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JOHN S. HAGER was an honored and distinguished California pioneer and left an enduring impress upon the system of jurisprudence in this state. He was one of the leading lawyers and jurists of California, served with distinction as a member of the United States Senate and his influence was helpfully manifest in other public offices and in connection with civic affairs in general. Judge Hager was one of the venerable and revered citizens of San Francisco at the time of his death in 1890.

Judge John Sharpstein Hager was born in the historic old City of Morristown, New Jersey, on the 12th of March, 1820, and was a son of Lawrence Hager, who was one of the substantial and influential citizens of New Jersey at that time. The future jurist received excellent educational advantages and was one of the early graduates of the law department of Princeton University, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. Upon coming to California he established his residence in San Francisco, where he soon gained precedence as one of the able and representative members of the bar of this state. He was called to serve on the bench of the Superior Court, and in this connection made decisions on many cases of major importance, including the famous Broderick and Terry duel case, and the decision which he gave in connection with the probating of wills became a constructive part of the present California laws governing such matters. Under the administration of President Cleveland, Judge Hager served as collector of the port of San Francisco, the President of the United States having earnestly importuned him to accept this Federal office, for the purpose of bringing about so far as possible the extensive smuggling of narcotics, especially opium products, through the medium of this port. Judge Hager took a characteristically vigorous and determined course in administering this office, and in the same made a record of successful achievement. In 1878 he was appointed United States Senator from California, to fill the unexpired term of Senator Casserly, and he was more than once urged to become a candidate for mayor of San Francisco, but invariably refused. He was a leader in the local councils and work of the democratic party, his life in all relations was guided and governed by high ideals, and he commanded uniform popular confidence and esteem. He was identified with various civic organizations of representative order, including the Pacific Union Club.

In the year 1839 he was graduated from the law school of Princeton University. Judge Hager married Mrs. Elizabeth Lucas Hicks, and of the three children of this union, the first born, Edith, died in infancy; Alice is a resident of Burlingame, California, and Ethel, who maintains her home in San Francisco, was married in 1906 to Lansing Kellogg, whom she later divorced and who died in 1917, she having resumed her maiden name and being now known as Mrs. Ethel Hager.  

Transcribed by Linda Nevin 4/24/04.


Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard Vol. 3 page 163-164. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.

2004 Linda Nevin


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