Colonel Joseph Hardin Sr, my 4x Great Grandfather was born April 18, 1734, in Richmond Co, Virginia Colony the son of Benjamin Hardin Jr and Elizabeth Hooper. Not much is known about his early years but we do know that he grew up on a sprawling farm that grew tobacco. He married Jane Gibson on July 8, 1762, and they soon moved to the newly formed Tryon Co., NC Colony where he was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1772. Between 1762 and 1789 Joseph and Jane had 13 children, 9 boys, and 4 girls. 3 of their sons John, Benjamin, and Robert were killed by Indians during the Indian War.
Joseph served several times as Justice of the peace, first in Tryon Co. from 1772 to 1778, then in Washington Co. in 1783 and finally in Greene Co. in 1796. When the Revolutionary War began he was appointed as Major to the 2nd North Carolina Minute Men in 1775. That same year, he appears in the rolls as a Captain in the North Carolina Colonial Light Horse Rangers, taking part in the Cherokee Expedition into the Washington District (Tennessee) the next year. Joseph was a signatory to the Tryon Resolves on August 14, 1775. The Resolves was a response to the Battles of Lexington and Concord showing solidarity against the British. It declares independence from British tyranny. Beginning in 1777, Hardin carried a Captain’s commission in Locke’s Battalion seeing much action against Britain and its allies. He fought in the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill on June 20, 1780, and later that year at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7th rising to the rank of Colonel.
In 1786 after the war, he was awarded land grants that totaled 8400 acres of land in North Carolina and what is now Tennessee for his service. Here Joseph once again entered politics, serving as an Assemblyman for the First Territorial Assembly of the Southwest Territory held at Knoxville, Knox Co., TN in the summer of 1794. Later that same year he made Knoxville his home and became a trustee of the newly chartered Greeneville College (later Tusculum).
Although he never set foot in the region, on March 11, 1786, the land along the far western reaches of the Tennessee River was surveyed by Isaac Taylor and warrants were drawn on behalf of Joseph for 3,000 acres in what was to become Hardin Co. Unfortunately, due to legal trouble with squatters and the wildness of this part of Tennessee, it would be another thirty years before the family could settle there.
Joseph died July 4, 1801, at his home-site near Knoxville. He is buried, along with his wife, at the Hickory Creek Cemetery, Hardin Valley, Knox Co., Tennessee.
This is the large monument dedicated to Hardin at his burial site. The inscription reads:
Born April 18, 1734, in Virginia of English Ancestry.
Died July 4, 1801, in Hardin Valley, Tennessee.
A strict Presbyterian, stern and fearless in the discharge of duty.
Loved and trusted by his friends, feared by his enemies.
Major 2nd N.C. Minute Men, Salisbury District, 1775.
Captain Tryon Co., N.C. Light Horse, Cherokee Expedition, 1776.
In the battle of Ramsour’s Mill and at Kings Mountain, 1780.
Colonel for Western Counties (Tenn.), 1788.
Lost three sons in Tennessee Indian Wars.
Member Committee of Safety, Tryon Co., N.C., 1775.
Member Provincial Congress at Hillsborough 1775 and at Halifax 1776.
Member General Assembly of N.C., 1778-79 and (from Tenn.) 1782-88.
Organizer State of Franklin, Jonesboro, 1784-1785.
Member General Assembly, Territory South of the Ohio, Knoxville, 1794.
For his military services during the Revolutionary War and Indian Wars, he received in 1785 from North Carolina,
3000 acres of land in the middle district, now Hardin County, Tenn. named for him.
As a side note, Joseph Hardin is the great-grandfather of legendary Texas outlaw and gunslinger, John Wesley Hardin.
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