Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Well, another embarrassment ! While looking for one family member, I stumbled across another completely unrelated to the one for which I was searching. And, just my luck, another preacher! I knew that I came from a rather strange family but the ratio of ministers, preachers and reverends has now become a total embarrassment! Oh well, I guess if you don’t have horse thieves or other felons in your line, you settle for a worse thing…..men of the cloth.

The relative that I stumbled across is the Reverend Henry Hager, a direct relative of Myers-Mendenhall side of the family and some of his descendants who, by the way, married into another line of the Myers-Mendenhall line. (Isn’t there some rule about marring cousins? Of course, along with religion, marrying cousins time after time might be some explanation of why I am the brilliant and handsome person that I am.) So, I have decided to take the easy route and discuss this 7th great grandfather of mine. Well, not that easy, I have had to read through about several hundred pages and sort out some inconsistencies in the information but since I have had nothing on this branch before, it is a start.

Most of the information below, edited, comes from, Genealogy of the Fishback Family in America, 1714-1914, published in 1914. The Fishbacks are 1st cousins, 6 times removed.

Johann Henrich Haegar was born at Antzhausen, September 25, 1644. He was the son of Henry Haeger, the school master at Antzhausen, a village about 5 miles due east of Siegen and one of the 27 villages of the parish of Netphen. Antzhausen was in the Catholic part of the county and during some of the troubles between the two faiths, about 1652-4, Henry Haeger moved with his family to the northwest of Siegen into the Protestant part of the county. Johann Henrich Haeger studied theology and on September 25, 1678, his thirty-fourth birthday, was appointed the third teacher in the Latin school at Siegen. Under the date of December 3, 1678, the following appears on the record of the Siegen School: 'The worthy and learned Mr. Henrich Haeger of Antzhausen was married to Anna Catharine, daughter of Jacob Friesenhagen, former Mayor of Freudenberg.' Freudenberg is about six miles a little northwest of Siegen. This union lasted more than fifty-four years, for the wife was living when Mr. Haeger made his will in April, 1733.

They had 12 children, all born at Siegen except the last, who was born at Oberfischbach. Apparently only three of Pastor Haeger's children survived. His family at Oberfischbach, shown in [p171] May, 1708 in a census list of the District of Freudenberg (Siegener Landesarchiv, 16, No. 4), consisted only of himself, his wife, his son Johann Friedrich, and his daughters Agnes Catharina and Anna Catharina, besides a manservant and two maids.

Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia 1714-1750, . Holtzclaw, 1964.

All the descendants of the 1714 colonists, John Fishback and John Huffman (Hoffman), by their first marriages, are also descended from Rev. Henry Haeger and his wife, Anna Catharine Friesenhagen, who also came over in 1714 with their two daughters, later Mrs. Fishback and Mrs. Huffman (Hoffman). Rev. Henry Haeger was born in Antzhausen in the Catholic part of Nassau-Siegen in 1644, and was christened at Netphen Aug. 27, 1644. His father, Henrich Haeger, was the schoolmaster at Antzhausen. Henry Haeger attended the Gymnasium or Latin School at Siegen as a young man, and from there went to the Herborn Paedogogium for further training, being admitted there April 16, 1668. He became a teacher in the Siegen Gymnasium in 1678, and married at Siegen Dec. 3, 1678 Anna Catharine Friesenhagen, daughter of Jacob Friesenhagen, decd., former Mayor of Freudenberg. She was born at Freudenberg May 24, 1663 and was thus nearly 20 years younger than her husband. Henry Haeger continued as a teacher of the third class in the Siegen Gymnasium until 1689, when he was promoted to the position of Conrector, or associate director of the school. He continued to hold this position until 1703, when he was appointed to the pastorate at Oberfischbach. Just before this date he published a book, a translation from the French, which is discussed in the Fishback genealogy. On April 3, 1711 he received permission to retire from the pastorate because of ill health, but this did not prevent him and his family from leaving Oberfischbach in the summer of 1713, and emigrating to the New World. Henry Haeger's full name was Johann Henrich Haeger (see 'History of the Higher School System of Siegen, 1636-1936,' p. 83, for this and other information about Henry Haeger's academic career). Rev. Henry Haeger died in 1737 in Prince William Co., Va., leaving his property to his wife, Anna Catharine, and to his Fishback and Huffman grandchildren. His wife was still living in 1733, when the will was written, but it is uncertain whether she survived him." Holtzclaw, p169.

The map above shows three towns in Germany that are mentioned in the two items above.

The next in this line is Anna Catharine Hager, born in Siegen and baptized on May 15, 1702. As stated above, she came to Virginia with her parents in 1714 and on November 7, 1721, she married another 1714 immigrant, John Hoffman, in Germantown, Virginia.
This John Hoffman was the brother (I hope this is correct….brother or cousin.) of John Henry Hoffman who came to Virginia later with a group of German immigrants who is another direct relative. Anna died on February 9, 1729 in Germantown, Virginia.

The next in line is Agnes Hoffman, daughter of the above Anna and John. Agnes was born on November 25, 1722 either in Germanna or Germantown, Virginia. She married Stephan Harnsberger probably in Germantown about 1741. Agnes died about 1750 in either Orange County or Culpeper County, Virginia.

I have included a chart here (above) to show that Johannes and Gertrud Reichmann Hofmann are my 6th and 7th great grandparents.

The following description of the Germanna Colony is taken from Genealogy of the Family in the United States, Kemper and Wright, 1899.

"Germanna is exactly located by Col. Wm. Byrd, in 1732, in his " History of the Dividing Line." Vol. II, p. 64. " The river winds in the form of a horseshoe about Germanna, making it a peninsula, containing about 400 acres. Rappahanock forks about fourteen miles below this place." Both branches of the river were originally called Rappahanock, the southern fork is now called Rapidan.
The earliest description of Germanna that has been found is in the diary of John Fountain. He with John Clayton and perhaps several friends, visited the settlement on November 20 and 21, 1715. He says : " About 5 P. M. we crossed a bridge that was made by the Germans, and about 6 we arrived at the German settlement. We went immediately to the minister's house ; we found nothing to eat, but lived upon our small provisions, and lay upon good straw. Our beds not being very easy, as soon as it was day we got up. It rained hard, notwithstanding we walked about the town, which is palisaded with stakes stuck in the ground, and laid close the one to the other, and of substance to bear out a musket shot. There are but nine families, and they have nine houses built all in a line, and before every house, about twenty feet distant from it, they have small sheds built for their hogs and hens ; so that hog styes and houses make a street. The place that is paled in is a pentagon very regularly laid out, and in the very center there is a block house made with five sides which answer to the five sides of the great in- closure ; there are loop holes through it, from which you may see all the inside of the inclosure. This was intended for a retreat for the people, in case they were not able to defend the palisades if attacked by the Indians. They make use of this block house for divine service. They go to prayers constantly once a day and have two sermons on Sunday........ We went to hear them perform their service, which was done in their own language, which we did not understand, but they seemed very devout, and sang the Psalms very well.
This town or settlement lies upon the Rappahanock River, thirty miles above the falls and thirty miles from any inhabitants. The Germans live very miserably. We would tarry here some time, but for want of provisions we are obliged to go. We got from the minister a bit of smoked beef and cabbage, which was very ordinary. We made a collection between us three, of about thirty shillings, for the minister, and about twelve of the clock we took our leave, and set out to return."
This is the earliest recorded description of a German Reformed Congregation, and the services carried on by it in the United States. At Germanna was preached the first sermon to a German Reformed Congregation in the United States, it was preached by the old pastor described in the above extract, Henry Hager, who was certainly the first German Reformed pastor in the United States."

If you were not following this, the minister mentioned above is Henry Hager, my 7th great grandfather.

It seems a rather bleak existence for the assembled group. Reverend Hager and his family left a rather comfortable life in Germany where he had two maids and a man servant to come to Virginia and eat cabbage and sleep on straw. It should also be remembered that Hager was a 70 year old ill man. The hardships seemed to help his condition and he lived to be about 93 years old. They did eventually prosper, purchased land and had farms and frame houses……at least his children and grandchildren did.

1733 WILL: Prince William County Virginia Will Book C 1734-1744. Abstracted and compiled by John Frederick Dorman 1956 pp. 25-26. Page 108 - Will of Henry Hager 10 Apr 1733 " Henry Hager, minister of the Word of God among the Germans at Licking Run in Prince William Co. Va. being sick and weak. Unto my loving wife Anna Catharine all my estate, goods, chattles whatsoever to her during her Natural life. Unto my grandaughter Anna Catharine Fishbach one cow and calf. After the decease of my wife Anna Catharine I will and ordain that all my estate, goods.& chattles whatsoever be then divided amongst my seven grandchildren - Anna Catharine Fishbach, John Frederick Fishbach, Elizabeth Fishbach, and Henry Fishbach, Agnes Hoffman, Anna Catharine Hoffman and John Hoffman. I do hereby revoke and make void all other and former wills and testements by me heretofore made.

H. Hager Verbi Dei Minister

Wittness: Jacob Holtzclaw

Johann Jost, Minister

Johannes Campes

It is believed that Hager died in 1737 and is buried in the Germantown cemetery, near what is now Crockett Park in Fauquier County, Virginia. His wife’s death date is unknown but it is generally assumed the she died a few years later.

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