A pen and ink drawing of Richard R. Hargis accompanies this article.

The Courant American
Cartersville, Georgia
January 20, 1888, Page 1
Transcribed by 2006

“Our Picture Gallery”
[A pen and ink drawing of Richard R. Hargis accompanies this article.]

The lives of successful men convince us,
We may make our lives a success,
And, departing, leave behind us,
Precepts that may guide the rest.

The portrait in our picture gallery today presents to our six thousand readers the genial, sunny countenance, of the prince of conductors, Richard R. Hargis, of the Western and Atlantic railroad.  Dick, as he is familiarly called, is probably more widely and intimately known than any man in North Georgia and is deservedly the most popular conductor in the borders of the Empire State.  To his employers he is the strict business man, always on time and prompt as to every duty.  To the traveling public he is the urbane, gallant, courteous gentleman, who does not regard the trouble of giving information or looking after the interests of the passengers.

Mr. Hargis was born Sept. 9th, 1842, at Cass Station, Bartow county, of Welch and Scotch-Irish parentage, near the spot where now his beautiful and pleasant little home is located.  His parents were poor, but by dint of energy and perseverance lived well, and raised a large and intelligent family, supplying them with common comforts and a limited education, endowing them especially with energy, integrity, thrift and brawn.  Richard was the fifth child and his tender years were employed in aiding his mother in her various household duties.  At the age of nine years young Hargis was prompted and made aid de camp to his father’s forces on the farm and learned to plow a straight furrow and hoe a clean row.  One noted characteristic of Dick’s life has been to excel in every position he has filled.  This cropped out and was apparent even in his early boyhood, and we find him by the time he is cleverly in his teens intrusted by his father with the most important work on the farm.  When he was fourteen years old he lost his father and the management of the farm and support of the family devolved upon him almost entirely for several years.  At the age of sixteen an irresistible impulse came over him to ride on a train, to see some of the world, and especially to go to Atlanta, which was, to his youthful imagination, the greatest city he ever heard of.  Up to that time Dick had never wandered much farther than the limits of his own immediate neighborhood and never in all his life had he seen a larger town than Cassville.  To carry out his design, he went earnestly to work, after crops were laid by, in his brother-in-law’s livery stable to earn the money to buy a suit of store clothes and get the necessary funds for the trip.  At last his great ambition was achieved, and with a five dollar suit of clothes and money enough for his ticket and fifty cents for spending change, he hurried home to announce to his mother’s family that on the morrow he would go with his brother-in-law to the big city.  That night the expectations of the trip drove balmy sleep from his eyelids, and he lay awake talking to his younger brother of the big trip he was going to take and the wonderful things he would see in the great city.  At early dawn he was up and at the railroad, nervously walking up and down the track, anxiously awaiting the train.  At last it came in sight, greatly to his relief, and as soon as it stopped, in company with his brother-in-law, he got aboard, and in due time was landed at the Atlanta depot.  As he alighted from the train the whole world seemed presented to him in panoramic view, and as he stood gazing in wonder and awe, totally oblivious of his surroundings and the departure of his companion he was startled by the cry of some wag: “Look out for pickpockets!”  Dick immediately slapped both hands over his fifty cent treasure, which was in his pants pocket, safely incased in his home-made squirrel-skin purse.  From that moment he kept a sharp lookout for the slick handed gentry, who, he felt satisfied, knew of and coveted his riches.  He spent the day in wandering around gazing at the sights, keeping ever in view of the depot, lest he might get lost amidst the interminable marge of streets.  We simply mention this incident of his early life to show how limited was his knowledge of the world and how late in life he commenced the endowment of those traits of character which have exalted him to the honorable trusts of his employers and made him so deservedly popular with the traveling public.  A few years after this incident he entered the Confederate service in the cavalry brigade commanded by the brave and gallant Gen. P. M. B. Young, the chevalier band of the South, and with his command took an active part in all the campaigns of Northern Virginia.  He was always the life of the bivouac fires, ever ready for a frolic, and never took on more of dull care than he could well shake off at his heals.

After the war was over he returned home and commenced his railroad career, taking up the pick and shovel as a track hand in May, 1865.  At the end of one month he was made telegraphic line man and after fully restoring the line was appointed temporary depot agent at Cass Station, and after a few months entered the railroad service as a train hand, which he filled with promptness and credit for over two years.  He then accepted the appointment of night yard-master at Chattanooga.  After six months’ service at this work he became a freight conductor, and at the time of the lease of the road was exalted to the place of his early ambition – that of passenger conductor.  For seventeen long years of arduous and faithful duty he has held the position to the entire satisfaction of the officers of the road and to the delight and comfort of the traveling public.

When the President and Mrs. Cleveland and the distinguished parties who accompanied them entered the State en route to the city of Atlanta and the Piedmont Exposition, Mr. Hargis was honored by the lessees with the commission of conducting the presidential party over the Western and Atlantic road and enjoyed the exalted privilege of dispensing the courtesies of this great thoroughfare to the honored guests.

So clear has his conception been of orders and so good has his judgment been of the railroad schedules, that not a single accident has happened to his train in all the many years of his railroad life, and it is known far and near that to ride on Dick Hargis’ train is better than a life insurance.  Outside of his railroad acquaintance, Dick is socially very popular and numbers his friends by the score.  His name has been mentioned frequently in connection with legislative honors.  Mr. Hargis set out in his boyhood days to make a first-class passenger conductor; to buy the parental farm and surround himself with all the attractions and allurements which constitute a happy home.  Amid all the arduous duties of a busy life, he has never lost sight of the prize, but has kept the gould of his aims and ambitions steadily in view rising step by step, until the whole has been fully accomplished, and that, too, ere his manhood has reached its zenith.  He has truly been eminently successful, and we are glad to present this fine picture and a sketch of his life, with the hopes that it may be a stimulant to the exertions of many young men who desire honorable preferment in the world. --- S.


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