Harding, Jacob

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                                    Celebrating 99th Birthday
                                         By Monica Inman

A former Tabusintac man has just marked his 99th birthday. "It feels pretty good to be 99," said Jacob Price Harding, now of Plaster Rock. "Oh, sometimes I get feeling a little poorly, but I take my aches and pains to the Lord and I always manage to come out of it," he added with a smile.

Jacob Price Harding was born on Dec. 8, 1895 in Tabusintac, N.B. to Charles and Settira (Price) Harding, a brother to Bill and Harris. Other siblings were: Blanche, Douglas, Elbridge, and twin girls, Brenda and Alice. Of the eight, Jacob is the only one left.

He was raised in Tabusintac and went to work in the woods at a young age, and that was his education. "There were no pencil jobs back then, and no education was needed," he said. "I went to school a couple of days in my sister's place in the third or fourth reader, when the weather was too bad to work in the woods," he joked.

At 19, Harding joined the North Shore Regiment and served in England during World War I. From 1914-18 he was on guard in the stand-in army. He returned to the Miramichi in 1919, and was glad to be back home where he enjoyed getting together with friends and family members.

Harding cherishes fond memories of having attended basket socials as a young man. At such gatherings, the young men would bid on pies and baskets of home cooking offered by young ladies. "If you wanted to eat with a certain girl, you had to bid quite high sometimes for her basket," he said. "I remember paying $15 for a certain basket when I was 19." Harding also loved going to dances, and recalls many that were held for all ages at the "Cove", near his home on the Miramichi. It was to one of those dances that he took Mary Ann, his wife of 71 years, on their first date.

"Oh, yes, I used to be a ‘bad cat’", he said with grin. "And I don't smooth anything over. I used to drink, smoke and loved going to dances. But then when I got married, I got straightened around." He and Mary Ann were married in 1923 and moved their family from ‘Tabby’ to Plaster Rock in 1927. Jacob's brother, Bill, moved his family to Plaster Rock in 1929. He and Bill were always inseparable. (Bill passed away at 102 in February.)

"Bill and I were always like one person. He learned me how to chop down a tree, and learned me on the log drive." Harding talked of how he and Bill worked together on the pond at Fraser’s Mill, Plaster Rock, in the summer time and in the woods in the winter. They often had to walk 30 miles home to visit their families every two weeks in the winter. "We'd walk out on Saturday, and back Sunday night. We didn't mind it at all. We were young then, now I can hardly walk to the road!"

Sleigh rides were a favourite among the Harding family when they were growing up. "We'd load the sleigh with the young ones and head out to Crombie, about seven miles away," Jacob Harding said as he reminisced of visiting good friends, the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Briggs. "We'd have a nice visit, and she always made us a lovely lunch. Them were the good old days," he said with a chuckle. Harding smiles as he recalled driving the sleighs and hearing the sound of sleigh bells ringing. He has always loved horses and owned quite a few throughout his life. This summer he was delighted to get the chance to watch work being done by his great-great-nephew, Kent King, and Kent's horse, Fred. "It felt great to be out there," Harding said as he spoke of being on Ben Reed's woodlot in St. Almo, not far from Harding's Plaster Rock home.

Harding enjoys life and is thankful for his good health. He continues to read the Bible daily, which he does without the need for glasses. He has only two little things to "grumble" about, his hearing aid is not working good, and he can't get up onto his feet as easily as he used to. But he is still able to get around very well on his own.

A large crowd helped Jacob Harding mark his 99th birthday on Dec. 8. Among the 50-60 visitors welcomed into the Harding home was their daughter and her husband who travelled from Tabusintac. "We love to see them all come, from the young to the old", said Mrs. Harding, Mary Ann. Jacob enjoyed having everyone drop in for his birthday celebration. He attributes his well-being to always having people around, but at age 99, he feels his time is getting shorter. "I can't stay on this earth much longer, cause I'm starting to wear out. You know that happens after a while. But no matter how old a person gets, you have to keep friendly with everyone," he said with a smile.

                                     Hardings raised 11 children

Jacob and Mary Ann Harding raised a family of 11. They have 23 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and 6 great-great-grandchildren.

Source: Miramichi Leader – December 20, 1994


                                       JACOB P. HARDING
                        Good Friends & Good Cooking Behind Longer Life
                                       By Monica Inman

Jacob Harding says he has lived to 100 because of good cooking and good friends. He said he attributes his longevity to having so many friends and loved ones. He gives credit, also, to his good cook and wife, and to Stephen Rabatich, his good friend and doctor of the past 48 years.

Harding was born in Tabusintac, but moved his family to Plaster Rock in 1927.

He has always been a hard worker, having started working in the woods at the age of 14. Even after officially retiring at 75, he continued to help his sons in the woods.

Mr. Harding has always loved horses, and working with them in the woods was one thing in particular that made his work so enjoyable. Every chance he gets, Harding manages to swing any conversation he is part of around to talk of his horses. In answer to being questioned about owning a car, he replied, "I've never owned a car and never wanted one." He proudly added, "I've always travelled by wagon or by sleigh with good smart horses."

Harding stays amazingly young, and is able to walk without any type of aid. He continues daily readings of the Bible without the need for glasses. Harding enjoys reciting passages from the Bible. He's also able to recite his regimental number from having been in the North Shore Regiment in World War I. He served in the stand-in army on guard in England from 1914-18.

                              Kick not quite as high at 100 years old

Tabusintac native Jacob Harding turned 100 on Dec. 8. "I can hardly believe I'm 100," Harding said with a chuckle. He now lives in Plaster Rock. Asked how it feels to be 100, he said that it feels great. "The only thing I find different about being a hundred is that I can't kick as high or dance as hard as I used to."

On Dec. 6, about 200 people gathered around Mr. Harding with singing and prayer at the First Apostolic Pentecostal Church, Plaster Rock. Harding has been a member of the church since 1933.

An open house was held by Harding's family on Dec. 10, at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall in Plaster Rock. Harding enjoyed greeting friends and family members - from his own rocker which the family brought to the hall for his comfort. Mary Ann, his wife of 73 years, sat beside him in her rocker. Others in the reception line were Myrtle Harding, Jessie Harding, and Hazel Simpson, sisters-in-law to the guest of honor. A steady flow of at least 400 guests dropped into the hall to congratulate Harding. Some were local, others travelled from Fredericton, Tabusintac, Doaktown, Moncton, Sussex and Perth-Andover.

Of the Hardings' family of 11, seven joined them for the open house and the family supper. A daughter travelled from her home in Tabusintac; a son travelled from his home in Doaktown. The other five reside in Plaster Rock. (Three of Mr. and Mrs. Harding's children, Rita, Wilfred, and Hayward died as youths). Their son Clayton died in Vancouver in September.

One hundred and seventy-five were served at a family supper held in the Legion hall on the evening of Dec. 9.

Most of their 23 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren were among the guests. The youngest Harding at the supper was a great-great-niece.

Source: Miramichi Weekend – December 15, 1995

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