The Early Years
Lewis Garnett Jordan
. Lewis Garnett Jordan in one of those who has climbed all the way from the abject ignorance of slavery to a manhood of travel and culture, from being the property of his master to owning property in his own name and acquiring great property for his church. He was born a slave in 1853. near Meridian, Mississippi. His father was Jack Gaddis, and his mother Mariah Carey, but when be be came a free man he chose a name for himself and so we have Dr. Jordan. Although born when it was impossible to get an education and hard to get one even after he was freed, we find Dr. Jordan as a lad getting all that he could in the way of book knowledge in the public schools of both Meridian and Natchez . Mississippi. He also spent some time as a student in Roger Williams University, at Nashville, Tennessee. Here in Roger Williams, one of the largest and oldest institutions of the Baptist Church, Dr. Jordan got an insight into things and an inspiration that has never left him. His degree of Doctor of Divinity was received from Natchez College in 1880, and from Guadeloupe in 1903.
Merely the bare facts of the very active life lead by Dr. Jordan can be recorded here. He was ordained to the Baptist Ministry in 1875. He built churches while pastoring at Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1878 ; in San Antonio, Texas, in 1883 ; in Waco, Texas, in 1886, in Hearne, Texas, in 1888; in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1893. This is a great service for any man to render to his church. Since 1896, Dr. Jordan has served his denomination in the capacity of Corresponding Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board, of the National Baptist Convention, and he still holds this position. He is the Senior Secretary of the National Baptist Convention and is regarded as one of its most influential members.
During his incumbency in office more than forty missionaries have been sent into its field in South America, the West Indies, the western, southern and central parts of Africa. During this time they have received several bequests, the latest of importance exceeding $30,000.00. Under his administration of the affairs of this branch the work the board has acquired property in its fields valued at about $47,000.00.,This includes the land, churches, stations, schools and homes. Dr. Jordan has had other honor's showered upon him by his denomination. He was delegate to the World's Baptist Alliance, England, in 1904, and to the World's Missionary Conference, Edinburgh.
Dr. Jordan has not confined his work to the church. He is an active member of the Y. M. C. A., and active in the Equal Rights of League Society for the Advancement of Colored People. He President of the Douglass Improvement Company and trustee of the National Baptist Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D. C. He has also taken an active interest in the political life of his country. He is a Prohibitionist and has had the honor of being delegate to nearly every National Convention of his party since 1888. At one time he was candidate for Congressman-at- large for Pennsylvania. He is a life member of the National Negro Business Men's League, a Mason, a member of the Independent Order of St. Luke and a member of the American Woodmen of the world.
Dr. Jordan has traveled all over this country and has visited England and Scotland, has been to the West Indies twice, to Africa three times, to South America once. During his trip to Africa, in 1917 the President of Liberia conferred upon him the Knighthood of the Republic "Knight Commander of the Liberian Humane Order of African Redemption." The effect of this extensive travel is seen in the writings and the lectures of this public spirited man. He is the founder and Editor of the Mission Herald, author of "Up the Ladder in Missions," 1908; "Prince of Africa," 1911; "In Our Stead," 1913; "Pebbles from an African Beach," 1917. This represents a great deal of work on the part of Dr. Jordan and has added immeasurably to his usefulness in the denomination.
Dr. Jordan, while not a man of means, the bulk of his earnings having been contributed to further Religious and Civil enterprises for national and racial uplift, may, however, easily be rated at $10,000.00 realty holdings, besides several thousand dollars interest in a number of undeveloped enterprises.
Dr. Jordan has been twice married. His first wife was Mrs. Fannie Armstrong. They were married in 1880, and they lived together till her death, thirty years later. He was married, May 29, 1913, to Mrs. M. J. Marquess, of Helena, Ark.
Sketch from The
National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race
Published by: National Publishing Company, Inc. (1919)