Comments from the canyons: Much can be taught through history, even pronunciation

Many of us who live in Quay County have retained an avid interest in the history of this area and are always eager to try to track some of it that remains in question.

Sometimes, it may be the location of a homestead, a long forgotten community, or the pronunciation of a place name. Whenever I have a chance, I tend to ask questions to try to find the necessary information.

In more recent years, there has been a question about the pronunciation of Jordan, a little community southwest of Ragland. The post office was established there in 1902, with its first post mistress as Jennie Jordan. At that time, most of the people on the plains pronounced the name as she did — “Jerdan.”

Currently, most people in the area pronounce the name as it is spelled and pronounced by people from that country or near that river.

There were several families in our county named Jordan, but as I recall only the ones who opened that little post office and store pronounced their name, “Jerdan.”

On several occasions, I have had the opportunity to question people who have that name and always ask if they are aware of both pronunciations.

Last Saturday, for instance, a man from Tennessee introduced himself to me at the museum as Mr. Jordan, pronounced the common way. When he said he was from the South, I knew I had to ask the usual question about the various pronunciations of his name. In the past, I had learned that many Southerners pronounced the name “Jerdan,” and that there is even a Lake “Jerdon” in one area.

The gentleman with whom we were visiting didn’t seem surprised by the question and was forthcoming in saying the name is pronounced both ways in some areas of the South. He gave quite a lengthy interpretation of the pronunciation with which I had grown up, saying that it was particularly a Southern pronunciation but not necessarily limited to an area. In other words, two families could be from the same area, spell their names the same way, but pronounce them differently.

We know the community in our county was settled mainly by people from the South, and we also know several families who spell their names the same way, but only the one family who pronounced it “Jerdan.” Few of us remain who knew any members of that family and even fewer have retained the original pronunciation of the name of that post office.

Let’s keep our interest in the history of our area alive even when we cannot agree on parts of it.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.

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