Col. John Hardin was an early Kentuckian – came to the state after serving in the Revolutionary War. In April of 1786, according to Collins’ History of Kentucky, he settled on his preemption on Pleasant Run, then in Nelson County, but part of Washington County when it was organized in 1792. That is why he mentions the County of Nelson and State of Virginia when he wrote his will in 1788.
In 1792 Col. Hardin was sent by General Wilkinson to make overtures with the Indians. At an Indian camp about a day’s journey from the site where Ft. Defiance was afterwards built, he encamped with the Indians for the night, on the promise they would take him in the morning to their chief. John Hardin never made it home, the Indians murdered him that night and made off with his horses and baggage. In a letter written by John Hardin May 19, 1792, from Fort Washington (later Cincinnati), he stated they were going to ‘try to form a junction at the mouth of the Miami River, which is called Rosadebra, where we expect to form a treaty with all the Indians we can collect at that place.‘ And later in the letter says he ‘reproaches myself for having left my family, throwing myself into the hands of a cruel, savage enemy.’ (This information taken from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky by Orval W. Baylor.)
Colonel John Hardin’s will is the first in the Washington County Will Book A.
Washington County, Kentucky
Will Book A, Page 4-8
do make and ordain this my last will and testament, revoking all others. As far as my worldly goods, I bequeath in the manner following, that is to say, I devise to my beloved wife, Jane, three hundred acres of land, to be taken out of my preemption, including the plantation whereon I now live, binding on the northwest line and not to extend further in Pleasant Run than where the Spring Branch empties. Also I give to my beloved wife one Negro woman named Camer, but not her future increase, one feather bed and furniture and her choice of all the horses I have. I devise to my son, Martin, four hundred acres of land binding on the southwest line of my preemption to include the Salt Licks and Mill Seat on Pleasant Run. I devise to my son Mark, five hundred acres of land to be taken of a fifteen hundred acre survey adjoining my preemption, to be laid out of the east end. I devise to my son Davis, five hundred acres of land adjoining my son Mark, on the west, it being one third of the fifteen hundred acre survey. I devise to my daughter Sarah, three hundred acres of land to be laid off of my preemption. I devise to my daughter
Mary, two hundred and fifty acres of land, part of a five hundred acre tract joining my preemption on the east, to include all the Beech Fork that lies in that survey. Note, I give to John _____ two hundred and fifty acres of land in consideration for Negro George, to be laid off on the south of the above mentioned five hundred acre tract. As my beloved wife is likely to have another son or daughter I devise to it five hundred acres of land, part of my fifteen hundred acre survey, adjoining my son Davis’ devised land on the west. And all other lands that I may be hereafter possessed with I devise to the above mentioned children, to be equally divided amongst them. Also, Negroes George, Bob and Bet and the future increase of Camer to be equally divided among them in like manner, and all my horses, cattle, household furniture and other estate to be equally divided between my beloved wife and above mentioned children. Should any of the within mentioned children decease before such part of their estate herein mentioned is given into their possession, it shall be divided equally amongst the living brothers and sisters.
Lastly, I do constitute and appoint my beloved wife, Jane, Executrix, and my brothers Mark Hardin and Martin Hardin, my Executors to this my last will and devise they will collect all debts due and pay all my lawful demands. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-second day of July, anno domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.
Signed and sealed in the presence of Samuel Robertson, John Hardin, Mary Robertson
Note the words ‘hundred’ in the twenty-fourth line underlined on the other side and words ‘and other estate’ as mentioned in the third line on this side was underlined before signed. Samuel Robertson, John Hardin, Mary Robertson
At a County Court held for Washington County the 4th day of April 1793
This will was proved by the oaths of Samuel Robertson, John Hardin and Mary Robertson, witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Martin Hardin, Mark Hardin and Mary Hardin, the Executrix and Executors, who made oath and
acknowledged bond as the law directs, a certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.