Nannie Harper Jordan graced her family with love and wisdom for nearly 86 years. She encouraged her grandchildren to write to The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee about current topics like bus routes and what to do with the abandoned school building across from their house. Nannie also wrote to the newspaper too. Here’s one of her submissions:
WE DID IT
To the Editor: It seems that everybody wants to find fault, some with our President, some with our governor, some with our congressmen or councilmen. In a time like this we all ought to be doing something more important than finding fault with anyone as we have faults ourselves. We elected them; now it is too late to do anything about it, so keep silent and use more horse sense in the next election.
N. E. HARPER
509 Forty-ninth Avenue.
This letter to the editor was published in the April 30, 1942 edition of The Tennessean. The president of the United States at the time was Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his third presidential term. Her letter was dated only a few months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941. I don’t know the exact situation that inspired her letter that day, but her personality shines through her sentiment.
From her various writings, I can tell she felt strongly about her community and family.
I found her letters to the editor by doing a search on Newspapers.com in The Tennessean newspaper for her street address, 509 Forty-ninth Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee. If you have your ancestor’s old addresses, you might be able to find something interesting in a search too.
Nannie was born Nancy Elizabeth Jordan on January 12, 1873 to Drury (Drewry) McLean Jordan and Virginia Crouch. They raised their family in Cheatham County, Tennessee. Nannie and Anna were their two daughters and they had seven sons.
Nannie married John Twitty Harper (read my post about him here) in 1898, and Anna married his brother, Lee Harper, on April 11, 1901.
Nannie and John had two sons, Lonnie and Hiram. They lived in Cheatham County until 1917 when they moved to Nashville. Her husband gave up farming for work at the N.C. & St. L. Railway (Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway, also known as N&C).
In the 1920s, her son Hiram had two sets of twins (Fred, Frances, Claude and Clarice) with Ismay Tidwell. After they divorced, both sets of twins lived with Nannie, John and Hiram at the house on Forty-ninth Avenue.
Nannie was a homemaker. She was a member of the Methodist church.
Nannie’s husband died in 1948. Sometime after that, Nannie went to live with her grandson (my grandfather), Fred Harper, on Robertson Road. She died on New Years Day 1959. She’s buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, beside her husband and her son, Hiram. Here’s a link to her FindAGrave.
Sadly, when the city of Nashville built Interstate 40, they tore down the Harpers’ old house.
I treasure Nannie’s tea pot and lemon dish that was passed down to my immediate family. Her tea pot was green, cream-colored with a floral pattern. The lemon dish is green and looks like a cabbage leaf. I imagine Nannie enjoyed afternoon tea and probably had a collection of china.
In the photograph to the right, she’s holding her pet cat in her home on Forty-ninth Avenue. Her rocking chair and eyeglasses also remains in the family, along with a special cedar chest she gave my grandfather.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much else about her life. She passed away when my mom was only three years old.
I do know that I admire her letters to the newspaper and how she encouraged her grandchildren to write. If she were alive today, I imagine her as a tech-savvy grandma who keeps up with the latest news in her community and around globe. I think we’d be “friends” on Facebook!
Perhaps I inherited her love of writing. I wish I could have met you, great-great-grandmother.