The Last Birthday Party for Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean

Margaret Hailer was born in 1831, in Chippewa, Ontario, Canada, a small hamlet on the banks of the Niagara River, almost within hearing of the Horseshoe Falls. Her father, John Jacob Hailer is reported to be the first European settler in the Waterloo region of Ontario, purchasing his first acre of land and settling with his family in what is now the downtown core of the city of Kitchener, Ontario.

Margaret married Jacob Wagner in 1849, when she was eighteen years of age. Jacob died suddenly eight and one half years later in 1858, leaving a young widow and two young children. In 1862, Margaret married Daniel Bean, a school teacher, and they had eight additional children. Daniel passed away in 1885.

In 1918, Margaret’s family gathered with her in the Bridgeport section of Kitchener (renamed from Berlin in 1916) to celebrate her 87th birthday. A 1918 clipping from the Daily News newspaper, part of the treasure trove found of family records on file at the University of Waterloo, donated by Gordon Wagner, states that “Even today it is her custom to go to church twice every Sunday. During all the past years she has been one of the staunchest Sunday School workers.”

The article further indicates that 6 of her 10 children were able to attend the birthday celebration – unfortunately the article only lists four of the six: Euphemia Bean Schmidt (of South Dakota), Emma Mary Bean Haist (of Buffalo, New York), Margaret A. Bean Bender, and Samuel Bean, both of Berlin/Kitchener, Ontario. All four children were from Margaret Hailer’s second marriage to Daniel Bean. In additon to her children, the article indicates that grandchildren, many other family members and friends participated in the celebration of her birthday.

Unfortunately, just a little over a month later these family and friends were to gather again but this time for Margaret’s funeral in July 1918. As one newspaper obituary so eloquently described it, “At the ripe age of 87 years, 1 month and 7 days, mother Margaret Bean, nee Hailer, eldest daughter of the sainted Jacob Hailer and his wife Margaret Riehl, was suddenly translated from her earthly pilgrimmage (sic) to her heavenly mansion on Sunday, July 7th, 1918, at her late home, Frederick St., Kitchener, Ont., without any premonition or previous illness.”

Margaret was laid to rest in the Breithaupt family section of the Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener (photo of her monument above right).

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