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Levi Jordan

Ginny McNeill Raska

Since Ginny's first involvement with the work being done at the Levi Jordan Plantation (described by her below) she has been instrumental in keeping work at the plantation going, and she and her mother Mary Eloise McNeill have been the primary source of original nineteenth-century documents about the plantation. These include a diary written by Levi Jordan's granddaughter, Sallie McNeill, as well as account books, photographs, and other family records. Ginny is now writing researching and annotating the diary for publication by an academic press. When it is available to the public, this web site will have information about how to obtain a copy. In the meantime, excerpts from this diary are included on this web site, as well as portions of Mary Lynne Hill's master's thesis, which analyzed several aspects of the diary.

Ginny has a two Master's Degrees; a Master's in Library Science from the University of Texas, and a Master's in English from Texas A&M.

Ginny is the librarian at the Sweeny Junior High School, and was the main person responsible for introducing Carol McDavid to other teachers at the school. In the future we hope to be able to share the results of the work that the children of Sweeny Junior High School will be doing to help create this site.


Ginny Raska

Hi! I'm Ginny McNeill Raska. I am a descendant of Levi Jordan, and I live on part of the original plantation, near the sugar mill. My great-grandfather, Calvin McNeill was the oldest grandson of Levi Jordan. Although I have always been interested in family history, I never thought much about the original plantation home, as it was owned by heirs of my great-grandfather's sister, Annie Martin. In fact, I had never even been inside the house until about 1987 when Dorothy Cotton and Sarah and Odalee Martin invited my mother and me over to the plantation home to discuss their plans for a Jordan family reunion.

I believe that first family reunion was held in June of 1987 at the old plantation home. A few years before that, I had begun transcribing a diary which was written by Levi Jordan's oldest granddaughter, Sarah McNeill. I made little headway until Dr. Kenneth Brown provided me with some assistance from some of his graduate students. Over the next several years, we continued to have regular reunions, annually at first, and now less often. A report on the findings of Dr. Brown in his archeological excavations and historical research was always a highlight. I usually read some excerpts from the diary, and other family members shared stories. As we began to realize the significance of the artifacts that were being found and to see the decline of the old plantation house, some of us discussed the possibility of establishing a nonprofit foundation to try to get donations to take care of and restore the old house. Carol McDavid took the lead in getting the legal work done, and Dorothy Cotton was instrumental in getting the heirs to agree to give the Levi Jordan Plantation Historical Society a 99 year lease. As we got organized, we tried to involve members of the community and to provide representation on our board from descendants of all of the people who lived and worked on the plantation.

The historical importance of this plantation stems from the information discovered in the archeological excavations in the Afro-American community on the plantation, and we feel that sharing that information is equally or even more important than preserving the house. We have regularly held tours of the archeological excavations and have cooperated with the Brazoria County Historical Museum to provide a site for their summer archeological classes for children. At times it seems that we have not made much headway, but even though we have not gotten much financial backing, we have developed the groundwork for a solid organization in our statement of purpose and long range plans.

W e are very concerned about vandalism, as the newel posts on the original staircase were severely damaged a few years ago. Although we have gotten a donation of a trailer house to provide site security, we have been unable to utilize it, as we do not have sufficient to provide the necessary septic system. The house is also in desperate need of leveling, and it may fall down if we have any kind of violent weather.

As a fledgling organization, we have not yet been able to garner the necessary community support to effectively accomplish our goals. We are currently making plans to try to get other historical organizations in the community and county to assist us in this effort.

In addition to serving as president of the Levi Jordan Plantation Historical Society, I am the librarian at Sweeny Junior High School and have been active in our parent-teacher organization, serving as an officer for five years. My husband, Gene, and I have one daughter, Sarah, who is a high school student at Sweeny. I am also active in my church, First Presbyterian of Brazoria, teaching Sunday School and singing in our choir. And in the spare moments that I have left, I have been trying to get the diary edited, researched, and given an historical framework for publication.

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Carol McDavid 1998