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Directory of Hardin Resources

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Hardin County was formed in 1858 from parts of Liberty and Jefferson counties. It was named for five brothers: Augustine, Benjamin, Franklin, Milton, and William Hardin, who were early settlers in Liberty County. A town named Hardin was settled, which was the first county seat of Hardin County, but the railroads laid their tracks so as to miss Hardin by a couple of miles. The railroad promoters, two brothers by the name of Kountze, established a new town besides the tracks of the railroad, naming it after themselves. With the absence of a railroad, Hardin went into a decline, the courthouse burned in 1887, and the county seat was moved to Kountze, which remains the county seat today. One of the chief resources of Hardin County was timber, and the sawmill town of Silsbee was the commercial center John Henry Kirby built his first sawmill in Silsbee in 1896. The oldest town in Hardin County is Sour Lake. In Sour Lake, it was said that oil oozed out of the ground. Oily water was thought to be good for the health, and people coming to Sour Lake were willing to pay 50 cents a glass for it before they discovered some of the other things that it was good for. Stephen Jackson is said to have founded the town, discovering that people would pay to drink the oily water, and a man known as Dr. Mud earned a good living shipping it to customers outside of Texas. Many rich and famous people, including Sam Houston, came to Sour Lake to bathe and drink the water. The first large oil gusher was in Sour Lake in 1902, and it was there that the company that was later to become known as Texaco got its start. There being no regulation of oil at that time, the population of Sour Lake grew from 40 to 20,000 people in four months, and oil derricks covered the landscape. Tiny Batson, on the western edge of Hardin County, had an oil boom at about the same time as Sour Lake, the population there growing from a few dozen to 10,000 almost overnight. Saratoga, after J.F. Cotton discovered medicinal springs there, was named after the famous New York resort. However, once commercial oil development began there in 1901, people lost interest in the springs.


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