The Haags


George and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Haag were a husband and wife team that for a time specialized in escapes. Elizabeth’s maiden name was Miller and she was born on March 6, 1876 in Reading, Pennsylvania. She was working in a cigar factory when she met George Haag, a local barber. They were married in May of 1902 and settled down in Reading. George was a semi-professional magician and performed at local events as Professor Haag. In the summer of 1907 they performed magic at Carsconia Park, an amusement park in Reading. That fall they toured with a vaudeville company. During the summer of 1908 they were back at Carsconia Park, but this time Elizabeth was billed as Madam Luella, Queen of Handcuffs. George did his magic act “Magic, Mirth and Mystery” and twice a day dove into Lake Carsconia handcuffed.  To publicise their performances, Elizabeth did an exhibition escape at the local police station. She was restrained with four pairs of handcuffs, shackled and placed into a cell. Within four minutes she emerged free of all the restraints. They continued to perform at other summer parks in the area, such as Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. There Elizabeth in a demonstration for local officials escaped from three pairs of handcuffs and shackles provided by the police in just two minutes. 

The Haags kept performing both magic and escapes at public and private events in the Reading area. In 1911 there was a report that Madam Haag, the world’s greatest Handcuff Queen, was performing a split week at the Grand Theater in Orrville, OH. This may have been her last tour as an escape artist. The next summer “The Haags” were part of the J. Frank Hatch Water Circus and Allied Shows touring the mid-west. They were performing a traditional magic show.

By 1918 the couple moved to Philadelphia, where George established himself as a successful local performer. He was known as the “nut magician” and did a madcap comedy magic act using young stooges from the audience.


George died June 26, 1925 at the age of 49. He was buried in the Aulenback Cemetery in Reading. Elizabeth moved back to Reading after his death. She died on December 13, 1928 and was buried next to her twin brother in Reading's Alsace Lutheran Church Cemetery.

There are few details on the escape act.  At the St. Joseph Catholic Church Lyceum George did his magic act and Elizabeth did escapes. She first escaped from a chain wound around her wrists and padlocked. Then she escaped from five pairs of handcuffs, shackles and a chain fastened between her hands and ankles. All this was done in full view of the audience. Their letterhead listed “escape from: cross, handcuffed and shackled, paper bag, packing case, glass bottle and straight jacket in full view of the audience.” All in all, quite a nice variety of escapes.

References

United State General Census 1880, 1900, 1910
Pennsylvania Marriage License, April 28, 1902
Reading Times, April 30, 1902, Reading Pennsylvania 
Reading Times, November 16, 1906, Reading Pennsylvania
Reading Times, August 30, 1907, Reading Pennsylvania
Reading Times, June 28, 1908, Reading Pennsylvania
Reading Times, July 17, 1908, Reading Pennsylvania
Allentown Leader, September 1, 1908, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Reading Times, April 24, 1909, Reading Pennsylvania
Orrville Courier, December 12, 1911, Orrville, Ohio
The American Magician, August 1912
WWI Registration Card for George Haag
Billboard, March 26 and October 22, 1921
Pennsylvania Death Certificate for George Haag, June 26, 1925
Reading Times December 15, 1918, Reading Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Death Certificate for Elizabeth Haag, December 13, 1928
The Haags letterhead from the collection of Michael Claxton
(references are in order they were first used)

Gary Hunt Copyright 2017

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