Friday, April 25, 2008

Uncle Dan rememembers our grandmother, Florence Estelle Bard Harden

Florence and Paul Harden with their seven children in 1942.

Here is the second part of Dan's family memories:

“Our mother was born in Topeka on February 1, 1899. Her parents were Daniel Elgin Bard (1866-1939) and Harriet (Hattie) Louisa Mills Bard (1866-1950). Elgin, her father, bought a farm in Clark County in 1906. The 1910 census shows the following family members living on the farm: Elgin, Hattie, Pearl, Glenn, Florence and Laura. Blanche and Clyde are missing from the list. I suppose they are married at this time.

Florence graduated from high school in Protection in 1918. Her father had built a house on Main Street in 1913. Florence attended “Normal,” a preparatory course for teachers. She taught Harmony school, east of Protection, the following year. Florence went to Lindsborg, where she studied music and sang in the Messiah. The community is still known for presenting the Messiah every year. Mom was the church pianist for 50 years, both at Bluff Creek and at the Ashland Church of God. My mother loved music. All seven of her children took piano lessons. She must have struggled to get those boys to practice.

Florence met Paul Harden before he was inducted into the Army. Paul was stationed at San Antonio, Texas. When the war was over, his parents, Charles and Agnes, took Florence and went to San Antonio. Paul and Florence were married Nov. 20, 1919. They went to Colorado Springs for their honeymoon. They went by car, all on dirt roads with no highway system. Mom told me they stopped along the way to get directions. When they returned, they moved into the farmhouse in Lexington. In the next 13 years, she gave birth to seven children.

My mother was very proud of her heritage. She often talked of her grandparents who lived in Topeka. They were members of the Congregational Church, where Charles Sheldon was pastor. He was remembered for writing
In His Steps. Her grandmother, Alice Ann Mather, traced her origins back to Increase and Cotton Mather. I have found that the 1850 census of Mahoning County, Ohio, lists the Mather family. (Daniel Mather, 27, Rebecca Mather, 31, Alice Ann Mather, 10, Catherine Mather, 8, Rachel Mather, 6, and Hannah Mather, 2.) According to this census, Alice Ann would have been born in 1840.

I have a book, The Mathers, Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals, 1596-1728. I have not been able to connect Alice Ann with the new England Mathers. But it was a family understanding that we are connected.

Grandmother Harden (Agnes) and her sister Ella attended the
St. Louis World Fair in 1903. Grandmother and her daughter Laura went by train to Hot Springs, Ark., to take the baths around 1915. Somewhere she came in contact with the Church of God.

Agnes, along with Nancy Pike and Lydia Fox, began taking the Gospel Trumpet and sharing the teachings. Lexington had a Methodist Church where everyone worshipped. Mother Pike was the Sunday School superintendent. In 1931, my mother found out that she was pregnant again (with my brother Ray). She was near a break down. Mom was close to her mother-in-law, Agnes. That summer, Dad was convinced to take Mom to Colorado for a break. They returned by way of Liberal, where the Church of God was conducting a Camp Meeting. Mom stayed for the Camp Meeting with Agnes. There, she experienced transformation. It was a new beginning. Ray was born in December, and 16 months later, I was born.

Mom was so convinced in her new experience that she went to the Methodist preacher in Protection and told him to remove her name from the membership roll. She testified to her new faith. (Methodists don’t like to drop members; they were used to transferring members.) The Church of God message was spreading rapidly. Services were being held in Protection. Nellie Fields, later Snowden, held a revival in a storefront in Ashland. The people in Lexington were stirring the religious stew. Mother Nancy Pike took her Sunday School out of the Methodist church and began services at the Coyote School. The Methodist preacher became so angry that he said of the Methodist church building in Lexington, “I would rather see the church burn down than for the Church of God people to get it.”

That spring, lightning struck the church, and it burned to the ground. Ray and I watched the church burning while standing in the field north of the house (nearly a mile away). Duane dropped a barrel of water on his toe trying to stop the flames.

In 1939, Mother Nancy Pike and Aunt Lydia Fox led the people to build a church. I was at the dedication. A picture of the services can be found at the Ashland Museum.

Dad bought a house in Ashland in 1944 so that Ray and I could go to school. We went back to the farm on the weekends and for the summer. We continued driving to Lexington to attend church. Mom started prayer meetings in our home in 1947. In 1948, Bill Swagarty moved to Ashland to begin a church. We started worshipping at the Christian Camp south of town that fall.

That winter, Duane began building our new church. He and Bob were in the interlocking concrete block business. The blocks were used in the new building. My dad knew that he would be responsible for raising the money for the church building. It was to cost $12,000. He said, “I’ll give $5,000. He expected the congregation to raise $2,000, and he went to Charley Pike and asked him to donate $5,000. (Charley was the son of Mother Nancy Pike and had grown up in the Lexington community.) Charley said he couldn’t afford it. Dad was angry because he knew he could afford it.

A month later, Charley Pike sold some cattle to a man in Texas. Cattle trailers came for the cattle on Saturday, and the man gave Charley a check for $16,000. When Charley went to the bank on Monday, he found that the check was no good. The cattle disappeared, and Charley was out $16,000.

Dad always said, “It would have been cheaper to have given the $5,000. It pays to give God his share.” Dad came up with the other $5,000.”

1 comment:

Judy said...

Thank you soooo much for your contribution to HardenTimes. That's exactly the kind of story we were hoping for from everyone....memories about the good times and the bad. Of course I always knew you were cogent and articulate, but that was a really well-written story. Willis wants to read it, so I will print it off for him. He isn't doing so well, although he was in church this morning. He told me how much he enjoyed my cooking. I have never cooked for him.....I'm a terrible cook. He was thinking about my mom, I guess.

Still very little rain to bless us. After a week of nice warm temps in the 80's, it turned cold last night and is still cool. That will all change before the reunion, I'm sure. I just hope my cousins get their crops in before all the hoopla begins, so they can concentrate on having a terrific time.

If you talk to your brothers, please encourage them...especially Ray, to write stories for the book and blog.

Talk to you later, Love to everyone,