Wagner, J. D. - Macoupin County Illinois
©1996-2009 Sue McMurry

Descendants of J. D. WAGNER, Sr

submitted by Sue McMurry

A “First Family” of Macoupin County IL.

E. B. Buck, Owner and Proprietor
Carlinville, Illinois
Wednesday, April 21, 1886

Biographical Sketch of J. D. Wagner

J. D. Wagner, of Gillespie township, was born in Madison county, October 29, 1814, near Upper Alton. He descended from the thrifty German settlers of Pennsylvania on the father's side and from the pioneers of Tennessee on the mother's.

His father moved to this county in March of 1823, and settled on what was afterward known as Wagner's Prairie, two miles north of Plainview on the farm since owned by Uncle Jimmie Witt. This section of the county was then an almost unbroken wilderness and the only settlers in that neighborhood were James Grey and his son-in-law John Hilyard from whom the township take its name. The Thomas family, father and son, W. A., came the next year. Pleasant Lemary, the father of J. C. and James Lemary was living on what was then known as Lemary's Branch. He was a man of sterling worth and has left the imprint of his character on his many descendants.

To tell anything near the truth as to the state of the country at that time would only gain, for the writer, a reputation for exaggeration that he does not wish to possess. The original settlers of the soil had been gone but a few years. Herds of wild deer roamed the prairies at will and droves of wolves kept the early settler on his guard to protect his young stock. Game of all kind was abundant and hunting was not only an amusement but a means of obtaining a living.

Alton was the nearest market and Carlinville the post office. Mr. Wagner was married to Lucinda McDonald near where Fosterburg is now, August 22d, 1834, and entered part of the Sam Welch farm near Plainview. He went to Alton and bought his kitchen furniture consisting of a pot and skillet and carried them home, then went to the forest and hewed out a puncheon for a table. Five children came to add interest to this new home, William and John now living near their father; Mrs. Neely who lives east of Carlinville; Mrs. Dan Adams and Mrs. John Lilly both living in Montgomery county. His first wife died in 1849, and Mr. Wagner moved to Spanish Needle prairie and married for his second wife Mrs. Ginsy Huddleston and bought the farm owned by James Wheeler where August Perrottet now lives. In 1864 he bought the place where he now lives on the south edge of Spanish Needle Prairie.

The first mill that he remembers was an old tread mill on Weatherford's prairie east of Carlinville. The next was a water mill on the Macoupin, owned by John Harris who was a state senator, perhaps one of the first.

The first election he attended was held in Carlinville, and Bill Coop, son of the first settler of this county, and Jef. Weatherford were candidates for sheriff. Whiskey was passed out to the crowd in buckets and was free.

Mr. Wagner related an anecdote of John Coop, another son of the first settler, which illustrates the spirit of the times. Coop was on a visit to friends in Madison who were fortunate enough to have apples, something unknown in Macoupin. The kind hospitality of that day required that John should take some apples home to his folks, but he had nothing to carry them in. Not discouraged by this fact, he tied a string around each ankle of his leather pants, filled them with apples, then swung them across his horse and set out for his home, twenty-six miles distance. A ride over the same road in that costume would attract some attention in this day.

Mr. Wagner cast his first vote for Van Buren in 1836 and has been a steadfast democrat ever since, voting the ticket without a scratch except in two instances when he voted for personal friends on the opposition ticket. In this as in every thing else he has followed the dictates of conscience and pursuing this line has won for him a reputation of uprightness and honesty that is second to none.

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