The name “Hardwick” has enjoyed a renaissance of late.
Much of that has come from the resurgence of Hardwick Clothes after it was rescued from bankruptcy by local businessman Allan …
The name “Hardwick” has enjoyed a renaissance of late.
Much of that has come from the resurgence of Hardwick Clothes after it was rescued from bankruptcy by local businessman Allan Jones.
It is a name which is going international as it is now the chosen clothing wear for the broadcasters of NBC Sports, who will also use Hardwick attire during their coverage of the Rio Olympic Games next August.
But, the name “Hardwick” can also be traced back to what can be considered as the beginnings of modern-day Cleveland.
And, it’s a name with a small bit of mystery.
Christopher Lafayette Hardwick was born Feb. 14, 1827, in what is now Charleston, one year after his parents moved from Georgia.
His father, John Wesley Hardwick, acted as an assistant agent to his grandfather, Col. Hugh L. Montgomery, who served as an Indian agent to the Cherokees from 1824 to 1838.
Hardwick was one of 13 children and began his entrepreneurial career at the age of 18 when he began clerking for his room and board.
At the age of 25, he purchased a farm which he kept and worked until 1867 when he opened a shop in Cleveland.
Hardwick was responsible for one of the major cogs in Cleveland’s industrial history — that of the stove works.
He began building cast-iron stoves in his backyard. The foundry, Cleveland Stove Works, was brought forth from that success.
A partnership was struck with J.H. Parker in 1880 when the Cleveland Woolen Mills, the forerunner to Hardwick Clothes, was established.
The cost to Hardwick was around $75,000 — an amount equaling $1.7 million in today’s dollars and only slightly less than the $1.9 million purchase price by Jones last year.
Hardwick Woolen Mills was said to have employed 60 people who turned out 1,500 yards of jeans a day.
Nine years after the woolen mills were open, the town of Cleveland went from being part of Hardwick’s success to joining he and his family in mourning.
His son, John, was 33 years old and had joined friends William Steed and William Marshall on a train trip to New York and, from there they were to travel to Paris.
Fate stopped that journey when heavy rains washed away a portion of the tracks near Thaxton, Va., killing all three and many others.
The accident has been recently revived in the public’s mind by a car accident which overturned the memorial obelisk to the three and the placement of a historic marker near where the train wreck occurred.
Hardwick died in 1901 and was laid to rest in Fort Hill Cemetery.
Nearly half a century later, county leaders felt it was time to recognize the man who brought so much to the community’s economic engine.
And, there lies the mystery.
It was July 18, 1960, when the then-Quarterly Court of Bradley County, with County Judge H.M Fulbright, adopted a resolution to bestow such an honor ,and the timing was perfect since a new highway was about to be built.
The resolution read:
“RESOLVED that whereas C.L. Hardwick for more than half a century has generously contributed of his time and means to the progress and development of Bradley County and its institutions and maintained and developed a stove industry and farm that have furnished jobs and support for thousands of people of the county; and
“WHEREAS he has given constant generous financial support to the churches, schools, highways, veterans’ associations and organizations, community fund drives, farm organizations, and other welfare groups and associations of the county; and
“WHEREAS the Quarterly Court of Bradley County desires to publicly recognized C.L. Hardwick’s many years of community services and seeks to perpetuate his name as a permanent memorial to a distinguished citizens of our county, now, there be it further
“RESOLVED by the Quarterly Court of Bradley County in regular session assembled that the section of public highway now under construction and extending south from its junction with the Lee Highway at the C.L. Hardwick farm to the limits of the city of Cleveland be now and henceforth named and designated ‘Hardwick Drive’ in honor of C.L. Hardwick, manufacturer, farmer and distinguished citizen of Bradley County.”
If anyone is wondering exactly where Hardwick Drive is, that is the mystery.
The best guess is it is Keith Street from 25th Street N.W. to Walmart.
However, there never was any marking to denote the honor bestowed on the prominent businessman, and no one seems to know exactly why.
In fact, that part of the street is now within the city limits.
Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford made mention of the mystery during a recent Commission meeting.
“Since it’s in the city, there’s nothing we could do,” Alford said.
He added it was his understanding local state legislators were working on getting a marker that will recognize C.L. Hardwick on the street that never actually bore his name.
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