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Hager House--Take a Trip Through History

Hager House--Take a Trip Through History

Debarking at the Port of Philadelphia in 1736, Jonathan Hager, a German immigrant, traveled to the wilderness of Western Maryland in search of adventure and fortune.
Hager chose his home in Maryland because Charles Calvert, proprietor of the colony was offering cheap land to those willing to settle in the western frontier. Many immigrants turned back, but Hager refused to be discouraged. Finding the perfect area in the new colony, Hager purchased 200 acres of land from Daniel Dulany for 44 pounds on June 5, 1739. He dubbed his tract "Hager's Fancy." Shortly after, he set to work constructing a 3 1/2-story home out of uncut fieldstones, which he carefully chose to build over a spring of cool water. In 1740 Hager married his German neighbor, Elizabeth Kershner, and presented her with the new house.
Styled in the German tradition, the large central chimney added warmth to the stone structure, while a fill of rye straw and mud between floors and partitions served as insulation against the cruel winters. During the summers, the family could retreat to the cellar where the spring water provided coolness as well as safety and convenience. The Hagers must have felt at ease and protected because of their home's twenty-two inch walls, which stood firmly against man and nature. Hager had built nearly an indestructible home, which was intended to serve as a frontier fort in case of Indian attack.
The Hagers lived at "Hager's Fancy" for several years. During that time, Jonathan grew prosperous. He opened a trading post within his home as he continued to acquire land. He was an active member of the community.
On May 8, 1745, "Hager's Fancy" was sold to Jacob Rohrer for 200 pounds. The house remained within the Rohrer family until 1944 when the Washington County Historical Society acquired it. Under the leadership of Hager historian Mary Vernon Mish, the house was restored to its former colonial beauty. It was presented to the City of Hagerstown in 1954. In September of 1962, the home was opened to the public on the 200th anniversary of Hagerstown.
Even today, in 2005, walking into the Jonathan Hager House is like stepping back in time. This soundly constructed home is completely outfitted with authentic furnishings of the 1700 period. Touring the small rooms, with low doorways and low ceilings, reminds us of what life was like so many years ago. Not many American cities older than the country itself can present the homes of their founders completely restored.
Jonathan Hager was a man to be admired. He never gave up and fulfilled his dreams. He was involved in many community activities, working as a farmer, cattleman, and a gunsmith. Hager was a volunteer Captain of Scouts during the French and Indian War. In 1762 he founded Hagerstown and in 1771 and 1773 he was elected to the General Assembly at Annapolis, qualifying him as the first German to make his mark in politics.
Tragically, on November 6,1775, Captain Hager was accidentally killed while supervising the building of the German (now Zion) Reformed Church on land he had donated. During that time, Hager served on various critical pre-Revolutionary War Committees.
Many have labeled Jonathan Hager as the "Father of Washington County", because of his having laid the groundwork for land separation from Frederick County in 1776.

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