One of the best-known and beloved women in Merced is Mrs. Ann Elizabeth Ruddle. She was born in Jackson County, Ala., on August 25, 1841, the daughter of the late Thomas Jefferson and Ann (McFarlane) Hardwick, the former born in Georgia and the latter in Tennessee, where they were married. Soon after their marriage they moved to Alabama, where Mr. Hardwick was elected judge.
Judge Hardwick and his family, which consisted of his wife and six children, crossed the plains in 1859, from Jasper County, Mo., where Mr. Hardwick had been farming for some years. Upon their arrival in this State they settled on the Merced River, and there he farmed for many years. He died at the age of sixty-three. Mrs. Hardwick lived to reach the advanced age of ninety-six, making her home with Mr. and Mrs. John Ruddle for thirty years prior to her death. They were both honored pioneers. Everybody knew “Grandma Hardwick,” as she was affectionately called by old and young. She was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and had scores of friends.
The Hardwicks had six children: William J.; Amanda Malvina, who became the wife of James Dickinson; Mary Catherine, who married William Hoskins; Ann Eliazbeth, Mrs. Ruddle; Jackson Gilmore, who resides near Turlock and is eighty years old; and Huldah Jane, who became the wife of Mark Howell, at one time surveyor of Merced County. Of these six children, only Mrs. Ruddle and Jackson Gilmore Hardwick are living.
Mrs. Ruddle is familiarly known by her many friends as “Aunt Betty Ruddle.” She is an active member of the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church of Merced.
Source: Outcalt, John. A history of Merced County, California : with a biographical review of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; Los Angeles, Calif. : Historic Record Company, 1925.