Charles William Hargens, Jr. was born on August 30, 1893 in Hot Springs, South Dakota. His father, also named Charles William Hargens, was born 1866 in Wheatland, Iowa, of German ancestry. His mother, Lillian May Gamet, was born 1866 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His parents married in South Dakota on March 20, 1888. They had two children. His younger brother Holland Gamet Hargens was born on November 26, 1896. His father was a physician and surgeon with a practice in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
In 1899 at the age of six he began to make drawings of neighborhood scenes and was impressed to receive requests from neighbors to purchase them.
In 1901 at the age of eight his parents began to live separately. His mother took both sons to live in her home town, Council Bluffs, Iowa, at 315 South First Street. One year later his parents were divorced.
In 1903 the father married a second wife, Pearl Carley Hargens. She was born 1866 in Indiana and had three children from a previous marriage.
Charles and Holland Hargens were raised by their mother in Council Bluffs, Iowa, however they did visit their father and his new wife and family a few times during their summer vacations months.
While attending high school in Council Bluffs his art teacher noticed his talent and suggested extra tutoring with a local portrait artist.
In June of 1912 he graduated from high school in Council Bluffs, but continued to study with the local portrait painter. That same year the family moved to 620 First Avenue in Council Bluffs.
In 1913 his private art teacher suggested he pursue professional training at an art academy.
In September 1914 he began to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied with Daniel Garber (1880-1958). He lived at 121 North 21st Street in Philadelphia.
On May 29, 1917 he reported for draft registration during the Great War, at which time he was recorded to be twenty-three and single. He claimed exemption from military service on account of religious opposition to war, support of his dependent mother, weak eyes, and hay fever. He did not serve.
Later that same year on November 14, 1917 he married Marjorie Allen Garman in Saint Philips Church of Philadelphia. She was born in 1895 in Philadelphia and had completed two years of college, where she studied fashion design. Her parents were Ira D. Garman and Mary Ryder Garman. Her father was a jeweler. Her family lived at 216 South 45th Street.
The newlyweds moved in with the Garman Family and Charles Hargens began to work as a Jeweler's Assistant for his Father-in-law.
On October 21, 1918 their son Charles William Hargens, III, was born in Philadelphia.
In 1920 he was awarded the Cresson Fellowship for study abroad from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
On April 24, 1921 he sailed by himself to England, and spent the three months visiting art museums in London, Paris, Rome, and Florence. He returned from this rapid Grand Tour on July 23, 1921.
In 1922 he and his wife and son moved out of her family home and into 3934 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, where he used one room as his art studio. At first he worked in the field of advertising. Eventually is illustrations were used in ads for Stetson Hats, Beer Brewery, and Coca Cola.
He also began to draw pen & ink story illustrations and paint cover illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared on Brief Stories, Everybody's, Laughter, Rangeland Stories, and Blue Book Magazine.
During the 1930s his illustrations appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Country Gentleman, Farm Journal, Boy's Life, and Open Road For Boys.
On May 6, 1935 his stepmother Pearl Carley Hargens died at the age of sixty-nine in Hot Springs, SD. After this loss his father retired from medical practice and began to enjoy traveling by himself to Europe, Bermuda, and Hawaii.
In 1940 the artist moved to Log End, Route 2, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, but continued to commute to his art studio in Philadelphia. In 1942 he converted a barn on his property into an art studio and gave up his studio in the city.
On April 27, 1942 during WWII he registered with his draft board and was recorded to be age forty-eight, height five-eight, weight 174 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair, and a tattoo on his right forearm.
During the 1940s he painted dust jacket illustrations for several book publishers, such as Scribners, MacMillan, and Doubleday. Many of these novels concerned Western themes.
In 1947 he became the Scoutmaster of Troop 64 in Doylestown, PA. He served in this position until the age of eighty-seven.
In 1957 his father died at the age of ninety-one in Hot Springs, SD.
On May 12, 1958 the Council Bluffs Nonpareil newspaper published a special Mother's Day portrait by Charles Hargens of his mother, Lillian May Hargens. She had recently retired from the elected position, held since 1914, as Secretary of the Council Bluffs Masonic Lodge, Chapter 441, Eastern Star, of which she was the last surviving founding member.
On November 17, 1960 Lillian May Hargens died at the age of ninety-four.
On 1978 his wife, Marjorie Hargens, died at the age of eighty-three in Philadelphia.
Charles Hargens died at the age of one-hundred-and-three on January 30, 1997 in a private health care facility near Doylestown, PA.
© David Saunders 2013