William John Harding History

The Life History of

WILLIAM JOHN HARDING   (1907)

BILL8

(In his own words)…”The earliest recollection I have of anything in my life, is of crawling over my Mothers feet as she lay on the bed.  I don’t remember anything else until I was about four years old, when I found myself living with Uncle Reed and Aunt Sarah Harding.  There was a little girl about my age next door.  I used to play with her whenever I got the chance.  I was told to stay away from her place, but I’d sneak over once in awhile.

During this time I was given a small hammer as a present.  It was magnetized and would pull the nails out while I was trying to drive them in.  I remember one day I tried to nail myself inside a box.

Uncle Reed and Aunt Sarah were a newly married couple and their first child, their daughter Olive, was born while I lived with them.  One day they left me alone with Olive and I fed her some salted peanuts that I had.  I sure got in the doghouse for that, but the peanuts didn’t seem to hurt her.  Uncle Reed lived in a small two or three room house between where Uncle Earl lived on the south and where the family of the little girl lived, (that I mentioned), on the north.  It was a brick house and Uncle Earl bought it later, and my Father Uncle Earls old home, so we could move to town in the fall, and then us kids would be near the school.  This house had been a harness shop, with living quarters in the back.

My Dad came from Provo, Utah, which was a good place to come from, and he worked for a while on a canal, herded sheep for Ray Knight for a while, bought a small farm north of Raymond, courted my Mother and married her.  She was the oldest child of William Moroni Palmer and Christina Helen Larsen Palmer.  My Mothers name was Helen Christina Palmer.  My Fathers name was John James Harding, and his Mothers name was Jane Evans Harding.

About this time my Father got the homesteader fever, and as homesteads were up for grabs in the Taber district, he came over here and got himself a homestead.  Sometime during this period, on November 10, 1907, I was born.  My Mother wasn’t very happy about leaving her family and friends and coming over to this den of iniquity, and away out in the lonely prairie.  The General Authorities of the Church, at that time, were not favorable toward immigration to Taber, and there was a house of prostitution down by the river.

About a month or so before my youngest sister, Helen, was born, a man in Taber shot the place up and killed a person, (I don’t remember whether it was a man or a woman.)  Anyway, about this time, Dad took my mother to the farm with me in her arms.  Dad had a two roomed house built, it had a steep roof called a one-half pitch.  There was enough room in the attic for a bed, and I used to sleep there sometimes with the hired man.  He pulled the cover off me in the night and it was there that I learned to protect myself.  I learned to get the bed covers in my hand and tuck them under my shoulder, and always turn so as to pull the covers around me.  The first time I slept with the hired man, he pulled the covers off me in the night, I nearly froze and I was afraid to wake him up.  That was the last time anyone ever pulled the covers off me.

My memory only goes back to when I was living with Uncle Reed and Aunt Sarah.  However, I remember stories that were told about me after my Mother died.  I guess I was inconsolable.  Uncle Leslie Palmer said I cried steady for two weeks.  A three-year-old child couldn’t remember why his Mother went away and left him.  I expect that experience left an indelible mark on my psychic, making it difficult for me to give whole-heartedly to people.  I always held something in reserve subconsciously.  I don’t intend to get hurt like that again.

Uncle Leslie told me of a time he took me for a ride on a horse.  When the horse began to trot, I said, “Uncle Les, jump off and catch me, I am going to fall.”  My Dad told me of a time when I did fall.  He was on a horse and he reached down his hand to lift me up with him.  Well the horse shied away from the strange object coming up toward him and I was beginning to swing away in a circle so Dad let me go and I went rolling on the ground.

My sister Helen, who was born when my Mother died, was raised by my Grandmother and Grandfather Palmer.  Iola stayed with a neighbor and Dad tried to keep me with him but it didn’t work.  I don’t remember anything until I started living at Uncle Reeds place.  They were pretty good to me considering I was the first little kid they had ever tried to raise, and I wasn’t their own, and I probably had been badly spoiled.  I remember them giving me a bath in a little tub and when I was finished, Uncle Reed poured some warm water over my head.  He said it was only warm, but to me it was scalding hot and I let out a screech.  That’s the only bath I can remember at Uncle Reeds.

I remember Dad putting me on a gentle mare named Pet.  She was very gentle and one of the smartest horses you could find.  Dad put me on this horse and let me go bare back or course, so I let her walk around the farm and finally came to a pond of water in a small coulee that bisected the farm.  The horse was thirsty and headed for the water.  The bank was quite steep and as she went down she began to trot.  When she came to the water she stopped and put her head down to drink, and I slid right off over her head into the water.  I couldn’t climb back on so I had to walk home leading the horse.

I said that she was smart.  She learned that she could unlatch the granary door by manipulating it with her lips.  We hauled water in a couple of barrels on a stone boat, (Some planks nailed together on some runners, like a sleigh.)  It was a two mile round trip, and that was the only household water we had, so we didn’t want to water any horses with it.  We covered it by turning a tub upside down on it.  This horse learned that she could maneuver the tub off the barrel and get herself a drink.  We had to put a heavy rock on top of the tub so she couldn’t get it off.  She liked to tease.  For instance one day I got off for some reason and I just left the reigns on the ground and didn’t tie her up.  When I went to get her she would run away dragging the reigns on one side so as not to step on them.  She would only go a few steps and stop and eat grass until I was almost close enough to grab the reigns, and then she would run a few more steps.  She made me walk all the way home, which was about a mile.  However, if she stumbled and threw you off she would wait for you to get back on.

In those early days when I was five or six years old, the area three or four miles south was mostly open prairie and all around the sloughs the grass was eight to ten inches high.  Dad would take his mowing machine and rake and he would cut grass for hay and I would ride home on a fragrant load of prairie hay.  I can still remember 65 years later how pleasant it was lying on my back looking up at the blue sky with just a few fluffy clouds sitting around no wind and the gentle swaying of the load.  It was one of my most pleasant memories on that hayrack.  Later on in my life I had some most unpleasant memories on that same hayrack.  Some years later when it was very dry and the grain crops were short, the Russian Thistles grew up almost as high as the grain; we would cut the crop with the mowing machine and put it up like hay.  The thistle would get dry and brittle and get in my shoes and stick in my feet and as it was my job because I was so young that I couldn’t pitch the stuff up myself to stack the hay on the rack.  I used to wrap my feet and lower legs in sacks to keep the thistle out of my shoes.  It was always a mystery to me how the cattle could eat that stuff in the wintertime but they did, of course there was some wheat in it too.

In the fall of 1913 at the beginning of the school year, my Father took me to the Montpelier School and had me enrolled.  The school was two miles east of where we lived and one-half mile north.  We walked.  I guess Dad wanted to make sure I knew the way home since I was going to walk home by myself.  I walked to school three times; the last time there was someone there who told me to go home because the teacher had quit.  That ended my schooling for that year.  Next year there was a tremendous run-off where the snow melted and it filled Rocky Lake, (now called Horse Fly Lake,) which lay between our farm and the school.  It was full of water so my Father got permission from the Wadena school District for Iola and I to go to school there.  We lived just across the road from the Wadena school District and the distance to the school house was exactly the same as the Montpelier except we went two miles west and one half mile south.  The people in the Wadena District were very friendly and cooperative and my years of schooling there were very pleasant indeed.

I can remember a number of games we used to play during recess and noontime.  We played baseball, anti-i-over and a number of other games.  One time I brought some carbide and a jam can, put a little carbide in the can and us boys got together and punched a hole in the bottom of the jam can.  We put a little water in the can with the carbide and put the lid on tight, then placed a lighted match to the hole in the bottom of the can and there would be a loud explosion blowing the lid of the can.  The teacher found out about it and I was reprimanded.

(This part of Bills history is written by his wife, Jennie Johnson Harding.)

I think it should be mentioned that in December 1906, Bills Father John James Harding, and Helen Christina Palmer, his Mother, with her Father William Moroni Palmer as chaperone left for Salt Lake City to be married.  And as the temple was closed for the holidays, Christmas season, Grandpa Palmer advised the couple to be married, then to go to the temple later.  He performed the ceremony on the 24 of December 1906 and they were sealed in the temple on January 17, 1907.  (I took this information from Bills Fathers history, written by his daughters, Phyllis and Vera.  I will continue taking a few dates and incidents from their history, but mostly it will be written the way Bill told me.)

Bills father took up the homestead in Taber on the place called the Dry Farm, in 1907.  (This farm now is owned by Calvin Layton and Glenn Harding.)

In 1908, Bills father sold his farm in Raymond and moved his wife Helen and their new little son, William John into a two-roomed house on the new homestead in Taber.  This place is approximately five and one half miles south of Taber.

Iola was born on October 13, 1909.  In those days it was really hard to get the doctor in time.  The hardships were mentioned by Vera and Phyllis, that they suffered when Helen started labor on a foggy morning, Dad couldn’t find the horses to go after the doctor, his neighbor Hans Hanson offered to go so that Dad could stay with his wife.  The baby was born before the doctor arrived as Dad did not know how to cut the cord and tie it, baby Iola was turning blue before the help arrived.  The doctor soon had her revived and in good health.

Helen wasn’t well during her third pregnancy.  In the middle of her sixth month her condition was critical and her parents came over from Raymond to be with her.  On the 13 of May she died in childbirth, 1911.  The baby Helen weighed only two and one half pounds.  As no one expected her to live, Grandpa Palmer named and blessed her that same day.  Grandma Palmer took her back to Raymond and raised her as her own.

Bill, at this time was three and one half years old.  It was about this time that Bill stayed with Uncle Reed and Aunt Sarah.  There was a time that Bills father did take Bill home with him, but it was very difficult to carry on his farm work.  He took Bill out in his arms as he drove the plow, Bill fell asleep so his father stopped and laid him on the ground, while he went on with the plowing, Bill woke up later and was terrified alone out there on the prairie.

Soon after his mothers death his father took him to Utah to visit his Parents.  When they were on the train his Father threw his overcoat up on the rack above, but it slipped and fell on Bills head, his father thought he had broken his neck.

In the spring of 1912, Mary Aspinall, (A convert to the church, who had arrived from England a short while before,) through the urging of the Wilde family of Welling with whom she was staying, took the job of housekeeper for Dad and his two children, she was then 30 years old.  Soon the whole family learned to love her and decided they couldn’t live without her as one of the family.  In December 1912, Bills father and stepmother went to Salt Lake City to be married, taking the children along.  Bills father sold four cows to get the money for the trip.  They stayed with Bills Grandparents over the holidays then they were married in the temple on January 10, 1913.  After staying in Salt Lake City with relatives and friends they went to Provo to pick up the children, then returned to their homestead in Canada.

I know that Bill learned to love his new mother and had great respect for her all his life.  She loved Bill too, that was evidenced many times, and so right here I will say that she was a grand Mother to me also.  I needed her love and concern and she always gave whatever I needed.  Our children also were very fortunate in having a most wonderful Grandmother and Grandfather and the one and only because they never knew my Parents.  Our children will always have pleasant memories of them.

Bill said that sometimes they hauled water on a stone boat from a well around the Sekura place.  Many other neighbors used this well also.  The first well that Bills dad dug was by the sheds, south, it wasn’t good.  Only the livestock could drink it.  The second well was dug a little west of the shed, it wasn’t good either, it was bitter alkali and only the livestock would drink it.

(Phyllis and Vera said that Dad had planted a nice windbreak of trees after Norman was born 31 October 1913 and Vera born 12 September 1915, had arrived.  Mother persuaded Dad to move the house south to a new location behind the shelter of the trees.  Father got a friend, Tom Shaw to help him build an addition to the house after it was moved.  Dad had dug a good well, cemented the sides then built a cement cellar with the well in the southwest corner of this basement room.  A back kitchen was on, over the cellar, which gave access to the cellar on the north.  Above this room was an up stairs bedroom.  Three bedrooms were added to the east side of the house and a closed in porch in the north east corner. Dad also built a nice big barn, but he didn’t have it long before it was destroyed by fire.)

Another daughter was born, Mary, 25 January 1919.  Little Mary died of pneumonia on the 10 of April 1919.  Phyllis, the youngest was born 29 April 1920.

The fire that burned the barn started in a granary where they had a chicken brooder and a lot of little chickens.  They had two horses tied up in the barn and they were burned and some of the cattle.  However some of the cattle escaped but the hair was all burned off their backs.  How Bills folks discovered what had happened.  They saw these cows walk by their bedroom window in the early morning.  They must have had a very sick feeling knowing that so many of their animals were burned and the loss of them must have been a terrible blow.  They had to bury the dead animals in the first well they dug.  When the summer time came and the sun got so hot, it was really hard for the poor cows since they had no hair on their backs to protect them.  To protect them from the hot sun they put gunnysacks on their backs.  The hair did grow back later on.

Bill had many experiences on horses when he used to get on Old Pet.  She would put her head down and as she was eating grass he would put his leg over her neck and as she raised her head quickly Bill would often find himself on the horse backward.  He would then have to maneuver himself around to the right position.  Once when she threw her head back so quickly Bill was thrown on over onto the ground.  The horse Pet was good at heading off the cattle.  She would whirl quickly to head them off and bite them.  One time Bill was going after the cows on Old Pet, he could see there was soon going to be a big thunder storm so he was trying to hurry.  Old Pet saw some horses over by the fence and Bill didn’t see them, so when Pet turned toward the horses they parted company, he hit the earth, it was an upside down world for him for a while.

Bill said he and Iola used to walk through from their place to the Wadena School.  In those days there weren’t so many fences so they cut quite a distance off by going through the fields instead of going all the way around the road.  Later on the last piece of land was fenced off, this is the place that belongs to Williams mow, and Bill and Iola were not allowed to go through there so they had to go the long way around the road.  Sometimes when it was very cold Bills father took them and sometimes they rode a horse.  They used to get pretty cold with frozen toes.

At the end of the year of grade one in Wadena, Bill was promoted to grade three.  After this first year of hardships going to school in Wadena, Uncle Earl turned over his harness shop to Bills father in payment of a debt he owed him as he had already purchased another harness shop up town.  This old harness shop was located north of the town of Taber with a kitchen and bedroom built on the back.  They fixed this place up and Bills father had Tom Shaw build a lovely big barn by this house.  This was an ideal situation because when the work was done in the fall they could move in town, livestock and all.  Then in the spring they moved out to the farm again.  This made it possible for the children to go to school in town in the cold winter months and then when they were on the farm they attended the Wadena School both in the spring and fall.

When they moved into town for the winter every Saturday they had to take the wagon and go to the farm for feed for the livestock and also straw for bedding.  Many times they went to the river to dig their own coal when times were hard and it was a very dangerous business.

The kids had a lot of fun in town.  Bill had lots of neighborhood playmates, the Birch boys, and his cousins.  Skating used to be a lot of fun.  There was a flowing well by the United Church where the water used to run west of town.  It was called the Douglas Lake, so this made an ideal skating rink.  They would carry their skates over to the lake, by this time they had very cold feet and their skates were ice cold.  Sometimes they built bonfires to get warm.  There was also a lake northwest of the sugar factory, just about where the industrial area is now.  This lake was used for swimming in the summer time.  There was a ramp and a springboard for diving.  In the wintertime this lake was also used for skating.  Bill said they also had a good pond out to the farm for skating and swimming.  Bills Dad had a bob sleigh and he often took kids riding in it.

At school in Taber, Bill said one of the boys seemed to have it in for him as he used to bug Bill by standing off to one side and throwing snowballs at him.  One day as Bill was wrestling with another boy, the boy that was always bugging him commenced to throw snowballs at him again, but he hit the wrong guy, he hit the boy that Bill was wrestling with.  Another day Bill was playing marbles with a friend and this bothersome fellow was watching.  He said, (When he saw there was only one marble left in the ring.) “I’ll bet you can’t hit it.”  So Bill aimed and knocked it right out of the ring.

Sometimes some of the older children had to stay out of school two or three weeks in the early spring and fall to help with the farm work.  When Bill finished grade seven, that was as high as the school went in Wadena, and began grade eight Bill had to ride a horse to Taber in the spring and the fall when he wasn’t helping on the farm.  In the fall Bill ran the binder because his Dad suffered a great deal with hay fever and the dust was too much for him.  His Dad could do the stooking.  (This is taking the bundles of cut grain and leaning several of them together so they are standing so the heads of wheat are on the top where they dry out ready for threshing.)  Bill also helped with the stooking and probably the other members of the family were helping also.  Bill had a chance to run most of the farm machinery at an early age.  In the early morning he had to hitch up the horses, however many he used that day, from two or four or six sometimes.  He said that 20 miles of work was a good day of work for a horse, 10 rounds in the morning.  Then horses must be unhitched, watered and fed at noon and he would eat his dinner while they rested and fed.  Then he would hitch them back up again and go 10 more rounds.  At night he would go through the same ritual again.  Besides that there were other nightly and morning chores to attend.  Later when Bill was older he worked on the threshing crews, whereever they worked, they ate their meals and slept in bunkhouses at the farmers place where they were doing the threshing.

When Bills mother died, Iola was very young and so a good neighbor, Art Wilde and his wife took Iola until the time that Bills father got Mary Aspinall to be his housekeeper.  Art Wilde lived about two and one half miles from the Harding’s.  He lived on the Wadena road by Revak’s on Gordon Bells place.  Bills Father and family used to visit them.  The friendship probably started when they were keeping Iola.

Bill had a good friend who lived on the Wadena road also, Earl Beverly.  (He lived where Addy’s now live.)  One day Bill rode a horse over to Earl’s place.  He took his air gun and the B.B.’s rattled in the gun, it frightened the horse and it shied and Bill fell off.  There was a family that lived south of the Harding Homestead, about one mile away.  Bill got acquainted with their two boys and was very friendly with them.  They used to visit often.

When Bill was in grade 8, he had to ride a horse to school until the time his family would move into town for the winter.  The horse he rode was called Snap.  He said Snap was really scared of cars, and in those days there were beginning to be a few cars, especially up town.  Sometimes after school Bill would ride up town and stop off at The Harding Harness Shop.  He would put the reins on the ground and leave Snap out there.  He said she would never move.  Cars would go by and she would stand there trembling but would never move.  About this time Bill wasn’t able to help much on the farm so his Father hired a fellow named Leo Whitelock for $12.50 per month.  This was a help so that Bill could get his schooling.  Leo had just recently come from England with some of the members of his family.  Dolly Haynes was one of the members of his family.  I guess Leo was glad to have a place to stay.  He and Bill became life long friends.  Leo stayed all that year until it was time for the family to move to town and then he went to the States for about two years.  Then he came back and stayed with the Harding’s one winter.  Bill said that sometimes he and Leo would pack up and go out to the farm and batch it awhile.  They had a lot of fun.

Bill never went past grade 10 in high school.  He was needed on the farm so badly in the spring and fall.  About this time there was an agriculture school starting in Raymond.  The Principal of that school came to Taber to get recruits and Bill was very interested.  The semester would start around the first part of October (after fall work was done), and let out the end of March (in time for early spring work).  A very small fee for tuition and Bill could stay with his Grandparents giving them a small amount for his board.  Many of his friends from Taber attended this school also.  Edwin Palmer, a cousin, and Ray Stevens, became his real pals as well as Clifford and Bill Bennett, Harold and Edna Evanson and Evan Hall.

Bill studied Agronomy (study of soil and plants), Animal Husbandry, Physics, Math, English, Science, Chemistry (organic and inorganic), Shop work, Carpentry, Blacksmith and Welding, Bee Keeping and Auto Mechanics.  He went to this school for two years, the fall of 1927-28 and the fall of 1928-29.

At this school the boys and girls were separated, they didn’t take any of their classes together.  However, I am sure that they found ways of getting together.  There were lots of school and church dances – this is where Bill learned to dance.  He said he didn’t care to go to the parties and there must have been some that were wishing he would come.  One night Bill’s sister Helen wanted Bill to go to a party with her but Bill didn’t want to go.  He wasn’t feeling very good and if he could fake a faint then he could get out of the party.  As he let himself go he really did pass out and Grandma rushed to help him.  When Helen came home she was mad at Bill for not coming to the party until Grandma told her how sick Bill was.  Helen rushed right back to the party to tell everyone what happened.

Bill said when he stayed with Grandpa and Grandma Palmer that his Grandfather wasn’t very well.  Uncle Arlo was still at home at first but soon he married Aunt Zina and for a time they lived in the front part of the Palmer home.  When they left Bill took over most of the chores.

Aunt Ada lived right across the street and he said he used to often go over as there was always so much fun.    Helen and Marie were the ones around his age, Edwin Palmer stayed with them also.  Aunt Ada was quite a person for fun, but she was nearly always to work.

At Christmas time Bill went home for the holiday, he traveled on the train, leaving Raymond at 10 a.m. and waiting in Lethbridge 4 or 5 hours.  So by the time they arrived in Taber the day was gone.  While waiting in Lethbridge they often went to the Y.M.C.A. and took a swim.

At the end of the two years Bill attended this school; he graduated and got his certificate.  Once he wrote an essay on “Sugar Beets”, and won an award of $25.00.  This award was given by the Raymond Sugar Factory.

In June 1927 Bill started going out to Chin Coulee on the sheep shearing runs.  This was a good way to make money.  He said Albert Green a big sheep man took the crew out to the ranch, and the crew sheared his sheep first, sleeping in a bunkhouse and getting their meals at the house.  Starting at 7:00 a.m. someone would bring a light lunch and drink out to them in the midmorning and mid-afternoon, stopping at noon for dinner, then quitting at 6:00 p.m.  It was a long back breaking day of work and some of the men were rough characters, Bill often remembered that as they finished the job and came home that the men had to visit every beer parlor as they traveled along, so it was a long hilarious way home.  When they finished at Albert Greens place, the next farmer would come and get them as they worked for several different farmers.  Bill could average sheering 80 head of sheep a day; sometimes if he worked real hard he could do over 100 per day.  He got 12.5 cents per head and he stayed at this job for 10 years.  He worked several years after we were married.

The Harding family got their first car in 1929; it was a second Model T Ford.  Up until this time they had used a surrey, buggy or wagon.  Bill was happy that his father turned the driving over to him.

When Bill was quite young and they lived on the farm, his Mother was going to have a baby, so his Dad sent him in to town to get the doctor and Aunt Sarah.  Dr. Hammon would come out in his own car.  Bill said he hitched up a white horse they had named “Googy”, along with another horse.  He said Googy was big and fat and very slow.  She just would not keep up with the other horse; they would have to be clipping her constantly to keep her going.

Scouting days for Bill were very interesting, his first Scout Master was Archie Bennett, but he soon left.  Roy Easthope was scoutmaster for a while, but I guess Vernon Biglowe was the scoutmaster they all remembered.  At one time Vernon took the scouts on a camping trip across the river.  The location was about in the area of Uncle Ted Francis ranch.  There were two wagons to take the scouts and all their equipment.  They stayed in this place for about a week and on the Saturday they were out of food so they began packing up to go home.  Bennett’s couldn’t find their horses so some of them took the other team to go look for them; however they could not find them so they had to hitch the team onto both wagons.  Some of the boys didn’t want to ride all that long way around when they could take a short cut and get there quicker by walking.  It was agreed that they would all meet at the schoolhouse.  About this time a terrible storm came up as the boys walked along on the prairie.  The hailstones came down with the force of the strong wind.  These boys were pelted with the hail with no protection at all and the visibility was black and dark, the boys, wisely, held hands so they would not get lost and I guess they prayed mightily for their lives.  The men and boys that were in the wagons used the bedding for their protection.  When the storm finally cleared and those in the wagons found the boys they were a bunch of scared, miserable boys.  They soon came to a house so they knocked on the door but no one answered so they went in and stayed all night.  The windows were all knocked out on the north and west side.  The boys were probably very grateful to get home again.  The Scouts, in those days went on many hikes and camping trips.  The C.Y. Ranch was a favorite.

Bill’s Family often went to the coulee or the river in the summer to pick sarvis berries and choke cherries.  This made a little outing for them.

One summer Bill wanted to get away for a while so he packed a suitcase and bought a round ticket on the train for Calgary.  He was going to attend the Calgary Stampede.  When he got to Calgary he didn’t know where the Fair Grounds were, so he walked around for a while and then discovered that the fair grounds were real close to the railway station.  When he left the railway station he checked his suitcase into the lockers, and then when he returned at night he would get his suitcase, and find a deserted box car, change into his old clothes he had brought and sleep over night.  The next morning he would change back into his good clothes, go into the rest room to shave and wash up and then check his suitcase in a locker again.  This way he had a great time, without having to spend a lot of money.  He said he went mostly to the display part of the fair.  (And I will just add that he still loves to do this, and he doesn’t like to spend a lot of money.)

He went on another nice trip one summer with his good friends Leo Whitelock, Horace and Floyd Birch.  They went to Waterton on the train.  They missed the bus that would have taken them into Waterton, but they got a ride with a man that ran a horse ranch and he was taking supplies on his truck for his ranch.  This ranch was located on this side of Lake Linnit, and they had cabins for rent there.  So the boys got a cabin and stayed there.  At night when the cowboys came in they would listen to them tell their interesting tales. They walked up to the town of Waterton and went swimming and many other interesting things also going to the dances at night.  They stayed about a week.

Bill took many parts in the Mutual Plays.  He says he can remember three plays.  One play he took the lead and Lavern Harris was the leading lady.  They took that play to Lethbridge.  He also took the part of a detective in one play and Witt Harris was the villain, at the conclusion of the play, Bill was supposed to shoot the villain.  They took this play down to Grassy Lake and when the end came and Bill grabbed out his gun and shot the villain, Jimmie Jensen jumped up in the audience and shouted, “Shoot him again.”  They usually had a dance after these plays and they did have lots of fun at the rehearsals for the plays.

Bill liked sports and was a good basketball player.  He started one year on the town league team, and then later the M Men team.  One year they won the Stake Championship, so they went to the Regional at Cardston, and lost.  They also played in Claresholm.  I always said he was the star player on the M Men team, I guess that was because I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.  Other girls thought he was pretty neat too.  I really had to watch out for myself.

Bill was called to fill a two-week Home Mission in Lethbridge one winter.  His companion was Brother Orr.  Members of the Church made arrangements for them to stay with members of the Church and eat their meals with them.  Then one of the members of that ward took them around to the members of the ward to make contact with them and to try to persuade them to bring friends to the cottage meetings that they would hold in the evenings.

Bill used to go to Lethbridge for the Sports Days.  They would go with Vernon Biglowe in light wagons or a democrat with horses.  Some of the boys would get rooms and stay overnight and some would pitch tents in the fair ground and stay there.  There would be races, broad jump, high jump etc.  Cliff Bennett topped them all.  We stopped at Chin Coulee for dinner, and we got water out of the lake for drinking.  Someone looked up and saw an old dead cow in the lake.

When the Harding Family got the Model T. Ford, they were able to go to conference in Lethbridge.  They always started out real early so they could allow plenty of time for fixing flat tires, because they always had two or three both going and coming.  This was the process for fixing flat tires.  Jacked the wheel up first, then pried the tire off the wheel, took inner tube out, found the puncture, patched it, put inner tube back in the tire, put the tire back on the wheel, and then pumped air back into it with a hand pump.  They had to be very careful about putting the inner tube back in the tire, and putting it on the rim because they could easily pinch the tube with their tools, causing another puncture.  After the meetings for that day, Bill would leave his folks in Lethbridge and come back to Taber to do the chores.  His folks would stay with friends.

When Bill was about fourteen, and a Teacher, Lethbridge Stake used to come to Taber with the Leaders or General Authorities.  (It was so hard for the Saints to find ways of traveling to Lethbridge.)  At this time Hugh B. Brown was President of the Lethbridge Stake.  His counselors were Asael Palmer and Brother Green.  At this conference meeting Bill was asked to speak his subject, “Duties of a Teacher”.

This will be a history of the positions Bill has held in the Church.  He was secretary of the Deacons Quorum, President of the Teachers Quorum, Secretary of the Priests Quorum, Group secretary of the Elders Quorum, Ordained by Heber S. Russel, on March 26, 1929.  Bill was not able to go to the conference in Lethbridge when he was to be sustained, because he had the mumps, but was ordained later in Taber by Heber Russel.  About this time he was secretary of the Mutual.  Later was called to be the second counselor to Bishop Haynes in the Mutual.

He taught a Deacons class for about two years, later he was put on a committee and was representative of the Elders Quorum as second counselor in the Genealogy Committee.

He also taught the M Men class for a while, and was called to fill the Home Mission for two weeks.  Bill was ordained a Seventy by Samuel O Bennion, 9 March 1934.  He was a Seventy for 26 years.  He was put on the committee that automatically made him first counselor in the Genealogy committee with Heber Russel as chairman.  He was also later a counselor to Alvin Bennett in the stake Genealogy.  Then he was called to be a stake Missionary.  His companions were Tom Reamsbottom, and at this time Bill and his companion were doing Missionary work just about every day in the wintertime.  He and John Evanson were companions for a while, then Burdett Hill.  He held this position for about five years.

When our wards were divided and Bishop Miller was our Bishop, he called Bill to be the Sunday School Superintendent, he was in this position for about five years, and his counselors were Alvin Jones and Albert Clark.  Alvin slipped on the ice and died later as a result of the fall.  Albert resigned and Bill chose Marlin Bennett and Jim Richards, his last counselors were Wayne Conrad and Dennis Bennett.  Bill was released from the Sunday School when Bishop Miller was released from the Bishopric.  Then about two months later he went in to the Stake Sunday School as second counselor to Harold Evanson one year as Harold was called to be a High Councilman.  Ray Bennett was put in as President of the Stake Sunday School.

When Taber Stake was created, and Clifford Pierson was Bishop, Bill was called to be his second counselor and Van VanNorman as first counselor.  Van soon left and Bill was made first counselor.  Gordon Saunders and later Mar Bodie were second counselors, Jim Pickles as Financial clerk.  Melvin Easthope was Ward Clerk.  He served about three years when Bill was called to be a High Councilman.  He held this position for five and a half years.  His companions during this time were Smelly Redd, Ross Salmon, Ray Bennett, Boyd Anderson, Linden Litchfield then Smelly Redd again.  His assignments in the high council at different times, he had ward assignments and at one time he was over the Stake Mutual and then over the Stake primary.  He visited the whole stake for the High Council about twice a year.  One year we went to conference in Salt Lake, so that Bill could attend the Primary conference.  It was a wonderful experience.

He was the Priest advisor for a time and then the Teacher advisor. He took the Teacher Trainer Course, and he has always been a Ward Teacher or a Home Teacher, and has been faithful in his assignments.  About 1974, both Bill and I were asked to be proxies for sealing at the temple and we did this for about three years.

When Bill was living home with his family he seemed to enjoy music.  He took violin lessons for a while.  He played a flute very well and was a master with the mouth organ.  His folks had an organ and he did pretty well on that.  Later he mastered the art of getting heavenly music out of a saw, playing it with a violin bow.  For all the Seventies parties and other programs he was asked to play his saw and he usually had a lot of good jokes to go along with the entertainment.

Before the Harding family got their house in town, they used to come to Church in a wagon or buggy for Sunday School and Church, then have dinner with one of their relatives, Uncle Earl, Uncle Reed or Uncle Bill.  They had church early in the afternoon so they could have an early start to get home.

About 1929, Bill’s Father purchased the 80 acres of irrigation land, and then later had a second hand house moved onto it.  1930 was the last year that the family lived at the dry farm and soon after that they sold their house in town and moved their big barn out to the new place they had bought.

Then on April 26, 1933 Bill married Jennie V. Johnson in the Cardston, Alberta Temple.

I would like to add to Bills history what I have observed about him.  He is very quiet and like his Father is not easily riled, he is very peaceable and will not take part in any hostility.  President Richard Evanson once told me that he knew that Bill had no enemies.  Shortly after this an Indian Slashed Bills throat but almost instantly Bill was forgiving the Indian and would not press charges.

He has a very good sense of humor.  He is honorable, honest and highly respected in the Church and community and a man of his word.  He is very spiritual, loves the gospel and lives to do the Lords work.  Once he said, “I would like to work in the Lords house doing the Lords work all the time.”  He has had many spiritual experiences and manifestations in his different church callings.

Once he slept in the car, so he could be close to the sprinkler and take care of it.  While he was asleep he heard his father call, “Bill, Bill.”  He quickly got up and went to the engine and found serious trouble there.

I think that because he was strictly honest in his business dealings that he expected it of others, especially when they had given their word.  It is hard for him to ask for anything, he will go without first.  However he does have a method that is very effective, and nearly always prayer is his help.  One instance I will tell you to show how he influences others.  Jim had a car and he needed some service done on it.  Bill went in with Jim to get an estimate at the garage, they gave an estimate, but when Jim got the bill it was way over the estimate so Bill went in to see them.  He didn’t say anything or ask them to explain, or get mad at them.  He just went in and stood around a long time until they finally worked it out.  This same method he often used with his children.  He never had much to say, he did not tell them they couldn’t do what they wanted to do but they all knew what their Dad expected of them and what he stood for.  You just can’t mistake the strong influence he has, just by being in his presence.  I think I always wanted to please him, but sometimes I did feel that words were necessary and that his method was not quite enough for I felt that I had inspiration too, but I did always rely on his judgment.

He always set a good example in attending Church, and being dependable and sincere in Church assignments, as well as community.  He paid his tithe honestly.  He always liked to be prompt and have plenty of time; we very seldom ever went to a meeting late.  He knows the gospel and loves to study. I always felt he could give me the correct answers concerning the Gospel.  I will sum this up by saying that he loves farming and still does.

President Evanson often related this story however he did not reveal the name of the man that it was about but I knew who it was.  We had a field of beets over at the dry farm and they were badly in need of moisture.  Bill had been cultivating them, so he got off the tractor, took his hat off and prayed to the Lord.  He told him that he had planted the beets in good faith and they needed moisture, and almost immediately rain fell heavily over that part of the field, he was soaked to the skin, he couldn’t even get the tractor out of the field, so he walked to the car, and he drove home on dry ground.

Whenever Bill planted his crops he always took his hat off in the field and asked for a blessing on his crops.  He has experienced many wonderful miracles through prayer out on the land he loved so much.  Many disappointments and failures, he experienced, but he still always trusted in the Lord and was truly forgiving to his fellow men and neighbors.  This is a great lesson to learn and maybe his descendants can see what a great man he was.  The Lord has told us that we should, “Cry over our crops, our household and our flocks.”  (By this meaning to pray over them, they are important for our sustenance in this life.)

One spring Bill had planted his beets, he decided to put some kind of spray on them that was supposed to kill the weeds and when he had finished he took his hat off and prayed to the Lord.  He told him that he had planted the beets and put the spray on in good faith and he had done the best he could and then he wanted to ask the Lord to help the beets to grow good, but he could not utter these words, and he couldn’t understand why until later he found out that the spray had killed the beets and how could the Lord grant a blessing for something that was already dead.

In the early days of our beet raising, the beets were ready to thin and Bill had no luck in getting beet workers.  He had been to town every day and several times workers would consent to come and he would go to pick them up only to find out they had taken a job with someone else.  So Bill was just desperate.  That night as he went to bed he prayed earnestly for beet workers, and no sooner had he got to bed than a knock came to the door.  It was Pete and Erma Hirsche, they were looking for a job in the beets.  They said that their boss had just called them in and paid them off and told them that they were finished so they came to our place.  We really loved these people; they stayed with us for two years.

DATES OF ALL ORDINATIONS ETC. & PRIESTHOOD LINEAGE

Married by Edward J. Wood . . . . . . . . . .. 26 Apr 1933

Baptized by Samuel S. Bennett . . . . . . .. . 16 Jul 1916

Confirmed By John E. Larson . . . . . . . . . . 16 Jul 1916

Ordained a Priest by Arthur S. Lee  . . . . ..  1 Feb 1925

Ordained an Elder by Heber S. Russel  . . . . . 26 Mar 1929

Ordained a Seventy by Samuel O. Bennion . . ..  9 Mar 1934

Ordained a High Priest by Delbert L, Stapely.  . . 11 Sep 1960

Set Apart as 1st Counselor in Bishopric by Alma E. Sonne

JESUS CHRIST
Peter, James, and John
Joseph Smith
Brigham Young Ordained an Apostle 14 Feb 1835
Joseph F. Smith Ordained an Apostle 1 Jul 1866
George Albert Smith Ordained an Apostle 8 Oct 1903
Delbert L. Stapely Ordained an Apostle 5 Oct 1950
William J. Harding Ordained a High Priest 11 Sep 1960
JESUS CHRIST
Peter, James, and John
Joseph Smith Ordained an Apostle Jun 1829
Joseph Young Ordained a Seventy 28 Feb 1835
Nathan T. Porter Ordained a Seventy 6 Oct 1844
B. H. Roberts Ordained a Seventy 8 Mar 1877
Samuel Gerrad Ordained a Seventy 20 Jul 1894
Samuel O. Bennion Ordained a Seventy 14 Mar 1904
William J. Harding Ordained a Seventy 9 Nov 1934
William J. Harding Ordained an Elder by Heber S. Russel
Heber S. Russel Who was ordained by R. A. VanOrman
R. A. VanOrman Who was ordained by Hyrum Smith
Hyrum Smith Who was ordained by Joseph F. Smith
Joseph F. Smith Who was ordained by Brigham Young
Brigham Young Who was ordained by Oliver Cowdry, David Whitmer & Martin Harris
Oliver Cowdry, David Whitmer & Martin Harris Who were ordained by Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith Who was ordained by Peter, James and John
Peter, James and John Who were ordained by JESUS CHRIST
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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: James Edward Harding « Family History Fun

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