Remembering John Hadden

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who was John Hadden? How does he have significance for today?

John Hadden, if he were alive today, would be 115 years old. He was born in 1875 and died in 1969 at the age of 94. His grandfather came to Ontwa Township from New York and brought his family to this sparsely populated countryside in 1868. They settled on a farm at the edge of Edwardsburg and three generations farmed the land. John Hadden tilled the land for 55 years and then retired to a desk job.

He became a justice of the peace. Later he served Ontwa Township for 20 years as township supervisor and he was a member of the school board, on the board of the Methodist Church and a chaplain of the Masonic Lodge for 20 years.

He learned to read when he was 4 years old and at 16 he was needed on the farm so he left school. He attended the school that stood on the corner of Lake and Church streets.

Parents had to furnish the books for students and a slate to write their lessons on which could be purchased at the village drug store. Hadden said that everyone went to school barefoot until cold weather and then they would go to Mr. Vaughn or Mr. Parrish’s Boot Shop and were measured for a pair of copper-toed boots.

Later he entered Benton Harbor Business School. He rode the interurban train from Benton Harbor to Niles and walked the 11 miles home.

In 1897 he was asked to teach at a one room school which he did for two years at the salary of $25 a month teaching all eight grades.

Hadden told the stories of the village at the turn of the century, where everyone had a pig. Yards were fenced in and cows were turned loose in the town. The cow population was 43. U.S. 12 was heavily traveled and was not graveled until 1912, The town had seven doctors and 35 cents was the standard charge for an office visit and $2 for a housecall and a prescription.

In his later years Hadden moved to the Village and lived on Church Street. The desk he used as Justice of the Peace is in the Edwardsburg Museum.

He and his wife Inez Smith had no children but he was always helping the youth of the community having raised and educated several young people.   He loved to tell stories of the area to school children

Why is John Hadden important to the community today? His family farm on US 12 is the location of the new sports complex according to the plat book of 1872. A fitting use for the land his family farmed for many years and a tribune to his dedication and concern for educating young people of the community.

John Hadden, a name to remember.