Samuel Robert Hart, a prominent practicing lawyer of Sacramento, and for some years a leader in the public life of the city, county and state, is a Californian by birth and one of the most worthy of her native sons. He is a man distinguished for self-attainment in his business and professional career, for since he was thirteen years old he has been in the thick of the struggle of life, earning his own bread and by his own efforts building each succeeding stepping stone in his career of advancement. He is acquainted with every phase of the rancher's, herder's, and cowboy's rought and tumble life. He has also engaged in merchandising, and then, when twenty-four years of age, tackled law with the same energy and determination he had displayed in his previous enterprises. His literary preparation for this exacting profession was very meager, and he had to lay a foundation for his studies before he could get well started in his progress for admission to the bar. He succeeded, however, and has since been numbered among the representative legal minds of the state, enjoying a fair share of public patronage and its entire confidence and favor, and likewise the high esteem of his fellow citizens in all stations of life.
Mr. Hart was born in Santa Clara, California, March 22, 1856, a son of James and Sarah (Cavins) Hart, whose worthy careers are given in connection with the biography of Judge E. C. Hart, on another page of this work. Mr. Hart attended the public schools of Nicolaus, Sutter county, and of Colusa, Colusa county, but left at the age of thirteen and for a few weeks engaged in herding sheep. He then herded cattle for Foley and Company of San Francisco, driving cattle from the upper end of the state to Woodland and Suisun for shipment to San Francisco. He then drove and herded cattle for Todhunter, ex-Senator Boggs, John Devine, G. B. Turner and Godfrey Ingram. He was all over Colusa and Tehama counties. He afterward rode and broke wild horses. In 1872 he went to work in the clothing store of Joseph Bodefield in Colusa, and after three years with him started in business for himself in Colusa, dealing in fruit, produce and notions. At the same time he had an orchard of forty-four acres on Butte slough in Sutter county, and in 1877-78 he farmed fourteen hundred acres of land, but in the second year the rust and smut caused the loss of his entire crop after it was growing finely. For a few months he worked in the Williams post-office for the purpose of assisting a man by the name of Williams to retain that office.
In 1880 Mr. Hart formed the determination to study law, and for that purpose entered the Colusa office of his brother, Attorney General A. L. Hart, then located in Sacramento. He took up the study of Blackstone, and to assist his comprehension of that authority he studied Latin with a professor who gave him a lesson each night. For several years Mr. Hart put in fourteen hours a day in his studies, and was admitted to the bar in Los Angeles in 1888, having in the meantime also given his attention to his other interests. On June 31, 1902, on motion of Mr. Banning, he was admitted to the United States district court. He was engaged in active practice in Fresno from 1888 until 1895, and then came to Sacramento, where he has resided ever since. He resumed his law practice in 1902, and now carries on a good general practice.
Mr. Hart has always been active in Republican party affairs, and attended the city and county conventions at Colusa and Fresno. He was candidate for district attorney of Fresno county, but withdrew his name before it went to the convention. He was also candidate for appointment as superior judge of Fresno county. He was responsible for getting a third judge for that county, and all the members of the bar of Sacramento and Fresno counties, the leading legislators, bankers and others urged his appointment, but Governor Markham ignored this tremendous support, and, with an eye to his own election to the United States senatorship, made a different appointment.
Mr. Hart was married in Colusa in November, 1889, to Miss Irba Deter, who was born in Colusa county of an old pioneer family. She died December 5, 1903, leaving two sons, Cavins Deter, aged twelve, and Robert Rhea, aged ten. Mr. Hart was a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West until the Colusa parlor was disbanded.
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