The Kentucky Standard Dec 15 1900 Vol 1 Number 1
Historic Home
Former Residence Of Old Ben Hardin
In Suburbs Of Bardstown
Here The Famous Lawyer Lived And Died --
Points Of Interest About The Place.

One of Kentucky's historic residences is " Edgewood", the former home of Ben Hardin, in his day one of Kentucky's greatest lawyers. This old Homestead is situated in the suburbs of Bardstown, and is a large and irregular structure built entirely of brick. It was originally a one storied building, with two rooms in front. To this an addition was made on the left, comprising a wide hall and front room and chambers in rear with similar apartments above.These added rooms and the hall are unusually large and airy. The hall is entered by a large door in front, and contains a massive old-fashioned staircase, connecting with the upper story. The present occupant, Hon. Lud McKay, has added a handsome veranda to the house, which greatly improves its general appearance.

This dwelling was erected between 1819-22 by Mr. Hardin on land that was contained in the original pre-emption of Bardstown. The tract contains about two hundred and fifty acres of as fine soil as there is in Nelson county. A wide lawn in front of the residence stretches down to one of the streets [text creased]

Mr. Hardin, who erected and long occupied the residence, was born in Pennsylvania, February 29, 1784, and at the age of four years was brought to Kentucky by his parents, who settled in Nelson county. At an early age he was placed in the school of Dr. Priestly, then the most able educator in the West. At the age of twenty young Hardin began the study of law, which he soon mastered and was admitted to the bar of Bardstown. His first case was one in which a large tract of land was involved. He was alone on his side and opposed by several of the most distinguished lawyers of the day. However, he won his case and his fame was made, and from that time on he never lacked for clients. Readers of the Standard are familiar with the history of Mr. Hardin; his public services; his numerous debates in Congress with Henry Clay; how he was dubbed the " Kitchen Knife" by John Randolph, and the " Red Fox" by some other equally as great man. Suffice it to say that he was one of the shrewdest and most successful attorneys that ever practiced his profession within the domains of this old Commonwealth.

In early life Mr. Hardin was married to Elizabeth Barbour, daughter of Col. Ambrose Barbour, of Washington county, one of Kentucky's most distinguished pioneers. She is described as a handsome woman, with many admirable traits of character. Seven children was the result of this union-three sons and four daughters.

The latter were Lucinda, who married John helm, afterward Governor of Kentucky; Emily, who married Dr. Palmer, a prominent physician of Washington county; Kate, who married Thomas Riley, a prominent attorney of Bardstown; and Sallie who married Thomas W. Dixon, a Kentuckian living in the West. Of the sons, William died of a fever in childhood; James and Rowan married in early life-the former a Miss Chinn; the latter a Miss Cartmell, James died a short time after his marriage. Rowan became an able lawyer; served in the State Legislature, and in 1851 was appointed by President Fillmore Secretary of Legation to Guatemala. During that year it is supposed he was assassinated in the mountains of the Isthmus of Darien, as a skeleton was discovered and identified as his by some papers that were found in the vicinity.

Old Ben Hardin's home life was a happy one. His doors were always open and he dispensed the most lavish hospitality to all who came beneath his roof. Many distinguished [ ] were entertained by him at his residence, among whom may be mentioned Gen. William Preston, ex[ next lines of text unreadable]

Mr. Hardin's death occurred [] September, 1852, and was the result of a fall from a horse which he [ received?] as he was journeying from Bardstown to Lebanon to attend [?]. He was buried in an old grave [?] in a field, near the pike leading from Springfield to Lebanon, by the [?] of his mother. His grave is marked by an unpretentious stone being the simple inscription, " Ben Hardin of Bardstown." Mrs. Hardin had preceded her husband to the grave in August, her death being [?ened] by constant attendance up-[?] Mr. Hardin. She is buried in the old pioneer cemetery here, in [the?] midst of children and relatives. [A?] marble shaft, that has been sadly disfigured by vandals, marks her resting place. The only inscription it bears is " Elizabeth Barbour Hardin, wife of Ben Hardin."

Many Interesting Points

Mr. Hardin was a large slave owner and on account of his leniency to them it was proverbial that they were the most worthless negroes in the State. Hardin often said it took all he could earn at his profession to support them.

"Morton's Spring", celebrated in the early annals of the State as furnishing water to the first pioneers of Bardstown, is located on the old Hardin farm, and, although it is half a mile from the residence, Mr. Hardin would drink no other water while at home. This spring now operates one of the largest distilleries in this section of the State. Mr. Hardin's office was located in the front yard, but this was long ago demolished and now only the ruins remain.

Another point of interest on the old farm are the ruins of a water mill, which was situated at [text missing] and was one of Mr. Hardin's favorite resorts. It is said he would sit for hours admiring the working machinery, and would frequently assist in the labor around the mill. The old mill was finally destroyed in the great flood of 1854, when the Beech Fork river inundated the country for a considerable distance around. The foundation stones of the old building were afterwards used in constructing the bridge that now spans the Beach Fork.

The "Paved Hill" , famous as being a portion of the old pioneer road that leads from the Ohio river south to Nashville, runs through the Hardin farm. It is a masterpiece in the art of roadmaking, and in its day was a marvel of durability and skill.

Near the terminus of the paved hill, and close to the Beech Fork river, there is a singular formation. It is a mound sixty or seventy feet in height, running parallel with the river. A rocky promontory or cliff, at its upper end, juts out a considerable distance, and makes a beautiful spectacle. The summit of the mount is about 100 feet wide, and in the spring it is densely covered with Indian pinks and other wild flowers, which has given it the name of "Flower Mound." This curious formation is supposed to the the work of the mound builders.

In Mr. Hardin's day all that portion of the farm south of the residence was covered by a dense forest, and here the great lawyer would often be seen walking up and down beneath the trees reciting a speech that he was to deliver in some important case.

Mr. Hardin was an extensive landowner and his possessions amounted to over a thousand acres. On one of his tracts he propagated an immense peach orchard, the products of which he converted into brandy and shipped to the Southern market. This old peach orchard was in existence years after Mr. Hardin's demise, and the fruit it noticed produced was a the large black- red variety, known as the "Indian Peach".

The old residence was Gen. Leonidas Polk's headquarters during the occupation of Bardstown by Bragg's army. He was entertained by Judge Linthicum, then the occupant of the place. A portion of the Confederate forces were quartered near the house and many relics of the soldiers are frequently found in the vicinity of the encampment.

Return to KY Standard articles

Lori - Web Chatelaine
© July 1999