Coleman Hargrove Van de Graaff, 1893-1938

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Coleman Hargrove Van de Graaff, 1893-1938


Van de Graaff, Coleman Hargrove, 1893-1938


Coleman Hargrove "Hog" Van de Graaff was the second son born to Circuit Judge Adrian Sebastain "Bass" Van de Graaff Sr. and Minnie Cherokee Jemison Van de Graaff.

Like his older brother, Adrian, Hargrove attended the University of Alabama and played football with his elder brother in 1911 and 1912., although he weighed only 146 pounds at that time. He made up for his size with what was described as "his flair and fire and personality."

In a game against Tennessee, Hargrove nearly lost an ear and rather than coming out of the contest, he tried to rip it off. Following a hard-fought game with Georgia Tech, the opposing coach, John Heisman, declared that he had never seen a player "so thoroughly imbued with the true spirit of football as Hargrove Van de Graaff."

Hargrove was also a pitcher on the University's baseball team and a letterman in track.

Following his graduation from the University, Hargrove followed Adrian into the military. He first served on the Mexican border and later in France during World War I. He was wounded and won the Croix de Guerre (twice) and the Distinguished Service Cross. Unlike Adrian or his father, Hargrove did not pursue a legal career. In addition to serving as an assistant coach of the University's football squad for a few years, it is said that he instead looked after the extensive land interests of his family around Alabama (the family also owned a plantation at Gee's Bend), a task made very difficult during the Great Depression.

He was also a major advocate for the construction of an airport in Tuscaloosa and succeeded in obtaining federal funding for that purpose.

Hargrove never married and he died in 1938 at a Veterans Hospital in Mississippi where he was being treated for a severe and debilitating nervous disorder.

Someone who knew him wrote that "Hargrove Van de Graaff to me was a beau-ideal of the old-fashioned gentleman-sportsman. With all the courage and fighting spirit in the world, and the brilliant flair of a latter-day D'Aartagnan in action," he was a "perfect exemplar of the maxim that the first attribute of a gentleman is gentleness. There are medals and crosses to attest his gallantry; his calm gentility lives on forever in the hearts of those who know and loved him."

The airport at Tuscaloosa, which was built on Van de Graaff land, was named in his honor when it opened in 1940. (Chris McIlwain)


Historical Commission of Tuscaloosa County


The Tuscaloosa News


Betty Slowe (Description)
Chris McIlwain (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

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