- American Hero
rarely think of themselves. I like to think that Lt. Louis Jordan's
last thought, as he stood in a stinking muddy trench in Northern France
in 1918, was of his home and family in the beautiful Texas
Louis John Jordan was born in Gillespie
County on January 30, 1890. His maternal great-grandfather was
the first pastor of the Vereins Kirche.
Jordan attended school in Fredericksburg.
In his spare time he worked on the family ranch at Live Oak and at
Stein Lumber Company in Fredericksburg.
In 1910 Jordan enrolled in San Antonio Academy, a private military
school. He graduated in 1911. With good grades and excellent marks
in citizenship he earned a scholarship to the University of Texas.
Louis Jordan was tall and stout with blue eyes and blond hair. He
was a humble man with a quiet charisma. He drew others to him and
made them better by being in his presence. He brightened the room
just by walking into it. No one had a bad thing to say about Louis
He was an honor student in the UT school of engineering. He lettered
4 years as a guard on the Longhorn football team, and he threw the
hammer for the track team. His classmates called him "The Big Swede,"
but he was as German as sauerkraut.
The football team elected him captain in 1914. That year the Longhorns
had one of the best teams in the country. They finished the season
8-0. They scored 271 points and gave up just 3 touchdowns: one to
Oklahoma, one to Ole Miss and one to Haskell Indian Nation College
in Lawrence, Kansas.
After the 1914 football season, Walter Camp listed Louis Jordan on
Camp's All-American team. Jordan was the first longhorn and the first
player from south of the Mason-Dixon Line to make the cut.
The selection was quite an accomplishment. Walter Camp was notorious
for naming only Ivy Leaguers to his All-American squad.
Louis Jordan graduated from the University of Texas in 1915 with a
degree in electrical engineering. He taught science one year at San
Antonio Academy; then accepted a position at the San Antonio Public
Service Company. He kept the electric streetcars running and on time.
| When the United
States entered World War
I, Louis Jordan was an early volunteer. He trained at Leon
Springs outside San
Antonio. In August 1917 he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in
the U.S. Army.
He deployed to France on October 4, 1917. On New Year's Day the army
assigned Jordan to the famous Rainbow Division and sent him to the
On March 2, 1918 Jordan wrote in his diary what were probably his
last written words: "The fighting we are doing now is the real thing.
A man gets to be quite a fatalist in this game. If somehow or other
they get me - all well and good. If not - still better. But somehow
I feel safe."
Three days later Jordan was in front of his gun position when the
German artillery barrage began. He ordered his men into the dugout
and followed them inside. Just as he stepped in, an artillery shell
exploded in the opening.
Lt. Louis Jordan died instantly - the first officer from Texas to
die in World War I.
On March 7, 1918 the Army buried him with full military honors at
the American Cemetery in Benemenil, France. The French government
awarded Jordan the Croix de Guerre. Both houses of the Texas legislature
passed resolutions in his honor.
As soon as the news of Jordan's death reached Gillespie
County, family and friends began the process to bring him home.
Jordan Tombstone in Der Stadt Friedhof in Fredericksburg
Barr, January 2018
| His flag-draped
coffin arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on May 21, 1921.On June 9, his
body lay in state at the Gillespie
County Courthouse. Thousand paid their silent respects. On June
11, 1921 Louis Jordan was reinterred at his mother's feet in Der Stadt
Friedhof in Fredericksburg.
His 1914 letterman's sweater and shrapnel-pierced diary are on display
in Belmont Hall, beneath the stands at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial
| © Michael
1, 2018 Column
"Dedication of Flag Pole," Fredericksburg Standard, November
"Will Bury Body of First Texas Officer Killed," San Antonio Light,
June 9, 1921.
The Alcalde, "The First Longhorn Star," September/October, 2001, p.100.