Hargrave Secret Service Blog

History of Hargrave Secret Service

By griffyclan007


A uniformed guard of Hargrave Security Services, 1978

The Hargrave brand name has been in existence ‘since 1888′, it later became franchised nationwide. With international correspondents worldwide. The company has had a complex history of reorganizations, franchising, branches spinning-off after franchisor company dissolved, and the international operations (which had been independent) involded in mergers.

Hargrave Secret Service – Detective Agency Blotter (1920′s)

In 1888, Edward J. Hargrave established the EDWARD J HARGRAVE SECRET SERVICE, a proprietorship in St. Louis, Missouri. Years later, George E. Hargrave, son of the founder opened a branch office in the principle city of Chicago, Illinois. After Edward J. Hargrave passed away in 19, George E. Hargrave still used the trade name “Hargrave Secret Service” as a DBA, but obviously the words “EDWARD J” had been dropped from the name. The Chicago office became the primary office, the business was franchised, and the company incorporated by July 1st, of 1969.

The original desk of Hargrave Secret Service, from 1888.

At the time, these companies were more like family companies. It was common for the sons of the owner, to open branch offices in principle cities, such as Chicago. Not just Hargrave Secret Service, but also the Pinkertons International Detective Agency and the William J Burns International Detective Agency. And used franchising to expand and grow their respective companies.

Original desk, front view.

On November 12th, 1932, Edward J. Hargrave, head of the Secret Service firm which beared his name, died in the afternoon at his home after two days of illness. Edward J. Hargrave was 64 years old.  Source: New York Times – Nov 12, 1932.

In 1970, the top private detective agencies restructured themselves as private security agencies, and dominated the market.

Dillinger and the ‘Lady in Red’


Dillinger FBI fingerprint card with mug shots of front, and side of face.

Driving across the Indiana-Illinois state line in a stolen vehicle, Dillinger violated a federal law and thus caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An investigation concerning the facts of the escape had been carried out some time later by the Hargrave Secret Service of Chicago, Illinois on  the orders of the Illinois governor. The governor and Illinois state Attorney General Philip Lutz eventually chose not to release information because they did not want Dillinger to know of the informants with whom they spoke. As a result the findings about the gun in the escape were never made public, and this, coupled with Dillinger himself actively perpetuating the wooden gun story as an ego boost, is a reason many believe the “wooden gun” escape was real. The truth behind the infamous gun may never be known.

The woman who gave up Dillinger was a paid operative for Chicago’s old Hargrave Secret Service, a private detective agency.

Lady in Red

Anna Sage the “Lady in Red” was a paid operative for Chicago’s old Hargrave Secret Service, a private detective agency established in 1888.

Dillinger’s last day of freedom was July 22nd, 1934. Dillinger attended the film Manhatton Melodrama at the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago with his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and grothel owner Ana Cumpanas (a.k.a. Anna Sage), who was facing deportation charges. Sage worked out a deal with Purvis and the FBI to set up an ambush for Dillinger and drop the deportation charges against her. When they exited the theater that night, Sage tipped off the FBI who opened fire into the back of Dillinger, killing him. Sage had identified herself to agent Melvin Pervis by wearing an agreed-upon orange and white dress, which due to the night lights, led to the enduring notion of the “Lady in Red” as a betraying character. Though she had delivered Dillinger as promised, Sage was still deported to her home country of Romania in 1936, where she remained until her death 11 years later.

Interestingly enough, in 1991. While I worked at Wisconsin Electric Power Company, in downtown Milwaukee for Burns International, part of a made for TV movie called Dillinger was being filmed. Probably because of all the marble walls.

Antique Hargrave sign used to deter burglars and vandals.

CIA Connection

In 1963, after the presidential assassination of John F. Kennedy, the CIA considered using Hargrave Secret Service, for investigating the homicide.

Click on the links below “Page 1″ and “Page 2″  to see the documentation.

MEMO: HARGRAVE SECRET SERVICE                                                                                NARA Record Number: 104-10164-10463

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM                                                                                  RELEASED IN FULL 1998

Page 1

Page 2

Information from declassified CIA documents pertaining to Hargrave Secret Service:

Hargrave Secret Service, 6 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL

The telephone directory reflects the company was formed in 1888 and has offices and/or representatives in the principle cities of the world.                           Albert Johnson, an ex-FBI man doubts that these are any more than investigative correspondents.

George E. Hargrave is sole owner, and is the son of the founder.                               He is a big, 250 pound man who has been married 5 times.                                       In business, he is the type to put on a big show and is not averse to putting more men than necessary on a job in order to charge his client a higher price and profit accordingly.

Richard Cain, Chief Investigator, Cook County Sheriff’s office distrust Hargrave. He said he knows him personally and does not regard him as a discreet person.

CIA document from December 23, 1963, Released as Sanitized in 1998.

The Milwaukee branch of Hargrave Secret Service, had been franchisee-owned (1972).

My father’s business card, which my mother wrote on from the 1960s.

Hargrave Badge & Patch Sets (if available), & Trade Names

HARGRAVE SECURITY INTERNATIONAL, INC. The international operations had spun-off in 1978. At the time George E. Hargrave (the franchisor) dissolved his corporation. This was the Hargrave entity that G4S acquired in England/Europe. Hargrave Security entities in the United States were unaffected by this, and were not acquired.


Hargrave Security Patch of the 1970s.

In 1970, the largest private detective agencies re-structured themselves as private security (guard) agencies. This is called the ‘security-boom’. They shedded private detective work, except for that which pertains to combating industrial espionage. As industrial plants were their target market.

HARGRAVE POLICE –  Second Generation (mid-late 1960′s style)

This Hargrave entity only operated out of the Milwaukee branch office, and did not exist anywhere else.

Style badge and custom-patch (a 1960s-style Wisc State Trooper patch, the area with the words “state trooper” and the lightning bolt is black, and the word “Hargrave” is in place of the word “Wisconsin”)

This was a DBA used by Merchants Police, Inc., and had replaced the Uniformed Division of Hargrave Secret Service during the 1960s. Their target market was industrial-plants, as the profit margin of other account types was much narrower. Since Hargrave Police was not part of the Hargrave franchise, the franchisee-owner in Milwaukee was able to evade paying royalties for work done under the Hargrave Police trade name. Hargrave Police uniforms were hand-me-downs from their parent company, Merchants Police, which had removed their own custom patch, and replaced it with the more generic looking Hargrave Police patch (based on the Wisc State Trooper patch of the 1960s). Hargrave Police badges were the same style as Merchants Police badges, both the same style used by the Milwaukee Police Department. The badge-number sequence continued where the Merchants Police badge-numbers left off.

HARGRAVE POLICE –  First Generation (early-mid 1960′s style)


Patch Comparison- Original Hargrave Police & Milwaukee Police Department (mid-1960′s styles)

This HARGRAVE POLICE patch is based on the Milwaukee Police patch, of the 1960′s era. Notice that the pattern design of the outer edge of the Hargrave Police patch is less defined, than the MPD patch it’s based on. Also the Hargrave Police patch has a larger, 6-point star (the color is yellow), and that it’s location is lower. The patch cloth is navy blue cheesecloth.

The other style I’ve seen is based on the Wisc Highway Patrol patch (upside down triangle), with red boarder, the words “HARGRAVE POLICE” in red lettering (on upper half of patch), and a red 5-point star on lower half. This earlier patch, has the words larger, and too close to a 6-point star, which itself is much larger.


The above pictured HARGRAVE POLICE badge, is of a lower number sequence, and does not continue where the MERCHANTS POLICE, INC. badge number sequence left off.
This is because, this is an earlier HARGRAVE POLICE badge. But still newer, than the HARGRAVE SECRET SERVICE OF WISCONSIN, INC. badge (franchise-style), also pictured in this article.

The HARGRAVE POLICE badges that I am familiar with, have higher range numbers, continuing the badge number sequence, where MERCHANTS POLICE, INC. badge numbers end.
These were in the 600 range, 500 range and lower were MERCHANTS POLICE, INC.

Hargrave Police, badge and patch set.


Franchised versions of the Uniformed Division of Hargrave Secret Service badge and patch.

Incorporated and then franchised by George E. Hargrave, the son of the founder. Their target market is presumed to be grocery stores, to which they offered store detective and retail security guard services. They offered general detective work to the public, businesses, and government.

Office Building where Hargrave Secret Service of Wisconsin, Inc. was located during the 1960s.


Founded in 1888, by Edward J Hargrave (the founder), the company was a DBA, as it was unincorporated while he owned it.

If anyone has any photos ( .jpg ) of any Hargrave Secret Service or Hargrave Security Services or Hargrave Police, that they would like to see added to this article, just let me know, and I’ll add it.

I have an image of my father’s business card and some images of Hargrave Security Service patches (for the left shoulder area). One idea is if anyone has any of other Hargrave patch or badge designs, or even a sample of the company letterhead. The Detective Agency Blotter from the 1920′s era, is a good example of a photo adding more to this article.

Hargrave Secret Service and Hargrave Security Services were of the franchise.

Hargrave Police was operated only in Milwaukee, during the 1964 to 1970 era.


7 Responses to “History of Hargrave Secret Service”

  1. mike chiappetta Says:
    June 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply   editHi, I’m Mike Chiappetta I was a friend and license holder for George in 78-79 I was with him in his days on Illinois Street. I have lots of articles including two small cases of what probably are the last signs.I also have one blue brass sign saying the Edward J. Hargrave and hargrave patrol & watch service this is probably from his father. George use to talk fondly of the Milwaukee office. Glad to see you’re keeping up the name. I also have case boof from the 30′s please comment Mike 630-546-1837
  2. Guy Parent Says:
    August 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Reply   editHello Mike et al…. Guy Parent here formerly Windsor, Ontario and started with Jack Forrest in 1976.
    Jack passed away a few years ago and fondly remembered as my first security mentor. Mike, I’m sure that Dan Dragovich (the Yugoslavian terror from hell) would want me to say hello. We’re still best buddies and keep in touch all the time.
    I was surprised to find this site and grateful that the memory lives on.
    I ‘ve had my own Investigation Agency since 1988 (funny exactly 100 years after Hargrave Secret Service began) and all that I owe, I owe to my experience with Hargrave.
    Keep it going and thanks very much.

    You can reach me at gparent@corporateinvestigations.com

  3. Guy Parent Says:
    August 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Reply   editHello Mike, Guy Parent here formerly of Windsor Ontario, (Jack Forrest and Dan Dragovich) Jack passed a couple of years ago and Dan is on the final stretch posted overseas.
    I can attest that Jack Forrest was the man who mentored me when I started with him in 1976 with Hargrave’s first international venture to Canada. Great times, lousy pay and fly by the seat of your pants fun for all. Those were the days…. I’ve owned my own PI Agency now for almost 25 years and really enjoyed going down memory lane on this blog ….. Dan says to say hello Mike.
    Any old Hargrave’ers are welcome to contact me at gparent@corporateinvestigations.com Best regards and thanks again. Guy
  4. mike chiappetta Says:
    August 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Reply   editOne of George Hargraves last cases….It was Easter Sunday morning, 1977, I was all decked out in a dark jacket, beige double knit slacks, new white shirt and tie and a cool pair of italian loafers-looking good, pimped out. Our marriage was rocky, and the wife and three kids and me went to early mass. After, I had to kill a little time at home when my mentor , George Hargrave called , he was famous for calling at the wrong time with a bad job but it was George ,a legion in the Chicago PI seen, and I was his guy and as usual the retainer was in cash.
    He needed two guys for a body guard job like right now, the few details he gave me was “some joker just released from JAIL got a court ordered visitation to see his young son, the wife is a little concerned , no big thing. I was on my way in five minutes after calling Bob Morales, a trusted armed guard who was just getting off a 16 hour shift, but, knowing Bob, he was well rested after sleeping 14 hours and most likely well feed.

    Just for the heck of it a grapped my HI-Standard .22 mag derringer just in case. Good thing because what George failed to mentioned was the “joaker released from jail”, was actually a convict just released from Marion State Prison, 5’8″ hard as nails ,redfaced , red mohawk haircut with big hairy arms and tatoos. He did three years for beating up his wife, two cops a medic and a ice creme vender who was in the wrong place at certainly the wrong time. The guys last name was Hoban never will forget it, got the file lying around somewhere.
    When I got to the quiet south suburban town it was like a cake walk . pick up 250 cash, 50 for Bob,50 for George and 150 for me-an equal split? Keep in mind, I was trained by Hargrave.
    The women and her elderly mom were really happy to see me,they were scared , really scared, practically gasping, her hands shook while peeling 25 ten dollar bills in my waiting hands.
    Your just in time said the gram when the door was knocked firmly, why would Bob knock so hard I thought as I opened the
    door and was meet by the subject who looked tough and ready and shooving a court order in my face saying” who you?” The hair on my arms still rises 32 years later. I’m not ashamed to say it, I allways thought I was tough 6’1″ 210, and knew how to fight, but you know what I meen, I knew the guy could take me , fast too. My right hand went automaticly to my right pocket and held that Hi-Standard.Boy was I glad I had that.
    I was cool told him who I was , the name Hargrave Secret Service had a ring to it and intimated and meant business. Something happened when a guy became a detective for Hargrave, it’s hard to explain. Told him the rules ,I stay in the room, 30 minute visitation then gone no confersation with mom, no trouble. If I want to cut it short ,I’m the boss. He smiled and agreed. I peered out the window , no Bob, was concerned but didn’t act it ,I trust.
    The six year old boy came in the room sat quietly and they started talking. In a harsh voice, YOU miss me,and what did they tell you about me? Don’t believe anything they say about me especially your old lady and, looking at me , fucken cops. I looked out the window, no Bob,
    He started loud talking ” you know how to fight? allways hit a guy right away ” looking at me “and hard”. He began horse play, showing the kid a head lock squeezing a little two hard, how to make a fist grabbing the kids small hand with burly scared red fingers. I was getting hot, gribbing the 22 mag and looking out the window just in time to see Bobs dirty green chevy pulling up, very relieved.
    He grapped the kid by the shoulders ,hoisted him over his head and balanced him with one hand, looking at me with very stern grey eyes, tightening his lips, The kids face got red and he whimpered. I said ” times up , thats it, time to wrap it up. He put the kid down and the child ran by me . He looked petrified.
    Hoban looked at me moved a step closer and asked “what would you have done if I didn’t put him down?” I matter-of -factly whipped the derringer from my pocket and put it in his face and said I would have shot you in your big mouth. Just then Morales opened the door and squeezed his 350 pound 5’10″frame through the door saying whats going on?
    The party was over ,Hoban left ,Bob promised to stay a half hour after .The old lady gave Bob and I Easter bread and was relieved.
    Bob walked me to the car , I could have kissed him put instead gave him his 50 plus a 10 dollar tip, cash.

  5. Guy Parent Says:
    August 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply   editSorry about the double entry up there, didn’t think the first one stuck.
    Great story Mike. Yes, it does seem like your accounting skills were in keeping with Hargrave tradition. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours… is just waiting to be mine”.
    The new “blotter” pic is interesting. Haven’t seen that before. Add a little snow on the ground and would make for a great Christmas Card and advertising from George. Can hear it now “we’ll send these out at Christmas so the wife or husband will have someone to call once the bills start rolling in, in January and they want to leave each other. We should be busy in February” ho ho ho
  6. Guy Parent Says:
    August 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Reply   editWe had quite a mixed bag of nuts working in the Windsor office with some being nuttier than others.
    Jack Forrest eventually took over as President of Hargrave after George finally gave up the reins and what Jack sometimes lacked in the characters he hired, he made up with energy, enthusiasm and an insatiable nose for an opportunity to make money.

    Quick and funny labor strike story in Windsor….
    A former Windsor motor cycle cop who did some Detective work was brought on to head our Investigations. Not sure if he’d retired or was let go from the force but judging by his abrasive, condecending, holier than thou personality I suspect the cards would read that he was asked to resign from the PD.
    Anyway… “Buddy” was on the picket line taking pictures with his billion dollar pride and joy Hassalblad camera and there to report on who the agitators were on the line.
    After a couple of hours of bearing witness to the event, he developed the black and whites and called for a meeting with the lawyer and all the client management.
    Once gathered, Buddy spews forth with a grandiose intro of himself and his expertise as a Dick… I mean Detective …. building to the identity of this boistrous agitator and going into great detail describing him as the “obvious ring leader and orchestrator and root cause of the mahem that was occuring on the line”.
    Buddy unveils a photograph of the suspect and announces to all
    “…. and THIS is the guy who was doing all the talking and who all the strikers were listenning to”
    Management all looked at each other… looked back at Buddy and said “are you sure because we don’t think so”.
    Buddy went on and on going nuts confirming without a doubt and stopped only long enough to ask “and why, don’t you think so?”
    “Because he’s a mute”.
    Lesson here? It ain’t always good to be the first to laugh….

  7. mike chiappetta Says:
    August 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Reply   editHere’s one….1979 ,a brutal strike in LaSalle,Il Illinois Cement Company was sold to a outfit from Texas,a right to work state, there were fights,shootings, a guy got killed, the firemen wouldn’t cross the picket line etc there were also lots of invoices, tons of ‘em guards were working 12 hr shifts 7 days a week and we were running out of guards so Jack brought guys from Canada and they were great, the best guy was a older guard with one arm, he was good with a new contraption called a video camera. The thing was Jacks idea and only the Canadaians knew how to use the damned thing. But it worked…
    As the invoices were flowing, wave after wave, that was my job, running the show making sure all were billed and paid . Jack was amazed that not only did we not have overtime we actually had a minus ..in other words we billed more hours than we paid, keep in mind that I was trained by George, but my invoices made even George blush.
    Anyway a new auditor came from Texas and couldn’t figure out my system so he took me to task and questioned the invoices we got mad and threthened to throw him to the strikers, he calmed down and brought up the guys from Canada and particually the camera man with one arm, he said why should he pay full rate for a disabled man. I said the contract called for ‘unarmed guards’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: