Godden Hall

Courtesy Wayne Quattlebaum

Stately Godden Hall served Galloway then Harding College for many years.

The Day The College Moved

(Harding University proudly observed its 75th year in 1999.)

By FAYETTA COLEMAN MURRAY

I was a happy ten year old to be moving to Searcy from Morrilton as Harding College was in 1934. So many of our friendsí families were moving to Searcy also; there were the Dykes, the Rectors, the Thorntons, the Trawicks, the Allens, the Pruetts, and the Bradleys besides the families who were directly connected to the college.

Though some of the "town" kids had taunted me that the college was deserting Morrilton and were betraying a trust, we believed that Searcy was a more desirable town because it had more paved streets with curbs, had a stately courthouse with a square and had no railroad running through the middle of the business district. Searcy had been a college town since well before the turn of the century. From the students and teachers coming to Searcy moving college equipment and looking for housing, we heard ecstatic reports of the beautiful campus with more than twice as many buildings as were on the Morrilton campus.

My parents with four children under five had moved to Morrilton in 1924, when I was three months old, from western Montana in a Model-T Ford taking 14 days on the road. To move on with Harding was natural for them because both of my parents had been in school under these same teachers at Cordell, Oklahoma, just before the U.S. entered World War I. Before 1914, my father had gone to school in Odessa, Missouri, where these same teachers taught.

The depression had hit my family hard. While my father had a plumbing and electrical repair business with a sign on his panel truck reading "A Shop Where We Stop," he could not collect for his work because the people did not have money to pay; so he worked on the WPA for a dollar a day. Our family ate well because we had a cow, a large garden and we canned a lot. My fatherís brother and family from central Missouri came to help with the move. We needed their help as my fatherís broken arm was still in a sling and my mother was eight months pregnant.

Surely August 8, 1934, the day we moved, must have been the hottest day on record and there had been no recent rains. I rode in the cab of the truck with our furniture, along with John Thornton, the truck owner, and my 14-year-old brother. The road from Conway to Beebe was dusty gravel with a poor roadbed which may have contributed to the truck breaking down near Vilonia. Since the repairs would take several hours, I would have had to hang around in the dusty heat, but I was rescued by the G.L. Pruett family who were moving the same day. That family of five stopped their Model A Ford and took me in though they had little room. It was wonderful for me since their daughter Claudia was my good friend and has remained so through the years.

Moving into the Coward house in the 800 block of east Market Street (where there is now a parking lot) was a joy as it had indoor plumbing that our farm house near Morrilton lacked. As I remember, almost that same week we were allowed to swim in the beautiful Harding pool. This was our favorite recreation for years to come.

September 14, along with the first rain since we had been in Searcy, came our little brother, ten years younger than I with no children between. The rest of us settled into life at Harding. My mother taught in the speech department and my father worked on maintenance of electrical and Malcolm and Fayetta Murrayplumbing on campus. The next year the family bought the three acres with the house which is HIS House now where we lived until 1946 when I was number four in the family to graduate from Harding without having attended a day anywhere else from first grade through college. The day after I graduated, my parents moved away. I was the only one who remained in Searcy where I taught in the junior and senior high school for 20 years. I married Malcolm Murray, a Searcy native, who worked as a mail carrier for 38 years.