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MACK JORDAN - YOUNG BEYOND THE YEARS
By Marshall McClung
One of the youngest "not so young" persons around would be Mack Jordan. Mack is ninety years old but you would never know it. Mack still drives, farms, and still does farm work with a mule.
Mack was born July 24, 1904 in the Cherokee County community of Topton. His parents were Jim Jordan and Ella Postell Jordan. They moved to Jutts Creek in 1908 when Mack was four years old. Mack has lived on Jutts Creek ever since, with the exception of working off on jobs. They lived beyond the end of the present graveled Jutts Creek Road under Jutts Creek Gap.
Hardy and Bob Colvard operated a sawmill on Jutts Creek. An old road went from Jutts Creek across the mountain to the Rhodo community in Cherokee County. Mack remembers two large fields on the upper end of Jutts Creek being stacked full of lumber in 1910. One dry, windy March day, fire broke out and burned up all the lumber, several thousand board feet.
Mack left home when he was 19 and worked on several different logging jobs and in sawmills. Mack worked on logging jobs in Georgia and for Babcock Lumber Company. Mack worked on Citico Creek in Tennessee and stayed in a logging camp there. Mack remembers a particular individual,Ike Crisp known as "Fighting Ike." Mack thinks he was from Stecoah. Ike worked as a "Road Monkey" performing maintenance on logging roads. He had a small boy and a "stump tailed" dog with him. The boy wore a yellow pointed hat that Mack said reminded you of a fodder stack. The boy and dog went with the man out on the job each day. Mack said Ike would pray the same prayer in camp each night before going to bed: "Oh Lord, come down and visit me tonight. Take a few boards off the roof if you have to. I will get up on the roof tomorrow morning and put them back on."
Mack was married at the age of 19 in 1923 to Vinnie Woody.They had six children: Edna Mae, Car, James "Squeak", Anna Lee, Bob, And Polly. Mack was married a second time in 1953 to Louise Grindstaff and they had four children: Darrell, Terry, Deborah, and Susan.
Mack continued working on logging jobs and at sawmills for several years. He said it was hard work and recalls working in the woods in the wintertime. His pant legs would be frozen, his cork boots would freeze, and often his lunch that he had taken to the woods would be frozen. Mack skidded logs with teams of horses and also steers. Mack drove a lumber wagon pulled by a team of horses from the sawmill on Jutts Creek to the railroad siding at Topton. Mack would make one trip a day hauling the lumber. He would get up around 4:00 A.M. and get ready to make the trip. When he returned that afternoon, he would load the wagon with lumber for a trip the next day. Mack
said the wagon would hold about 1,000 board feet or so of lumber. Mack was paid $2.50 per thousand board feet far hauling softwood and $3.00 per thousand board feet for hardwood. Mack hauled lumber for Walter West and also for Claude S. Kinsland. Kinsland had sawmills on most of the creeks up Tallulah including Mill Creek, Anderson Creek, Hares Creek, and Campbell's Creek.
Mack helped build the railroad that ran from Topton to Robbinsville on the section from the Walter West residence on Tallulah to Robbinsville. Mack remembers working with Bruce Rose and Lee Dula on the railroad. When the railroad was completed, Mack hauled lumber to rail sidings at Jutts Creek and Bear Creek.
Mack bought his first car from Arnold Slaughter, a 1919 T Model for $125. Mack later got a T Model truck and began hauling cordwood. Mack hauled wood to a wood yard in Andrews and also to rail cars on sidings at Jutts Creek and Bear Creek. The wood brought $5 or $6 per cord.
Mack worked away from home on jobs such as at Sprawling Box Factory in Virginia in 1942, and a Dodge-Plymouth car factory in Indiana in 1944. Mack returned to Graham County in 1944 and worked with the N.C. State Highway Commission (now N.C. Department of Transportation) for several years.
In 1945, Mack worked a while for TVA clearing for a power line from Deals Gap to Fontana. Mack worked on this job with Ben Farley, Dillard Jordan, Alfred "Shorty" Dillard, Robert Phillips, and Clyde West.
When he was a young man Mack loved to buck dance. His wife Louise said he still does a few "fancy steps11 now and then for the grandchildren. A favorite social event back then was a Saturday night dance at a home in the neighborhood. Folks would get together with a banjo and fiddle and dance all night in the living room. Other social events included corn shucking and bean stringing. Mack said several bushels of corn would be in a pile with corn liquor in a J. Bradley jug hid in the pile. The person who found the jug got to take a drink, while the rest only got to "sniff" the jug. The jug was then hidden in the corn pile for another round.
Story telling was another favorite social event. Folks would gather around the fireplace on a cold winter night and listen to stories. Ghost stories would often be told and the young folks would walk home in the dark night with their hair standing on end. Once when Mack had been "courting" at Bear Creek he encountered something in the road. He could hear something going "dong, dong", but couldn't make the object out. About that time he landed on a steer which rose up with a loud bawl. Mack made the rest of the trip to Jutts Creek at a fast pace. Another time Mack was riding a mule down Frank's Creek when he encountered a white object beside the road that frightened
the mule. The mule kept going sideways with Mack and would not approach the object. Finally Mack got the mule calmed down and checked the object which turned out to be a very large almost totally white "possum."
In addition to farming, Mack makes yokes once used for working oxen, but now used mostly for decorative purposes. He makes the yokes also called oxbows from cucumber, sycamore, and basswood. Mack also makes a variety of handles for tools,peavey and axe handles from hickory and ash.
I asked Mack for advice on how to stay young beyond your years. He said "Stay active, stay busy at something. If you just sit down and quit, you may not live much longer. There are some days that I don't feel like getting out and around, but I go anyway. That is what you have to do.
I accompanied Mack to the barn to feed his mule "Kate" during a recent February snowstorm. Mack looked at the heavy snow falling and remarked "it looks like old times on the creek."
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina