Mariah Jane Blair was born May
31, 1836 in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. She was the first of
& 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
David 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
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
David was instrumental in helping
establish the University of Illinois in 1867 and was a member of its first board of
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
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
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
Iowa and was a partner in a livestock brokerage firm there. Frank died in 1920, but
had no children.