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Click on hyperlinks below to go to following sections:

photo gallery

stories about him: reminiscences

historical documentation (census, draft registration etc): paper trail

info on 3rd wife Della Hodges: Della

link to transcription of recorded conversation with his sister: Transcription

links to letters by him: (to be added)

links to letters mentioning him or about him:Hardison Letters


William Leland Hardison

Leland in the country, Bill in the city

8-16-1895 to 6-25-1965



1893-Sally Hooper Mecklin


1896-Hyman Franklin Hardison (died 1897)


1900-Noah Thomas Hardison


1904-Mary Lou Cyril Barnett Foutch


1906-Vinas Rosamon Hardison


1909-Paul Craig Hardison

married 9-29-1920


Cora Koepke

divorced, remarried

4-8-1928 to

Lyda Sue Sims

widowed and remarried to

Della Hodges


(by Lyda Sue)


 one boy

 one girl


Born in TN, Leland left home to join the "Punitive Expedition" on the Mexican border (US National Guard troops vs. Pancho Villa), then was stationed at Rock Island Arsenal during WWI (where he married Cora). After his discharge his moved to Chicago, where he raised his children. After Lyda's death he married Della Hodges, moved to Arkansas, and bought a farm.


G.W. Hardison


Ida Tennessee Avery

spouse's parents:

John P. Sims


Effie Ann Amos

maternal grandparents:

William A.G. Avery and Sarah Rosamon


paternal grandparents:

Asa Hardison and Clara Robeson

maternal aunts & uncles:

c.1865-Charles Avery; c.1868-Sam Avery;1870-Laura Avery Warmath; 1878-Tom Avery; Joe Avery


paternal aunts & uncles:

Mary Ann Hardison, Sally Clark, Noah T. Hardison, Sophie Elizabeth, James H. HardisonAsa Biggs Hardison; Jessie Hyman Hardison, Louisa Robertson, John Franklin Hardison, Fannie Harwell, Alonzo Edwin Hardison


Click on image to enlarge. Once enlarged, to zoom, move cursor to right of image, back onto image, and click again.

Leland, his father GW Hardison, Noah, Sally, mother Ida T. (i.d. by Mary Lou)

zoom on the people of previous shot

attempt to remove some of the blemishes

labeled by Mary Lou: my brother Leland and his lady friends before he was married, when he was in the service

William Leland, I think

William Leland Hardison

1919 honorable discharge papers. Most easily viewed by clicking to enlarge, then print. Or enlarge, then zoom and scroll around

other side of honorable discharge

with first wife Cora Koepke, back of photo stamped Davenport, Iowa

Leland and 1st wife Cora (according to Mary Lou, but LCH not so sure)

Leland and Cora, again according to Mary Lou with LCH not so sure

photo postcard labeled "Bill Hardison"

Leland on left, according to Mary Lou

Leland, his mother Ida T, probably Paul Craig Hardison, Mary Lou Hardison Barnett Foutch

Della and William Leland with granddaughter 1960

Della, granddaughter, Wm Leland

May 1963: Paul, Vinas, Noah, Leland, in for funeral of their sister Mary Lou's first husband, Herschell Barnett

Leland, his mother Ida T, his third wife Della Hodges Hardison

William Leland, Don, Gordon and Joe

Wm Leland, but I'm not sure who the baby is

Reminiscence by his son

(mostly taken from a conversation tape recorded in 1998)

            He was called Bill in the city (Chicago) and Leland in the country (in TN or Arkansas).

            William Leland said that the first Hardison of his line arrived in the US in 1640 as a bond servant with a 20 year contract, landing at Old Kittery, Maine. From whom he got this information he did not say.

            He said that he ran away from home at about 14 years old, because he didn't want to be a farmer, and he didn't want to be a hardshell Baptist. (When asked about this, his sister Mary Lou said he didn't really run away--he just wasn't home much. She gave the impression that he hired out to other farmers, doing the same things he did at home, perhaps saving his money.) At some point he joined the Service, not sure what branch of the military, most likely the militia, and ended up serving under General Black Jack Pershing, chasing Pancho Villa on the Mexican border in Texas.

            He didn't speak of his first wife, Cora Koepke, but he did tell a story of courting a Mexican girl from a very good family. He got as far as being invited home to meet her parents. Trying to impress, he pulled out the chair for her mother and offered in his best Spanish, "Please, have a toilet."

            He said he was honorably discharged after falling down a well and breaking his leg (but no record of this has been found). He served in WWI at Rock Island Arsenal, where he apparently met first wife, Cora Koepke. What became of her and the marriage he didn't say, but his brother Vinas recalled that for a time she lived with him in Chicago. Vinas knew Cora.

            Lyda Sue Sims was his second wife. Until the 1990s, Leland's son was not aware that they both his parents had grown up in Friendship, TN, and so did not know how they met. When they married he was an insurance adjuster, but he lost the job when the Depression hit the company. Sometimes, especially when times were hard, he would stay out at the bars for hours, upsetting Lyda Sue. He also swore like a trooper, indiscriminately, in polite society or crude, in public or private, embarrassing Lyda Sue.

            He finally got good work again in 1941 (for a while during the Depression he was a ditch digger with the WPA) as the country geared up for WWII. He became an electrical inspector for Pullman Corporation, building Liberty Ships (smallish cargo ships for carrying supplies and munitions, too small to be a great loss if sunk, but big enough to be worthwhile). He got the job because at some point before he was an insurance adjuster he was an electrical designer.

            After the war he worked for the Tuthill Pump Company (pronounced Tut-hill) on the South Side of Chicago, as Quality Control Inspector. He eventually became Union Steward and his was a radical union (United Electrical Union?). He hated Tuthill yet he stayed on until he retired. Anyone who'd been through the Depression never let go of a paying job.

        Before he retired he supplemented his income as a watchman at the B.A. Railton Restaurant Supply Company. One of the perks was that he got damaged gallon cans of food cheap. Just after his son married, Leland often brought food. A gallon can of peaches, in particular, stuck in the memory of both his son and his son's wife.

            In 1958 his wife entered the hospital complaining of shortness of breath. It was determined that fluid had built up around her heart and an operation was attempted to correct this, but she did not survive the operation.

            When William Leland retired he bought a farm in Arkansas and raised cows. In Arkansas he married again, to school teacher Della Hodges.

            He died of a stroke in 1965. He'd had a small stroke about six months before, for which he went into the hospital. Though he showed no signs afterward--if anything looking healthier--he said he could feel that his mind wasn't as sharp, that he'd never be the same again. His next stroke was massive. His son went to Arkansas, to the hospital, where Leland lay in a coma for three or four days before he died. Not a quiet coma, but one in which his muscles were always twitching, and every breath sounded like a struggle. Labored breathing, his son said, was too mild to describe it. William Leland never regained consciousness, and his son was there when he died.


Letter excerpt

from his sister, Mary Lou, 8-14-1998 in response to query regarding a story that the Hardison brothers enlisted together to fight in the first world war. She responds regarding the second world war: "Leland did not go over seas and they all did not enlist together. Paul was only in the Army after the war. What I think happened was Vinas enlisted because his 2 sons, Harold and Wilford, were in the Service and he wanted to get in there because they were in there. I have a picture where all three were made together in uniform. As far as I remember, Leland was not in Service when the war was on. He joined before them, but it was not the real army or navy, but it was a Service. I think what they called the Service that Leland belong was called the malicia [militia]. I'm not sure that's the way to spell it but as I remember he was not in at the time of war."


Paper Trail in Official Documents


1900 census, Crockett County TN, Civil District 10:

George W. Hardison, 40, born Apr 1860 in TN of parents born in NC, married 7 years, farmer.

Wife Ida T. 24, born Jan 1876 in Missouri of parents born in TN, married 7 years, mother of four of whom three are living.

Daughter Sallie J. 6, born Oct. 1893 in TN.

Son William L. 4, born Aug 1895 in TN.

Son Noah, two months, born March 1900 in TN.

Brother-in-law Joseph T. Avery, 19, born July 1880 in TN of parents born in TN, single, farm labor.


1910 census, Lauderdale County TN, Halls:

Geo Hardison, farmer, age 49, born in TN of parents born in NC, married 17 years.

Wife Ida, 34, born in Missouri of parents born in TN (column for kids born/kids surviving is blank).

Son Leland, age 14.

Son Noah, age 10.

Daughter Mary L, age 6.

Son "Minas" (Vinas), age 3.

Son Paul C, age one month.


1917 draft registration:

Leland Hardison, age 21, address Rt. 1, Friendship TN, Crockett County (also born there). Born 8-16-1895, farming. Medium height with blue eyes and brown hair. Previous military service: 2 and a half years as private in infantry in Arkansas.


1930 census, Chicago, Dist. 1330:

William Hardison, age 34, married at 32, born in TN of parents born in TN, investigator--insurance

Wife Lida S, age 29, married at 27, TN-TN-TN

Son *** C, age 1, born in IL


Social Security Death index: William Hardison, born 8-16-1895, died June 1965 in Arkansas.


Obituary from the Jackson Sun, 6-27-1965:

W.L. Hardison Dies In Arkansas. Services for W.L. (Bill) Hardison of Melbourne, Ark., will b today at 2 p.m. at the Melbourne Church of Christ. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

    Mr. Hardison died Friday at the Batesville Ark. Clinic. He was 69.

    He was reared in Crockett County, near Friendship, son of the late G.W. Hardison and Ida Hardison. he was a member of the Masonic Lodge, a veteran of World War I, and a member of the Church of Christ.

    He leaves his widow, Mrs. Della Hardison, a daughter, Mrs. Bill ** of Denver, Colo; a son, *** Hardison of Wisconsin; two sisters, Mrs. Herschel Barnett of Medina and Mrs. P.W. Mecklin of Memphis; three brothers, Paul Hardison of Medina, V.R. Hardison of Chicago, and N.T. Hardison of Memphis; and nine grandchildren.


Death certificate

Place of death: North Arkansas Clinic, Batesville, Arkansas, Independence County. Usual residence: farm outside city limits, Melbourne, Arkansas. Date of death: 6-25-1965. Date of birth: 8-16-1895. Age: 69 yrs. Usual occupation: retired farmer. Birthplace: Tennessee. Father's name: Geo. W. Hardison. Mother's name: Ida T. Avery. Was deceased ever in US Armed Forces: Yes, WWI.  Informant: Della Hardison of Melbourne. Cause of death: cerebral hemorrhage due to (I don't know--looks like RT hemiplagia). Other significant conditions: acute myocardial (last word illegible, might say "infarction"?) Doctor attended from May 30 to June 25, last saw alive June 25 at 10:45 a.m. Signature of doctor illegible. Burial 6-27-65 Combs Cemetery, Melbourne, Arkansas, Melbourne Funeral Home.

Della Hodges:

To read letters written by Della, click here: Hardison Letters


11-17-1980 letter from WL's granddaughter to her parents: "I saw Della this weekend! I finally made it down there. She's a lot like I remembered her, but not as strong. She's kind of shaky since her shoulder broke and she was driving up until then but hasn't been since. We went to her church and she had a neighbor drive and bring her wheelchair. She started out introducing me as Bill's granddaughter from St. Louis and ended up just calling me her granddaughter from St. Louis. Evidently she hadn't made it out to church since the accident.

    We went through her paintings and photos. She said she has one of you in a navy suit that you gave Grandpa before they were married and she wants you to have it, but couldn't find it.

    It seems like between the neighbors, who all seemed to be related, she has someone stay there every night and somehow they manage to get dinner cooked for her. I guess she's doing okay, but it's hard to say from a Saturday to a Sunday. She can't write letters yet, but sure loves to get them and has Gina answer some of them. Gina is her grandniece or something like that..."

Della died 3-24-1990.