John Hacker 1743-1824
by Joy Gilchrist
John Hacker was born January 1st, 1743 (Old Style Calendar) somewhere near Marlborough Point, Stafford County, Virginia, to William and Ann (Dillon) Hacker. His birth was recorded in Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Virginia. His whereabouts for the ensuing twenty-six years are not know; any records that might have pertained to this period in his life were probably destroyed during the Yankee occupation of Stafford Ccounty during the American Civil War.
John’s wife was Margaret Sleeth, daughter of John and Mary Ann (Wallace) Sleeth.
Of course, the foregoing would indicate sociability with good conversational powers, which it is said he possessed in a eminant degree. Though he was never known to be loud or objectionable, but rather to the contrary, . . . Yet when he did speak, his language was plain and direct to the point of issue. He stood square with his head straight over his spinal column and then to see the flash of that little eye, the earnestness of the face, the easy wave of the hand, the emphatic nod of the head, all indicating the natural orator, and then when done with what he had to say, the calm folding of the arms, with the letting down of the countenance to the natural repose, awaiting a reply of some question of further inquiry upon the matter under discussion or consideration, and then to see the face light up again when about to reply and the gestures so natural to him to move off as above described was said to be so interesting and entertaining as to always command the closest attention and respect.
It is further said of him that he was never known to utter a foolish remark and although when a little warmed up in his subject, he was sometimes thought to be a little extravagant. Yet never so at the expense of truth. In his person, he was neat and cleanly, and so had everything about him. So far as possible he was never foppish or over exacting but rather on the “Friend Quaker” style of things. In these matters many of his children followed closely in his footsteps. But he raised no child that excelled him in having a place for everything, and everything in its place. Such then was the makeup of my grandfather, John Hacker, a perfect man and far above the normal physically, mentally, and morally, and as we have seen, such was the care he took of himself as well as everything around him that his days were long in the land and his death triumphant and happy.”
Of Margaret, William wrote: “Our grandmother was as tall as Grandfather. She stood straight and was well proportioned, good head, dark wavy hair, dark hazel eyes. Well formed nose, rather aquiline and straight on the face. Two moles, one on the temple and the other on the upper lip near the corner of her mouth. A very pleasant countenance with usually a smile playing over it, acute in hearing, slow in utterance. While the sound of her voice was said to be music itself. Hence she was a beautiful singer and when in company was usually seen with a cluster of friends around her. She spoke in a slow and deliberate manner, tho never hesitating and then without any gestures whatever except what might be noticed in her eyes and countenance. Such was the make up of our grandmother. . .”
While John Hacker was definitely a family man, he took his responsibilities to God, his community and his country seriously. He believed in justice for all and was friend to both white man and red.
The first church services in present day Lewis County were held in his home. He served 91 days in 1777 “under the command of Captain James Booth who commanded a Company of Militia in defense of that part of the (then Western frontier of West Augusta which now comprises the Counties of Harrison and Lewis). He served two long years (1782-1784) with George Rogers Clark on his campaign against the British at Kaskaskia and Vincennes. He was a magistrate and sheriff and served on various road surveying crews. He was appointed by the Harrison County court, together with John Waggoner and Jacob Cozad, to represent the county at the Greenville Treaty in 1795.
It is not known if John could read and write, but extant court records bear his signature. An inventory of his estate records four books in his home: “2 Books the Saints Rest Walsh & Nelson” and “2 Books old bible and dying thoughts.” The sale bill for his estate shows six books, two Bibles, one song book and one hymn book.
He had the first mill in what is now Lewis County. He hauled the buhrstones for his mill over the mountains from Winchester; it was hand powered at this time, but was later converted.
John Hacker built his cabin not far from the junction of Bloody Run and Hacker’s Creek. An historic marker marks his farm site along the Hacker’s Creek Road between Jane Lew and Berlin.
The present monument marking John’s and Margaret’s grave was erected in 1993 by modern-day descendants of the couple. It is the third stone to mark the graves.
John’s first stone was apparently erected about the time of his death in 1824. It is unknown if Margaret had one. The inscription that was on the gravestone was recorded as part of the Draper Manuscripts, a collection at the University of Wisconsin, and eventually found its way as a part of the footnotes in Lucullus McWhorter’s Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia. In the early 1900s, Roy Hacker, a grandson, placed new monuments and footmarkers on both graves; and, as far as local descendants knew, the original stone disappeared.
In the mid-1980s, during an HCPD Gathering, it was learned that the original stone had been taken to Oklahoma by Roy Hacker and placed “face-down” in his garden path. Upon his death, Roy’s nephew John Hacker rescued the stone and took it to his home in Tyler, Texas. In the spring of 1986, the Gilchrists drove to Tyler and returned to stone to Lewis County. Today, it is part of the collection at the CWG&H Library.
By 1992 the stones placed by Roy Hacker were barely readable; in fact, the entire face with all writing was gone from Margaret’s. Fortunately, numerous photos existed that detailed its inscription. Hacker descendants raised enough money to replace the two stones with the present stone pictured on this page. The stone was erected in 1993. The side that is visible is a replica of the original stone; on the reverse are the inscriptions for those placed by cousin Roy.