The Harding House

Ellen Snell Coleman, the Summer of 1984

When Giles Scales Harding and Mary Hollowell Blackman married they moved
to their two story log house. It was located in the Blackman area just off
the Manson Pike. This house served the family well for many years.

Sometime before the War between the States, Mr. Harding decided to build a fine brick home for his family. He planned his house to excel that of his Uncle John Harding’s home “Belle Meade” mansion in Davidson County.

Mr. Harding had the brick made on his farm and all his plans were made to build his brick mansion, but the War started and that shattered all Mr. Harding’s plans for building his fine brick home.

When the Union soldiers first arrived at the Harding house, they immediately took all the bricks which Mr. Harding had planned to use for building his new home. The Union soldiers used the brick for breast work to protect their own soldiers.

This 1984 rendering of the second Harding House, by local historian Jim Matheny, is on the September 18, 1895 photo of Mrs. Harding sitting on the porch with daughter Julia standing.

One day several Northern soldiers came to Mr. Harding’s home, put a rope around his neck and were ready to hang him on a tree, but several Union officers rode up just in time to save his life. They told their soldiers to “turn that man loose, that he had not done anything to cause him to be hanged. ” The soldiers obeyed their superior officers and Mr. Harding went free.

The Union soldiers took Mrs. Harding’s chickens and geese and her smokehouse keys. To get meat from the smokehouse she would have to ask the soldiers for her keys. She was a small lady and very spunky. She would fuss
at them and tell them she had to have meat from the smokehouse for her children. Often they would dangle the keys over her head and she would have to jump up to grab the keys and argue with them.

Before the Union soldiers came to take Mr. Harding’s horses, Mrs. Harding went to the barn and wrapped a cloth around the ankle of her favorite horse. The Union soldiers came and took all the horses except the one with the wrapped ankle.

Finally the Union soldiers took over the Harding house and used it for a hospital for their wounded soldiers. The Harding family was forced to leave their home, Mrs. Harding took her children and went to her parents home. Her parents were Alfred Blackman and Elizabeth Crawford Blackman. The Blackman community was named for Mrs. Harding’s father Alfred Blackman.

One day when the Yankee soldiers were using the Harding house for their hospital they made a mistake and fired a cannon ball into the parlor and killed several of their own soldiers who had been wounded and were lying on the floor around the wall. The cannon ball also hit the leg of the Harding’s grand piano which was in the parlor. The soldiers called it the wounded piano.

After the war was over the Harding family came back to their home. All the Union soldiers had gone except one. He was too weak to leave. His comrades left him in one of the rooms of the Harding house. None of the older members of the Harding family wanted to go near the Yankee soldier, but Mrs. Harding said she did not want anyone to starve in her house even if he was a Yankee. She made her daughter Ellen Amy take food and water to the soldier. As soon as he gained enough strength he left. When he started to leave he said he had a 2% dollar gold piece and he wanted to give it to Ellen Amy. The family said no indeed they would not allow her to accept it. After the soldier insisted they let her take it. The 2% dollar gold piece was dated 1851.

When Ellen Amy became a young lady she had the jeweler in Murfreesboro set the 2% dollar gold piece in the center of a silver medallion which was given to her by her great Uncle John Harding of “Belle Meade”. The silver medallion was from the saddle of Ellen Amy’s great grandfather, Giles Harding Sr. He used the saddle during the Revolutionary War. His initials (GH) were engraved on the medallion.

The jeweler added a pin to the medallion with the 2% dollar gold piece in the center. Ellen Amy used it as a pin or a belt buckle the rest of her life. When she died her daughter Willie May Hill, who married Thomas Blackman Snell,
received the pin, and now Willie May’s daughter Ellen Snell Coleman has it. She is proud to have the pin not only because it was made from a relic of the Revolutionary War, and a relic from the Civil War, but also because it was
cherished by her grandmother and her mother as long as each of them lived.

Several years after the war was over some of the Yankee soldiers came back to Murfreesboro to view the battlegrounds. Some of them took pictures of Mrs. Harding’s piano, and had the picture of the piano put on post cards and sold the cards. They called it the wounded piano. The post cards were made for them by Blumenthal and Becker, Publisher, in Murfreesboro. Many of the cards were sold by the merchants in Murfreesboro.

The old two story log house as well as the family went through many trials and tribulations during the war. The house and the family stood through it all until the late 1870’s, when someone set a cedar bucket of hot ashes outside and that caused the house to burn.

By the 1870’s Mr. Harding had given up the idea of building a brick mansion. Three of their daughters had married, one infant daughter had died, and one young son was kicked by a horse and died.

When the old two story house burned, Mr. Harding replaced it with a frame house.

Mr. Harding died in 1892, Mrs. Harding lived until August 8, 1913.

Mr. Davis Garvin who was a Union soldier came back to Murfreesboro several years after the war to view the old battlefield.

He went by the Harding home to apologize to Mrs. Harding for taking her chickens and geese during the war. The Hardings accepted his apology and showed him their southern hospitality.

Many years later Mr. Garvin come back to Murfreesboro and courted the youngest Harding daughter, Julia Harding. They were married October 8, 1910. The Harding family liked Mr. Garvin and said he was a good man. Julia and Mr. Garvin lived with her mother until Mrs. Harding died in 1913. After Mrs. Harding’s death Julia and Mr. Garvin moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and lived there the rest of their lives.

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