Friday, January 31, 2014

Joseph Abraham Hardee and Dessie Pearl Galttana Hardee

Joseph Abraham Hardee and Dessie Pearl Galttana Hardee were my maternal Grandparents. My only memories of them are from when we would visit over the summer and stop by their house in Newark, Texas. I never really got to know them. There's a few reasons for that; we didn't live near so I only saw them on short visits, I was young and they were "old" in my eyes and I didn't have much interest, my grandfather died when I was ten and my grandmother died when I was 13.

I can still remember walking into their house and Grandpa Joe would always be sitting at the kitchen table in his overalls, I never saw him wear anything else. When you walked into the house you entered in the kitchen. It was long and narrow, to the right was table and then the rest of the kitchen and to the left was a couch and a TV. Grandma Dessie would be laying on the couch.

Joe (in overalls)  & Dessie (sitting to the right of Joe) in their kitchen.
I don't remember Joe ever saying much, but that may be because once we got there I would run off to play in another part of the house or outside, usually with one of my many cousins. ( I was their 23 grandchild, three more would come after me.)

So what I know about Joe and Dessie comes from stories I have heard or research I have done.

Here's what I have learned about my Grandparents Joe and Dessie Hardee.

Joseph Abraham Hardee

Joe was born January 6, 1902 in Decatur, Wise County, Texas. He was the seventh child of Samuel Burell and Georgia (Ransom) Hardee. Samuel was a farmer so I would assume Joseph grew up on the farm and helped with farm work. Joe's siblings were: William Russel, Samuel Burell, Ada Frances, Ida Lou, Buster Edward Thomas, Lillie Vester, Mary Caroline, and Edna Mae.

According to the 1940 census Joe attended school through the 3rd grade and from what I've been told he never learn to read or write. He did learned to sign his name.


In about 1922 he started working for Rock Island Railroad. He was a section hand, a section hand was one of a "gang of men" who were responsible for the maintenance of a section of railroad, usually about 10 miles.

Dessie Pearl Galttana

Dessie was born July 31, 1903 in Chickasaw, Indian Territory (Oklahoma).  She was the last and seventh child of John and Mary Jane (Corbell/King) Galttana. Her siblings were: Curtis, Maggie, Louis, Bertha, Bertie, and Ora. Curtis and Bertie died as infants. Sometime between 1903 and 1910 the family moved from IT to Tarrant County, Texas.


On December 20, 1923 Joe and Dessie were married by the Tarrant County, Texas, County Clerk. [I would love to know how they met, but I guess this has been lost to time. If anyone knows, please fill me in.]

Early photo of Joe and Dessie Hardee

Nine months later their first daughter was born, Dorothy Pearl Hardee born 24 September, 1924 in Newark, Wise County, Texas.

In 1930 they are living in Newark according to the Census. They were renting a house for $2 a month. The household now consisted of Dorthy, J. A. born May 16, 1926 in Decatur, Wise Co., and Bruce born 24 May 1929 in Peaton, Tarrant Co. They seemed to move around a lot as all three kids were born in different towns.

Their next four children were all born in Newark, Wise Co.: [Living] Hardee born in 1931, Ima Sue and Mary Lou, twins born June 22, 1933, and Clyde born September 29, 1934. Mary Lou died at 7 weeks old.

In 1935 they lived in Wise Co., Texas.

In 1937 and 1938 they lived at 3009 N. Hampton St., Fort Worth, Texas. This is where Lavona was born on June 27, 1937.

In 1940 they are living on an unnamed street in Saginaw, Tarrant Co., they paid $8 a month for rent. This is were [Living] Hardee was born in 1940. Joe worked 48 hours the week of March 24-30 in 1940, as a section hand for rail road, and he worked 52 weeks in 1939 and earned $780, according to the 1940 Census.
In 1940 J. was 14 and this is what he told me.  He remembered when they lived in Saginaw he use to jump on freight trains on the cotton bales.  Joe worked for Light Crust Flour and helped to build the grain elevators in Saginaw.  When they lived in Saginaw it was by railroad tracks and Dessie would feed the Hobos that would come to the back door. They lived at 3 places in Saginaw. J. also talked about killing and eating blackbirds because he was hungry.

Here is a picture from 2006 of the Light Crust Flour facility in Saginaw, also known as the Attebury Grain Mill. An article on Saginaw Texas Grain Elevators says it is, "claimed to be the largest grain storage facility in the world."

This article by the Saginaw-Texas News says the facility was completed in 1936. So if Joe helped build it, then it must have been in the year(s) prior.
is claimed to be the largest grain storage facility in the world. - See more at:
is claimed to be the largest grain storage facility in the world. - See more at:

Around 1942 Joe retired from Rock Island Railroad after 20 years. Sometime after this he started working at Swift & Co. A meat packing company located next to the Fort Worth Stockyards. You can read about Swift & Co. on the Texas State Historical Association site.

Also, possibly sometime around 1942 Joe told J. he would have to quit school and start working to help support the family. J. remembered it was in the middle of the school year and very cold outside. He stood outside the gate of Swift and Co. with many other men who were trying to get jobs in the cold. The supervisors would come out and pick a few men, but J. never got picked. Finally, after standing out in the cold for a couple of weeks J. asked his dad to put in a good word for him since he already worked there, cause he was not going to stand in the cold anymore. I guess Joe did and J. was hired soon after.

1943 is the first year I show them living at 2813 Loving Ave. Fort Worth, Texas. Their last two children were born here: [Living] Hardee born 1944 and [Living] Hardee born 1947. I believe they lived here till about 1961/2 when Joe retired from Swift & Co.

The 1943 and 1945 City Directories show Georgia Hardee, Joe's mother, as living with Joe and Dessie at 2813 Loving Ave.  One daughter remembers  "Granma" and that she was always in a bed. She would hand crank the bed up or down for her. Another daughter remembers, running into Grandma's room after school to listen to the radio with her. Grandma would fill her in on what had happened while she was gone. Grandma use to tell her spooky stories.
I believe she lived with different family members at different times. She died in 1956.

Nine of the Hardee kids in 1944 in front of 2813 Loving Ave. House.

The 1947 Fort Worth City Directory lists Joe as a butcher for Swift & Co.

Around 1961/2 after Joe retired from Swift and Co. they moved to Newark, Texas. This is the house I remember visiting. There was a dirt driveway that circled around a big tree. I think he farmed the land around him. I remember an old tractor and loving to sit on it and pretend I was driving it. In their bedroom they had a large beautiful four poster bed.

Joe and Dessie at house in Newark, Texas.

My cousin told me he would stay with Joe and Dessie after school. He would go with Dessie who drove their only car to go pick up Joe from work at the steps of Swift & Co.

 The youngest son told me, Joseph Hardee smoked cigarettes. He was a smoker for Swift Co. He always had hunting dogs. He remembers one named Towser. They would go out and hunt coons. He would go coon hunting with his dad for sport. They didn't eat it. They just skinned it and used its fur. They would hang its tail on the back of their hats or off their car antennas. Joe also hunted squirrels and rabbits to eat. Dessie would cook the squirrels in gravy. When they lived on the farm Joe would butcher his own hogs and cows. Dessie would kill and dress the chickens.

My mother told me, Dessie would cook a big breakfast every morning, including chocolate pudding. She cooked three big meals a day and they always had a house full of people who ate there. They had a large round table that sat in their big kitchen. [This was the house on Loving] The table had a half circle bench on one side and chairs on the other side. It had a large lazy susan in the middle of the table. It may have been oak, some type of heavy wood. It had a huge matching buffet server.
Dessie cooked in cast iron skillets. When she was a kid she would take her lunch to school. Usually a baloney or PBJ sandwich, an apple and something sweet. Dessie always cooked and baked. There was always something sweet in the house like cakes or peach, apple, or cherry cobbler. Linda's favorite was banana nut cake. Dessie did most of the cooking and her and her brother would help clean up the kitchen and take out the trash. They also had to take a tray of food to Grandma Hardee who lived with them but was bed ridden. Linda can't remember if they had to feed her or if she could feed herself. Joe and Dessie had a black and white TV while she was growing up. They had bought a film that went over the black and white TV screen and it was suppose to make it color but it never worked. Later they got a color TV. Joe and Dessie liked to watch roller derby on TV.  They would go to the Stockyards at the Northside Coliseum and watch roller derby, both men and women skated.

My mother also talked about when her and her younger brother (the two youngest)  learned to ride their bikes going down a steep hill across highway 28 and then up the other side. Joe or Dessie would hold their bike and tell them to just steer and go down the hill and up the other side till they stopped and fell over. They think back now and are amazed no one ever got hit by a car because it was a busy road.

In all they raised 10 children in multiple houses and towns. There is a 23 year time span between the first and last child.  Their kids were having kids while they were still having kids.The older kids had a different life than the younger kids. Times were hard for them, but, it seems to me they raised 10 great kids.

Joe & Dessie Hardee and all 10 of their children. I believe this was 1950.


  1. Great post, and I can imagine that this was all pre-air conditioning I lived in Fort Worth for a few years and the summers are scorchers.

  2. Thank you Claudia, I remember my grandparents had one window AC unit in the kitchen but the rest of the house was always hot. Don't know how they did it.