Volume 1, Number 7 - Spring 1963

Harry D. Harding

Harry D. Harding

I was born in Mitchell, South Dakota, in 1887, the son of James Harding and Clara Drake Harding. My father and mother moved in 1889 from South Dakota to the old Harding farm on top of the bluff overlooking Rockaway Beach, where I now live (but not in the original farmhouse). My father died in 1921, and my mother (who was related to the Sir Francis Drake family) died in 1950. Both are buried in the Mountain Grove Cemetery not far from the old homestead here.

I went to the School of the Ozarks in 1908. My brothers and sisters are as follows:
Jessie-now Mrs. Joe Gideon of Forsyth, Mo.
Agnes-now Mrs. Jack Lambeth of Forsyth, Mo.
Sarah-now Mrs. Mayo of Clayton, N. Mex.
James Harding, Jr.-Long Beach Road, Branson, Mo.
Hobart Harding-Jericho Springs, Mo.

I attended school too at the Mountain Grove school at McKinney Bend. When Powersite Dam was started in 1911 I went to work "pushing barges" for them - that is, they used me as a pilot since I knew the river channel so well.

I offered my services to my country in the First World War. After the War I worked in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but was called home in 1921 because of the illness and death of my father. I then started working for Mrs. Willard Merriam of Rockaway Beach, wiring cottages, building electric plants, pump houses, and then we built the large dance pavilion and wired it. I also built the electric power line which came into Rockaway Beach for Mrs. Merriam, and that was in 1925.

How well I remember that Mr. Willard Merriam first came to Rockaway Beach in a motor boat with George Johnson, one of the old-timers here who then lived in a boathouse at Branson. They tied up to a huge tree by the great live springs, and that location is now in the triangle of land on the front adjoining Mrs. Vernon Casey's home. The old tree is still standing. Mr. Merriam purchased 60 acres or more from the Renshaw family. This was about 1914, and Mr. Merriam represented the firm of Merriam, Ellis & Benton of Kansas City, Kansas. The big spring was called "Snake" Spring in the olden days.

One of the cottages built by the Merriams and now known as Brookside Bungalows was on the main street, right across from the dance pavilion. This cottage was purchased from the Merriams by Col. Frank Guyton who in turn gave it to Cap Bill and Betty Roberts. Through the years the improved and enlarged it and it was known as Capt. Bill's Hotel.

Col. Guyton had come to Rockaway Beach in his big boat, of which Bill Roberts was the Captain. Thus he earned the name, Captain Bill, which stuck with him through the years. Capt. Bill and Betty first lived in Rose Cottage, east of Hotel Taneycomo, and the first Sunday School in Rockaway Beach was held in the large cottage known as "Lazy Days" just east of Hotel Taneycomo.

Harry D. Harding as a young man in Taney County, Mo.

Harry D. Harding as a young man in Taney County, Mo.


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