William Hardin born in Franklin County, Georgia and along with his four brothers came to Liberty County, Texas from Tennessee in 1825. Hardin was elected commissioner of police 9th May 1831. As alcalde of Liberty, he opened his house in 1832 for the consultation that was held between Juan Davis Bradburn’s forces and those opposing him at Anahuac. Hardin was a delegate to the Convention of 1833 at San Felipe and an election judge at Nacogdoches in 1834. He also served as primary judge of the municipality of Liberty that same year and at times as pro tempore alcalde.
Judge Hardin was instrumental in solving the problem of guarding and feeding the 740 Mexicans captured at San Jacinto. A large majority of these prisoners were taken to Galveston but a lack of provisions and the threat of attack by General Filisola, who had fallen back to Bexar after Santa Anna’s capture, made their relocation necessary. President Burnet wrote to Major General M. B. Lamar on 8th of July informing him that he had determined to leave the soldiers at Galveston but send the officers to Liberty, “….where they could be supported as cheaply and guarded as safely as at any other point.”
On July 24th, President Burnet wrote to William Hardin asking him if he could take care of thirty or more prisoners. By mid-August, orders were sent to Colonel James Morgan to move the Mexican officers at Fort Travis, on Galveston Island to Liberty. The prisoners were taken on the schooner Kosciusko to Anahuac where Hardin was to meet them with men and transportation necessary to move them to Liberty. Judge Hardin took charge of 60 Mexican Prisoners on August 26th, among them General Martin Perfecto de Cos and Ten. Coronel Pedro Delgado, a member of Santa Anna’s staff.
Delgado described the prisoners’ stay at the Hardin plantation in A Mexican Account of the Battle San Jacinto which he wrote after his release and return to Mexico. He described the mild climate, wholesome water, comfort, and liberty and praised the kindness of Judge and Mrs. Hardin. In his account he stated “Judge Hardin relieved our bitter condition by all means in his power, retaining for himself the worst of his houses, to appropriate the two others for our sick….In the month of November, he built a fine frame house, at his own expense, to shelter us from rain and cold. After a short time, he became very much attached to us, and felt so grieved at our unfortunate condition that he withdrew entirely the small detachment that guarded us…. When we wee out of rations…. his good and virtuous wife was kind enough to sed us large pieces of seasoned beef, bacon, coffee, sugar, bread and whatever was place d upon her own table.”
He further described in his narrative the lack of provisions supplied by the Texas government. He reported that meat and salt were their only rations, and they often gave out. When the prisoners were running law, Hardin would kill and butcher a beef and send it to their quarters.
Lack of rations, especially beef, was accentuated by the fact cattle were being driven east of the Sabine. The government had ordered the arrest of all persons caught driving off cattle. A letter was received from Thomas Rusk, Secretary of War in November 1836, concerning this matter and a threat to release the Mexican prisoners at Liberty. Rusk ordered Captain Daniel Perry to Liberty to exercise his order and requested Hardin’s cooperation in obtaining men to assist in his directive.
On April 23, 1837, the Government of Texas paroled the Mexican prisoners at Liberty. Although the exact site where the Mexican officers and soldiers were held is not known, deed and probate records indicate that Judge Hardin owned all of Block No. 36, all of Block No. 35, and all a 12-acre Lot 2, Outer Block No. 20, at the crest of what was later known as Mexican Hill. It was sometimes also known as Beaumont Hill and Shelby Hill. In 1936, a Texas Centennial Marker was located on Outer Block No. 20, Lot No 4 honoring the history of “Mexican Hill.” After several wrecks along Highway 90, the Centennial Marker was destroyed, and a new Texas Historical Commission marker was applied for and received. It was placed east of the site of the original marker along Highway 90.
Texas Historical Commission Subject Marker, Hwy. 90 East in front of vacant restaurant building.