The county was established by the state legislature in 1858, out of parts of three adjoining counties: Jefferson, Liberty and Tyler. It was named Hardin after the Hardin Family of Liberty County. The county seat, named Hardin, was established in 1859 and was located about three miles west of the present city of Kountze. The town was also named after the Hardin Family. Many of the early settlers came into Southeast Texas by steamboat from New Orleans through Lake Charles and Sabine Pass and up the Neches River and Village Creek to the Hardin County area. The Providence community was probably the first settlement in what was to become Hardin County. In the mid 1880's the timber boom came to Hardin County. Energized by the Texas and New Orleans railroad moving through Hardin County more than 60 different sawmills operated from 1881 until 1912 when the timber supply was exhausted.