Walking the paths family members did when their work began impacting the world from a West Tennessee college town, N. B. Hardeman’s granddaughter, Joanne Powers Bradshaw, and relatives from Georgia and Texas met in Henderson April 28, 2016. In addition to being welcomed by FHU faculty, staff and students, family members were greeted by Henderson Mayor Bobby King and several life-long friends.
Family members who arrived that morning began their day at the Henderson City Cemetery. It is where Hardeman, his wife, Joanna Tabler Hardeman, her parents, Eliza and Ephraim Tabler, and other family members are buried. A marker, perhaps the oldest in the graveyard, bears the name of Archibald McCorkle, a Revolutionary War veteran. McCorkle was the grandfather of Ephraim Newton Tabler, whose daughter, Joanna, married Hardeman. “Archibald,” Bradshaw said, “was always a part of our family history.”
Leaving Church Street, the family traveled to Freed-Hardeman for daily chapel, which included reading two of Hardeman’s favorite verses, I Corinthians 14:40 and I John 3:2. Dr. Greg Massey, FHU history professor, presented the program following the devotional. He shared correspondence and stories of three Freed-Hardeman alumni who maintained communication with President Hardeman after they left the college. After sharing details of their accomplishments, questions and lives, Massey summarized, “The most important thing about this school is relationships. What can only make this school transcendent and important are the relationships in Christ.”
Following chapel, family and friends met at Old Main, which was built by Hardeman and A.G. Freed in 1908 to house National Teachers Normal and Business College. The University Chorale performed in the lobby of Old Main under the direction of Dr. Gary McKnight. Following updates from Dr. Milton Sewell concerning plans for restoring the historic building, guests spent time in Chapel Hall, where daily chapel was once held.
Following lunch in the Hope Barber Shull Academic Resource Center, family and friends visited at the Hardeman House, where Hardeman lived 1915-54. Bradshaw and her family also lived in the house for a while in the 1930s.
Bradshaw attended Freed-Hardeman College’s primary department as a child and graduated from the two-year college in 1949. She continued her studies at Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis) and the University of Tennessee Pharmacy College, Memphis. She worked as a pharmacist until she married and began her family. She now lives in Atlanta.
“It’s amazing how much she remembers,” Joanne’s granddaughter, Emily Bradshaw, said. “I always heard a lot of stories about her life growing up here. She learned to swim at Chickasaw, and now I spend time there, also.”
Emily just completed her freshman year at FHU. She continues her family’s connection with a small West Tennessee town that still creates relationships that change the world.