James Henry Harden
1858-1929

Biographical Sketch On The Life Of James H. Harden

    The subject of this sketch was born June 27, 1858, at Winnsboro, S. C., and died at Gadsden, Ala., May 29, 1929.

    He left surviving him his widow, Leila Varnon Harden, and two children­̶̵ a son, J. A. Harden, and a daughter, Mrs. Susie Conner. During his young manhood he became skeptical; but while wandering in the wilderness of doubt and skepticism he had the good fortune to meet the beautiful and talented Miss Leila Varnon at Ocala, Fla., who afterwards became his wife and lifelong partner. Under her influence and the brilliant preaching of our brother, J. A. Harding, he was led into the straight and narrow way, which he ever after traveled to the end of his days with joy. Having put his hand to the plow, he never looked back, but followed the furrow to the end.

    In 1887, soon after his marriage, he moved from Ocala, Fla., to Gadsden, Ala., and became secretary and treasurer of the Elliott Car Company. He at once became an active and enthusiastic leader in all the work of the church. Through his influence many of our ablest preachers were brought to Gadsden and held meetings, and in this way the small congregation here was encouraged and strengthened. He remained in Gadsden some ten or twelve years, and from here went to Nashville, Tenn., where he acquired an interest in the Gospel Advocate Publishing Company and served as its auditor for two years. While living in Nashville he established a congregation at Waverly Place, which is now a large and flourishing church, and no doubt many members of that church still remember his zealous efforts in establishing that congregation.

    From Nashville he went to Memphis, Tenn., where he was manager of a plant of the Elliott Car Company operated there. Although he was there only about one year, he found time to establish a congregation in Memphis, which is now the Union Avenue Church of Christ, and the zeal and good work of that congregation is known far and wide.

    From Memphis he went to Anniston, Ala., for a time, and from Anniston he came back to Gadsden in 1906, where he continued to live until his death. He was always engaged in some secular business, but, nevertheless, found time to devote to the advancement of the cause of Christ, and he had remarkable power of leadership in this work.

    The church at Gadsden was at the time of his return a small, struggling congregation without a house of worship. He was instrumental in building up and strengthening the church here, and it was through his zeal and enthusiastic leadership that a lot was bought and a place of worship erected. He contributed liberally of his means to the erection of the building and thereafter to the support of the church. For many years he was leader of the congregation without compensation. This church is now a thriving and influential congregation under the able leadership of Brother Carl G. Smith, who preaches for it regularly. Brother Harden always contributed more to the church according to his means than the average man. He not only contributed of his means, but he gave liberally of his time and talents as well. Whatever his hands found to do he did with might and zeal, and he left his impress upon all classes with whom he came in contact. He was kind, courteous, and princely in his intercourse with all classes; yet he was firm and unswerving in his convictions. All who knew him admired and loved him. He had a busy and eventful career and was a remarkable man. His like will not soon be seen again. His influence made a great impression on the writer and her three sons, who came into the church under his guidance. He will always be warmly remembered by the Gadsden congregation. His death was quiet and peaceful, and "let us believe that in the silence of the receding world he heard the great waves breaking on the farther shore and felt already on his brow the breath of the eternal morning."

-Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo Boles, GA, c.1932

Location Of The Grave Of J.H. Harden

James H. Harden is buried in the Forrest Cemetery in Gadsden, Alabama. Between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama, take I-59 to Gadsden, Alabama and take the Hwy. 431/278 Exit at Attalla and head SE toward Gadsden. After entering Gadsden turn right on 12th St. Go a few blocks and turn right on Chestnut St. Go 3 or 4 blocks and turn left on 15th St. You will see you are in front of the Cemetery. Go into the main entrance. You will see the Chapel/Office straight ahead. Bear to the right and go to the second turn to the left. After turning left go to the second section on the left. It will be in Section 3 Block 6.

Forrest Cemetery
700 S 15th St
Gadsden, AL 35901
(256) 549-4693

GPS Coordinates
N34º 00.750' x WO 86º 01.631'
Grave Facing East
Section 3, Block 6
Four Rows From NW Cnr. Of Section


James Henry Harden
Born Winnsboro, S.C.
1858-1929
Beneath The Verdant Grassy Sod
Sleeps The Dust Of A Man Of God
He Blessed The World Through Which He Passed
Righteous And Hopeful To The Last


Leila V. Harden
Mar. 21, 1859
Mar. 19, 1948

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