The History of Harding High School
Harding (population 150) is located in north central Illinois in LaSalle County, about
five miles south of Earlville, seven miles west of Serena, and ten miles north of the county seat, Ottawa. As a rural community,
Harding only measures abouit three blocks long and three blocks wide with a church, a school, and a community center to go
along with the homes that are there. County Highway 1 (aka Wesley J. Freebairn Highway or the Harding Blacktop) brings people
into town from either US 34 to the north by Earlville, or from the junction of US 52 and Illinois 23 at the south. The Crooked
Creek Run meanders its way nearby as does Indian Creek.
The area welcomed settlers as early as 1830, but they were driven away in 1832 due to the Black Hawk War
and an infamous tale called "The Indian Creek Massacre," where 15 men, women, and children were killed by a group of
Indians. Another group of settlers came to the area within the next two years, led by E. Z. Allen in 1834, along with the
Rev. Wesley Batcheller (1836), and the Rev. Charles Harding (for whom the village is named, who arrived in 1843) and they
were able to form the community that still stands today.
Hardng's first school was built in 1839, and Rev. Batcheller was the first teacher. The post office
was established a year later and Freedom Township (where Harding is located) was organized in 1850.
We are uncertain as to when Harding began to offer high school courses to its grade school graduates, but
the practice stopped following the 1941-42 school year under the guidance of principal Chuck Markman. Students had the option
of finishing their work towards a high school diploma at Earlville, Serena, or at Ottawa.
Today's high-school aged students are part of the Serena school district, as a grade school remains at the
east edge of the village. Part of the building that high school students attended still remains with a newer addition that
was added within the past five to ten years.
FACTS ABOUT HARDING HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened as a 2-yr school: early 1900's
Now part of:
Serena High School
Blue & Gold
may not have utilized one
(grade school uses "Eagles")