Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Honored Lady: Great-Grandma Susie Jane Patrick (1889-1973)

Susie Jane Patrick (1889-1973)

Great-Grandma Susie

Susie was born in Cottonwood Point, Missouri on September 26, 1889, one of 14 children born to Charles Anthony Patrick (1849-1927) and Nancy Melinda Cole (1858-1940). Charles Anthony was originally from St. Louis, Illinois. Nancy Melinda was born in Cottonwood Point, Missouri.

Susie, middle, with younger siblings

Susie with three of her children: L to R: Mildred, Frank, Geneva

On December 6, 1906, at the age of 17, she married a young Cooter, Missouri man named Emery Brooks. She had 6 children, 5 girls and 1 boy. Only 4 of those children would live. One child, Mary Sue, is still living. (Please see "A Gentle Man" for info on Susie's children.)

Though they were a farming family, they lived in the town of Cooter on Main Street. There has been some talk that their farm house burned to the ground, so they were forced to live in town. From the photos, it can be told that Susie always made sure her children were clean and well-dressed. Susie was also neat, with her hair pulled back. She was a very attractive young woman, with the smooth skin and the dark and deep eyes inherited from her Cherokee ancestors.

Besides keeping house, Susie's role was disciplinarian, as her husband Emery was easy-going and soft-hearted. Her granddaughters remember her fondly, as kind, gentle, and a lady. Since Susie's husband died young, she was left to raise a small child, Mary Sue, all by herself. It is here that I find the most solidarity with her, as I am raising my own daughter almost entirely by myself.

I asked one of my dad's sisters how Susie provided for herself and her children without a husband in the 30's and 40's. This was what she said:

For a time, Susie worked as a housekeeper for a wealthy neighbor and took in washing and ironing to make a living. She always had a large garden and a lot of peach trees. Her pantry was always well stocked with canned vegetables and fruit. She raised a pig or two every year, had laying hens which provided eggs and fried chicken on Sunday. Her smokehouse contained salt- cured ham, bacon, and fatback.. She made her own lye soap which was used liberally to scrub clothes and kids alike. She lived frugally on a tiny pension and commodities such as cheese, evaporated milk, rice and beans were provided by the local government.

It is to her credit and hard work that her children were raised, educated and given a chance for a better life without the benefit of a husband and father. Susie did what she could for her children and still managed to lend a hand to sick and disabled neighbors. 

From the photos, I can tell her children were always well taken care of. Soon after his father died, Charles joined the war effort and it was there he grew into a man. According to Mary Sue, Susie went to E. St. Louis, IL. and lived with Geneva and Chester and worked at the Christian Welfare Hospital to help get her through college. She only worked there about 18 months. Then she returned to Cooter, Mo, where she lived the rest of her life. When Mary Sue came of age, she married and became an elementary school teacher. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Illinois.

A memory from Mary Sue:

How well I remember [Mom Susie and Grandma Patrick] going
to the hen house gathering eggs and putting them in their aprons, also
the baby chickens to get them out of the nest so they could clean up the
egg shells and the old mother hen so protective of her babies. She would
squawk and peck and peck. Scared me!
Mom Susie would pick up the apples and peaches as they fell a few each day and bring them in the house in her apron. She never let anything go to waste. She quickly turned them into preserves and apple butter.  We also had a plum tree.
I remember her making pear preserves so rich and syrupy. She would keep
them in a stone churn and would dip them out by the bowlful and we
would have them for supper with hot biscuits and butter.
Susie with daughters Geneva and Mary Sue

Susie's home in Cooter, Missouri taken in September, 1968
It's obvious from the photos that were in my dad's possession, Susie home was the place to be on holidays. I can only imagine Thanksgiving was a bittersweet holiday for her, as her husband died the day after it in 1933.

with her daughter Mary Sue and granddaughter
From Aunt Sheila:

I may have mentioned that I adored Grandma Susie. She was the epitome of the perfect role model for a young girl. Every summer, I spent two weeks with her. During that time she tried to teach me to sew, embroider and appreciate art and literature. She succeeded in the literature department but not sewing or needlepoint. Every summer she whipped out my pillow cases which had the outline of birds on them. My two cousins, Nancy and Leslie, were also there during those two weeks. They always completed embroidering two pillow cases each visit. However, I would thread the needle then stitch one or two stitches, then stare out the window...bored silly. I never finished one pillow case. I never even finished one bird's tail! Before Grandma died, she had separated her treasures and labeled them with the name of the person they were for. After her death, I received a neat package marked, "for Sheila". When I opened the package there were my two pillow cases with the partially finished bird tail. I could just see her smiling as she wrapped that package for me so carefully. I loved that woman but I DON'T DO needlework. I cherish my unfinished pillow cases.

From another of Susie's granddaughters:

Grandma Susie was one great lady.  She planted seeds, nurtured them, encouraged all of us to work hard and make something of ourselves. She was a hard worker and she never asked us to do anything that she didn't do, too.  When we worked in the field, she worked right along with us, plus cooking our breakfast, fixing lunch, patching our cotton sacks, and having us ready to be picked up and in the field by sun up.
Christmas 1965

Susie, late in life

Until the day she died, she remained a steadfast, loyal Methodist, working quietly behind the scenes to help others who were less fortunate than she. The Cooter Methodist Church honored her service to the community by declaring a "Susie Brooks Day."

Susie, age 80, on the day the church honored her

Susie passed away three years after this photo was taken, the day before Independence Day, 1973, five years before I would be born. Though I never knew her, in learning about her I have found quite a few similarities between us. We share a passion for service to the community, art, and literature. I, too, have a flowering peach tree in my yard, which my daughter and I planted last fall and I love to garden, though I'm sure she had a wealth of knowledge about gardening and running a household that I will never have. She knew about hard work, and suffered many tragedies. Though I, too, have had more than my share of loss, the pain of losing a child would be devastating. Susie lost two. Learning about Susie's hard life has made me realize how easy I've always had it. How I wish I could have known her.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Gentle Man: Great-Grandfather Emery Brooks (1884-1933)

Emery Brooks (1884-1933)

My paternal grandmother's father, Emery was the son of James Franklin Brooks (1832-1893) and Sarah ? (Possible options for her last name are Richardson or Fultz)  (1841-1932). Emery was the youngest of eight children, and was born in Cooter, Missouri.

He had twin fingers on his left hand, according to his WWI draft card. In one photo you can see he's covering that hand with his other. The WWI card also states that he had blue eyes and black hair, which isn't surprising because my grandmother's hair was naturally black.

Note: From a cousin and fellow researcher: Emery was born with  2 fingers on one hand, she believes it was the middle and the ring finger, that never separated in utero.  Both Aunt Geneva and Grandma Susie told her about this.  The medical term is called syndactyly

Emery's father would die when he was only ten years old, in 1894. The cause is unknown at this time  In 1900, he lived in Missouri with his mother, Sarah, his set of twin siblings: Noah and Dora, and Great Aunt Elizabeth, his father's brother William's wife. There was also a boarder in the house, 20-year-old C.F. Warner, who was a dredger.

Like most of the men in his line, Emery would grow up to become a farmer.

On December 30, 1906, when he was 22, he married my great-grandmother, a 17-year-old, part-Cherokee girl named Susie Jane Patrick (1889-1973).  Both Emery and Susie were educated, and both grew up in Cooter, Missouri, so they may have gone to school together at some point.

On November 19th, 1907,  they had their first daughter, Floella, but she only lived seven months, dying from unknown cause(s) on June 23rd, 1908. Susie would have been about three months pregnant with their second daughter, Geneva, who was born later that year on December 7, 1908. Geneva would live until 1997 and was a favorite aunt among her nieces and nephews.  

Emery, Susie, and Geneva

 Jane was born the next year, September 24, 1909, but she was either stillborn, or died that same day.

L to R: Mildred, Frank, and Geneva with their maternal grandmother Nancy Melinda Cole Patrick
My grandma Mildred and grandpa Larvous

My grandmother, Mildred, was born a couple years later on July 10, 1911. She passed away just four days shy of her 92nd birthday on July 6, 2003. (Much more about her later.)

Charles' in WWII
Emery and Susie's first and only son was born next: Charles Frank, on April 14th, 1914. He was stationed in England during WWII, where he met his wife, Doreen. After the war, he was a grain elevator operator. He died in 2000 and is buried in Belleville, Illinois.

Here is a copy of Emery's WWI draft card, where I believe he was rejected for service because of his hand:

Their last child, Mary Sue, was born fifteen years later, on April 29th, 1929. She is a retired elementary school teacher.

Geneva, Mary Sue, and my grandmother Mildred, seated

A snapshot of life in 1920, Cooter, Missouri:

Emery (35) was farming. Susie (30) took care of the house. Geneva, (11), Mildred (8), Charles (5), as well as a 5-year-old niece named Ethel Brooks, laughed, played, got in trouble, and helped around the farm. A boarder also lived with them, a 28-year-old farm laborer named Lavann Keliham.

My grandma, Mildred, felt very close to her father as he was a "gentle soul".

From an Aunt:
 It seemed to me that Susie must have been the no-nonsense, disciplinarian in the household. Mama would go to her daddy for "comfort" because she was a little silly and rebellious and was often "in trouble" with Susie.

As you can see from the photos, he was a handsome man and Grandma Susie was beautiful but stern. Mama idolized her father. I adored Grandma Susie who was a kind-hearted, gentle, lady but had to be tough to survive the obvious hardships she endured as a young widow.
Not only was Emery a tender-hearted and good man, he was also a successful farmer. In 1930, Emery's estate was worth more than almost all of his neighbors. It was valued at $2,000, a great deal of money for that time and area. Though he was a general farmer, the family apparently did not live in the farm. They lived in a house on Main Street in Cooter. Charles and Mary Sue lived at home.

Geneva married Chester Bare on May 1, 1931 in St. James, Missouri. My grandma Mildred married Larvous Lee Sellers on and began their own families nearby.

Emery's death certificate

In 1933, a cyst or cabunkle developed on the base of his spine. An infection spread to his blood stream and he ultimately died. This is a testament to the real lack of medical knowledge in those days. Emery died on the day after Thanksgiving.

Susie was 44 when her husband died. My grandma was 21. In a letter she sent me after my own dad died, she said she "hurt a long time after" Emery's passing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Needham, Farmer: G2 Grandfather Needham Carroll Jordan (1841-1924) and Mary Ann Adams (1857-1940)

 Needham Carroll Jordan (1841-1924) & Mary Ann Adams (1857-1940)

Born one of 14 children to native Tennessean Zachariah Richard Jordan and North Carolina-born Sarah Richardson, Needham Carroll was my great-great-grandfather. The name Needham is an unusual one, and I've been trying to understand why they would name a boy this. It sounds like a last name, but it's no last name that I've come across, and I've traced this particular line back to the year 235. The name Needham means "House of Need" which doesn't make sense as a metaphor because his parents, Zachariah and Sarah Jordan, were quite wealthy for their time.

Just after Zachariah's death, Sarah reported her real estate valued at 2500 dollars, with a personal value of 800 dollars. This was quite a large sum for this area and time, and especially for a farming family. How did Zachariah become so financially successful? It's not particularly surprising since this Jordan line will eventually stem from Scottish royalty, but that's a story for another post. The 1850 census states that Zachariah's estate was only worth 150 dollars. It also states that he could read and write, but his wife Sarah could not. What accounted for this boon in prosperity in the years before Zachariah's death?

Needham would have been 14 when his father died. His father was only 45. The cause of death is unknown.

Three years later, Needham would marry seventeen-year-old Mary Ann Adams in 1874.

Mary Ann was born in May of 1857 to Phillip Adams and Hepsibah Ann Sherrard, spelling unsure. Phillip was a farmer and a Henderson County native. Hepsibah was a North Carolina native. She moved to Henderson County with her parents. Hepsibah would die in 1860, when Mary Ann was just three years old. Incidentally, Hepsibah and her father Henry Best Sherrard would die the same year. Hepsibah must be named after the Biblical character Hephzibah. According to Rev. Carl Haak, these are the references to the ame in The Bible:

The word "Hephzibah" is found in only two places in the Bible. It was, first, what the God-fearing Hezekiah called his wife. In II Kings 21 we learn that Hezekiah's wife was called "Hephzibah." And Hezekiah could say concerning his wife, "My delight is in her."

The second time that we find the word "Hephzibah" is where God calls His people by that name. That is in Isaiah 62:4. In the context God has said that He would take away our rightful name which is "Forsaken," and would call us by a new name, a name which He would choose. That name will be "Hephzibah." We read, "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah." And again, that word means, My delight is in her. (


Mary Ann and Needham settled in Henderson County near their parents and began a farm. According to H. L. Bolen's 1922 History of Henderson County:

The crops that can be grown in Henderson County, cover a va­riety almost as wide as as the complete list. Cotton is and has been King; yet diversified farming is carried on now by many of the lead­ing farmers. Corn is growing in the esteem of our people, and our yield increases each succeeding year with no additional acreage, which shows that our farmers understand better the cultivation and care of the soil, and the value of good seed selection, and many more new ideas that have come to the farmers of Henderson County.

On sweet potatoes and watermelons our county is almost a world-beater, and the Irish potato flourishes as well. The strawberry is plying its way into one of the county's leading money crops. In fact we can grow any crop of the temperate zone with profit.

In the fruits, apples flourish in good land and peaches will grow anywhere they are stuck and given half a chance. We are doing more in fruit now than any time in the past.

Needham could not read or write, which is unusual because his father was educated. Mary Ann could read, but not write. A few of their children were educated.

Needham and Mary Ann Jordan

Mary Ann died in 1940 at age 83 of pellagra, a vitamin deficiency disease. Pellagra is apparently a very debilitating disease, causing diarrhea, skin lesions, dementia, and ultimately death. Her daughter, Ida, cared for her until her death.

Needham and Mary Ann's legacy: (Note: the birth years for the boys are confusing. Census records do not match ages listed in obituaries. This could be because Needham and Mary Ann were illiterate, and birth years were often a guess. I have listed the children in chronological order as they appear in census records.

James Thomas Jordan (1876-?) 
married Amanda J. (maiden name unknown, but I hope it isn't Jorden!) in 1897. Also in 1897, their first child would be born. Scandalous! Over the course of the next twenty years, they'd have at least 7 living children: Dealie, Luler, Estis, Calvin, Felbert, Fay, and Liston. In 1900, they lived next door to Needham and Mary Ann, and were farming. By 1920, they were farming in the more northern county of Madison. It's unknown when James died.

William Needham Leonard Jordan (1879-1936):  Married Maggie Douglas in 1903, and they had at least 6 children: Paul, Curry, Anita, Kennith, Douglass, and William Alexander. They owned a farm on Bargerton Road in Henderson County in 1920. In 1930, they were still farming, and their farm was worth 800 dollars. Their son Paul had left home, and Curry was a newlywed. He and his wife, 16-year-old Pauline, lived on a farm next door. It doesn't look like their son Douglass survived as he was not named in the 1930 census. William would die 6 years later of unknown causes. He was 57.

John Tylar Jordan (1882-1978) 

John and one of his wives, most likely Beulah
John Tylar was one of the last living children of Needham and Mary Ann, which was a pretty amazing accomplishment. He would be married three times. I originally thought John was married four times, the first being in 1900, at the approximate age of 18 to young Mollie B. Martin, granddaughter to my Alford M. Bradford. According to the 1900 census, they lived with Alford and their young son Cecil. But I have Mollie as moving to Madison County and living with her JT Jordan until at least 1920, and unless John lived a double life, there's no way this could be his first wife.

In 1910, the census shows he married a woman named Glovie, and they had two children, a daughter Vela Mae, and a son Needham. They rented and worked a farm just down Wildwood Street from Needham and Mary Ann.

Marriage certificate for John and Penie
Glovie would die of unknown causes. On January 20, 1920, the census reports that John was a widower and had three children, Vela Mae (11), Needham (10), and Howard (8). Later that year, John married Penie (Lapenia) Tyler. I don't know at this time if he had any children with Penie, or what happened to her. His third and last wife would be Beulah Johnson. She would outlive him.

John's obituary reads:

Lexington Progress, May 3, 1978

John T. Jordan

Services were Saturday at Reed's chapel with the Rev. Harold Hopper officiating.  Burial was in Independence Cemetery.
Mr. Jordan, who ws 96, died thursday at Lexington Hospital after a long illness.  He was a retired farmer

He leaves his wife, Mrs. Beulah Johnson Jordan of Lexington; three sons, Eugene Jordan of Lexington, Liston Jordan of Pensacola, Fla. and Hayward Jordan of Poplar Gluff, Mo.; three daughters, Mrs. Vela Printz of Dexter, Mo., Mrs. Olene Chism of Fairfield, Calif. and Mrs. Sue Smith of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.; two sisters, Mrs. Ollie Williams of Steele, Mo. and Mrs. Ida Weir of Jackson; 21 grandchildren; 36 great grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren. (It's significant to note his first daughter Vela Mae would die a few months after him at the age of 70.)

John with two of his sisters, Ida (left) and Ollie (right)

Albert Lafayette Jordan (188?-1961): In 1910, Albert would take in his sister (my great-grandmother, Ollie) and her two small children, my grandfather Larvous, and little Lessie Mae, after Ollie's husband was killed by a mule. Some time after that, he married Debra and lived in Jackson, Tennessee. His WWI draft card says that he was of medium height and build, had blue eyes and brown hair, and was missing 1 finger. Census records or records of any children for Albert and Debra could not be found.

Draft card

Harriet Cornelia (1886-bef. 1900): It's not known how long Harriet lived, but she is not listed on the 1900 census.

France Ollie Jordan (1890-1992): My great-grandmother Ollie was Needham and Mary Ann's longest living child. Please see the extensive profile in an earlier post.

Luther Carroll Jordan (1892-1962):

Luther seems quite the character in the above photo. Blue-eyed, black haired Luther married Texas-native Vera Lee Hayes in 1910. They had seven children. According to his draft card for WWI, he was the sole support of his family, including mother and father.

Luther's obituary reads:

Lexington Progress December 13, 1962

Services for Luther C. Jordan were Tuesday afternoon at Smight Funeral Home in Jackson with burial in Independence Cemetery.

Mr. Jordan, who was 69, died of a heart attack Monday at the home of his son, Wallace Jordan.  He was born and reared near here and had lived in Madison county since 1913.  He was a retired Bemis farmer and a Baptist.

He leaves another son, Kenneth Jordan of Westover; three daughters, Mrs. A.F. Bivens of Jackson, Mrs. J.B. Flanagan and Mrs. V. Flanagan, both of Lexington; a brother John Tyler Jordan of Lexington; two sisters, Mrs. Ollie Williams of Steele, Mo. and Mrs. Roy Weir of Birmingham, Ala; 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. (Vera must have died before 1961 as she was not listed as a survivor.)

Walter May Jordan (1895-1905): Walter died when he was 10 years old. The cause is not known. He is buried in Waller/Douglas Cemt. Henderson , Co. Tenn.

Martha Jane Jordan (1899-1933):

Martha (left) and Ida
Martha married John Frank Conley (1894-1944) at age 16. They had two girls, Frankie Leon (1917) and Marie (1920). After Martha died at age 34, John, who was a boiler worker, left the girls to their own devices. Frankie would have been 17 when her mother died; Marie, 14. Frankie married James Eugene Wadley (1811-1981) at age 17 and had 7 children. She divorced James, and eventually remarried Howard Benton House. What happened to Marie isn't known at this time. Why Martha died so young is also not known.
Martha Jane Jordan

Ida Alma Jordan (1901-1995):

 Ida married Indiana-born John Kress at age 15 in 1917. They had one daughter together, Dorothy, in 1920, and a son John who would not live long. Her husbannd John was a spoke turner at a wheel company in 1920. They lived in Memphis, Tennessee.

At some point, Ida would marry Roy Weir. They did not have any children together. He died before she did.

As the baby of the family, Ida had to suffer the experience of the deaths of each of her many siblings. She would pass away herself in 1995 at the age of 93.

Ida, standing, and her sister Ollie