Mount Morris Index, Mount Morris, IL

October 14, 1903

p. 1, col. 1, Cont. on p. 9



The people of Mount Morris, particularly the old settlers, were impressed with sadness last week when the news gained currency of the death of Reuben Wagner, a highly respected resident of our town and one of the early settlers of Ogle County. He has been familiar to all as a member of the well known Wagner family, the twelve children of John and Katherine Wagner, who have been so closely connected with the progress and prosperity of the township and county, and whose many pleasant reunions in Mount Morris have so often been noted in these columns.

Mr. Wagner had been in good health until last March, when he became the victim of a disease which was at first diagnosed as jaundice, a liver disease. A Chicago specialist later made an examination and expressed the opinion that tumors had formed upon the liver, but whatever the ailment, physicians' skill seemed unable to cope with it and Mr. Wagner gradually grew worse as the summer wore on, although he was able to be about town as usual. On Monday of last week he made his last trip up town, returning to his home much weaker than usual and was compelled to take to his bed. Death came to him at about 8 o'clock Thursday morning. Peaceful and calm and without complaint, his sickness and death were emblematic of his long and useful life.

Saturday at 1 P.M. a large number of the many relatives and friends gathered at the Methodist Church to pay their last respects to the departed. The funeral discourse was delivered by Rev. W. L. Whipple and some very beautiful music rendered by a mixed quartet and Miss Gladys McCosh, soloist. The remains were conveyed to Polo and interment made in the Polo Cemetery, where Mr. Wagner's first wife and two children lie buried in the family lot.

A very fortunate circumstance in connection with the death of Mr. Wagner was the fact that all the surviving members of the Wagner family were in Mt. Morris except one, Mrs. Sarah Good of Valley Center, Kans., spending a few weeks together as they have been in the habit of doing for a number of years, and they were all at his bedside from the time he was taken down until death finally took him from their midst. They all feel very thankful that providentially they were allowed this privilege.

The death of Mr. Wagner calls attention again to the remarkable fact that the family of twelve brothers and sisters all lived until the youngest had reached the age of fifty years, the oldest brother, Joseph, being the first to die, his death occurring in 1891. The last reunion was held in Mount Morris in June, 1896, at which time the entire eleven remaining brothers and sisters were present.

Reuben Wagner was the fifth one of the twelve children in this remarkable family. He was born April 8, 1827, near Hagerstown, Md., and Oct. 8, 1903, the day of his death, he was aged exactly seventy-six and one-half years. He with his parents, five brothers and three sisters started west in 1836, spending the winter in Ohio where another daughter was born. In the following spring, 1837, they continued their journey to Illinois and settled in Ogle County, several miles northeast of Mount Morris.

At that time, the subject of this sketch was but a lad of 10 years, old enough to remember well the novelty and the hardships of settling in a wild uninhabited country, such as Ogle County was at that early date. Mr. Wagner's early life was thus spent upon the farm, including also a part of his early married life. His marriage took place Dec. 29, 1853, Leah Brubaker becoming his wife. To them were born four children, -- Harry, Nettie, William Perry and Edwin Leavitt. Harry died when but two years old and Nettie when seventeen years old, followed in three years (1876) by their mother. The other two sons are living. William Perry is cashier of the Citizen's National Bank of Green Bay, Wis., and Edwin Leavitt, living in Berwyn, Ill., is assistant cashier of the Federal Trust and Savings Bank of Chicago.

After leaving the farm Mr. Wagner came to Mount Morris and conducted a livery business several years, after which he moved to Polo and there he engaged in the grain buying business for quite a number of years, probably ten years. He was also engaged in the banking business there, helping to organize the Exchange Bank, and for a time acting as its president. From Polo Mr.. Wagner moved to Chicago and there in partnership with his brother, Nehemiah, conducted a commission business at the stock-yards for many years, after which he decided to retire from active business and spend the remainder of his life in Mount Morris, near the scene of his early activities. It was two years ago last spring when he came to Mount Morris and since that time he and his wife have been living with his sister, Mrs. B. E. McNeill.

Mr. Wagner was married a second time, Dec. 20, 1877, to Mary Sheets Coffman, who lives to mourn his loss. He became a member of the Mount Morris M. E. Church in 1857 and remained a faithful member during the remainder of his life.

Besides the wife and two sons, Mr. Wagner is survived by five sisters and two brothers, viz., Mrs. Susan Wertz of Falls City, Nebr., Mrs. Sarah Good of Valley Center, Kans., Mrs. B. E. McNeill and Mrs. J. A. Knodle of Mount Morris, and Mrs. K. S. Griffin of Chicago, and Nehemiah and Capt. David C. Wagner of Chicago. The youngest of these brothers and sisters is 62 years of age, and the oldest, Mrs. Wertz, is 81.

The deceased was a man whom it was a great pleasure to meet and converse with, his pleasant and cordial manner and his cheerful disposition making him a friend not soon to be forgotten. The community has lost a prominent and broad-minded citizen.

Contributed by Peg Allen Arnold

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