of nine children, Joshua Gardner was born in Robertson County and spent his childhood on a farm
situated along present-day State Route 256, between Interstate 24 and Adams,
he had few direct encounters with Kate, Gardner figures prominently into the
legend by virtue of having been
Bell’s suitor and fiancé. Kate
strongly disapproved of the engagement, voicing her disapproval every time she
got the chance.
having never said anything bad about Gardner, Kate provided no reason for her
aversion to the engagement, other than to say: “You will not have happiness
with Joshua Gardner, and future generations will see it true.”
Elizabeth reluctantly broke off the
engagement after enduring much torment and giving the matter lots of thought.
reasoning was quite simple: Kate had a strong aversion for her
which had ultimately led to his death. Kate had
an equally strong aversion to the engagement. It
was likely that Joshua Gardner, they boy she
loved, would suffer the same fate as John Bell, Sr.-- death.
long after they parted ways on that fateful Easter Monday of 1821, Joshua
wrapped up his affairs and left the area, settling in Henry County,
Tennessee. In 1829, he married Sarah Donelson and had two children.
became a successful farmer and served as a magistrate for several years near the
present-day town of Paris, Tennessee.
Gardner’s younger brother, John, became the first president of the Nashville
and North Western Railroad, now part of the CSX Railroad. John Gardner had a successful political career, serving as a
state Senator for several years and later attending the 1870 Tennessee
Gardner left Henry County in 1840 and moved west, settling in Weakley County, Tennessee, near Gardner’s Station, a small hamlet named for his younger
brother. It is now called Gardnersville; there are
several variations of the name, including just, "Gardner."
He purchased 228 acres of land and wisely
used his profits to
acquire more land. It was once estimated that he owned more than
Easter Monday of 1821 was the last time Joshua Gardner and
Bell ever saw each other, which not only had to do with Kate, but
Powell's continuous flirting with
and condemnation of her engagement to Joshua, Gardner later befriended
Powell, even to the
point of signing a petition to the Tennessee State Legislature
requesting financial relief for Powell’s family after a series of
events. The author feels that
it was not
Richard Powell whom Gardner was concerned about, but none other than his
once true love,
Sarah Donelson’s death, Gardner remarried and
until his death in 1887. He is
buried in Weakley County, Tennessee,
near the present-day hamlet of Gardnersville, in west
photo from Authenticated History of the Bell Witch, M.V. Ingram, 1894.