I Could Have Been Rich!

On April 1, 1858, Jacob Wagner, my wife’s great great grandfather, entered into a partnership agreement with Louis Breithaupt. Jacob and Louis were brothers-in-law, having married sisters Margaret and Catherine Hailer, respectively. The original hand written agreement is on file at the University of Waterloo, Ontario in the Wagner Hailer Family fonds.

The agreement reads, in part:

L. Breithaupt of the city of Buffalo, N.Y. and
Jacob Wagner of the city of Berlin, Waterloo County, C.W. [Canada West]

for the purpose of carrying on a Leatheretton and Tannery in the said Berlin city.

We, the undersigned hereby agree, that L. Breithaupt and Jacob Wagner divide the profits and losses of the concern equally.

There is to be an equal capital in it, from each of us, say about $3000 – to four thousand dollars each. The one, that puts any more capital in it then [sic] the other, is to have lawful interest for same.”

The agreement then goes on to note that Jacob Wagner “is to have full charge of the business.” Also, “the business is to be worked on under the name and style Breithaupt and Wagner.”

Sadly, eighteen days after Jacob and Louis signed this agreement, on April 19, 1858, Jacob died. Louis, without his brother-in-law and partner, proceeded to establish the tannery in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, pictured above as it looked in 1897 from the book “Busy Berlin: Jubilee Souvenir 1897.”

The business was a huge success, launching the family into local and provincial prominence in addition to sustaining a wealthy lifestyle for four generations before the family business was sold.

That wealth, as a result of Jacob’s death, did not extend into the Wagner family so I’m not rich – but I’m fine with having married into charm and good looks!


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