“The Climate is Awful Cold”: Judge Edward Harden in Nebraska Territory

When Nebraska Territory was organized in 1854 one of the judicial appointments went to Edward Randolph Harden of Georgia. A lawyer active in local Democratic Party politics, Harden was serving as a railroad station agent at Ringgold, Georgia, when he received the appointment in July 1854. He arrived at Bellevue early in December 1854 and remained in Nebraska Territory through the winter, returning to his Georgia home again in April 1855. He planned to bring his family from Georgia and settle permanently in Nebraska City. However, his experiences with frontier conditions may have interfered with these plans. Harden wrote to his mother from Bellevue on December 9, 1854: “The climate is awful cold. Thermometer sometimes 17 degrees below zero — If I don’t freeze this winter — I wont freeze in this climate another. The Missouri River just opposite where I now am has been in the last week frozen over so that person[s] walk over on the ice. . . . You would not know me wrapped up in furs and Buffalo [sic] Robes and Buckskin Pantaloons and blanket with a hole cut in the middle and [put] over my head.”

 

Drawing of American Fur Company trading post in Bellevue in 1854. RG2499-1-2

 

Edward R. Harden. RG2411-2134

 

Wisely perhaps, Judge Harden did not reveal these sentiments to his Nebraska neighbors. A postscript to the December 9 letter to Georgia instructed his mother: “Don’t say to anyone that I am displeased, and burn up this letter – as I am very popular with the people and they all think I like the country.” Whatever the reason, Harden’s family remained in the South, and Harden later rejoined them there. He saw limited service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and died June 12, 1884, in Brooks County, Georgia. Selected letters from Harden to his family were published in the January-March 1946 issue of Nebraska History (available as a benefit of History Nebraska membership). Both full members and subscription-only members receive four issues yearly.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

How pioneer trails shaped Omaha streets

How pioneer trails shaped Omaha streets

Marker Monday: Atlas D Missile Site A

Marker Monday: Atlas D Missile Site A

The Woman on the White Horse

The Woman on the White Horse

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.