The Hager Family
DESCENDANTS OF JOHANNES JACOBI HAGER
A * notation means the direct line of both Nancy Sparks Morrison and Harold E. Sparks. A ** shows Harold's direct line and a *** shows Nancy's. Our grandparents were third cousins, so both lines of descent are shown, but the Sparks line will be shown in the Sparks Genealogy under descendnts of Alie Sparks and Mary Elizabeth Hager.
Information on the Hager family has been gathered from the records of the LDS Church; Early Families of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky by William C. Kozee; The Big Sandy Valley by William Ely published in 1887; Volume III, History of Kentucky by E. Polk Johnson published in 1922; the Patriot Index; Virginia Genealogy Volume V; The History of the Hager Family in America, as given by General Daniel Hager to John F. Hager his grandson at Ashland Kentucky, February 17, 1878; Carey Highlights by Virginia Miller Carey; pages from a family Bible in the possession of Nancy Sparks Morrison, and various census records, marriage records and other vital statistics.
The Hager Family is of German descent. The progenitor of this family in Eastern Kentucky was Johannes Jacobi Hager and Annae Gertrudis Pappin. According to family tradition, Johannes was married three times and Annae Gertrudis was his third wife. Supposedly there were a total of four boys from these three marriages. John Hager, Sr. was the only son and possibly the only child from his marriage to Annae Gertrudis. Tradition also states that three of the brothers were immigrants. One was John Hager Sr. and of the other two, one settled Hagerstown, MD and the other either Hagerstown, IND or TN. I have no proof of these theories, but include them to indicate the amount of family lore that can be handed down over the years in a family that tends to make that family unique unto themselves and in the hope that someone will either be able to substantiate or repudiate them. Stories and theories such as these have a place in the family lore, but should not take the form of gospel. They are interesting and are good conversation for family reunions. That is enough.
Much, however, is known about John Hager, Sr. who was born on December 26, 1759 in Hesse Cassel, Germany and according to LDS records Hessen-Nassau, Kesselstadt, Germany. Much of our information is supplied by Daniel Hager, one of his sons, but from other sources as well. Ely, writing of the families of the Big Sandy Valley, says that, "John Hager and his wife spoke the German language, and used the German Bible to find out God's ways to man."
Johnson in his sketch stated that, "Jno. Hager fought with the Colonials under Sumter and Marion. He settled in Amherst County, Virginia at the close of the war and married here, in 1785, Mary Schraeder." Records indicate the marriage date was October 27, 1785. In the DAR Records John Hager, Sr. is listed as having served as a Private in South Carolina and Virginia.
From Daniel Hager's History we learn much more about our immigrant father. Daniel says that the three brothers were sons of the second wife. And that Johannes, father of John Hager, Sr. was a man of some influence and standing in Germany. He held several offices during his life that brough both honor and profit.
At age 16, John Hager, Sr. was apprenticed to the blacksmith trade. He had been working in this apprenticeship for two years when he was forced to join the British "in their unholy crusade against American Liberty." He and others between the age of 16 and 45 were commanded to assemble in review before the British officers. John being a large, stoutly built man was selected as one of the soldiers. They were told that they were to garrison a fort on the western coast of the British Isles. Much against their wills they were marched from their homeland and placed on ships, still under the assurance that they were going to England. They sailed for weeks without sighting land and realized that they had been deceived. They landed at Charleston, South Carolina in September of 1780. By that time John had learned some English from the sailors. The landing confirmed a decision that John had made on the ship. He would not return to Germany and he would join the Americans in their struggle as soon as possible.
He engaged in one or two battles against the Americans, remaining constantly alert for an opportunity to escape. He found that opportunity when he was placed on picket duty on the banks of the Broad River. Sumter's men were not far away and there had been irregular skirmishes for several days. He was on a four hour watch starting at 2:00 A.M.
When the Corporal of the Guard had gotten out of earshot, he threw down the muskets, keeping his side arms and started, toward what he hoped was the American line. He traveled until daylight and then on into the second night often having to avoid straggling companies of British Light Horse. On the third day, he happened upon a negro chopping wood. With the little English that he had, he presented himself as a regular British soldier and found that the negro's master was a tory. The negro helped him with food from his master's house and John later found from a white man who came along the road, that the Americans were near the river. He retraced his steps and came upon the river opposite the Americans at 9:00 P.M. He called across to the Americans asking them to come to his side of the river. They feared a trap and refused, so he waited until daylight. Through the fog and mist that lay on the water, he waded into the stream as far as he was able. He appealed to the Americans to come with a boat and finally two of them did. He gave up his arms and told them his story. The soldiers took him to Col. Sumter where he again repeated his story and where Col. Sumter restored his arms and assigned him to duty as a soldier. John Hager fought with the Americans until Yorktown and then settled in Amherst County, Virgnia. He went to Wythe County as a blacksmith, and while there he rode with Anthony Wayne on his raid against the Indians.
After this campaign, he returned and in Augusta County, Virginia on October 22, 1785 (Augusta County, VA Marriages Vol. II, p.28) he married Ann Mary Shrader, daughter of George Shrader. Mary had been born on October 22, 1755. At the time of their marriage,they moved to Amherst County, Virginia about 25 miles from present day Lynchburg, Virginia and on or near the James River.
Mary's father owned a large merchant mill during the Revolutionary War. When he and all his sons joined the war, Mary ran the mill. She has been described as a woman of extraordinary strength; able to carry large bags of grain on her shoulders. She was said to be the best reaper of grain with a reap hook in the field in a contest that settled a dispute over a champion. It seems to me that a claim of patriotism could be justified for Mary as a way of entering the halls of the DAR. She was essential to the community and the war effort in keeping the mill open.
Sometime after the end of the war, trouble reputedly settled upon John and Mary Hager in the form of money problems. It is suggested that they had to declare bankruptcy and this was the reason for their move to Floyd County, Kentucky to what was called the Block House bottom, half way between Prestonburg and Paintsville about 1821.
In Kentucky, Mary became the only doctor for thirty miles up and down the Big Sandy River. She used time honored herbal remedies "found in Dame Nature," and without ever charging a fee. She delivered babies up and down the river.
Daniel Hager, the youngest son of John Hager, Sr. describes his father as being six feet in height, and weighing from 196 to 205 pounds. He had a large scar on his right cheek from a sabre wound received in a South Carolina battle.
John Hager Sr. learned in later years that one of his brothers had been killed shortly after landing in America, and the other dangerously wounded. He never heard "from home after leaving it."
John Hager, Sr. died in February of 1819 in Floyd County, Kentucky while living with his youngest son Daniel. He is buried at the Auxier Cemetary. Mary died in 1847 in Prestonburg, Floyd County, Kentucky and is also buried in the Auxier Cemetary.
"Elder James M. Hager - was borned (sic) July 17, 1859 - Died May 6th 1923 at the age of 63 years, 9 months and 19 days. Ordained a minister in the Bethlehem Church of United Baptists on the 8th day of July 1894. By a (sic) Authority of Ministers of the United Baptists, Composed of Eds. S. Picklesimer- D. B. McCoy. Canada Porter and John Murray."
James M. Hager's wife Mary Arminta Musick lived until October 16, 1948. While my memories of her are childish, they are very clear. She was tiny, probably not more than five foot, one or two. She was still thin, maybe 105 pounds and she always wore what I considered to be an "old-fashioned dress" with a white apron that had a top and straps that went over her shoulders. The apron always had big pockets in which she carried her tobacco. She walked around with one arm folded across her waist, the elbow of the opposite arm in her hand holding a clay, or sometimes a corncob pipe. When she went outdoors she always put on her bonnet. She suffered with back pain. It may have been the start of the cancer that turned into large brown melanomas on her head. When the pain was upon her she would sit with her back to the fire in winter, or "hunker down" outside with the sun pouring down upon her back when the weather was fine.
Her granddaughter Sarah Margaret Sparks remembers her telling of how she met James Hager. She was thirteen and dreamed of a man who had a purplish scar on his face and neck and she remembered thinking in the dream, "that is the man I am going to marry." When she met James Hager shortly after her dream, he was nineteen, and had been burned in childhood by hot sorghum molasses. His face and neck on one side were scarred and colored a purple color. And shortly after their meeting, they married. Since his job as a preacher sometimes took him out of town for two to three weeks at a time, she was always glad to see him return. She loved him dearly and when he would come in after being gone, he would pick her up and carry her up the stairs and shut the door and lock it so the children who came along regularly, couldn't come in and disturb them.
I remember two things that she said that I wondered about. She said, "Supper is pert nigh ready but not plum." And she once told me in answer to my question, that "as a young girl she had lived 'f'nist' the mounteen." In answer to my question of what does that mean, she said "next to or close beside the mounteen."
I had always understood that Grandma Hager was a quarter-strain Indian. When I was told that the first time by an older cousin, I was quite young. From that time on I didn't want to go up to the third floor of my grandparents house, where she lived, by myself. I thought she might want to scalp me! She did indeed look very much like an Indian. Her skin was dark and she had straight hair that was still very salt and pepper. She wore her hair in a single braid at the back of her head which she twisted into a bun and pinned tightly each morning, only to brush it out each night. It fell to her waist and was parted in the middle. I always thought she needed only a head band and a feather to be the Indian princess that I was sure she was. I was indeed partly in awe of her, partly afraid and partly proud. At this point, I have been unable to find a Cherokee grandparent for her.
At present, I am in the process of searching in the Miller Roll of 1906-1908 as well as pursuing a new avenue of research to see if I can find a Collins connection with a group of dark skinned people neither, "white, nor Indian nor mulatto or black" called the Melungeons.