurpassed to him, and one of the things in life that money doesn’t buy.

 

Having previously noted, Dad lost his first wife to measles and developing pneumonia at the age of 44, on February 27th, 1934, and he himself was called from us suddenly by a heart attack on May 12th, 1957 at the age of 70, his second wife, a retired schoolteacher, succumbing to cancer on March 14, 1969, at the age of 67.  They, like his parents before him, are laid to rest in a triple grave in the Cross Roads Baptist Church cemetery.

 

On April 18th, 1957, just 34 days preceding Dad’s death, he suffered a major setback financially, by witnessing a highly destructive tornado pass through this place, the eye of the storm, in my opinion, coming within 250 ft. of this house and completely destroying at least five outbuildings, and hurting one of his farm mules to the extent that it had to be killed, with this house sustaining some damage and most of the tin being torn from the roof of the tenant house.  The barn directly in front of this house had just been built shortly before the tornado came, and was totally destroyed with some of the cement blocks in the foundation being pulled apart and scattered about the yards, still attached by bolts to some of the wood framing.  Several, if not all, of the boys, came home to help Dad get things back in order following this, and the aforementioned barn was built back the second time, as it now stands, during the 34 day span that Dad lived following the tornado.  Vernon McBride, (colored), and his family were living here on the place as tenants at the time of his death.

 

With the thought in mind that these bits of information and highlights may serve as a refresher to the immediate descendants of Lonnie Franklin Jordan, may it also serve as an enlightener to the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and later descendants of our foreparents and giving them some insight into our existence, our family heritage, our culture, and a better understanding of the joys and sacrifices that have been experienced in order to give us this occasion of fellowship together.

 

This being compiled and edited by me, and in the opinion of the writer, most appropriately related to you on the very soil of the original homestead that has provided our livelihood, at this the 15th annual Lonnie Franklin Jordan reunion.

 

Respectfully submitted this seventh day of May, 1972,

 

Newsom Jordan

 

Joseph Berry (Dock) Jordan

 

Born January 16th, 1849

Died June 17th ,1891

(Lon’s father)

 

Frances Lugenia Hancock

Born October 17th, 1852

Died January 19th, 1942

(Lon’s mother)

 

Elijah Catherine Jordan Johnson

Born March 24th, 1872

Died May 24th, 1948

(Lon’s sister)

 

Ada Jordan Woodward

Born January 17th 1873

Died June 12th 1953

(Lon’s sister)

 

John Turner Jordan

Born October 9th 1876

Died September 23rd 1950

(Lon’s brother)

 

Charley Zimmerman Jordan

 

Born April 26th 1878

Died August 10th 1916

(Lon’s brother)

 

Rebekah Jane Jordan Gulledge Deese

Born March 18th 1882

Died January 5, 1972

(Lon’s sister)

 

Dock Gilbert Jordan

Born July 24th 1884

Died January 11, 1971

(Lon’s brother)

 

Lonnie Franklin Jordan

Born December 25th 1886

Died May 12th 1957

 

Hattie Lou Jordan Smith

Born November 23rd 1889

Died August 23, 1970

(Lon’s sister)

 

Gabriela (Sis) Purvis Jordan

 

Born March 28th 1890

Died February 27th 1934

(Lon’s wife)

 

Tincie Rodgers Jordan

Born June 29th 1901

Died March 14, 1969

(Lon’s second wife)