Born in 1875, James T. Hardin Sr. spent more than half of his 93 years in Holly Springs, raising his 11 children, and for much of that time serving as a city councilman and mayor.
More than 40 years after Hardin’s death in 1969, the Holly Springs City Council chose him to be the namesake of the pavilion at the Holly Springs Train Depot in September. They will have a naming ceremony Monday at 10 a.m.
Hardin’s daughter-in-law, Frances Hardin, said Thursday that naming the pavilion for him was a fitting honor for a man who gave to the community without asking for anything in return.
“It’s quite a distinction to have something named for a family that never expected to get anything,” she said.
Hardin said her father-in-law came to Holly Springs before 1906 from the Dahlonega area where he worked in the mines. But when he arrived in Holly Springs, which hadn’t yet been incorporated, he quickly made it his home and was active there for the rest of his life.
For many years, Hardin’s home sat just across the street from the Train Depot and now houses the Ivy Garden Gift Boutique, but is still commonly referred to as the Hardin House.
Frances Hardin, who is also an area native, said Hardin also ran businesses near the depot.
“He was a blacksmith and when he came to Holly Springs he set up his blacksmith shop right there in the vicinity of the pavilion,” she said. “So he and his 11 children left a lot of tracks where that pavilion is. He had a corn mill there also.”
Holly Spring City Manager Rob Logan said Thursday that considering Hardin’s strong presence in this area of the city, naming the pavilion was certainly “appropriate.”
On top of his business endeavors, Frances Hardin said her father-in-law was also well known for his public service and volunteer work, as were his children.
Hardin’s whole family had a soft spot for those less fortunate than them, she said.
This was illustrated during the Great Depression when many Americans were out of work and took to riding the rails across the country, looking for their place.
Frances Hardin said some of these “hobos” would come into the depot and set out looking for food, often finding it at the Hardin House.
“People said that if a hobo found food at a particular house, he would somehow leave a mark so that other hobos would know they could get food there,” Frances Hardin said. “The back porch at the Hardin House was always a place that the hobos could come and get the leftovers from the Hardin meals.”
Frances Hardin said it was important to her father-in-law to help others through life, but even when life ended, he sometimes found himself still helping.
“The word was passed around that if somebody couldn’t afford a casket he would make a casket,” she said.
But even with so many years — more than 50 — of living in Holly Springs and helping many, Frances Hardin said her father-in-law never looked for thank-you’s.
“The Hardins were always here-and-now people and they didn’t talk about the past,” she said. “This was a family that were strong contributors to the community. I think that was foremost in their mind. Doing without something was never something they talked about. They just took what they had and fashioned it into something that was a contribution to the community.”