Florence Shelley Chilton Jordan was born January 22, 1889 at San Felipe, Texas, the daughter of F. B. Chilton and Lelia Thornton Chilton. She graduated from Austin Public High School in 1906 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas in 1910 and a Teacher's Diploma from the University of Texas, Department of Education in 1911. In 1910 she applied to Victoria High School (later called Mitchell School) to teach Latin and was hired. She married Ben Taliaferro Jordan (1887-1968), of Victoria, in 1912. Ben and Florence Jordan had five children: Shelley, Ella North, Jane, Mary, and Ben.
Both Ben and Florence Shelley Jordan were actively involved in numerous projects for Victoria's civic, historical, and cultural development. Ben T. Jordan was mayor of Victoria from 1933-1947. The list of Florence Jordan's memberships in local, state, and national organizations is impressive. Locally, she co-founded the Morning Study Club, was an active member of the Bronte Club, and founded The University Forum, which first met in 1941. She was a member of The La Salle Chapter of the Daughters of the American Colonists, the James W. Fannin Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the William P. Rogers Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Indianola Association, and founded, in 1934, the Guadalupe Victoria Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She served as chairman of the Victoria County Historical Survey Committee and was named a lifetime honorary president of the McNamara-O'Connor Historical and Fine Arts Museum Association and received numerous awards for distinguished service.
Among other state and national organizations, she was a member of the Texas State Historical Foundation and the Texas State Historical Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Society of Architectural Historians, and Rice University Society of families. She was a member of the Texas Missions Restoration Association, Harris County Heritage Society, San Antonio Conservation Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Western History Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the University of Texas Ex-Students Association.
Perhaps the cause for which Mrs. Jordan is most lovingly remembered by Victoria County citizens is her involvement in a campaign to save the Victoria County Courthouse, built in 1892. When, in 1961, County Commissioners considered demolition of the stone building to make way for a more modern structure, many Victorians were outraged. A campaign led by the Victoria County Historical Survey Committee, of which Mrs. Jordan was chairman, resulted in a a blitz of letters to the editor of the Advocate and a petition, signed by 661 citizens, presented to the Commissioners Court. An article in the Victoria Advocate is accompanied by a photograph showing Mrs. Ben Jordan, Mrs. Kate O'Connor, Kemper Williams Sr., County Judge Wayne L. Hartman, and Pat Moore holding the scrolling petition which was 13-feet in length. Needless to say, the Courthouse was left intact.
Florence Shelley Chilton Jordan died May 13, 1969 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Victoria.
Contents of the Florence Shelley Chilton Jordan Papers: Newspaper clippings, correspondence, and notes about various local organizations in which Mrs. Jordan was involved. Personal documents, including college commencement programs, graduation certificates, and civic awards.
Victoria County Genealogical Society (2000). The History and Heritage of Victoria County. Austin: Nortex Press.
Florence Shelley Chilton Jordan Papers, Victoria Regional History Center, Victoria College/University of Houston-Victoria Library