Caroline Frances Hager

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Caroline Frances Hager
Born Caroline Frances Ratcliffe
20 February 1843
Melbourne, Victoria
Died November 1928
Occupation Publican
Known for Halfway House Hotel
Criterion Hotel
North Star Hotel
Spouse(s) Rudolph Hager
Children Charles Frederick Henry (1861)
Mary Helene (1864)
Arthur William (1866)
Rudolph Thomas (1867)
Mary Didericke (1868)
Christian (1870)
Catherine (1872)
Clara Mary (1874)
Catherine (1877)
Caroline (1879)
Gottlieb (1880)
Charles Henry (1881)
Helene (1884)
  • Frederick Royds Ratcliffe (father)
  • Catherine Brown (mother)

Caroline Frances Hager was a publican in the Ballarat district, 1860-1920.

History[edit | edit source]

Caroline Hager's biography was published in the Star at the time of her 81st birthday:

PIONEER’S BIRTHDAY. MRS R. HAGER 81 TO-DAY. BORN IN SWANSTON STREET, MELBOURNE. To-day one of the fine old pioneers of the State in the person of Mrs Rudolph Hager will celebrate her 81st birthday, and she has the additional merit of being an Australian born, having first seen the light of day in a little hut in Swanston street, Melbourne on February 20th, 1843. Mrs Hager, who is in full possession of all her faculties, and remarkably active; stated yesterday that her parents. Mr and Mrs Frederick R. Ratciiffe, arrived in Melbourne on the clipper ship "Intrinsic" in November, 1841. They were, by the way; married on the boat during the voyage. They settled in Melbourne for two or three years, and at the end of 1843 they left for Creswick Creek, Mrs Hager being then nine months old.

The family wandered over Victoria. Mr Ratcliffe finding work at Mt. Hesse, Colac, Port Campbell and other places. The blacks were very numerous, but friendly. They were, however, disinclined to work, being; either too hungry or too full for exertion. Travelling was done in bullock drays, and amongst those for whom Mr Ratcliffe worked were, the Armitages, Hentys, Hardings, Hescotts, and other well known squatters. Eventually the family’s wanderings led then to the Leigh river, or the “green tents’' as it was known, and land was taken up adjoining Sutherland's holding. While Mrs Hager and her mother stayed on the land the father went to Eaglehawk where he did well and eventually they all returned to Geelong, where they lived on the other side of the old Barwon bridge. The blacks used to hold corroborees on the banks of the river, and many a weird sight was witnessed by the young family, not only here, but at Mr Henry Anderson’s place at Mt. Emu where there were many natives.

In 1852 the family, came to Ballarat and settled down near the Prince Regent, or Sovereign Hill. at a place known as Sinclair's Hill, where there was a big gold rush on, and many fortunes were won and lost. Mrs Hager has a vivid recollection of a huge nugget being unearthed near her home, and carried away by two men in a “sugee" bag, carried Chinaman fashion, slung on a pole, and with two troopers as a guard. The family was living in a bark hut and the track led over Sinclair's Hill to Sailor's Gully. Houses began to take the places of huts and the general building material was wattle and dab with canvas tops, or else slab huts. The coaches going along the old Plank road, could be seen from Sailors’ Gully. In 1854 the riot year, the family, was still living on the same spot, which was becoming more settled with population, Leroux's store being a prominent feature of the community. The family saw Bentley’s house burning, and also the arrival of the troops in Ballarat, but did not witness the actual fighting. Mr Ratcliffe carried on carting from the mines and dams, and did not retire from this work until 1884. He died shortly after, but Mrs Ratcliffe lived to the great age of 84 years.

Mrs Hager was at the age of 17 years married to Mr Rudolph Hager in a slab sided tent which represented St. Alipius' Church of those days. This wedding, which was celebrated by the Rev Father McCarthy, took place on February 20th, 1860. The church was a long way from Sincalir’s Hill, and worshippers had to either go by dray or walk over the ranges. The newly-married couple made their home between Sovereign Hill and the Prince Regent for a time, and then went to Happy Valley, where Mr Hager worked in the old Volunteer mine. Then they took over the old Halfway House Hotel on Smythes Road, and ran that for 4½ years. Subsequently they came into Ballarat, and conducted the Criterion Hotel for 25 years, and after a rest of a couple of years went into business at the North Star Hotel, in which Mrs Hager has lived for 22 years and where today she is celebrating her birthday, full of years and honor, and loved and respected by innumerable friends. Mrs Hager has had fourteen children of whom there are now living:—Rudolph Thomas. Mary (Mrs Nealy). Arthur W., Chris, Clara (Mrs Gerald Coffey), Frederick, Sister Angela, of the Brigidine Convent. Ararat, and Charles. Moreover. there are 21 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. It is not often that a pioneer is spared to be able to gather around her on her 81st birthday so many descendants, and Mrs Hager is certain to be to-day the well deserved recipient of many felicitations on the happy event.[1]

Children[edit | edit source]

They had fourteen children including:

  • Charles Frederick Henry Hager, born 1861 in Ballarat East.[2]
  • Mary Helene Hager, born 1864 in Ballarat East.[3]
  • Arthur William Hagar, born 1866.[4]
  • Rudolph Thomas Hager, born 1867 in Ballarat East.[5]
  • Mary Didericke Hager, born 1868 in Smythes Creek.[6]
  • Christian Hager, born 1870 in Cardigan.[7]
  • Catherine Hager, born 1872 in Smythesdale.[8]
  • Clara Mary, born 1874.[9]
  • Catherine Hager, born 1877 in Ballarat East.[10]
  • Caroline Hager, born 1879, in Ballarat.[11]
  • Gottlieb Hager, born 1880, in Ballarat East.[12]
  • Charles Henry Hagar, born 1881 in Ballarat East.[13]
  • Helene Hager, born 1884 in Ballarat East.[14]

Her daughter Catherine, died as an infant in 1872:

DEATH. Hager.—On the 29th May, at the Halfway House Hotel, Ballarat and Smythes road, Catherine, the infant daughter of Rudolph and Caroline Hager, aged 10 days.[15]

Obituary[edit | edit source]

MRS. CAROLINE HAGER. One of Ballarat's oldest and most highly respected pioneers in the person of Mrs. Caroline Hager passed away on Friday week at the residence of her son, Mr. Charles Hager, North Star Hotel. In her 86th year, the late Mrs. Hager was one of the oldest native-born Victorians, being born in Swanston-street, Melbourne, in 1843. During her long life she had witnessed many of the vicissitudes through which the State, and more particularly the Ballarat district, had passed. She had a clear recollection of all the events at Eureka, and of many other stirring events of the early days, such as bushranging episodes and Black Thursday. Mrs. Hager was married in a tent on the site on which St. Alipius' Church was subsequently built, the officiating clergyman being Rev. Fr. McCarthy. She was practically all her lifetime in the hotel business, having conducted the old Half-Way House, on Smythe's-road, the Criterion, Ballarat, and the North Star. Three of her sons, namely, Arthur, Chris, and Charles—are in business in Ballarat. The funeral took place on Sunday morning to the Old Cemetery. Very Rev. Fr. Kerin, Adm.,read the burial service at the graveside. R.I.P.[16]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1924 'PIONEER’S BIRTHDAY', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 February, p. 2. , viewed 17 Feb 2017,
  2. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1861, Ref. No. 2276
  3. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1864, Ref. No. 528
  4. Australian Death Index, Victoria, 1929, Ref. No. 3775
  5. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1867, Ref. No. 12616
  6. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1868, Ref. No. 5622
  7. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1870, Ref. No. 11825
  8. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1872, Ref. No. 12229
  9. Australian Death Index, Victoria, 1943, Ref. No. 6657
  10. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1877, Ref. No. 13052
  11. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1879, Ref. No. 349
  12. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1880, Ref. No. 384
  13. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1881, Ref. No. 21194
  14. Australian Birth Index, Victoria, 1884, Ref. No. 226
  15. 1872 'Family Notices', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 31 May, p. 2. , viewed 18 Feb 2017,
  16. 1928 'MRS. CAROLINE HAGER.', Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 - 1954), 15 November, p. 37. , viewed 17 Feb 2017,

External links[edit | edit source]