Full Time Practice

Full Time Practice


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan

A Story of Conjure

 By F. Roy Johnson

   Conjuring & Doctoring




Full Time Practice

Doctor Jordan opened full time practice in 1921 when he was fifty years old. He had several good reasons.

His older sons, nearing manhood, had grown strong and skilled in farming.

His professional business had been improving several years and prospects for a greater intake of money was good.

MOST OF ALL, he was growing older. Pulling the cross-cut saw ten hours a day was not so easy as it had been in his younger years … when his muscles waxed healthy and strong at ardous work rafting logs and pilings up the narrow Meherrin River and running them down stream to big water of the Chowan where tug boats would take them to Foreman Blades Lumber Company at Elizabeth City, Camp Manufacturing Company at Franklin, Virginia, and other points; loading cars for an old Mammy T Ford to pull along the tracks to Sears Wharf on the Meherrin River and loading them on barges; working in the logwoods for the companies and individuals.

One hot afternoon in 1921 was so exhausting he made the important decision.

The story of Doctor Jordan’s resignation from hard labor is told by several of his old acquaintances, like Elbert Boone, Brodge Watson, Peter Britt, Olie Cooper and Peter Edwards. The account essentially is:

Jim Jordan and Jake Ruffin, employed by Southall Lawrence, were sawing mine props on the Myrick place north of the Meherrin River near Murfreesboro for use in West Virginia mines.


At the end of a hot summer day Jim, tired and sweaty, lay down the saw, mopped his brow and told Jake, “This is my last day; I don’t plan to get my living this way any more.”


“What can you do?” Jake asked.


“I’m going to doctoring.”


“If you’re quitting, I’m quitting too.” Jake paused a moment and added, “If you’re going to be a doctor, I may as well be a preacher.”


Jim soon built a profitable conjure business; Jake became a holiness preacher of moderate success.

Peter Britt pertinently observes “Jim already was a man of great knowledge, and Jake had been doing previous church work.” The appropriate time had arrived for both men to ease up from hard work.

While Jim’s success eventually became almost fantastic Jake managed to make a modest living. He turned to evangelistic work and “a lot of people went to hear him.”

This work at first rewarded him, with little money. He did several odd jobs; carpentered, sold junk, raised and sold vegetables.

The automobile helped build Doctor Jordan’s business. And he bought all kinds of cars … from the rattling Tin Lizzie to the sleek Cadillac.

Brodge Watson gave the doctor a catalogue sent out by a Chicago mail order house that sold conjure books and supplies. Son Isaac says his father ordered and studied the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Books of Moses. Lucky Star Dream Book, Palmistry, Secrets of the Psalms, and The master Book of Candle Burning.

CITY FOLKS, in the meantime, who found their way to Doctor Jordan’s home off the beaten way at Vaughan’s Quarters were bringing with them an important message.

“The big money is in the northern cities among the higher class and more prosperous clientele.”

Hundreds of old men and women were telling fortunes, locating stolen goods, furnishing love philters, crossing and uncrossing people in the cities. The “New York Age” stated that the Negro quarter around 135th Street of the city was overrun with conjurers, many of them from the West Indies and practicing the rudimentary arts.

Doctor Jordan’s patients often said they had visited several of these doctors but got no relief. He gave each one special care; provided whenever possible the relief they sought. They returned to the cities, told their friends.

The fame of Doctor Jordan began to spread. During the next forty years thousands of these people would come to Como and bring with them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ola A. Chitty and Guy Hill, mail carriers serving Doctor Jordan, took note of the increase in his business.

Chitty began as rural carrier April 1, 1916, and served him for twenty-five years. The doctor “always got mail, much of it registered and special delivery.” The volume began to increase after the carrier’s first few years.

Hill, who was to serve the doctor after Chitty, began as Como carrier November 1, 1921. At Vaughan’s Quarters the doctor’s house was “about a half mile down a rough and muddy path. Often there were a number of cars from New York, New Jersey and other states parked beside his lane.”

Jim was drinking regularly on weekends and rainy days during the early 1920’s and sometimes sported around with his friends. Randolph Whitley (1915_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _) recalls an incident in 1922 after the doctor moved from Vaughan’s Quarters to the Cype Whitley place to cultivate a 40-acre farm subdivision two years.

One Sunday morning when I was about seven years old I was playing with some other children at Barrett’s Cross Roads near my home.


Jim Jordan and Sam Riddick, a tenant on my father’s farm, raced Jim’s horse and buggy along the dirt road. They wheeled around the tree in the cross roads too fast and run a wheel down. The two drunks tumbled out onto the ground.


We children laughed when they got up cussing, brushed off some of the dust from their duds and staggered down the road after the frightened horse.

The doctor retuned to Vaughan’s Quarters in 1924. A few years later he moved onto the black top highway and really “went to town.”

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

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






posted 14 May 2006 / update 23 June 2008



Home Jim Jordan Table  

Related File: Conjuring & Doctoring

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.