Biography of Alpha W. Hargett

Former Sheriff and Probate Judge of Franklin County
Deputy Prohibition Administrator for the Southern District of Alabama

Alpha W. Hargett, former Sheriff and Probate Judge of Franklin County, and at present Deputy prohibition administrator for the Southern District of Alabama, was born February 24, 1874, two and a half miles south of Belgreen, and about a quarter of a mile from the center of Franklin County. Son of William L. and America (Barrett) Hargett, deceased.

Mr. Hargett’s childhood days were spent in that community. When he was about sixteen years of age, his father sold his property there and bought a farm two miles south of Russellville, which is now owned by Alpha W. Hargett himself. Since his father was a poor man, he did not have very good opportunities for an education. In speaking of this Mr. Hargett said:

“My father was a poor man, having lost everything he had during the Civil War. Soon after the war he lost his health, and was confined to his bed a good portion of the time during my boyhood days. He came to his death when I was only seventeen years of age, leaving at home mother, three sisters and one brother younger than I, without means of support. This being true, I was in a way forced to become the head of the family and support my mother, brothers and sisters.”

But this was excellent training for Mr. Hargett, for if anything will bring out the best that there is in a person, it is to know that the welfare of his loved ones is dependent upon his actions. He did attend the common schools of Franklin County from 1881 to 1890 under the following teachers: Daniel Hargett, B. R. Fite, Sole Daily, ———Thompson, James Ezzelle and J. J. Dillard.

In 1892, at the age of eighteen, he was married to Miss Betty Shelton at Isbell in Franklin County. Nine children, five daughters and four sons, have been born to this union. They are James Howard; Mrs. Lillie Mae Box, Vernon, Ala., who was one of Franklin’s graduates of the State University; Mrs. Annie Lee Hanna, Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Carrie Bessie; Terrell Hobson; Nellie; Mellie; (Nellie and Mellie are twins); A. W., Jr.: all of Birmingham, Ala. One son died in infancy.

Two years after his marriage, 1894, Mr. Hargett went into the ginning business on the farm just south of Russellville. At first he ran it on a small scale. Three years later his brother, W. E. Hargett, became his partner. They purchased a modern ginnery which they operated in Russellville. They ginned cotton, bought cotton and cotton seed until 1914, and were very successful.

In 1910 Mr. Hargett made the race for Sheriff of Franklin County on the Republican ticket, and was elected at the general election in November of that year. That was one of the most noted elections in the history of Franklin County and resulted in a great victory for the Republicans. In that same election S. J. Petree, Republican, was elected Probate Judge by one vote over W. D. Lowery, a Democrat. Mr. Hargett served the county as Sheriff the following term, 1911-1915, then returned to the farm and made two crops.

In 1916 he made the race for Probate Judge of Franklin County. His Democratic opponent was W. H. Austin, a prominent Baptist minister and one of the county’s most highly respected citizens. He is also one of the best informed men of the county on legal matters. Therefore, Mr. Hargett had a very strong opponent, but he succeeded in winning at the general election. He served the full term which ended in 1923.

In the election of 1922 he was again a candidate for the Probate office. His Democratic opponent this time was John D. Petree of Belgreen. The Democrats led in this election, with the result that Hargett was defeated. He then went into the mercantile business at Russellville and remained in that line of work until October 16, 1923, at which time he was appointed Federal prohibition director for the State of Alabama. He then moved his family to Birmingham where they now reside.

On September 1, 1925, he was appointed Deputy Prohibition Administrator for the Southern District of Alabama, with headquarters at Mobile and has served in that office until the present time (1927).

Mr. Hargett has made quite a success, even though handicapped, showing what a person can do. He possesses an unusually pleasing personality and makes friends wherever he goes. He is a Methodist. While in Franklin County he was a member of the Methodist Church in Russellville, but now is a member of the St. Francis Street Methodist Church in Mobile.

Source: Source: James, R. L. Distinguished Men, Women and Families of Franklin County, Alabama. Russellville, Ala., Private Publication, 1928. 111 p.

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