Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Robert R. Hager

ROBERT R. HAGER came to Edwards County in the flush of young manhood, seeking a home and an opportunity to make the best of his talents and abilities, and for a number of years pitted his energies against the adversities of soil and climate. After the time of hardship was over success has been forthcoming in large measure and he owns a farm and country home second to none in Belpre Township.

He was just about twenty-one years of age when in the year of financial stringency, 1893, he came to Kansas, accompanying his brother, Walter V. Hager. He was born near Hardin, Missouri, August 14, 1872, but in the same year his parents moved to Chatsworth, Illinois, where he spent his childhood and youth. He received hardly the equivalent of a common school education and before coming to Kansas his experiences had been those on an Illinois farm. His father, Albert Hager, was born in 1845 and spent most of his life in Illinois. In 1899 he came to Kansas and spent the rest of his life here and passed away at Belpre in 1915, at the age of sixty-nine. Albert Hager was a brother of Flavius J. Hager, one of the well known residents of Edwards County. When Albert Hager tried to enlist for service in the Civil way he was rejected because the physician told him he would be a bill of expense to the Government, having recently passed through a siege of lung fever. In national issues he was a republican, a member of the Masonic Order, but belonged to no church. He married Sarah Blackwell. Her father lived at Hardin, Missouri, but they were married in Illinois. She is still living near Belpre. The children are: Walter, of Edwards County; Robert R.; Joseph P., a resident of Illinois; Albert Elmer, of Grant County, Kansas; Eliza E., wife of Peter Smith, of Gray County, Kansas; Viola Lee, wife of Lee Miller, of the Belpre community; Susan J., wife of Carl Baker, of Edwards County; Andrew A., still at home with his mother; and Justin Ten, the youngest of the family.

Robert R. Hager brought with him from Chatsworth, Illinois, a team of mules, a wagon and a plow. These goods were shipped out to Larned. His father owned some land near Belpre, and Robert R. rented that and engaged in farming. His efforts at sowing wheat and planting corn went unrewarded of sufficient crops to pay expenses for five years. At the end of that time he owed $500 more than his assets could pay. While renting he filed on the northeast quarter of section 18, township 24, range 16. He contested the claim before the land office at Dodge City and won it without battle. As soon as the title was settled he took possession of the tract. His first house there was moved from Macksville, a distance of eight miles. It contained two rooms and the building was 14x24 feet. There he continued as a bachelor for a couple of years. With all the work he put in on that land two years passed before he had any luck at raising crops. Without the assistance given him by his father and some accommodation from the Macksville Bank it is probable that the rest of this story could never have been written. He had faith in wheat as a money making crop and finally the faith was justified in a yield of eight bushels to the acre, the harvest paying off his debts and furnishing him with seed for the next season. From that time forward for fifteen years he raised both wheat and corn and his industrial enterprise kept rising and progressing.

After he had been on his claim two years he married an Edwards County girl, Miss Ida S. Johnson. She was a daughter of Gustav J. Johnson and a stepdaughter of August Peterson. Her parents were both natives of Sweden. Mr. and Mrs. Hager have three children: Bessie, Archie Winford and Wesley. In his marriage Mr. Hager secured not only a capable helpmate and counselor and companion, but she also brought to him 12 head of cattle. This was the nucleus that started him as a cattle man. He also became a buyer and seller of hogs and cattle and his luck and judgment proved good in that department. For about five years he continued trading, and only abandoned it with declining prices in stock.

As an addition to his farm improvements Mr. Hager moved a house from Larned and converted it into a barn. He bought another house in Kinsley and made it an addition to his first home. These formed the permanent improvements on his homestead. That farm was his home until 1911, when he sold out his stock and improved the southeast quarter of the same section, a tract he had bought soon after filing on his original claim. Out of the proceeds of his efforts as a farmer and stockman he has added extensive holdings, including the southeast quarter of section 23 and the northwest quarter of section 17 in the same township and range. He also owns the south half of section 1, township 24, range 17. This has been improved with a six-room residence, and a barn 36x44 feet, with mow capacity of thirty tons. As soon as he bought these lands he put them into cultivation, and wheat raising has proved the mainspring of his activities as a farmer. The best yield of wheat per acre he has had was twenty-four bushels. The largest single threshing was over 11,000 bushels. With corn he has harvested about forty bushels to the acre. Corn and wheat together with feed crops have been his chief dependence. Special interest attaches to his method of preparing land for wheat. It was the outgrowth of his varied experience. It has proved specially valuable in handling sandy land. He has listed his wheat and then "sledded" so as to pack down the soil. When the ground contained plenty of moisture he harrowed it afterward in order to break the crust, but if the ground was dry he left it as it was in order to prevent the wind from drifting the ground.

There was a time when Mr. Hager sold corn at 12 cents a bushel. He also burned some of it for fuel. The second year he was on his farm he sold wheat at 35 cents a bushel. The average price for this cereal has ranged about 75 cents a bushel. The best price he ever obtained for wheat was $1.60. In the past there were only two years when his failure was so complete that he did not get back his seed. The year 1917 proved a third failure. Of the 520 acres he planted to wheat in 1916 only forty acres were saved and that promised only about five bushels to the acre.

Mr. Hager's present country home is the peer of any in Edwards County. It was constructed in 1912. It contains ten rooms, everything modern, has a carbide system of lighting, furnace heat and a private water plant. He has a combination barn and garage, furnishing ample accommodation for his milch cows and also for his automobiles. In horticulture Mr. Hager's experience has been only moderately satisfactory. He has grown cherries, grapes and peaches, but does not consider this a fruit country. Mr. Hager has never interested himself officially in community affairs and in politics he has contented himself with casting his vote in support of republican candidates and principles. He has been a Kansan a quarter of a century, and with his happy family, his fine home and his broad acres considers the move that brought him to the Sunflower State the best he ever made.