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Isaac M. Jordan
May 5, 1835 to Dec. 3, 1890
Isaac M. Jordan
Painted from Life by
Paul Trebilcock, 1926
Isaac M. Jordan, born on a farm in central Pennsylvania, was 20 years old at the time of the founding of Sigma Chi. His family later moved to West Liberty, Ohio, the boyhood home of Benjamin Piatt Runkle. The two became friends at an early age, and entered Miami University together, and were initiated together into DKE.
Jordan is best remembered for his strong will and determined purpose. Of him Runkle recalled,
Isaac M. Jordan - playmate of my boyhohod, schoolmate, friend for long and strenuous years of manhood and alays the incarnation of high resolves, boundless energy, lofty ambitions, gifted with untiring perseverance and ability that made success a certainty; he has left an example of what a strong will and determined purpose can accomplish. If ever there was a 'self made' man who had a high right to be proud of the making, that was Brother Jordan. Nothing was too lofty for his aspirations, nothing to his vigorous mind, impossible. He showed no signs of faltering. He did everything with the same tremendous energy.
In a speech he gave in 1884, he delineated the valued criteria for pledging, which is now known as The Jordan Standard. Following graduation from Miami, he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced law in Dayton and Cincinnati. He was elected to the United States Congress in 1882, easily winning as a Democrat in a strong Republican district.
His accidental death in 1890 was deeply mourned throughout southwestern Ohio. Leaving his law offices in downtown Cincinnati, he paused at the elevator entrance and turned to greet a friend. Unnoticed by him the elevator ascended to the floor above, the door still partly open. With a quick movement, and still facing his friend, he stepped into the open elevator shaft and fell to his death.
The tragedy created a shock throughout the city. All courts adjourned and public businesses were stilled. The newspapers of the day devoted entire pages, with prominent headlines and drawings, to the dreadful occurence. Jordan is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, where a Founders' Memorial was dedicated in 1929.