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Harden, Edward

When Nebraska Territory was organized in 1854 one of the judicial appointments went to Edward Randolph Harden of Georgia. Harden had grown up in Savannah and enjoyed its educational advantages. A lawyer active in local Democratic Party politics, Harden was also serving as a railroad station agent at Ringgold, Georgia, when he received the appointment in July 1854.

He arrived at Bellevue, Nebraska, early in December 1854 and remained about four months, returning to his Georgia home again in April 1855. He went back to Nebraska in June 1856, especially for the purpose of seeing the country in summer, and decided to bring his family and settle permanently in Nebraska City.

However, his experiences with frontier conditions may have interfered with these plans. Selected letters from Harden to his family were published in Nebraska History (January-March 1946). He wrote to his mother from Bellevue on December 9, 1854:

"The climate is awful cold. Thermometer sometimes 17 degrees below zero -- If I don't freeze this winter -- I wont freeze in this climate another. The Missouri River just opposite where I now am has been in the last week frozen over so that person[s] walk over on the ice. . . . You would not know me wrapped up in furs and Buffaloe [sic] Robes and Buckskin Pantaloons and blanket with a hole cut in the middle and [put] over my head."

Wisely perhaps, Judge Harden did not circulate these sentiments among his Nebraska neighbors. A postscript to the December 19, 1854, letter to Georgia instructed his mother: "Don't say to anyone that I am displeased, and burn up this letter -- as I am very popular with the people and they all think I like the country."

Whatever the reason, Harden's family remained in the South, and Harden later rejoined them there. He saw limited service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and died June 12, 1884, in Brooks County, Georgia.

(January 1998)



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