The Resource Jordan family collection

Jordan family collection

Jordan family collection, 1752-1992.
Jordan family collection
Inclusive dates
  • Collection, 1752-1992, of business records and personal papers of the Jordan family of Buena Vista and Lexington, and Rockbridge County, Virginia. The bulk of the collection spans the years 1830-1930, and documents the business activities of Samuel Francis Jordan (1805-1872), and his son Charles Francis Jordan (1837-1922), and the family's iron manufacturing enterprises, and saddle and harness making business. Includes correspondence, accounts and receipts, subject files, ledgers and account books, Joseph Gilmore Papers, oversize items, and ephemera
  • The correspondence is divided into four subseries: iron manufacturing, Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company, Jordan Manufacturing Company, and Personal, and is arranged chronologically
  • The iron manufacturing correspondence relates to Samuel F. Jordan's ownership in the Bath Iron Works as a partner in Jordan, Davis and Company, later Jordan and Davis, and his subsequent operation of the Buena Vista Furnace after 1848 with his brother Benjamin J. Jordan (1819-1889). Benjamin sold his interest to Samuel in 1852, and the latter continued to operate the Buena Vista property with his sons William Henry Jordan (1829-1886), John Thomas Jordan (1834-1893), and Charles Francis Jordan (1837-1922)
  • Topics covered in the letters relate to iron shipments and sales to various commission merchants, including Lewis Webb & Company and Crenshaw & Company of Richmond, and Miller & Roberts and McCorkle and McDaniel of Lynchburg, and to the settlement of outstanding accounts, shipment, storage and sales of iron produced at the Jordan furnaces. There is also a large amount of correspondence concerning the hiring of slaves to work at the various furnaces, and inquiries from slave owners regarding the hired hands' health, employment status, management, treatment, and welfare. There are also letters dealing with the subject of runaways
  • There are also letters written to Jordan from his sons Charles and John while they were serving in the 1st Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War at Harper's Ferry, Charles City County, Fairfax Station, and Brandy Station. There is a description of the unit's participation at the First Battle of Bull Run. Other Civil War correspondence details Jordan's contract to supply pig iron to the Confederate government. There is a large group of letters between Jordan and the Nitre and Mining Bureau, as well as other Civil War-related materials contained in the Subject Files
  • Other topics contained in the correspondence concern land, legal, and financial matters. Subjects in the post-Civil War letters include the discussion of rates with various railroad companies, the attempted sale of the Buena Vista Furnace and Amherst Furnace, and additional correspondence with iron commission merchants, most notably Hoffman, Thompson & Co. of Baltimore, that detail the types of iron that are marketable, prices realized, the state of the current market, and future prospects
  • The Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company correspondence is arranged in three groups. Most of it is chronological (1889-1934), but there is also a group arranged by month, and thereunder alphabetical by correspondent or company name (1891-1904). Finally, there is a small group arranged alphabetically by correspondent or company name (1892-1900). It is unclear why these different filing systems exist, since the subject matter in all three groups is the same
  • The earliest letters are addressed to William R. Wilbourn, who served as the company's superintendent, and later secretary and treasurer. He patented the Wilbourn saddle, and later sold the rights to the company. Charles F. Jordan was initially one of five directors, but became president shortly after the company was chartered on 25 May 1889
  • Subjects include letters from potential customers requesting prices and placing orders, as well as existing customers inquiring about the status of the orders they had placed. There are also letters from various other saddle making supply companies and equipment companies. There are employment inquiries, letters from company agents, requests for catalogs, and notices of stockholder and board of directors meetings. There are some copies of outgoing letters, and some of the incoming correspondence has notations as to when they were answered or when a particular order was shipped. There are four letter books containing copies of outgoing letters
  • There is one box of correspondence of the Jordan Manufacturing Company, which was owned and operated by Charles Francis Jordan, Jr. (1866-1956). The company was a manufacturer of door and window frames, moldings, ceilings, siding, and also mission style furniture. Most of the letters concern coal orders and shipments, lumber and building materials, and orders from Jordan for woodworking machinery and parts from various supply companies
  • There is one box of personal correspondence, containing mainly letters to various family members. The bulk of this group are letters to Mabelle Jordan (1893-1998) from her cousin Beverly Ragland Jordan (1911-1959), while he was serving in the United States Army during World War II, and stationed at Fort Meade, Virginia Beach, New York City, Miami, Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and Cleveland, Ohio
  • At the end of the correspondence series, there is one folder of undated letters covering all four subseries
  • The accounts and receipts contains both personal and business records, and are arranged by year. There are financial records documenting bar iron sold to customers, freight costs and tolls, lawyers' fees, newspaper subscriptions and advertisements, bonds and notes, land sales, medical expenses, blacksmith fees, general merchandise purchased, such as oats, cornmeal, flour, bacon, butter, beef, and whiskey, timber and livestock, hardware, cloth and linens, clothing, shoes, and sewing expenses, lodging and meals, and tuition and books. There are also satisfied promissory notes included in this series
  • There are receipts for pig iron delivered to the Confederate States iron yard, and the Nitre and Mining Bureau during the Civil War. Also included are accounts and receipts related to the hiring of hands, and the advertising and apprehending of runaway slaves
  • Also in this series are receipts for saddle and harness supplies, pads, bits, rings, skirting, leather, rivets, collars, animal hair, pads and lining. There are some copies of Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company customer invoices
  • The subject files are arranged alphabetically by topic, and relate to iron manufacturing, the Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company, the Jordan Manufacturing Company, and other activities
  • Topics relating to the Jordan family's iron manufacturing businesses include inventories, improvements, and expenses at Bath Forge, Buena Vista Furnace, Grace Furnace, Gibraltar Forge, Jane Furnace, Lydia Furnace, and Victoria Furnace. There are records of Amherst Furnace, including accounts, receipts, letters, orders, costs, property, and inventories. There are accounts of sales by various iron consignment merchants, including substantial correspondence with Crenshaw and Company and Kent, Paine, and Company of Richmond. The subject files also include slave hire bonds and receipts, and bills of sale for slaves purchased by Jordan
  • There are several files of note relating to Samuel F. Jordan's iron manufacturing operations during the Civil War. These include conscript details of persons exempted from military duty and detailed to work at Buena Vista Furnace. There is information relating to the impressment of Jordan's iron, cattle, and crops. Also included is a good deal of correspondence with the Confederate States of America Nitre and Mining Bureau, detailing Jordan's contract with the Bureau to supply pig iron suitable for the manufacture of weapons, as well as nails supplied to the Bureau. There are also records of Jordan's dealings with the Old Dominion Iron and Nail Works Company in Richmond, and their contract for the sale of pig iron, as well as numerous accounts. Lastly, there are records relating to the destruction of Buena Vista Furnace by Union forces on 13 June 1864, including inventories and values of property destroyed or confiscated
  • Subject files relating to the Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company include assets and liabilities, inventories of equipment and supplies, lists of shareholders, minutes of directors and stockholders meetings, stock certificates and subscriptions, and Wilbourn patent transfer agreements
  • Other topics included in this series are agreements, bank accounts and protests, bills of lading and shipping receipts, information from various commission merchants, dealers of woodworking equipment, machinery, tanners, and leather companies, coal dealers, automobile companies, and grocers and general merchandise dealers
  • There are records relating to Samuel F. Jordan's contract work with the North River Navigation Company in 1851, and also his work in 1870 for the James River and Kanawha Company to repair and restore various North River canals and locks to their condition prior to the flood in September 1870
  • There are building specifications for various Jordan family homes, deeds, fee bills, orders for payments or goods, photographs (mostly unidentified), Buena Vista post office records, promissory notes, Bible records of the Smith Family of Rockingham and Rockbridge Counties, and North Carolina, suit papers, tax tickets and receipts, a copy of the will of Samuel F. Jordan (1872), and papers of the Waesche family, including correspondence, autograph books, accounts and receipts, and miscellaneous items
  • There are ledgers, daybooks, time books, letter books, minute book, stock ledger, cash ledger, order books, and inventory ledgers. These volumes contain financial records for the following businesses or entities: Jordan and Jordan, Lexington Foundry, Buena Vista Furnace, Amherst Furnace, Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company, Lexington Mill, North River Canal, Buena Vista Cannery, North River Insurance Company, Buena Vista Hotel, and hardware business records of George W. Waesche. There are also four boxes containing small ledgers, memorandum books, account books, receipt books, time books, bank books, and catalogs and price lists from various companies and supply houses. For preservation purposes, the minute book and letter books of the Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company have been microfilmed (Misc. Reels 5399-5400)
  • The Joseph Gilmore Papers, 1752-1836, relate to the activities of Joseph Gilmore, Sr. (ca. 1758-1830) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. This series is arranged alphabetically. It includes accounts and receipts, agreements, bills of sale, bonds, correspondence, deeds, estate papers of Thomas Lang, information on the sale and purchase of Gilmore's plantation "Sydney Vale," executions, fee bills, memorandum books, promissory notes, suit papers, surveys and land courses, and tax tickets
  • Some items of note in the collection include tax collector's instructions (1802), signed by Edward Carrington (1748-1810), circulars from the Grand State Lottery of Maryland (1821), Mutual Assurance Society printed laws, constitution, and rules and regulations (1795, 1805), rules and regulations of the Natural Bridge Light Dragoons (1836), and a small pox vaccination list (1820)
  • The correspondence contains letters from relatives in Pulaski County, Kentucky, including James Gilmore (d. 1820) and John Gilmore (d. 1812), mainly involving family estate matters and land disputes
  • The oversize series contains many of the same topics as can be found in the Subject Files. There are accounts and receipts, architectural drawings and plans, Buena Vista post office letter registers (1855-1864), Grand State Lottery of Maryland circulars, estate papers of Samuel F. Jordan, a Freemason's certificate (1780), land grants, Mutual Assurance Society policy (1803), presidential pardon (1865), life insurance policies of the Waesche family, and tax and duty abstracts (1800-1802)
  • There is one small box of ephemera containing leather samples, coins, purses and wallets, and saddle hardware, such as buttons, buckles, and rivets, and other miscellaneous items
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Additional physical form
Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company minute book and letter books available on microfilm (Misc. Reels 5399-5400).
Biographical or historical data
Samuel Francis Jordan was born on 9 January 1805. He was the son of Col. John Jordan and Lucy Winn of Rockbridge County, Virginia. He married 1) Hannah Weaver Davis and 2) Elizabeth Leibert Keen. Samuel F. Jordan was engaged in the production of iron, and owned furnaces in Allegany, Amherst, Bath, Botetourt, Louisa, and Rockbridge Counties. He died on 8 June 1872. His son, Charles Francis Jordan, was born at the Bath Iron Works in Goshen, Virginia on 8 July 1837. He worked with his father in various family-owned furnaces, before being commissioned a captain in the 1st Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. He was one of the founders of the town of Buena Vista, and served in the Virginia House of Delegates. Jordan married Mary Ella Hamilton on 24 February 1864. He died in Roanoke, Virginia on 12 May 1922, and is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington. His son, Charles Francis Jordan, Jr. was born on 22 May 1866. He married Amelia Waesche.
Cataloging source
Location of other archival material
See also Jordan and Figgat Partnership Books, 1850-1852. Local government records collection, Rockbridge County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
Jordan family collection
For preservation purposes, the Buena Vista Saddle and Harness Company minute book and letter books have been microfilmed (Misc. Reels 5399-5400)
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Inventory
  • 28
  • 69
  • 2
Governing access note
There are no access restrictions
Immediate source of acquisition
Foster, Martha
Organization method
Organized into the following series: I. Correspondence. II. Accounts and Receipts. III. Subject Files. IV. Ledgers and Account Books. V. Joseph Gilmore Papers. VI. Oversize. VII. Ephemera.
Type of unit
  • cu. ft.
  • v.
  • reels (Misc. Reels 5399-5400)



Member of

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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