Calhoun County, IL, Established January 10, 1825
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"History of Calhoun County and its people up to the year 1910"
by: Carpenter, George Wilbur
The first settler at what is now Hardin was Dr. William Terry. He stopped at the home of Ebenezer Smith on his arrival in Calhoun and then built a house near the present site of the Town Hall in Har- din. The place was known as "Terry's Landing" until the arrival of Benjamin Childs in 1835. Mr. Childs purchased the land from Terry and from that time until the place was made the county seat, it was known as "Childs' Landing".
Mr. Childs built a home and engaged in the mercantile business. He also operated the landing and shipped much cordwood, staves, and lumber to the St. Louis market. The third house to be built at Childs' Landing was constructed by James Dewey. He cut the trees in the bottom opposite Kampsville and rafted them down the river. He landed the raft at Childs' Landing on the 4th day of March, 1844.
It was not until the construction of the county buildings that Childs' Landing became important.
An early writer in speaking of the changing of the county seat said :
"When the Court House and the jail burned at Gilead there was much rivalry to see what town should be, the capital of the county. Gilead, Hamburg, and Childs' Landing were the ones desiring it. Benj. J. Childs offered five acres of land and fifty thousand bricks if the county seat were moved to his landing. In order to cinch the thing, he gave a barbecue and free dinner to everybody, and I was one of those everybodies who took advantage of the free dinner. When the votes were counted, Childs' Landing had more votes than the combined vote of the other two points."
As was mentioned before, the Hamburg people objected to the election and presented a petition to the Commissioners, The clerk of the 'Commissioners Court summarized the petition as follows:
"The citizens of Hamburg and adjacent neighborhood presented a petition remonstrating against any action being taken by this court in regard to their taking any steps toward he building of a court house at Childs' Landing, setting forth in said petition that said land- ing in the last election obtained a majority by frad'ulent menas. The court upon consideration adjudged that they had nothing to do in the matter of the said petition, and that the petitioners had leave to withdraw the said petiion."
On August 12, 1847, the Commissioners agreed that the County Seat should be at Childs' Landing "for it would be more satisfactory to the citizens, generally," and that the Commissioners should "cause the same to be laid off into a town, as also a Public Square, for the purpose of erecting a court house thereon." At the same meeting the Commissioners agree to meet at Childs' Landing on the 26th of August, 1847.
The five acres of land given by Mr. Childs' was the land upon which most of the business houses at Hardin now stand. Part of the land was reserved as a place where the public buildings might be erected, and the remainder was divided into lots and sold to the highest bidder. The person purchasing the lots could have either six or twelve months to pay for the land. The money received from the sale of the lots was used in constructing the public buildings.
One of the first buildings to be erected was the court house. It was to be 36 by 30 feet, two stories high, and made of brick. In December, 1847, the contract was let for $1,199. In September, 1848, the contractor, William D. Hamilton, notified the court that he had completed the court house. The next building of importance was the jail, which was to 32 by 20 feet, and contain a strong cell. The lowest bidder was B. W. Hamilton, and the amount of the bid was $1,275. The work was done by sub-contractors, Benjamin Childs and William D. Hamilton. The jail was completed in 1850.
The name of the new county seat was changed to "Hardin" in 1847, but the Commissioners Records do not state the reason why this name was chosen, although they gave their approval to the name. Mrs. Caroline Dewey, whose husband had been living at Childs' Land- ing since 1844, gives the following explanation for the name of the town:
"The town was laid out in the year 1847, and, the name Hardin was selected in honor of Col. John J. Hardin. At the outbreak of the Mexican War, he was commissioned Colonel of the first Illinois Vol- unteers, and was killed while leading a charge, early in the year 1847. The horse from which he fell was shipped to some point up the river that spring on the steamer, "Movaster". I remember quite well the landing of the boat at then Farrowtown, now Kampsville, and it was said at the time that Col. Hardin's horse, from which he fell, was on the boat."
The first meeting of the County Commissioners at the new county seat took place on Decembe 6, 1847. The three Commissioners, Daniel T. Simpson, Adam Harpole, and Henry G. Stiles, were present. John Chauncey, the Clerk, and West M. Miller were also present. In 1854, James Dewey applied for a license to run and operate a saloon in Hardin. This license was granted, and a fee of $50 was charged. This saloon of Mr. Dewey's was in operation for many years and was one of the best known places of its kind in the county. It was located on the corner, just west of the Herald office.
In 1854 there were a number of business places in Hardin. Stephen and John Lewis were in the mercantinle business, their store being located just north of the present site of the Town Hall. John Gilbert kept a dry goods store, a saloon, and a hotel.
Another merchant that was prominent in the early days was Andrew Unrig. He settled in Calhoun in 1829 along the Hurricane Island Slough, north of Hardin. Being a man of wealth, he engaged largely in the mercantile business. He owned a boat, the "Pearl", which operated for many years on the Illinois River. He planted the first vineyard, and sold the first beer in the county. While living north of Hardin, he engaged in the mercantile business. In 1847, he moved to Childs' landing and worked to have it made the county seat. He started a store and a saloon in the building just south of the court house. The place was later called the "Perry House."
In 1858 there were four lawyers living in Hardin. They were Frank M. and James F. Greathouse, Stephen Lewis, and D. M. Mc- Kinney.
One of the first settlers in the Hardin neighborhood was Ziprien Lamar. He died while a young man (1831) but left a, son, also called Ziprien. When this son, Ziprien, grew to manhoood he cleared much land and made himself a useful citizen. He was married in 1858 and became the father of seven children, one of whom was Charles H. Lamar, for many years the editor of the Calhoun Herald.
The Hardin Post Office was established in 1847 and Benjamin Childs was the first Postmaster. He served continuously from 1847 to 1887, with the exception of the Buckanari Administration.
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