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HARGEST, Thomas S., attorney-at-law, was born in Baltimore county, Md., November 24, 1846, son of William E. and Rachel (Taylor) Hargest, both natives of Maryland, and of English ancestry. His boyhood days were spent in Baltimore city and Baltimore county, where he received but an ordinary common school education. His attendance at school stopped at the age of fourteen years, when he was removed with his parents to Wilmington, Del. From thence forward he was put to work in the market gardens of his father, raising and preparing the vegetables for the market. In the winter of 1861-62 he was brought with his parents to Harrisburg, and continued at work in the truck patches on one of the farms now embraced in the eastern portion of the city, and on part of which his residence now stands. In the autumn of 1863, after the retreat of General Milroy from Winchester, Va., and the raid of the rebel army into Pennsylvania, when but seventeen years old, having obtained military transportation for thirty-two men, which he mustered for the purpose, he took them to Washington, and entered the army as a wagon master. At Charleston, W. Va., he was transportation clerk in the depot quartermaster’s office. The fall and winter of 1864 found him at Martinsburg, W. Va., as an assistant brigade wagon master, furnishing supplies to Sheridan’s army, then occupying the Shenandoah Valley, as far up as Strasburg, from the military depot at Martinsburg. After the end of open hostilities, he was discharged from the service at Stephenson’s Station, Frederick county, Va. He then went to Winchester, Va., and there began the study of law, the rudiments of classics and general literature, investing all his savings and earnings in books. He had no preceptor. On August 6, 1867, after a personal examination before two of the circuit court judges, the venerable Richard Parker, who presided at the trial of John Brown and his compatriots and sentenced them to be hung for their misguided treason against the state in attempting the forcible emancipation of the slaves, and Judge John T. Harris, who afterwards, for several terms, represented the Virginia Valley of the Shenandoah in Congress, he began the practice of his profession at Winchester, Va.

In 1868 he was appointed Commonwealth’s attorney for the county of Shenandoah, in place of Hon. Mark Bird, who, though elected by the people of his county, was incapacitated by the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Hargest made him his deputy, and gave him the fees and emoluments of the office. After the retirement of Judge John T. Harris, under the provisions of the fourteenth amendment, he was appointed, early in 1869, his successor as judge of the Twelfth judicial circuit of Virginia, by the then military governor of the State, the lamented Gen. E. R. S. Canby, who was lured to a peace conference with the Indians, and treacherously murdered by the notorious Indian chief, Captain Jack. He served as judge of the Twelfth judicial circuit of Virginia, and on the District Court of Appeals, until the admission of the State to representation in Congress, when he, with all the other judges of the State, was legislated off the bench by the adoption of the new Constitution. He resumed practice at Winchester, remaining there until the death of his father, which occurred in the fall of 1872, when he removed to Harrisburg. In 1876 he was elected city solicitor of the city of Harrisburg, and continued in office by re-election until 1890, when he retired from office and returned to general practice. After leaving office he was engaged as special counsel for the city in the important litigation with the passenger railway companies, which embraced a number of suits in equity, involving the rights of the city over its streets as against the companies. These he mainly conducted in a successful termination, when the city’s sovereignty over the streets was yielded. Judge Hargest was married, at Winchester, Va., April 3, 1867, to Virginia Dieffenderfer, a native of Virginia, daughter of William and Harriet Dieffenderfer, both natives of that State, and of German ancestry. To this union were born two children: William M. and Ione Leila, wife of E. L. King, attorney-at-law, of Harrisburg. Mrs. Hargest died at Harrisburg, August 13, 1886. In politics Judge Hargest has always been a consistent Republican. The parents of Judge Hargest had born to them seven children, but three of whom are now living: Thomas S. John J., residing in the northern part of the city, and Jefferson S., of Susquehanna township, a short distance above the city, both of whom are agriculturalists.

Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Linda Mockenhaupt ronm@westol.com for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription.

Date of Transcription: 12 December 2000

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