Tags

, , , , ,

The Harden Family Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 24, 2004.
Harden1

SUMMARY
The Harden Family Cemetery is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its association with early settlement in the Jennie vicinity of Chicot, County. Members of the Harden Family were prominent early African-American settlers in the Jennie area, and involved in many aspects of Jennie community life, and the cemetery represents the most significant remaining site associated with the Harden family. As a result, it is also being nominated under Criterion B along with Criteria Consideration C: birthplaces or graves. The cemetery is also being nominated under Criteria Consideration D: cemeteries and under the multiple property listing “Historic and Architectural Resources Associated with the Ethnic and Racial Minority Settlement of the Arkansas Delta.”

ELABORATION
Much of the history of the Jennie area is unknown, although it was apparently originally known as Downsville. Although a railroad line parallels Arkansas Highway 159 through the settlement, it was not built until after 1895. Likely the development of Jennie (or Downsville) occurred just after the arrival of the railroad line.

The Harden Family included some of the early settlers in the Jennie area, and they played prominent roles in the life of the community. John Harden, Sr., was the family patriarch. Although little is known about his life, it is known that he was a slave. He was freed after the Emancipation Proclamation and lived out the remainder of his life in the Jennie area before he died on April 14, 1892.

John Harden, and his wife Mary Thomas Harden, had three sons, Sam P. Harden, John Silas Harden, and Henry Harden. They were the founders of the community and were known as the preacher, politician, and teacher. Sam P. Harden was the pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, which was located just north of Jennie and about one-half mile west of the cemetery. He was pastor in April 1927 when William H. Harden, his nephew, joined the church. John Silas Harden was the teacher and taught reading, writing, and arithmetic in the one-room schoolhouse in Jennie. Henry Harden, who was known as the politician, died March 8, 1927. (According to members of the family, Henry never held any elective office, but was known as the politician because of his civic-minded nature.)

In addition to the three sons John and Mary Thomas Harden also had a daughter, Moriah. She married General James who was born in 1897, and is also buried in the cemetery. He died on October 10, 1918, while at Camp Funston, Kansas, where he was stationed in preparation for deportation to Europe for service in World War I.

Henry Harden, and his wife Mary, had two sons, William H. and John A Harden. William H. Harden was born August 29, 1889, on the Henry Harden place in the Downsville Settlement (now Jennie). William entered Philander Smith College in Little Rock in 1905, and completed his coursework in English in 1908.
He returned to Jennie the following year. In 1930 he was appointed a census enumerator by the Honorable Robert Zebold of Pine Bluff, who was the superintendent of the census. He died May 25, 1947.

John A. Harden served as the first black postmaster of Jennie, Arkansas. (Although it is not known when he took the position of postmaster, the post office in Jennie was established in 1905.) In 1910 he was the owner of the general merchandise store and post office, and he died on August 16, 1917.

John A. and John Silas Harden were also members of the Royal Circle of Friends. The Royal Circle of Friends, which was a benevolent society, was organized in Helena, Arkansas, in 1909 by Dr. R. A. Williams.
By 1918 the circle had 25, 000 members in five states. According to church members it cost $5 to join and the dues were $1 every two months. As a benevolent society the circle paid hospital bills and burial expenses.

Although Jennie has always remained a small settlement, the Harden family has been an important family in the community’s history. From teachers to preachers and postmasters, the Harden family has been involved in many aspects of Jennie’s community life. The Harden Family Cemetery remains today as the final resting place of many of the Harden family’s most prominent members.

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Harden Family Cemetery is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its association with early settlement in the Jennie vicinity of Chicot, County. Members of the Harden Family were prominent early African-American settlers in the Jennie area, and involved in many aspects of Jennie community life, and the cemetery represents the most significant remaining site associated with the Harden family. As a result, it is also being nominated under Criterion B along with Criteria Consideration C: birthplaces or graves. The cemetery is also being nominated under Criteria Consideration D: cemeteries and under the multiple property listing “Historic and Architectural Resources Associated with the Ethnic and Racial Minority Settlement of the Arkansas Delta.”

Advertisements