Andrew Jackson Hardin, A Vintage Vignette

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Andrew Jackson Hardin
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
October 17, 2008

According to Gladys True’s book “Reflections of Madison, 1869-1999” (of limited printing and distribution just before her passing), A. J. Hardin was instrumental in the establishment of the First Baptist Church of Madison in 1889 to 1892. Gladys did not elaborate with specifics about how Hardin was involved in establishment of the church. However, “The Christian Herald” of Lawrence County, Alabama, in Volume 1, Number 26, of January 19, 1866, reported the following:

“At the request of Mt. Zion Church, Madison County, Alabama, Elders Joel Wheeler and E. Strode met as a Presbytery to consider ordination of Bro. A. J. Hardin. On the first Sabbath in January, he was ordained.” Though General Joseph Wheeler later lived in Lawrence County, there is no known connection of the general to Joel Wheeler. Likewise, there was a Baptist clergyman named Eugene Strode born in Kentucky and enumerated in Huntsville in the 1860 census, as well as a lawyer James H. Strode born in Kentucky and living in Madison in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In this case, it is likely that Eugene Strode was the elder who ordained A. J. Hardin of Madison, and that James Strode of Madison was related to Eugene, but these connections have not been researched yet.

It is known that Andrew J. Hardin was married in Madison County to Mary F. A. Freeman in 1859. The census records consistently show his wife’s name as Adaline M. Hardin, who bore him eleven children and died in 1910 at the age of 71. Her initials and lifespan, along with the title “Mother”, are inscribed on an obelisk in the old section of the Madison City Cemetery, south of Mill Road at its eastern end. Her epitaph is a quote of Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Another face of the same obelisk contains the title “Father” and the inscription “Rev. A. J. Hardin, April 23, 1820 – Feb. 5, 1899” with the epitaph “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). A marker supplied by the Veteran’s Administration and emplaced by the Sons of Confederate Veterans is positioned at the base of the obelisk. It erroneously lists the birth year for Hardin as 1850 and gives his death date as April 5 rather than Feb. 5 of 1899. It commemorates his service as a Private in Company G of the 42nd Alabama Infantry during the Civil War.

One of the daughters, Ida, is buried beside Hardin. She was born in 1864 and died in 1886. Her tombstone contains the title “Sister” and an epitaph from Luke 8:52, “Weep not, she is not dead, but sleepeth.” It is not known which of Ida’s brothers had the stones emplaced in the Madison City Cemetery, but census records show A. J.’s son John R. Hardin living in Decatur in 1900. Of course, there were also other possible listings for Hardin children living in the area after the deaths of A. J. and Adeline, but the 1910 census shows Adeline living in Lawrence County just before her death. She was enumerated at that time in the household of her son-in-law, Calvin N. Sanderson, who married A. J.’s daughter Alice. Only six of the eleven Hardin children born to Adaline were noted as living at the time of the 1910 census.

Hardin was performing marriages as a Justice of the Peace as early as 1865 in Cluttsville of Madison County, before his ordination. Yet, in the census of 1870 he was listed as a wagon maker, born in Kentucky. The 1880 census of Jackson County, Alabama, listed Hardin’s occupation as “mechanic”, showing also that both of his parents were born in Kentucky, so there may have been a relationship in that state with the Strode family. Obviously, there is more to learn of this pioneering, multi-disciplined Madison family.

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