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100 Years Ago

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What Might Have Been
County Seat First Established in Hardin

The original plat for Hardin was filed in October, 1816, in Miami County, Ohio. It contained 36 lots and space for a public square, two lots for a seminary and a church. It was named after Colonel Hardin who was murdered in 1792 by the Indians on the spot where Hardin now stands. The village was named at the suggestion of the Indian Agent, Colonel John Johnston of Piqua.

Born in Virginia in 1753, Hardin’s family moved to Pennsylvania when he was 12 years old. He served as a second lieutenant in Daniel Morgan’s Rifle Corps during the Revolutionary War. He was one of the heroes of the battle of Saratoga. Following the war, Hardin moved to Kentucky and became a successful farmer. He fought against the Indians in his state and was selected in the spring of 1792 to take a message of peace written by the Secretary of War, Knox, to the Indians in Ohio.

While traveling with two companions, Hardin met up with a small group of Shawnees (three or four) who professed friendship upon learning of their mission. They all camped together that night, but during the evening, they killed Hardin and one other man. They let the third person (guide/interpreter) go because he had previously lived many years with the Indians and the Shawnees did not wish to kill him. According to Colonel Johnston, he suspected that Hardin and his associate were killed by "worthless fellows...without character...[and that they] probably killed [Hardin] for his fine clothes and equipage."

James Wells opened up the first county mail delivery in Hardin and the Court of Common Pleas met there every few months to administer justice, with the president of the Court traveling from Dayton to Hardin. The Board of Commissioners made key county appointments such as that of County Treasurer and Coroner. They also met to plan the building of roads and to create additional townships.

At this time, Shelby County, Ohio, was part of Miami County and Troy served as its county seat. By 1817, area leaders felt that Troy was too far away to handle their affairs adequately. Seven men were instrumental in organizing the county and petitioning the Ohio General Assembly to grant Shelby County a charter. These men were William Cecil, William Berry, Samuel Marshall, David Henry, James Lenox, Joseph Mellinger and John Wilson. After Shelby County was formed, Hardin would serve as county seat for almost a year before it moved to Sidney.

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As early as 1888, the Shelby County Pioneer’s Association voted to petition Congress to erect a monument to Colonel Hardin. A monument can be found today in the small park area in Hardin, six miles west of Sidney, at the intersection of State Route 47 and Hardin-Wapak Road. It was erected in the 1950s by the Park Association, Compromise Grange, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Shelby County Historical Society. This monument also marks the site where the Shawnees camped in October, 1832, on their last trek from Ohio.

'Pioneer' segment written in October, 1997 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge


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