From the Shadows

From the Shadows


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan

A Story of Conjure

 By F. Roy Johnson

   Conjuring & Doctoring




From the Shadows

 Ole Satan am a liah an’ a conjure too;

Ef you don’t mind out he’ll conjure you.

                                    —Slave Song

But James Spurgeon (Jim) Jordan, one of the more successful conjure doctors of the past century, said he never joined forces with “Ole Satan;” instead, “walked beside de Lord” rendering help to people in the measure needed.

This man gained nationwide repute among conjure clientele; spent his entire life in Maney’s Neck Township, Hertford Country, North Carolina . . . 90 years . . .  June 3, 1871, to January 28, 1962.

His life may never be quite duplicated; no one, develop so great a depth of conjure understanding. For it was a growth from vivid experiences by intimate contact with people of the Old South and the area’s transition to greater educational, social and economic maturity.

While he possessed a kind disposition masses of people of his Como village-community and neighboring areas, seemingly harboring dark fear of the mysterious workings of the spirit world, would not abandon suspicion he abstained completely from black magic. They insisted he at times had crossed up folks the same as the Devil and witches.

Maybe they spoke truthfully. If so, it must have been during the long early years of his practice that began in fading nineteenth century and before he moved from the woods onto the highway and rose to greatness as a man of extraordinary understanding.

When success rushed along to meet him and spread far and wide his reputation a large majority of his more prominent acquaintances characterized him as an honest and liberal man; said he wouldn’t take a penny from a patient or patron unless he was certain his services had been helpful. Admiration was shared by medical doctors, business and professional people, and law enforcement authorities.

He identified himself as a faith healer during the last score or more years of practice. Nearly a half century he had been a doctor of varying ability and acceptance. He was visited by patients with so great a variety of complaints it became hard for folks to decide with accuracy his kind of practice. During the 1890’s when he took his first jobs most of the conjure doctors of the region were called trick doctors; for they used an assortment of simple tricks to impress patients with their power to deal with the spirit world. Yet at other times Doctor Jordan was loosely described by the many titles given various cults of American conjure doctors following the Civil War … root doctor, gummer doctor, gombre doctor, voodoo doctor, horse sense doctor. In recent years he even was called the poor man’s psycho-doctor.

One thing is clear. Doctor Jordan’s practice underwent important changes during its 70-odd-year span. Shadows of ignorance were still dark when he was born to his ex-slave parents; slow in receding. It accompanied the rising enlightenment by education and the revolution in transportation and communications.

While discussing Doctor Jordan we’ll use the word conjure, for it is the general term designating those people who perform tricks by sleight of hand; in doctoring, those who also cast on or remove spells by exercising their influence upon the spirit world … a practice known to the common man as crossing and uncrossing.

Source: F. Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan • © Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing Co.• Murfreesboro, N. C.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 14 May 2006 / update 23 June 2008



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Related File: Conjuring & Doctoring

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