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Hager History

A Brief Hager History

ďJohannes Hager was born December 26, 1759 in Kirchhain, Kesselstadt, Hesse Kassel, Germany. At age 16 he took an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, a trade he later practiced in Virginia. At age 18 he joined the Hesse-Kassel Jager Corps, Second Company. During the American Revolution, the British were short of troops to defend their colony in North America and called on the Hesse-Kassel Jager Corps for approximately 16,992 troops for assistance. Johannes 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 Johannes had learned some English from the British sailors on board ship. The landing confirmed a decision that Johannes had made during the trip. He would not return to his father land, Germany and that he would join the Americans in their struggle for liberty 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. Colonel Sumterís 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 AM.

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. He was not insensible to the danger attending upon such a step, desertion from the ranks by all known rules of warfare was death. He had deserted as he did his post of picket duty, going with the uniform of a British soldier, in the direction of the American camp. Not knowing where that was, being but little acquainted with the language of the people, and in almost entire ignorance of the county through which he was to travel before reaching camp, in danger of recapture by a straggling band of British Soldiers or ambushed from the pine and palmetto thickets, or canebrakes of the swamps, by the alert and watchful South Carolinian, supported by the unerring aim of his rifle.

On the third day, he happened upon a Negro chopping wood. The Negro saw him, but was prevented giving alarm before Johannes had him completely within the range of his pistol. With the little English that he knew, 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 masterís house. Johannes later found out 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 PM. 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. He gave them his arms, two fine large army pistols and a sword and told them of his desire to see the officer in command.

The soldiers took him to Colonel Sumter where he again repeated his story, and where Sumter restored his arms and assigned him to duty as a soldier. Sumterís wife was with him on the entire campaign of the Broad River and its tributaries. On the occasion of a skirmish, Johannes was detailed as guard near the carriage in which Sumterís wife was. She was greatly overcome by the excitement and swooned away. Johannes was as excited as well by this as by the near proximity of the British and gathered his cup full of muddy water from out in the road and dashed its entire contents in her face, this being done he went to the front of the engagement and there fought until the close.

On his return Mrs. Sumter had revived, but her face was a sad plight indeed. It was because of merriment with Sumter who afterwards took Johannes in to closer confidence making him one of his immediate attendants.

Johannes Hager fought with the Americans until Yorktown, and then settled in Amherst County, Virginia. 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 he married Anna Maria Shrader, daughter of George Shrader, a highly respectable German family formerly of Pennsylvania. Maria 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, on or near the James River. Mariaís father owned a large merchant mill during the Revolutionary War. He and his sons all joined the American Army so during the war the mill had been run by Maria. She was a woman of extraordinary strength. She could carry on her shoulder large bags of grain. As further proof of her strength, it was related by Johannes to his son Daniel that she was the best reaper of grain in the harvest field when disputing the championship with the reap hook.

When she was in sole charge of the mill, a party of Continental Soldiers came to the mill, under the charge of a young man, a Commissary. The Commissary gave orders as to the number of bags of grain he wanted and the number to each of the three wagons. On loading the wagons, one of the soldiers took one or two bags more than was allotted to his wagon, which being discovered by the then Miss Shrader, she remonstrated with him and proceeded to the wagon and took from it a bag of grain and started back into the mill with it. As she went, however, the soldier struck her with his hand in her face, which fact she at once communicated to the young Commissary who there upon tied the offender to his wagon and have him a sever whipping, applying the whip with his left hand.

Sometime after, the end of the war, trouble reputedly settled upon Johannes and Maria Hager in the form of money problems. It is suggested that they had to declared bankruptcy and this was the reason for their move to Floyd County, Kentucky to what was called the Block House Bottom, halfway between Prestonburg and Paintsville about 1821. Daniel Hager, the youngest son of Johannes 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 saber wound received in a South Carolina battle.

Before Maria Shrader Hagerís death, when Daniel was still a young man, old Colonel Thomas C Brown, the ancestor of the Browns who lived in Floyd, Johnson, Morgan and Lawrence Counties, a soldier of the Revolutionary War came to see her. He was a man of large and powerful build, and in point of physical build was said to have been the most powerful of the whole surrounding country of a strong and hearty people. It seems that from his story that in old Virginia, where his father resided, it was the custom to call in the neighbors assembled to help the father of the young Brown to raise a house. The young boy was climbing up the corner of the house by lifting himself by the ends of the projecting ends of the hewn logs. He was approaching the top where a neighbor was engaged in chopping off the ends, unconscious of the near approach of young Brown from below, and young Brown unconscious of his danger, kept climbing and put his hand and wrist on top of the log above just in time to receive the descending blow from above, which at once severed the hand from the wrist.

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