Transcribed by Larry Fearneyhough
People of this generation have little conception of the hardships and privations endured by their grandparents. They would open their eyes in astonishment if you were to ask them to go into the fields and reap grain with a sickle, tramp it out with horses upon the threshing floor, garner it in a rail pen and winnow it with a fan. If you would tell them to take a wooden-tanged fork and pitch off a load of hey they would laugh at you, and their hands go up in horror if you should suggest to them the necessity of driving a herd of cattle, or a flock of sheep, or a drove of hogs to market at Chicago or St. Louis. If you talk to them about "puncheon" floors, old fashioned "skillets" and "tallow dips" they will simply think you are jesting and pay but little attention to you, yet in just such environments was born the subject of this sketch, upon what is now the poor farm, in Scott county, Illinois, April 11, 1833. His father, George Hardwick, and his mother Martha E. (Edmonson) Hardwick, were Kentuckians; came to Illinois in 1830 and settled just west of Winchester. In 1848 they moved to a farm near Merritt. Thomas made his home with his parents until 1864, February 16, when he was married to Miss Sarah E. Clark of Scott county.
After his marriage he settled on a farm one-half mile east of Merritt, which is his home today. To Mr. and Mrs. Hardwick six children have been born, three sons and three daughters. The eldest and youngest child, both boys, died when they were about ten years of age. On December 18, 1900, his wife died and since that time his daughters have kept house for him. Mr. Hardwick has retired from active labor and his son, Geo. W., has moved his family to the old home place and is managing affairs there.
Uncle Thomas Hardwick is one of the unique characters of the county and often jokingly remarks about having been born on the Scott county poor farm. He well remembers the time when there were no railroads in the state, and also when what is now known as the Wabash was constructed with its rails made of wooden stringers with strap iron spiked on them. He also vividly describes the trips made to Alton (then a good market) and St. Louis with live stock. It is interesting to discuss with him the early events of Scott county-it is within itself a history, replete with facts and information which should be preserved as reference for future generations. Mr. Hardwick has been quiet, yet industrious, has reared an honored and respected family and now in the shadow of life's evening can but feel that he is at peace with God and all mankind.