Rowan Public Library Edith M. Clark History Room
Georgia Jordan Collection MSS #9510 November 1995
Abstract: Letters, receipts, and miscellaneous documents related to the family life of Georgia Jordan, the Smith, Jordan, and Locke families of Watsonville and Salisbury in Rowan County, NC and Trimble, TN.
Online catalog terms:
Rowan County (N.C.)--History
Size: Approximately one linear foot.
Gift of Lorene Leazer (neighbor of Georgia Jordan's son, David).
3510 Mooresville Ave.
Salisbury, NC 28144
Access: No restriction.
Copyright: Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Introduction
Georgia Irene Watson Jordan (pronounced Jerdin), known as "Miss Georgie" by her friends and neighbors, was a stalwart member of Salisbury, NC's Second Presbyterian Church. She was born September 27, 1865 and died April 24, 1941. She was buried in Salisbury NC's Chestnut Hill Cemetery. Miss Georgie married John C. Jordan and had four children: James Frank (b. October 1891), Thomas Locke (b. January 1893), David Calvin (b. June 17, 1897), and Mary J. (b. May 1900).
The papers in this collection are composed of approximately seventy letters, fifty receipts, several newspaper clippings, and a few printed materials collected by Miss Georgie. These materials were written between 1872 and 1925. The letters reflect the everyday concerns of a rural people: courting, marriages, births, deaths, crops, and the weather. A dispute over a family land division, the despondency of a father who has lost two wives and several children, a WWI doughboy's letters home from Camp Caswell, and the arrangements made for an elderly father who deserted his family and a never-married sister who was getting up in years may be found here.
To better understand the letters, a knowledge of the family that wrote them is useful. The following information was pulled together from basic genealogical sources such as census indexes, marriage bond records, and loose estate papers. The processor's research notes and a family chart is included in a separate file in the collection. Only that genealogical work needed to establish the ties between the correspondents was performed.
Georgia Jordan's parents were William F. Watson (b. 1835) and Martha Jane Locke (b.1833). The 1880 census index for Rowan County lists her siblings:
Margaret A. (b.1859)
David L[ocke]. (b.March 31, 1861-April 3, 1942) Never married; lived with his sister Mittie.
Mary M[ittie] P[riscilla] (b. 1863-) Never married; lived with her brother David.
*Sallie R. (b. May 17, 1868-March 16, 1911). Married James H. McKenzie, September 7, 1886.
William G[ibson]. (b. June 30 1873-August 26, 1929). Married Hattie West December 11, 1895.
Matthew L. (B. 1874-).
Miss Georgie's mother, Martha Jane Locke was the daughter of Matthew Locke and Margaret Gibson (b. 1812) who were married March 2, 1830. According to Matthew Locke's loose estate papers filed in Rowan County in 1839, James B. Gibson was named the gaurdian of four Locke children. :
Mary Ann (b. 1836)
Richard W. (b. 1838-1884?) [Death date assumed from letter in collection dated May 6, 1884]
The 1850 census index for Rowan County lists a household headed by James B. Gibson (b. 1812) Martha Locke (b. 1833), Mary A. Locke (b. 1836), and Richard Locke (b. 1838). Also present is a Priscilla Gibson. Priscilla Brandon (b. 1786) married William Gibson January 29, 1805. She was apparently the mother of James B. Gibson and Margaret Gibson.
Matthew Locke died around 1839 and Margaret Gibson Locke remarried on September 24, 1842. Her second husband was James Harvey Smith (1817-1904), a onetime schoolteacher. James Harvey Smith left his wife and children sometime between 1860 and 1870. Margaret Gibson Locke and James Harvey Smith had four children:
William A. (b. 1846),
*Eliza (b. 1846) married J. M. Lowrance on November 11, 1868 and moved to Seborn, GA and later lived in Dunwoody, GA.
*Delia (b. 1847-April 27, 1916)
*James (b. 1853) became a medical doctor in Trimble, Tennessee.
*The primary correspondents found in this collection.
Series I. Letters
Letters of the Gibson/Smith/Locke/Jordan/Watson family. They begin in 1872 with a card from Philo White, the local newspaper editor, to "Aunt Prisy Gibson" and continue until 1924. The letters include correspondence between the Smiths regarding the problem of their elderly father, a land division between the Watson siblings, and a visit by a former Union Army officer cousin to Salisbury. Most of the letters primarily contain information about the different family member's everyday lives.
James Smith's letters to his sister Delia begin in 1881 and continue until 1904 when their father dies. The majority of the letters were written around 1900. They speak of James Smith's medical practice in Tennessee and the many people headed west from that part of the country, sickness, the weather, the treatment of piles (February 25, 1902) and prohibition of whiskey in Tennessee (June 26, 1887). In December 1899, Smith writes his sister, hoping that she will come and help him with his household, and a month later he alludes to his father who deserted his and his sister's family. In March of that same year, Smith writes Delia wondering what they can do with their elderly father and the following month he writes his sister with yet more bad news, another child has died, leaving James to echo Job, "I fear and Love God, but I am most severely persecuted . . ." Several more letters from Smith follow. There are also letters in this portion of the correspondence that seem to have been written by the father, James Harvey Smith, from York Institute, NC to Delia Smith in Salisbury (August 31, 1902 and January 3, 1903). In these letters Smith asks his daughter to come join him and plans a move to Mooresville, NC.
Letters dealing with the division of some family land begin December 1891 and run through the following year. Georgie Jordan was upset with her portion of the land and seems to have complained to her brothers and sisters. Correspondents in the land letters include Georgia's sisters Mittie Watson and Sallie Watson McKenzie as well as her brother-in-law, J. H. McKenzie.
There are also several letters from a "cousin" of Miss Georgie's, Thomas F. Safley, former colonel of Company L, 8th Tennessee Calvary, Gen. Stoneman's division (Union forces), written between the years 1915 and 1924. In these letters he recounts his trip back east from his home in Washington State, his visits with scattered relatives, his reunion with old war comrades from the G.A.R., and his hopes for a great family reunion in Salisbury.
There are two letters from Miss Georgie's son, J. F. Jordan in the collection. They were written home from Fort Caswell during World War I (September 15, 1917 and March 5, 1918). In the first the Rowan County doughboy notes, "I drawed 42.20 payday. We got paid tuesday I never saw so much money in all my life as I did payday I have got $15 in the bank but I think I will lend it before payday some of the boys went broke payday night." And in the second, the young soldier tells his grandmother, "We are working pretty hard now we haft to drill 2 hours in the morning on the 12 in mortar and 3 hours in the eavening and we also have physical excercise about one hour before breakfast and believe me we can eat anything most."
Most of the letters carry information such as the news Lela sent her "Mama Jordan" (Miss Georgie): "I picked a five quart bucket of black berries this morning and Emily picked a 1/2 gallon bucket nearly full. Juanita and Margaret were in the bed yet. There is a good many in the pasture." Another example of this sort of information may be found in a letter dated February 12, 1892. It was addressed to "Dear George": "Sorry to hear you are having such bad luck with your chickens. Ours are dying with colera got three dead hens out from under the house. haven't found any right lately." In addition to reflecting life on the farm, these letters illustrate the drastic and remarkable changes that occurred in the everyday life of everyday folk during the brief time span around the turn of the twentieth century. "Aunt Kate" Cowan wrote to Georgie from Schoolfield,VA on February 20, 1924:
It rained and froze broke several limbs out of one of our shade trees in front yard telegraph poles went down in places The Ca ? houses are without light tonight but we are not. We do not get the power from the city ours was off this morning and a good part of the day but they were back on by 4 oclock this evening . . . We don't know much about the cold only when we go out. our house is steam heated is warm all over. Joe had it put in just before xmas. It is nice to go all over the house and find it warm. I tell them it is all right I recon but when it is bitter coldI like to see the fire. They laugh at me.
Folder 1. Letters 1872-1899
Folder 2. Letters 1900-1918
Folder 3. Letters 1923-1925
Folder 4. Undated letters
Series II. Receipts, Clippings, and Printed Material
Receipts are from Belk-Harry; Dixie Furniture Co.; B. F. Williams, Dealer in Bicycle Supplies and Repairing; D.M. Miller & Son; The Salisbury Post; Dave Oesteicher Dry Goods; McCubbins and Harrison; Salisbury Gymnasium; Woodmen of the World; J. W. McPherson and Co.; J.B. Council, M.D.; among others. The greatest number of receipts are from the Maynard Bros. and Co, "dealers in high grade piano and organs." Clippings are primarily items of historical interest such as a photo of the Gettysburg battlefield. Printed materials relate to the church (catechisms, ect.).
Family information is comprised of those notes taken by the processor of this collection in his attempts to piece together the relationships between the writers of the letters.
Folder 6. Receipts
Folder 7. Receipts Maynard Bros. and Co.
Folder 8. Clippings
Folder 9. Printed Materials
Folder 10. Miscellaneous
Folder 11. Family information
Edith Clark History Room