John Henry Harding

Johann Heinrich Hardung was born in 1834 at Wagenfurth, Hesse-cassel, migrated to America in 1854, and married Elizabeth Whipkey in 1861 in Rocklick, Virginia. John, Elma, and Lloyd were born in Virginia, then about 1865 they moved to Palestine, Illinois. Susannah, George, William, Ralph, Charles, and Wilhelmina were born there. Wilhelmina died in infancy.

About 1879 the family moved to Osborne County, Kansas, where sons Josiah and Warren were born, near Bull City, later renamed to Alton. In 1901, John and Elizabeth moved to Hebron, Thayer County, Nebraska with sons Lloyd, Josiah and Warren. John had died in 1896, Elma and Susannah were married in Kansas. George, William, and Ralph stayed behind in Kansas.

John and Elizabeth Harding

This story appeared in The Hebron Journal on 17 March 1911:


Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Harding Celebrate Passing the 50th Mile Stone of Wedded Life

To but a few married people is given the privilege of celebrating their Golden Wedding. Three such occasions have been publicly observed in Hebron in years past, the fourth being the fiftieth wedding anniversary J. H. Harding and Elizabeth Harding, celebrated Tuesday, March 14, 1911, at the home of their son, L. E. Harding.

J. H. Harding and Elizabeth Whipkey were united in marriage March 14, 1861, in Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Harding moved to Osborne County, Kansas, and from there to Thayer county, Nebraska, about ten years ago, making their home since that time in this county.

To this union were born seven sons and two daughters, all but two of whom participated in the celebration of this anniversary. Those present were: L. E. Harding and family of Hebron; G. H. Harding, of Alton, Kansas; W. A. Harding of Alton, Kansas; R. C. Harding and wife , of Stocton [sic] Kansas; Chas. I. Harding of Alton, Kansas; W. R. Harding, wife and family, Hebron; Mrs. P. P. Russell and children, Franklin, Nebraska. The children not present were: Mrs. G. W. Corpon [sic], College Port, Texas, and J. F. Harding, Velere [sic] Montana. The number of descendants of this worthy couple living are forty-nine; nine children, thirty-six grand-children and four great-grand children.

The guests commenced arriving at the hospitable home on Olive avenue and Fifth Street, and at noon all were seated to a sumptuous banquet in the dining room. In the afternoon a program as follows was given; Prayer by Rev. Brandenburg; Song, Misses Estelle Hendershot and Myra Harding, accompanied by Miss Dot Harding; Recognition address, Rev. Brandenburg; Duet, Mrs. R. C. Harding and Miss Ethel Harding; address Rev. F. T. Ray; Reminiscences by the children and friends present; Responsive address, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Harding. L. E. Harding as toastmaster. After congratulations to the bride and groom of fifty years, the family adjourned to the lawn where a group photograph was taken.

The visiting friends present were: Rev. and Mrs. Brandenburg and son Howard; Rev. F. T. Ray and son Raymond, of Beleville, Kansas; Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Brown and Howard Von Fowell; Mr. and Mrs. Joe Thomas; Mr. Mines, Nelson, Nebr; Miss Estelle Hendershot. Many present of of value and appropriate to the occasion were received. The children presented a purse of $45.00 in gold. May many happy years be added to the life of this highly respected couple.

There are a few revealing points in this story. One is that it documents the residences of John's children at that time (Stockton is a another town in Osborne County, near Alton). Another is that this is the first time I've seen reference to John and Elizabeth's first-born child, Elma, who must be the Mrs. P. P. Russell mentioned. Franklin, Nebraska is not far from Osborne County, Kansas.

Rev. Brandenburg and Rev. F. T. Ray were both ministers of the First Christian Church of Hebron. Rev. R. A. Schell, who married Josiah and Hattie, preceded them as minister. The Hendershot family appearing here are very early settlers of Thayer County. In fact, charter members of the church in 1870 were several Hendershots as well as three Hardings. At the time of the article, these "other" Hardings were quite prominent in that community. It got me wondering: Could this be the reason why John went to Hebron from Kansas, that he had relatives there?

In 1919 there was a reunion of sorts as John, Lloyd and Warren move from Hebron to Hooker County, Nebraska. At the same time, William moved there from Kansas, and George left Kansas for Arkansas. Ralph had entered the ministry, but was to serve out his last days in Osborne County, Kansas. Josiah also returned to Nebraska at this time from Montana, where he and Hattie were living.

Shortly thereafter John died and this obituary appeared in the 28 March 1919 edition of the Mullen, Nebraska newspaper:

John Henry Harding was born in the village of Wagenfort, Hesse Cassel, Germany, July 8, 1834, and died in Mullen, Nebraska, March 11, 1919, thus having attained the ripe old age of 84 years, 8 months and three days.

At the age of 19 years, he immigrated to the United States, landing at the port of Baltimore, Md., going from there to the northern part of West Virginia, where he prosecuted his trade of blacksmithing. It was here he met Miss Elizabeth Whipkey, whom he married March 14, 1861. To this union was born eight sons and two daughters. One son, John Albert, and one daughter, Wilhelmina May, having preceded him to the other world. Those remaining to cherish loving memories of a devoted husband and father are Mrs. J. H. Harding, his wife, of Mullen, Neb.; His sons, L. E. Harding of Mullen, Neb.; George H. of Alton, Kans.; W. A. of Mullen; Ralph C. of Fremont, Neb.; Charles L. of Bertha, Neb.; J. F. of Eureka, Mont.; W. R. of Huntley, Neb.; and his daughter, Mrs. G. W. Corporon of Citrus Grove, Texas, besides many grandchildren, great grandchildren and other near relatives and friends.

About four years after his marriage he took his wife and two sons and located in Crawford county, Ill., where he lived until about fourteen years ago, when he moved to Osborne county, Kansas. Here he sojourned for the space of 18 years, when he and his wife and two youngest sons returned to Illinois, where they resided about two years and returned to Osborne county, Kansas. They lived in Kansas this time about two years and then moved to Thayer county, Neb. They resided in Thayer county until about sixteen months ago, when they moved to Mullen, where they resided at the time of his death.

Soon after arriving in America he became a full citizen of the United States and has always been loyal and patriotic to the country of his adoption. He was reared in the German Reformed church, but soon after his marriage he became dissatisfied with his religion, and after much careful and prayerful study he united with the Christian church at East Union, Ill. [my emphasis], and to this religion he had always been most faithful and true. The funeral service was conducted at 2 o'clock Friday afternoon from the residence of L. E. Harding in the west part of this city by Rev. Epley, of the Christian church of Alliance and interment made in Cedarview cemetery.

The story of his travels is off by many years, or else I just read it wrong. What I find most interesting here is the emphasized portion; East Union is in Crawford County, Illinois, I believe. From History of the First Christian Church, Hebron, Nebraska by Hattie M. Miller, 1970, is this opening paragraph:

"A Christian church colony, named Union, from the east, founded Hebron. The advance guard reached Beatrice in 1869 as the base of operations. Then the headquarters were advanced to the Farrell farm east of Alexandria. After the establishment of Fort Butler, just southwest of Hebron, claims were taken up in the vicinity."

This church included founders H. P. Harding, W. T. Harding, and Mary T. Harding. Whether or not these people were relatives, when John went to Hebron he apparently re-united with his church from Illinois, the one he left 20 years prior.

The widow Elizabeth moved to Osborne to live with her son, George. From the OSBORNE COUNTY FARMER, August 5, 1926, Page 1:

Mrs. Elizabeth Harding died Monday morning at the home of her son, George Harding of Alton. She was born at Condle [sic], Pennsylvania and was 86 years of age at the time of her death. Funeral services were held at the George Harding home yesterday at 10 o'clock conducted by Rev. R. V. Hughes of Osborne and internment was made in Grant Center Cemetery.

Next: Josiah Franklin Harding and the Flood of 1935

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