Rev Charles Robert Hager

Rev Charles Robert Hager

Nanikon, Bezirk Uster, Zürich, Switzerland
Death 13 Jul 1917 (aged 65)
Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Memorial ID 185916755 · View Source
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Rev. Dr. Charles Robert Hager (October 27, 1851 - July 13, 1917) was a Swiss-born American missionary sent to Hong Kong and China by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) to start the Hong Kong Mission (later renamed as South China Mission) in 1883.

He was best known as the baptizer of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China.

Rev. Hager was the founder, and was regarded as the first Minister-in-charge, of the China Congregational Church in Hong Kong.


Obituary (for Rev. C.R. Hager, M.D., D.D. by Rev. C. A. Nelson)
(from “The Chinese Recorder" Vol.48 p.797-798)

MRS. C. R. Hager and children wish to announce that their dear one, Dr. Chrles Robert Hager, missionary to China, was called higher by our Heavenly Father, on July thirteenth, 1917, after a lingering illness.

The “Records" of the American Board work in China, which begin with the year 1830, show that Dr. Hager came to the Orient in 1883 and settled in Hongkong. He was sent out by the board primarily to look after the spiritual welfare of the Chinese converted in the States, many of whom had returned to the homeland and home-villages. As most of these Chinese were from the Sz Yap District, which lies west of Hongkong and south-west of Canton, his work was confined largely to this district, with headquarters at Hongkong. Here he opened a mission on Bridges Street, and gathered a few converts, among them Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who afterward became the Provisional President of the Republic of China. During his first term, from 1883-1890, Mr. Hager had charge of seven government schools in Hongkong, and opened chapels in San Ning City, Miu Pin, Kwong Hoi,and Hoi In, all in the San Ning District, which is now called Toi Shan.

In 1890, owing to a serious hemorrhage, Mr. Hager returned home, on furlough, leaving the work to his co-laborer, Rev. John R. Taylor, who had but recently arrived. Mr. Hager did not return to China till 1894. During his four years in the States, he studied medicine, regained his health, and received his degree of M.D.. Before his return in 1894, Dr. Hager married Miss Lizzie Blackman of Chicago, but she died in Canton, March 6th, 1895. This was a severe blow to Dr. Hager. Within a few months he was back once more in Hongkong, and working harder than ever.

On December 13th, 1896, Dr. Hager married Miss Maria von Rausch of the Basel Mission, Hongkong, a lady who had been in mission work five years, and who opened the first kindergarten in South China. From this time on, till 1910, Dr. and Mrs. Hager made their home in Hongkong. In 1900, through the efforts of Dr. Hager, the four story building on Ladder Street was erected at the cost of $35,000 local currency. The China Congregational Church had its home on the second floor; the Hagers lived on the fourth floor, while the other floors were devoted to school purposes. Mrs. Hager’s work was confined entirely to Hongkong. She opened her house as a missionary home, and received missionaries coming and going, at very moderate rates, and many, to-day, remember her hospitality.

During his second term of service, Dr. Hager gave up the government schools and devoted himself to his country work. He was an indefatigable worker and endured all sorts of hardships and privations, as his journeys were mostly overland. In his zeal, he went beyond the Sz Yap District, as far as Yeungkong City, 200 miles south-west of Canton, and into San Hing and Tung On, north of the Hoi Ping District, into the “regions beyond." His itineraries were generally made on foot and in all kinds of weather, and attended by great hardships. This strenuousness resulted in a complete breakdown in 1910. He hoped that an ocean voyage would restore him and accordingly he left his family in Hongkong and sailed for San Francisco. The change did not benefit him, so, in a few months, Mrs. Hager and children joined him, making their home in Claremont.

Although compelled, on account of illness, to sever his connection with the Mission, his heart was in China, and he loved the Chinese. During his last years, he labored among them in California, and across the border in Mexico, and frequently sent money to the South China Mission. A short time before his death he sent $35 gold currency, contributed largely by Chinese in Mexico. He was deeply interested in a project to erect, at Hoi Hau Fau, in Toi Shan, a memorial church in memory of Miss Harriette Carter who, for 38 years, labored among the Chinese in and around Boston. Miss Cater had been instrumental in collecting much money from the Chinese for Dr. Hager’s work, and gave of her own money to promote it.

During his 27 years of missionary service, Dr. Hager opened numerous out-stations, and was able to get money for preachers’ salaries and for new buildings. By birth Dr. Hager was a Swiss, but became a naturalized American. He spoke and wrote in German, and enlisted the aid of German Congregationalists in the States. He also had a good command of the English language, and could write telling stories, and make stirring appeals – not only this, he could write Chinese fairly well and, by means of it, he kept in touch with the preachers, even after leaving the field for good.

Dr. Hager leaves a wife and three children, Robert, Elsie, and Morrison*. He rests from his labors.

C.A. Nelson

(*According to other reliable source, should be Harold, not Morrison.)


From Southern China to Southern California
{from ‘Editorial Notes’, The Missionary Herald (Boston, September 1917) Vol.113 p.397}

The American Board has had no more devoted missionary to China than Dr. Charles R. Hager, who sailed for that land in 1883 and left it only when compelled by ill health in 1910. His service was altogether in the South China field; in Hongkong and Canton, and in the outlying country districts which his zeal and tact opened. For much of this time it might almost be said that Dr. Hager and his wife were the South China Mission, for so few were the foreign workers and so many the interruptions of service that these indefatigable missionaries were often left alone at their post, touring was a fine art to Dr. Hager. So persistent was he in it, and so intent on his errand, that at length he secured response in a chain of towns and villages, where schools and churches were planted and disciples were won. He was equally successful in securing the interest of friends and benefactors, so that funds were forthcoming and the work in the field was linked with the life of churches and individuals in this country. In particular he sought to maintain the Christian tie between Chinese in the United States, who had come from Kwangtung province, and their friends and neighbors in their Chinese homes. Dr. Hager’s ineradicable missionary spirit is seen in that, though prevented by confirmed ill health from returning to the East, he has labored ever since his return to America in steadfast effort to the limit of his strength for the Chinese and Hindus about him in Southern California. Mrs. Hager and three children, Robert, Elsie, and Harold, are left in the home at Claremont, Cal. In the new missionary plot in the cemetery of that city, Dr. Hager’s body was laid to rest.

Rev. C. R. Hager, M.D.
Born, October 27, 1850*, in Switzerland. Graduated, Oakland Theological Seminary, California, May, 1882. Ordained, February 15, 1883. Arrived Hongkong, March 31. Visited United States in 1888, and again on account of ill health, 1891. Studied medicine in Nashville, Tenn., graduating in June, 1894. Returned to Hongkong. where he remained till 1910. Was released in 1912.

(*According to other reliable source, should be 1851.)


Dr. Charles R. Hager died in Claremont
(from “The Oberlin Alumni Magazine" Vol.14, Feb 1918, p.148)

Dr. Charles R. Hager died in Claremont, California, July 13, 1917. He was born in Nanikon, Switzerland, October 27, 1851, but bis parents moved to this country not long after, as he was enrolled in the preparatory department from 1867-1870, 1872-1874, and in college from 1874-1878 from Honey Creek, Wisconsin. Later he graduated from Pacific Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, and studied medicine at Vanderbilt University and Nashville University. For many years he was a missionary of the American Board in Hong Kong, China, and was the one who baptized Dr. Sun Yat Sen, one of the leaders in China. An intimate friend said of him that three traits were prominent in his life—his extreme friendliness, “ his extreme interest in and desire to influence his surroundings for good,” and his zeal for missions. While in Hong Kong he raised $16,000 for a church building and presented it to the American Board. During his ministry there 5,000 persons were baptized, and 10,000 pupils were instructed in the schools which he established. Ill health compelled him to give up his work, but he never lost his interest in it. In Claremont, where he spent his last days “ his heart was ever going out to the students and the people of the town. He would remember the students by name and bear them on his heart.”


(from “Congregational Year-Book" 1917, p.474)

Hager, Charles Robert, son of Rudolf and Elizabeth Hager, was born at Zurich, Switzerland, Oct. 27, 1850*. He studied at Oberlin College and Oakland Theological Seminary and was ordained to the Congregational ministry at San Francisco, Cal., Feb. 15, 1883. He served as missionary for the American Board at Hong-Kong, China, 1883-1910. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him in 1894. He was married at Hong-Kong, Dec. 31, 1896, to Maria von Rausch, who, with three children, survives him. He died July 13, 1917, at Claremont, Cal., of cancer of the stomach.

(*According to other reliable source, should be 1851.)

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  • Created by: Seacow Wheat
  • Added: 14 Dec 2017
  • Find a Grave Memorial 185916755
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Charles Robert Hager (27 Oct 1851–13 Jul 1917), Find a Grave Memorial no. 185916755, citing Oak Park Cemetery, Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Seacow Wheat (contributor 47227490) .