By Chantal klingbeil
Doing something no one has ever done before is not always easy. Life was hard for young William Hardy. William’s father died when he was seven years old, and at age 14, William was sent off to work for a farmer.
William did his work well and took every opportunity to learn. Soon the farmer realized that William was an exceptional young man. By the time he was 23 years old he had managed to buy two tracts of land and had married a young woman named Eliza. William built a log cabin, and his family grew.
One day the Hardy family decided to attend some Bible meetings that a visiting preacher was holding. Eliza first, then William, decided to join the little group of Sabbathkeepers, making them the first African American Adventists in Michigan.
Although their home was simple, they were always ready to have guests. James and Ellen White, and many early Adventist leaders, were grateful for the delicious meals and the hospitality they could always find when they passed by the Hardy home.
William and Eliza often faced prejudice for being Black, but now they also faced it for belonging to a small and unknown religious group. There were other challenges, too. Their log cabin burned down, and the family had to live with neighbors for the rest of the winter until they could rebuild their home.
William worked his farm well, and served his church in a number of ways. Soon he became the main church leader. His leadership abilities were recognized outside of the church too. William became the first Black man elected to a public office in Michigan.
William taught his sons the importance of being exceptional. In 1877 his oldest son, Eugene, became the first Black student to graduate from high school in Michigan. Eugene went on to study law, and eventually taught music.
William Hardy’s life teaches us that no matter our background, we are all created by God to be exceptional.
You can read more of William Hardy’s story at www.blacksdahistory.org/william-j--hardy.html.