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


  1. This is so amazing, Danielle! Your family must be thrilled with what you're doing. I've been so inspired by you that I created my own digital archive for my family. Unfortunately, it's been difficult because I only have US relatives one generation back (my mother and her siblings were the first US born). Getting records from Italy has been a challenge!

    This is absolutely beautiful. I'm really enjoying following along. Keep up the good work ;-)

  2. has a world version, which is a little under 200 a year. I went ahead and got it bc traveling overseas to research just isn't possible right now-- Thanks for your support, Gabriel!

  3. You couldn't find any descendants of Albert because his wife's name is actually Delora! Make that change and you eventually get down to me a few generations later.

  4. You couldn't find any descendants of Albert because his wife's name is actually Delora! Make that change and you eventually get down to me a few generations later.