Charlie Wagner was 91 when I met him–my husband’s adored Granddaddy! I only had the privilege of knowing him 7 years before his death at age 98, but was always amazed by him! When I knew him, Charlie was a walker! He would walk all over the rural community in which they lived– Richfield, NC , about an hour north of Charlotte, NC. He walked to church, walked all over his 150 acre farm, and to his daughters’ and grandchildren’s houses nearby! Most of that area had once been owned by him as he gave land for his children to build their homes upon. By the time I joined the family in 1971, there was a small community of relatives there. Until I began working on our family trees, I didn’t even realize that Charlie had grown up just a mile or so down the road! You can see his parents, William Alexander Wagner and Martha Scronia Culp and their eight children in the picture below, as well as the lovely frame home that Charlie lived in as a child. When he married and raised his own family, he built the charming rock house there on his farm. I have also included his pedigree family tree, and his family page for your information. You can see that he came from a long line of North Carolinians–some of whom fought in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War! The Wagners originally came to America from Germany, but I have not yet found their actual immigration information. You might like to know that while this family spelled their name Wagner, it can be found in general and in other family members spelled Wagoner, Waggoner, and other variations, often the same family.
Charlie openly loved and adored his first wife Mary Lou Rogers, with whom he had six children, five living to maturity. Of those five, only two were living at his death! Growing old is a blessing for sure, but outliving most of your children and your wife, …that’s a lot of sadness to bear. Mary Lou Rogers died in 1947, at the age of 67, a long life for many of us. Still, her husband lived for 30 more years! Sometime in his early 80’s, Charlie remarried! He married a woman his age named Juanita Hough, called Nita, and they took a train trip to Las Vegas for their honeymoon! I always thought that was awesome and so adventurous! I don’t think you can imagine a friendlier man than Charlie Wagner. He always had a kind word for everyone, and knew the names of all the adults and children in his community. Since his church, New Mt.Tabor United Methodist, where my husband grew up attending also, was only a quarter to half mile down the road, Charlie could often be seen heading that way for one reason to serve, or another.
Charlie’s father was a farmer, and so was Charlie most of his young life. One of his grandsons, Wayne Fraley remembers watching him plow and drill the fields for long hours with two mules! He says Charlie mainly grew corn, and small grains–oats and wheat. He remembers seeing Charlie walking behind the two mules pulling the reaper also! Talk about hard work! They’d cut and bale the hay, separating the seeds from the straw. In his later years, Charlie liked to haul the product to market himself. Wayne sometimes rode with him to deliver grain to the Davis Milling Company in Highpoint, NC Wayne says they always stopped in Charlie’s favorite place to take a break and every time, Charlie would buy a Dr.Pepper to drink, along with a bag of peanuts, which he placed into the Dr.Pepper. Charlie said that was his favorite drink!
Wayne Fraley relates a story that tells us a lot about Charlie Wagner’s character: “When I was in 8th or 9th grade, a buddy of mine said come on with me and we’ll go down in the woods and smoke one of these, my Daddy’s cigarettes! First I said no…but then I tagged along with him down to where a big old tree had fallen over. We climbed up into the very top of that old tree,, leaned back against a limb, and both of us started to smoke! I leaned over to flick my ashes off, looked down, and there stood Mother! (His Mother was Charlie’s daughter Onnie. Tragically, Wayne’s father had died when Wayne was only one years old. ) Wayne remembers that she whipped him all the way home! Then however, she brought out the big guns by saying–‘I’m going to tell Granddaddy.’ Oh, I was upset! I didn’t want her to do that! Granddaddy had a way of talking to you that was worse than a whippin’! Charlie waited two days. I was dying! Finally, he called me over and said he wanted to talk with me. I hung my head in shame as we talked. Finally he said, ‘I want you to wait until you are 21 years old before you ever smoke again, then you can smoke as much as you want to!’ Why 21? I asked. ‘I figure by the time you are 21, you’ll know right from wrong, and then you can make your own choices.’ This from a man who hadn’t even finished highschool. He was very wise. ”
Charlie was also an artisan and handed down his woodworking talents to his grandson Max Holshouser (Son of Charlie’s daughter -Helen Wagner Holshouser, and my husband). They are both extraordinary woodworkers! We still use a cedar armoire and dresser made by Charlie Wagner about 1910, or earlier, at least over 100 years old! We are currently using it for clothes again, but it has served us well in our kitchen, family room and bedrooms over the 42 years we’ve been married! There is a dresser that goes with it, and a cedar chest that matches it,made by Max’s Dad. One of Max’s greatest treasures is the tool box he owns which used to belong to his granddaddy. I’ve included some pictures below. Another time, I’ll write a blog post and show you some of the extraordinary things Max has made. It’s in the DNA I tell you!
Hope you have an wonderful week and have fun finding your own family stories! Helen