JUDGE FRANKLIN HARDIN — The subject of this sketch was born on the 27th of July, 1810, in Fleming, now Nicholas, County, Ky. His family were of French descent, and occupied an honorable place in the history of that state as jurists, statesmen and Indian fighters. Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa have each named a county after his kindred. Franklin Hardin was the youngest of a family of eleven children, born to Henry and Catharine Hardin. He came of a robust family, but was himself an undersized child, with a feeble constitution; and, while his stouter brothers were assisting their father upon the farm, he was kept in the country schools from the time he was old enough to attend up to his fifteenth year. After the death of his father, October 5, 1825, being at liberty to do pretty much as he pleased, he attended the County Seminary in Carlisle for six months. Among other things he studied surveying while in the seminary, and acquired that accurate knowledge of this branch of learning which proved so useful to both himself and the people of Johnson County in after years. In 1822 and 1823, two older brothers had explored the White River Valley, and, with means furnished by their father, had entered a considerable portion of land for themselves and others of the family, and, in 1824, several members moved to Johnson County. Henry Hardin intended to emigrate to the country himself, but died before doing so. After his death, the family determined to carry out the intention of the father, and, in 1825, the widow, accompanied by the subject of this sketch, then fifteen years of age, set out on horseback to visit her children and see for herself what the wilderness of Indiana was like. Two years after that journey was made, the family moved and took up their abode in White River Township. The spring of 1829 seemed to him a propitious time to commence the study of law. With that view, he went to Indianapolis, and put himself under the tutorage of Ebenezer Sharp, in Latin, and of William Quarles, Esq., in law. But he met with a sad disappointment. In a few weeks he was stricken down with a fever, and was compelled to go home to his mother. On his recovery, he taught about two years, when he went back to his law books. He had not gone back to the study of law as his sole occupation, but he had not abandoned its study altogether. The summer of 1831 was spent in making an extensive tour of Illinois, and in the following October, he returned to Kentucky, where he married. With his young wife, he at once set out for Indiana, and on Fall Creek he found employment for another year at his old occupation, after which, in the fall of 1832, he moved to Johnson County and located upon the farm where he now resides, where he and his estimable wife have uninterruptedly made their home ever since. In the spring of 1833, he received the appointment of assessor for White River Township, and, although much afflicted, he completed the duties before taking to his bed. This was the first employment he ever had, save his five years in the schoolroom. In the spring of 1836, he applied to the circuit bench of the county, Judge Wick presiding, for the appointment of county surveyor, an office which he then received, and held for six consecutive years. This office he was qualified in a high degree to fill. From about 1840, party lines began to be closely drawn in local affairs, and the year of 1842 marks the advent of Franklin Hardin into that active political life which he so long and successfully lived. The democratic party in Johnson County had, for the purpose of massing their power; introduced the nominating convention as a part of its machinery, and Franklin Hardin received the nomination, in 1842, without opposition, as a candidate for representative in the state legislature, and, at the ensuing August election, he was elected without opposition. In 1843, he was again nominated by his party for the same office, but the whigs brought out Zachariah Collins, a tenant on his own farm, to contest the office with him. Out of the 1,517 Votes cast in the county, Hardin received 1,016, and he got all but two that were cast in Union. In 1844, he was again a candidate for the legislature, and John Slater, a young lawyer lately come to the county, sought the nomination against him, but Hardin was almost unanimously nominated. Then Slater offered himself as an independent candidate, and sought whig support as well as democratic, and they two ran the race, but Hardin was elected by a larger majority over Slater than had graced his triumph of the year before. Having served three years in the lower house, he now aspired to a seat in the upper, and accordingly, in 1845, he offered for a senatorial nomination, which was given him without opposition, and, out of 1,221 votes cast at the election for senator, he received 1,059. He therefore had no open opposition. In 1850, he was elected a delegate to the constitutional convention. At the termination of the work of the constitutional convention, Mr. Hardin came home, but he was met with a demand for his services as a surveyor. Lines and corners were not yet all established, and, in 1851, the county commissioners appointed him to the office of county surveyor. But he held the office for only one year. By an act of the legislature, approved May 14, 1852, a new court- the common pleas-was organized, and it became necessary to elect a judge of that court at the ensuing October election in this county. Franklin Hardin was nominated by the democratic party as their candidate for that office. The opposition brought out A. B. Hunter, Esq., a young man of good parts, then lately admitted to the bar, but Hardin was elected, receiving 1,020 votes out of 1,901 cast for that office. So well did he acquit himself in the discharge of his judicial duties that, at the expiration of his first term, he was renominated. This was in 1856, and he was elected over Duane Hicks, a member of the Johnson County bar, in good standing, by 694 majority. At the close of his second term, he retired to private life, since which time he has held no public office. Judge Hardin is, and always has been, democratic in his politics. During his legislative career, he occupied a high place in the councils of his party as an advisory member, and, in 1856, he was a delegate to the national convention which nominated Mr. Buchanan. In 1860, he supported the Breckenridge wing, and was a candidate for elector in that interest. Judge Hardin is a firm believer in the truths of the Christian religion. In early life, he and his estimable wife united with the Presbyterian Church at Greenwood, and they still adhere to that faith.
Transcribed by Cheryl Zufall Parker
Banta, D.D. History of Johnson County, Indiana. Chicago, IL: Brant & Fuller, 1888.