They say once printer’s ink gets in the blood of a family, it might run from generation to generation.
That was especially so of the Hardy family, whom longtime North Georgia residents will remember as editors and publishers of newspapers in Gainesville and Commerce.
Their roots could be traced to a Civil War veteran, who wasn’t a printer or journalist, but the father of three newspaper publishers: Albert S. Hardy Sr. of the Gainesville News, James Broughton Hardy of the Thomasville Times and Benjamin Hill Hardy of the Barnesville News-Gazette. Their father was Gen. J.P Hardy, who joined the Confederate Army at the age of 14, fought in the Savannah campaigns and after the war became commander of the Georgia Division of United Confederate Veterans. He died at age 92 in 1938.
One of his sons, Albert, also was the father of three sons who were in the printing business: Charles, who succeeded him as publisher of the Gainesville News and later the daily Gainesville Morning News; Albert Jr., who became publisher of the Commerce News; and J. Milton Hardy, who operated a photo studio and newspaper photo engraving business next door to the Gainesville News, which was on South Main Street across from the Collegiate Grill.
Albert Hardy Sr. came to Gainesville after working on the Barnesville paper. He bought the Gainesville Industrial News from H.W.J. “Snollygaster” Ham in 1877 and renamed it simply the Gainesville News.
Hardy became a prominent publisher and political voice that was respected throughout the state. He became president of the Georgia Press Association and National Editorial Association and presided when the national organization’s annual convention came to Gainesville, quite an honor for a small town and a weekly newspaperman.
His son, Charles, succeeded him as publisher and continued to run the weekly News until 1955 when he converted it into the Gainesville Morning News. That daily paper ceased publication in 1956, Charles later joining the weekly Tribune as advertising manager.
Albert’s son Albert Jr. grew up on the Gainesville News, but later bought the Commerce News. Charles’ son Buzzie joined his uncle in Commerce, eventually becoming owner and publisher. He sold the weekly in 1986, but continued in the printing business until just last week when he sold it. That would be the end of the line in North Georgia for Hardys in the printing/newspaper business.
Mayors also ran in the family. J. Milton Hardy served on Gainesville’s city commission and took his turn as mayor several times. His nephew and Charles’s son, Buzzie, served 22 years as mayor of Commerce.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur of World War II fame descended from the Hardy family, according to Preston Young of Powder Springs, a descendant who has researched the family tree. MacArthur’s mother was Mary Pinkney Hardy.
Other Hardys had military backgrounds: Lt. Gen. William Joseph Hardee, who also spelled his name Hardy, of the Confederate Army, and whose father was Major John Hardy. And Major Hardy’s father, John Joseph Hardy, was a Revolutionary War hero, so much so the State of Georgia awarded him a land grant in Camden County, where he established a successful cotton plantation.
Preston Young, who gathered the Hardy family information, himself is the great-grandson of Julia Frances Hardy Garrett, sister of Gen. J.P. Hardy, whose three sons started the family newspaper tradition.
It has been 77 years since the notorious 1936 tornado wiped out downtown Gainesville. Fewer survivors who witnessed the tornado remain.
Another died recently. Elsie Ruth Kinard Wansley, 97, died earlier this month in Loganville. She was 20 years old when the storm sucked her out of the doorway of a shoe store in which she worked. She landed gently on a sidewalk safely away from the worst destruction. Others who were in the downtown building died of their injuries.
Mrs. Wansley and her husband, Reuben, years later started a moving business in Gainesville that turned into a larger United Van Lines agency.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.