Sunday, November 7, 2010

Anton Frederic Kaigle: A Hessian in the Wills-Bissonnette Family

While in primary school and learning about United States history, it was quickly apparent to me that the Hessian soldier was a scary, evil bogeyman who was fighting in a war he should not have involved himself.  Thank goodness George Washington trounced those drunk sleepy Hessians in Trenton.  And thanks too, to  Washington Irving and Hudson Valley legends for giving us  the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Of course, we all knew the scary Headless Horseman,  was a  Hessian soldier when he was alive.

After all the stereotypes I learned in the American history classroom in the years soon after World War II, it was easy for me to reach the conclusion that those German-Hessian-Brunswickers were a mean and barbaric group of fighters and everyone should still be careful in case any were still around.  A friend of my mother's who like to "go antiquing" bought a pair of Hessian fireplace andirons.  Even the metal figures in her fireplace scared me! They looked like the figures below.  

I had Hessian fear and I had it bad! I read the story of  Ichabod Crane too many times! I visited the Bennington Monument too many times! and Saratoga Battlefield too! And,  as upstaters know,  that is where the Hessians saw the "real" action.  Those pointed hats (what were they thinking when they wore them to America?) helped people like me to distinguish them from ordinary American patriots and mild mannered English redcoats (at least in my imagination).  

 So imagine my surprise when I found out that 
I had my very own Hessian in my family! 
Too scary!

If you are a Wills-Bissonnette  descendant, you should be frightened because
 that Hessian is your ancestor too!

Nine Wills Children whose mother was

Elizabeth Bissonnette (1880-1936) , whose father was
Joseph Bissonnette (1849-1899) whose mother was
Julia Kagle (1826-1891) whose father was
George Kagle (1804- ??), whose father was
Anton Frederic Kagle (1760-1812) who was a teenage Hessian soldier!

English and French records often spell the name differently. It was written as Kaigle, Kagle, Goeckel, Göckel, and other ways. Antoine Frederic Goekel was recruited from Hesse-Hanau, present day Germany and served in Hanau Jaeger Corp. Military Service 1777-1783 Quebec and northern American colonies. Hessian soldiers were hired by King George III to fight the American patriots. He may have served at the battle of Hubbardton, Bennington and/or Saratoga. By 1783, he was in Montréal where on June 27th, he married Marie Anne Maquet dite Lajoie at Christ Church Anglican. Although the church building has moved from where it stood in 1783, the congregation and newer church is still in existence on the corner of University and St Catherine Streets. Here are recent pictures of the "new" church building in November 2009 when it was celebrating its 150th year of bricks and mortar. As you can see, another military wedding was about to take place...  

After the war and completing his service to his majesty, George III, Anton Kagle was allowed to remain in the English colony of Canada and settle. Although the oldest son of his family back in Spachbrücken, Darmstadt, Hessen, he decided to remain in North America.  He and Marie Anne Maquet had at least thirteen children and lived in L'Acadie in the Richelieu Valley of Québec.

Yes. Anton Frederic Kaigle-Goeckel was my great-great- great- great grandfather and he was a HESSIAN!


  1. John Valentine Hilpert was my great great great grandfather and he was a Hessen soldier stationed in Halifax until the end of American revolutionary war. He deserted and remained in Halifax. He married Louis Elizabeth Fausel.Johan b.1756, d.1815 in Dutch Town Halifax N.S.

  2. Anonymous
    Have you connected on the Hessian-Quebec List serv? Although your ancestor lived in Halifax, not Québec, you may connect to some information/sources if you have not already done so!
    Google this:

  3. My ancestor was Johann Valentin Scheid a hessian sharp shooter born in Munstrappel Germany in February 1750. He came to Quebec with the hessian Chasseurs in the Wittgenstein Company in 1777. He fought battles in Ticonderoga, New York then settled in La Prairie Quebec in 1783. At war's end he married into the Riel family of St. Constant. The Scheid name was later changed to Chaylt.

  4. Denis...thank you for adding your note. By any chance was your ancestor also at Hubbardton and the Battle of Bennington?

  5. I'm not sure about that? Did you happen to find any Scheid info for that Battle. I know he was at Ticonderoga but lost track after that. Please let me know. That would be an exciting addition to my story.

  6. I don't have anything on Scheid but the Hessians who were at Ticonderoga move south and fought at battle of Hubbardton (Now Vermont) and then on to Bennington. My ancestor was not in that regiment. My ancestor was assigned to St Leger who went up the St Lawrence to Fort Oswego and then to Fort Stanwix and Oriskany.