Words of a Forgotten Poet: The Musings of Ben H. Hardin

The Filson Library recently acquired a small, rare book of poetry entitled A Progressive Age.  It was published in 1922 by Johnstown native Ben H. Hardin, who also went by the name of "Bennie" when he was young.  Hardin was born in Logan County on July 20, 1888, the oldest son of Henry Hardin & his wife Emma.  In addition to a sister named Fannie (pictured), he also had a brother Arthur and a sister Addie.

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Henry Hardin was a farmer, a profession that his son also may have followed after a stint as a coal miner in Earlington during the war years.  Farming themes appear in several of Ben Hardin’s poems, including “Agriculture is the Best”, “Farmer’s Organize”, “The Hardships of a Farmer”, and “Be a Farmer’s Wife.”  Hardin also writes about the town of Earlington and its people, his native Johnstown, World War I, faith & spirituality, education, hunting & fishing, family matters, and women.  One of my personal favorites is “How to Win a Lover”, a poem that seems appropriate to share post-Valentine’s Day.

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Ben Hardin died in Logan County in 1966.  Johnstown, the place of his birth, has since become a ghost town.  A Progressive Age is his only known publication.

*Information on Ben Hardin and his family from federal census records, a Logan County Kentucky 1905 school census, 1917 WWI draft registration, and the Social Security Death Index.  All images from A Progressive Age.

Jana Meyer

Jana Meyer is an Associate Curator of Collections. She received a degree in History from the University of Louisville and a master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky. Jana specializes in arranging and describing the Filson's manuscript collections. In her free time, she enjoys playing board games and hiking with her husband and three-legged dog, Rascal.

6 comments on “Words of a Forgotten Poet: The Musings of Ben H. Hardin

  1. Ron Colby

    I recently acquired a copy of the Ben H. Hardin book and wondered where Johnstown, KY was. I have not been able to locate it, or its site.

  2. Christine

    Johnstown is alive and well in Russellville, Mr Gilead Baptist Church is still there. I am married to Edward Hardin and have a copy of Ben’s Book.

    1. Jennie Cole

      Thank you, Christine! We are very happy to hear this information!

  3. Carla Ainsworth

    Thank you for this post and the pictures! Ben Hardin was my great grandfather and I had a copy of this book of poems (which I hope is still somewhere in our house!) We are doing family name research for my daughter’s class, it was lovely to show her this research.

    1. Jennie Cole

      Hi Carla! We are glad you enjoyed and could share this history!


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