Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Wagner Feud

 Well, that was exhausting! Writing that family history of Jacob and Ann and Jacob and Fannie, that is. So exhausting that I had to take a couple of weeks off from the blog. Actually, we’ve been on vacation—visiting the grands and celebrating the second year of the Mt. Gretna (PA) School of Art, launched by our son, Jay. Kudos to Jay!

A few details have surfaced since I posted my last blog. I’m grateful for family members who help me out now and then. This time, my sister Verna contributed a little more information on George W. Wagner—his will. More on that later. And some of the following just didn’t fit into the previous narrative, so here it is.

At some point in time, ill feelings developed in the Waggoner family between Anna’s sons and Fannie’s sons. Whatever the problem, it prompted Anna’s sons to leave Virginia. Not all at once, but over a span of about 27 years, they all left. Not all left in anger, but the feud seems to have, at least, involved George, Hezekiah (H.H.), and Willis. I’m not sure who was involved among Fannie’s sons.

According to Elias’ obituary, he left first—in 1882. He married and took his bride, Jane, to Pierce, Nebraska, and that’s where they raised their family.[1] Whatever motivated him to go there is a mystery. Elias’ obituary calls him a pioneer of that town, which was founded in 1869 by Wisconsin Germans.[2] Eli, George, H.H., and Willis left Virginia later, but not all at once.

According to H.H.’s grandson Fred (not his real name), H.H. first went to Texas and lived for five years before coming to Missouri.[3] George and Willis may have gone there, too. Fred says “they” lived in Kentucky and Arkansas, too, but he didn’t make clear who “they” were.[4] Finally the three brothers settled in Clay County, Missouri about 1892—at least George did—not 1882, as stated in the bio of George in the Clay County history book, and as stated in my earlier blog. Fred corrected me on that.[5]

In 1900, George, H.H., and Willis were living together on George’s recently purchased farm; George and H.H. were still single, and Willis was married, but his wife Ollie was still in Virginia.[6] On the next farm lived the Isaac Whistler family, who had an 18-year-old daughter named Willie.[7] This young lady caught George’s eye, and he married her in 1901. He was 43.

Not until 1909 did Grandma Mary’s parents, Eli and Rachel, leave Virginia, and the reason they left is unknown. I think they were just looking for better opportunities. Maybe the other brothers convinced them that Missouri was the place to be.

To the credit of the Wagner brothers, the cause of their grudge was kept secret from the next generation, but cousin Fred told me that his mother, Evelyn, witnessed residual effects of the fury. In April of 1939, when George and Willie died in a car wreck, several of Fannie’s sons came to Missouri for the funeral. Afterward, they all gathered for a family dinner, and after dinner, the children were sent outside to play.[8]

Something sparked H. H.’s anger, and Evelyn heard shouting from inside the house. She heard Green Wagner shouting that H.H. needed to “forgive and forget, & come back to Virginia.” H.H. shouted that he “never would forgive nor forget and would never set foot in Va. again.”[9] That was all Evelyn knew about the feud. The Virginia brothers seem to have kept the secret, too, for a few years ago, Green’s granddaughter told me that she knew nothing about it—not even that there had been a problem.

© 2014, Z. T. Noble

[1] “Former Pierce Resident Dies in Missouri,” Pierce County Call, Pierce, Nebraska, May 23, 1935, p. 1.
[2] “History of Pierce,” Pierce Nebraska ( : accessed 8 June 2014).
[3] Fred Cousin, Kansas City, Missouri, to Zola Noble, letter, 28 April 2003, information on Wagner bothers; Waggoner, Jacob binder, Waggoner family; privately held, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] 1900 U. S. census, Clay County, Missouri, population schedule, Galiton Township, enumeration district [ED] 18, p. 50 (stamped), sheet 1-A, dwelling 6, family 6, George Wagner; digital image ( : accessed 8 June 2014); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 849.
[7] 1900 U. S. census, Clay County, Missouri, population schedule, Galiton Township, enumeration district [ED] 18, p. 50 (stamped), sheet 1-A, dwelling 5, family 5, Isaac Whistler family; digital image ( : accessed 8 June 2014); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 849.
[8] Fred Cousin, to Zola Noble, letter, 28 April 2003.
[9] Ibid.

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