Hardin was the most
important and surely the most flourishing town in
northeastern Iowa in the early 1850s. It was
located at the intersection point of Allamakee and
Clayton Counties. Since it was located in the
southwestern corner of Franklin Township, it was barely a
couple of miles to the north of the reservation line. It
is south of a region which was previously settled by a
few farmers for less than 10 years.
It lies on what was an Indian trail from the Indian
village close to Luana and on to the Decorah village.
This was an early route between Dubuque and St. Paul,
which passed through Monona, Lybrand, Granville,
Frankville, Trout River, Decorah, Burr Oak, Elliota,
Minnesota, Carimona and Rochester.
As soon as the Indians left in 1848, things began to
develop. A post office was established and on Jan. 1,
1851, L.B. Hodges assumed the duties of postmaster. At
that time there were only 3 other offices in the area:
Postville, Lansing, and Tom Corwin in Fairview Township.
The fifth at Lybrand was established later that year. It
became a natural point of entry to the newly
opened area, but some of the professionals who located
there moved on to towns that could offer them more
possibilities for success. Some of them were: Dr. John
Green and L.B. Hodges, clerk of district court who went
to Columbus. James M. Sumner, who was one of the county
commissioners, and Joseph W. Holmes, were from this area.
County surveyors S.P. Hicks, Joel Dayton, and H.O. Dayton
began their careers from this point. Hon. Henry Dayton
came into Allamakee County by this gateway and taught the
Hardin School in 1857-58. A.D. Frazier opened the first
store in Hardin in 1851 and the next year R.T. Burnham
brought in a large stock of goods. In 1855 there were
five general stores and other businesses as well, so
Hardin was on its way.
Across the line into Clayton County, a large
steam-operated gristmill was operated and the well-known
Collins Tavern was in operation. Rev. Bishop,
a Methodist minister, held the first religious services
in the log schoolhouse. In 1858-59, a Baptist
congregation was begun by Rev. James Scofield, but this
was discontinued in 1863.
The town of Hardin was platted in January 1854 by L.B.
Hodges, who was owner of the land which lay in Allamakee
County, and Joseph Collins, who owned the Clayton County
land. Additions were platted in 1856 in what was known as
Hardin Center. The name was taken from Col. Hardin of
Today you could drive through what was once Hardin and
never realize that a town has existed there. It seems to
be nothing other than a farming community. Since
transportation was a major problem in the development of
any area, Hardin began to disintegrate. Plans were made
to extend the rail line through Postville, and this was a
real threat to any further development. One building
appears to have been a store or perhaps a post office.
Other buildings are in bad repair. Some seem to have been
renovated to make them more useable. Mrs. Ralph Bacon
said the spot where their home and farm buildings stand
was once the main street of town. She said that all along
the road which passes their premises were business
places, and on down the road a way, dwellings stood, but
they have been razed. Another farm a short distance from
them in Clayton County is occupied by the Bob Keeler
family. On a hillside is a set of buildings which are
unoccupied. This farm is owned by David Schieholz. The
son of the Bacons remarked, I trap gophers on
that farm. It is mostly hay ground.
Numerous other settlements in Allamakee County have
fallen by the wayside, but this is part of the progress
of the area. Towns of Dalby, Elon, Maud and even
Waterville have fallen into this category.