Mabel Harding : re: the J.W. Harding Family, Comanche County, Kansas Hosted by RootsWeb, the oldest & largest FREE genealogical site. Click here to visit RootsWeb.
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The Western Star, July 21, 1933.


The J. W. Harding Family.

The Star is indebted to Miss Mabel Harding, now of San Diego, Calif., for the facts contained in the following historical sketch, which refers to the J. W. Harding family, who were early day settlers in Coldwater, Miss Harding will be remembered by all who lived in Coldwater prior to 1890, and who still survive.

Mr. and Mrs. John W. Harding and three children, Mabel, Clyde and Maynard, came to Coldwater in the fall of 1884. They came from Iowa, Mr. Harding having preceded his family by two months, coming with a number of people from Vinton. Mrs. Harding and the children came by stage from Kinsley, and ate in Greensburg in a hotel which was in process of construction, having no roof. John A. Pennington, father of Mrs. Samuel Jackson, was also on the same stage. He had gone back to his Iowa home to make arrangements to bring his family out. The stage was met by a delegation of men from town, among them being the late Dr. Halliday, asking news of the election, which had been held the day before. Great dismay was shown when it was learned that Cleveland had some chance of winning the election.

Mr. Harding had opened a small hardware store and tin shop on Main st. near Central, on the north side. The family spent the first winter above the store, one of the few plastered buildings in town. During a severe blizzard in February, the Doig family, of which the late mayor of Coldwater, James Doig, was a member, were quartered with the Hardings, there being no vacant buildings in town. The Hardings and Doigs had claims south of town. Mabel and Clyde were among the first pupils to enroll in the school opened by Mrs. Price. Later they attended a private school opened by Miss Flo Chapman, and Maynard then started to school. All three children were among the first pupils in the new building on the south side of town, with Professor Hixon as principal and Miss Etta Lansdon, second grades.

Mr. Harding was a member of the school board nearly all of the years he lived in Coldwater and officiated at the laying of the cornerstone of the new school building on the north side of town. Mrs. Harding was one of the committee selected by the people of the town who organized to start a church, to solicit funds for an 'Evangelical Church' since it was decided to combine all denominations. However, the first preacher called was a Methodist, and the Hardings attended this church. Mr. and Mrs. Harding were active in church and Sunday school work, and in the temperance movement.

The Hardings built a comfortable home on the east side of town in the Parker Wright addition. Mr. Harding, with William Rosch, a brother-in-law, and George Jeffreys, later bought out the hardware store of Charles Kern, and enlarged their stock to carry agricultural implements. The store was completely destroyed in the "big fire of '88" and Mr. Harding then opened a small store next to the Sombart drug store on Main st., west. The Hardings left Coldwater in November, 1890. Clyde Harding had previously gone to Denver with a number of boys, among whom was Roy Stafford, and his family joined him there. Clyde is now in business at El Paso, Texas, and Mabel lives at San Diego.

The Western Star, August 18, 1933


The following article, which tells of pioneer days in Coldwater, was written for the Star by Miss Mabel Harding, whose home for some time has been at 4769 33rd st., San Diego, Calif. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Harding, were residents of this city from 1884 to 1890. Miss Harding's youthful days were spent in Coldwater, and her reminiscences will be read with much interest by Western Star readers. She says:

"My sister in law, Mrs. Harding, wrote of the pleasant day and night spent in Coldwater. It is very hard for me to visualize Coldwater as anything but the new little town on the plains, with hardly a tree growing, and I am afraid, also, to visualize anyone grown up or very old, notwithstanding my own very advanced years.

"I have heard from people now and then - have always kept in touch with the Doig family. Indeed, one of them, Dr. Robert Doig, lives here in San Diego. He never lived in Coldwater, however. Two years ago I visited Mrs. Grant Sutton in Moline (she was Ella Doig), and I often see Mrs. George Jeffreys, now residing in Los Angeles. I visited Kate Chapman Stafford in Oklahoma City almost two years ago, and have seen Billy and Jessie Grant several times.

"Some years ago I was the editorial writer on the group of papers published by the Central Kansas Publishing Co., of which W. C. Lansdon was publisher. He will be remembered as conducting the first summer normal in Coldwater, an ambitious undertaking at that time. He was the brother of Miss Etta Lansdon, and of Mrs. Wallis, whose husband was then superintendent of schools. I think Mr. Lansdon came back the second summer. He is now one of the commissioners of the bureau of Internal Revenue, reviewing cases in income tax matters, at Washington, D. C., where I saw him recently. While at Salina, I went out to Hays on some editorial matter, in fact went out twice, and there met some one from Coldwater who remembered me, but unfortunately I cannot recall the name. But I also heard quite a bit of news from Coldwater at the time.

"I have recollections of Coldwater, but it does not seem to me they would be anything but the recollections of a growing girl, or impressions rather. I have of late years regretted the fact that we youngsters could not have known the thrilling and dramatic history of the great Comanche Pool, the fact that Sheridan had camped on the Mule creek and probably gave the name to Calvary Creek in his raid into the Indian territory during the upraising of Indians in the late sixties. Instead, I am sorry to say, that we heard more about county seat fights, the fact that there were entirely too many drug stores in a town of that size, the small talk of the day, and who was going with them, and all that. Such interesting things as the coming of the first train, the building of the court house, the new business blocks and so on are all very distinct in my mind.

The 1886 Comanche County Court House, destroyed by fire in November 1921. Photo published 21 Nov 1921 in The Western Star, courtesy of Shirley Brier.

At left: The 1886 Comanche County Court House. Photo published 21 Nov 1921 in The Western Star, courtesy of Shirley Brier.

"The so called Indian raid, or scare of the summer of 1885, is very distinct even now, and the spectacle of the men of that town drilling in an awkward squad with their assorted firearms might be a thing to laugh at now but it was serious enough to us children at the time. The town was filled with people who had run in with their families, bedding, cooking utensils, etc. We lived anyhow, the men sleeping in the wagons. The Doigs had a half finished store room which they moved into. We were living on our claim south of Coldwater that summer, and we came in and camped around, cooking on the fire pot in father's shop, until things quieted down. As I remember, it turned out to be nothing but a scare.

"My particular loved spot in the very early days was the feed yard on the western end of town, where people going westward camped. All sorts of signs were on their wagons. It was probably the first time I ever saw people camp and cook that way, and I thought it very wonderful. There was a big windmill in the center of town and many movers stopped there to water their stock. Some wag seemed to think it a very good joke, and sawed it down one Halloween when there was a card party going on. I don't know what the connection was, but probably they thought it was a good time to do it. It was the most picturesque thing in town to me.

"In fact, I could go on with these recollections, but as I am using them in a children's book which I have been working on, with my own interpretations of course, I may be mixing things a little.

"I would like to come back to Coldwater some time, but I think I might be disappointed not to find Kate Chapman, Gertie Stafford, Ethel McClain, Lottie Chandler, Mary Hutchins, Jessie Grant, Margaret McIntyre, Cora Halliday and all the other lovely pals of my girlhood ready for a doll party, a scamper over the prairies on our ponies, a picnic at Mule Creek, a trip out to Ike Powell's ranch for a chicken dinner, or down to the Cimarron to gather wild plums. And there wouldn't be the excitement of seeing the latest millinery creation by Miss Zoe Hakes, and the newest dress designed by Miss Sallie Goff, the newest things in Miller's store, and what hooks Tom Morrison had brought for his stock at the drug store. I have some of them yet, the classics. And hundreds of other things which are only memories, would only be memories.

"And everybody will tell you that I was a terrific tomboy, climbing everything, racing around, and not in the least ladylike as some of those I have mentioned.

"One more memory and I am through. How well I remember the indulgence of Will Cash, the founder of the Star, in letting Gertie Stafford, his sister in law, and me set type, holding the printer's stick very awkwardly no doubt, as we struggled with 'composition.' How did he put up with it, I wonder? Some of my first attempts at writing were printed in the Coldwater Review. The townspeople were very long suffering about that, I am sure, and doubtless predicted that I would never amount to anything for being allowed to write such stuff. And the worst of it is that they would have been right. I've never quit doing it. And., please, Mr. Editor, though I've had thousands of columns of my trash printed, if this is acceptable, would it be asking too much to have a copy of it?



Also see:

The Last Indian Raid In Kansas, September 1878
reprinted in The Western Star, January 23, 1920.

The Normal Institute (Teacher Training)
The Western Star, August 13, 1887.

Early Days At Protection by Mrs. Blanche Denney-Towner

C.F. Spicer: Memoirs of Pioneer Days in Comanche County, KS.

James W. Dappert: "Reminiscences of Early Days in Comanche-co."
The Western Star, January 15, 1926.

Coldwater Centennial Notebook by Evelyn Reed.

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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