As an author and Civil War historian, I have never read a more uplifting and heroic story than the life of Major A. G. Happer of Washington PA. He enlisted at the war's beginning & as a member of the famous 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, he saw combat throughout the conflict, until he was severely wounded at The Wilderness. Left for dead on the battlefield, he was rescued by an anonymous slave who brought him water & cleaned his wounds. Happer laid there suffering, unable to move for four days, until that ex-slave was able to get him to a Confederate field hospital where he was again, laid aside to await death. But Happer somehow survived and was taken off to prison in Richmond Virginia.
Happer laid in confinement for six months before being released. He was dumped unconscious aboard a boat bound for Annapolis Maryland. Again, he survived the trip, and while in the hospital, he finally received the first real medical care since he was wounded. Slowly recovering, he was able to return to serve at office duty, though he carried a Confederate bullet the rest of his life. When President Lincoln was assassinated, Happer was invited by PA Governor Curtin to accompany him on the Lincoln Funeral Train through Pennsylvania as a tribute to his service to the nation and his remarkable survival.
Happer was promoted to Major and returned to Washington County where he again served his fellow man. Opening a small real estate & insurance office in town, through development, he brought in businesses that meant good jobs for the people. He founded the Citizens Bank, the Washington Trust Co. the Citizens Water Co. The gas company, and the first telephone exchange in the city. He was also instrumental in developing the first oil well in the County. He turned these companies over to others to manage & never took a salary from them. None of them carry his name. He also founded & built the Morganza Home for orphaned and wayward children, which he managed for many years. He then took over a failed fundraising attempt for the establishment of the first hospital in the town. When they fell short of funds to purchase a building, Happer donated his own funds to purchase the building that served as the hospital. That hospital became the Washington Hospital and today is well known for exceptional cardiac care.
All through this, Major Happer never once sought notoriety, riches or publicity for his service. He died of cancer in 1915. And today, he is sadly forgotten. No one remembers him or his great service. There are no statues, signs, plaques, or even a street named after him. He led Washington County, PA into the 20th century, and gave of himself...and no one remembers his name there.
Our project is one of finally, at long last giving recognition to a true, unselfish hero that has been forgotten. The state of PA has finally, at great urging approved a State Historical Marker in honor of the Major. We are raising funds to help to cover some of the costs to hold a proper ceremony and a small celebration event to honor this great American. I am donating all my time and expenses, and funding for the actual erection of the marker. We need funds for a podium, staging, pa system etc. There will be a Civil War reenactment & encampment as well as a small parade, IF we can raise enough funds. Again, No ONE involved is getting ANYTHING out of this. We're doing all this for free. Your donation will be used wisely & with accountability. Any amount will be of great help, and is greatly appreciated. This is for the Major! It's the least we can do for a man who was, Born To Serve.
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