MARIAH JANE BLAIR &
MAJ. DAVID CHARLES WAGNER

The Tales of a Blair Family    

Mariah Jane Blair was born May 31, 1836 in Crawford County, Pennsylvania.  She was the first of Patrick & Mary Blair's children to be born in America.  Unfortunately little is known about Mariah's short life.  We know that when she came of age she followed her siblings West to Ogle County, Illinois.  There she became the first school teacher in the newly built school at Forreston, Illinois.  She taught for a couple of years before marrying David C. Wagner on March 6, 1860.   Their first daughter, Minnie, was born late the same year.  Her early married life was undoubtedly lonely as David left for war in September of 1861, just a year and half after their marriage.  His visits home were few and short and she was probably alone when their second child, Lula May, was born in 1862, and still alone when the child died in 1865.  Their son, Frank Sherman, was born in 1864.  In her 31st year, on January 11, 1867, just  over a year after David's release from military service, Mariah succumbed to life eternal.  She is buried in Plainview cemetery in Mt. Morris, Illinois next to her little daughter, Lula May.

Major David Charles Wagner
By Orval Diehl

Maj. David C. WagnerDavid Charles Wagner was the fifth child of John and Catherine (Rice) Wagner, born in Washington County, Maryland in 1825 and was 12 years old when his parents and their nine children moved west to the Ogle County territory in 1837. They were among the earliest settlers in the area and David had to work with other members of the family in building a log cabin and later a home on their land claim.   He attended school for a time at Rock River Seminary, later known as Mt. Morris College.

He was sited in the 1850 census as a carpenter and undoubtedly helped to build a number of the early houses in the county.  Some time in the 1850's he and his brother, Benjamin, operated a livery stable in Mt. Morris, housing and renting horses and carriages for people of the community.

In the Civil War clash between the northern and southern states, David Wagner was a Lieutenant in Co. H. and later helped to organize Company K of the 34th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  David was appointed Captain of company K.  The 34th saw many months of service in numerous battles in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia areas and David rose to the rank of Major in the old Second Division of the Army of the Cumberland under General Sherman.

After the Civil War, David returned to Mt. Morris where he lived for several years.  During that time he was elected from his district- a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1869 to 1870.  He was appointed to the committees on Education, Retrenchment and Reform, Federal Relations, and Future Amendments; which met in Springfield and drew up the Illinois State Constitution of 1870.

David was instrumental  in helping establish the University of Illinois in 1867 and was a member of its first board of Directors.

In the late 1850's David Wagner and Mariah Jane Blair were married in Mt. Morris and they had three children, but Mariah died in 1866.  In 1869 David married Anna Thompson and three children were born to this union: Fannie Thompson Wagner Fairfield; Marie Wagner; David Charles Wagner Jr.

David's oldest daughter, Minnie who married Samuel Wells Anderson in 1884 and lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin left the following story of his activities.

In 1873, David and Anna, with their four children, moved to Chicago and David became a member of the commission firm of Wagner and Beusely.  Wagner, the livestock man and Beuseley, the grain man on the Board of Trade.  David always rode a fine horse to business and he used it in the stockyards going around among the stock pens.   He was a friend of all the old time stock men--Swift, Armour, Sherman, etc. and he was called by some the "Father of the Livestock Exchange" because he helped to organize that business.  David was the cattleman who used to go to Texas to buy droves of cattle off the free ranges to send north to be fattened for market--for firms in Chicago and for himself.  He loved San Antonio.

He was on one such trip when Marie, my sister, was born and I had to officiate.

No motors or telephones in those days and father left early in the morning often in the dark from winter and put in long days but successful until in one of the big wheat deals the firm downtown lost heavily.

In the meantime David's son, Frank Sherman Wagner had become the hog specialist in the firm and in later years he moved to Sioux City, Iowa and was a partner in a livestock brokerage firm there.  Frank died in 1920, but had no children.

 

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