Thomas Bartow Ragan was born on a plantation in Pulaski County, Georgia, November 28, 1862, of sturdy Sew-Irish stock, the son of Alexander and Sophia Davis Ragan. Alexander Ragan was born in Robinson County, North Carolina, in 1827, and was but eight years old when his family moved to Georgia. He became a farmer and married Sophia, daughter of H. L. Davis, judge and justice in the early days of Pulaski County.
Thomas Bartow Ragan was reared on the farm. He attended the country schools and supplemented his instruction by study, reading, and, later, by travel. At eighteen he came to Hawkinsville and began clerking for J. F. Lewis & Company, which firm he served for five years. Then he and a brother established the mercantile business, R. T. Ragan & Company. In 1889 the senior brother died, and Thomas became sole owner, continuing his career as merchant with success. He built the Ragan Mercantile Company into a large business, serving a wide territory. He acquired large farming interests, and became a director in the Planters Bank. A man of vision, he promoted many enterprises for the development of his town and county. He was instrumental in securing a steamboat line on the Ocmulgee, and a cotton compress, and was a stockholder in the Hawkinsville Cotton Mill. He organized the Southern Trust Company, which did must to advertise Pulaski County and attract settlers, and he was largely instrumental in building, and was president of, the Hawkinsville & Western Railroad, then an important link in Middle Georgia railroad connections.
Though handicapped by deafness and ill health, he actively supported everything that was forward-looking in the community. He was for years a school trustee, and a faithful member and deacon of the Hawkinsville Baptist Church.
October 9, 1889, he married Belle Wimberly, daughter of Lewis D. and Julia A. Powell Wimberly, of Macon. The Wimberly and Powell families were pioneers in the development of Central Georgia. Their three daughters are: Elsie, Professor of History, Bessie Tift College; Grace, wife of Stephen Pace, attorney, Americus, Ga.; and Estelle, business woman of Hawkinsville.
Mr. Ragan died at his home in Hawkinsville, September 28, 1931.