Published in The Southern Planter in 1942
The writer going into North Carolina in quest of subject and material on which to base a story about the unlettered country lad, who by dint of hard work, thrift and practice of the Golden Rule, has gained the heights, isn’t there long before he finds himself on the threshold of the home of C.L. Hardy.
Mr. Hardy lives at Maury, a small eastern North Carolina town. He is proprietor there of an unpretentious general store that stocks about every item a tobacco grower needs for his household and his farm. He is reputedly one of the wealthiest men in the Old North State. He is a banker and a manufacturer. In the latter capacity he is putting on the market an oil-burning tobacco curing unit that is revolutionizing the curing of the golden leaf.
Owns 12,000 Acres
The “Squire of Maury,” as he is affectionately known throughout Eastern North Carolina, is the world’s larges tobacco grower, landlord of a leaf-producing domain of 12,000 acres in Greene and Pitt Counties. It is just about the best tobacco land in Tarheelia, which means that it is about the best tobacco land in the whole world. On these lands live 150 tenant families, numbering about 600 people. Mr. Hardy likes to refer to them as his “family.”
Government statistics show Mr. Hardy to be the world’s largest producer of tobacco. During the 1939 season he sold 1,053,342 pounds of flue-cured bright leaf tobacco at an average of $17.50 per hundred. He also sold 90,000 pounds of scrap tobacco.
Clarence L. Hardy, rugged and active at 64, was born in Pamlico County. His parents moved to Maury when he was an infant. He has been there ever since. When he was 22 he bought his first farm. He still buys land.
Some twelve years back Mr. Hardy wanted electricity in the Maury hamlet and he wanted electric power and conveniences for his tenants. He didn’t go, hat in hand, to the government for the money to construct the power lines. Instead, he built at his own expense between 35 and 40 miles of electric lines, signed a contract with nearby Greenville Municipal Power company to provide the current, and has been operating the line ever since. He has now more than 400 families using current from it.
On College Board
Mr. Hardy is a director in two banks and holds interests in other financial institutions. He is a heavy investor in North Carolina utilities. He is most proud however, of the fact that he is a member of the Board of Atlantic Christian College, an institution in which he is deeply interested and to which, it is understood, he has made substantial financial contributions. He never married, and resides, with a sister, across the road from his store at Maury. The thought of retiring is furthest from his mind. He intends to keep going as long as his health permits him to.
Early in life Mr. Hardy made it a rule to pay cash for everything he purchased and insisted that those who bought from him settle on the same basis. He still adheres to that rule.
The “Squire of Maury” has, he told a Southern Planter representative who called to see him, great faith in his country and his state. North Carolinians have high faith in C.L. Hardy. He has built for himself a name that will endure in the Old North State. There his name stands for all that is good and wholesome. North Carolinians doubt that anywhere in the world will a citizen be found who better fits into the picture of the country boy who made good than Clarence Hardy, who, in the days of his affluence remains a countryman to the core—and happy in the role.