Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.
Over the past several weeks I have been highlighting one of my direct ancestors. This week, I am stepping away, just a little, from that practice. Rather than one of my direct ancestors, I am turning the spotlight onto one of my wife Ellen’s direct ancestors, her great great grandmother Margaret (or Margaretha) Wagner (nee Hailer).
The reason for this variance is simple. A week ago, Ellen and I were in the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario to attend a family funeral. While driving to our hotel, I pointed to a street sign and Ellen’s eyes lit up as she knew the significance of the street name.
Margaret Avenue runs roughly north from Kitchener’s downtown core, beginning at Queen Street North, to it’s termination just south of University Avenue in Waterloo. Margaret Avenue is also named in honour of Ellen’s great great grandmother Margaret Wagner (Fear, Jon, Flash from the Past: Many a train passed under Margaret Avenue Bridge, Kitchener Waterloo Record, 17 Dec 2010).
Margaret was born Margaretha Hailer, the eldest child of Johann Jacob Hailer and his wife Margaret Riehl. She was born in 1831 in Chippewa (now Niagara Falls), Upper Canada. Her parents, Jacob and Margaret Hailer settled in Chippewa soon after they married in 1830 but, not long after the birth of their first child, they moved to Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario. According to author and biographical sketch compiler A. J. Fretz (born 1849), Jacob and Margaret Hailer were the first German born settlers in the town of Berlin (Fretz, A. J.. A genealogical record of the descendants of Christian and Hans Meyer and other pioneers : together with historical and biographical sketches. Harleysville, Pa.: News Printing House, 1896, page 122).
Margaret grew up in Berlin with her four sisters – Catherine, Harriet, Marion, and Caroline – and their one brother, the youngest of the children, Jacob. In 1849 Margaret married Jacob Wagner, a minister in the Evangelical Association. Following their marriage the young couple set up house near Buffalo, New York where Jacob’s ministry as a preacher was headquartered. It was here that Margaret and Jacob were joined by their two children, Catherine, or Kate as they called her, in 1851 and Louis Henry, who later followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a minister, in 1857. Life on the road was hard for Jacob and his health suffered as a result. So in November 1857, he decided to give up preaching and entered into a business partnership with his best friend Phillip Ludwig ‘Louis’ Breithaupt, a Buffalo tanner. Louis Breithaupt was also Jacob’s brother-in-law, having married Margaret’s sister Catherine after Jacob had introduced the two to each other. Each of them would contribute between $3,000-$4,000 dollars as capital to start a tannery operation In Berlin.
Margaret must have been elated at the prospect of having her husband home all the time, especially since the new business was to be established in Berlin, not far from her parental home. On April 1st, 1858, Jacob Wagner and Louis Breithaupt finalized their partnership agreement for what would become the Eagle Tannery. Jacob Wagner was established as the partner responsible for running the operation.
The good fortune did not last long however. Jacob died suddenly on 19 April 1858. Margaret’s parents were there to comfort and support the young widow, ensuring that Kate and young Louis went to school. In 1862, Margaret met and married Daniel Bean (Biehn), a school teacher and farmer from Blandford in neighbouring Oxford County. On marrying Daniel, Margaret left her son Louis in the care of her father so he could continue his education, at least until young Louis convinced his grandfather Jacob Hailer and uncle Louis Breithaupt that what he really wanted was to apprentice in the tannery business, a career that didn’t last long.
Margaret moved around southwestern Ontario with her husband Daniel as he moved between school teaching jobs. During their marriage, Margaret and Daniel had six known children. In 1885 Margaret was again widowed when Daniel died in Mildmay, Ontario. Now on her own and in her mid-50’s, Margaret moved back home once more where she lived in a house with her two youngest children Jacob and Margaret ‘Alma” Bean. When Alma married Alfred Bender in 1907, Margaret moved into a house with them.
On the morning of Sunday, July 7, 1918, Margaret (Hailer) (Wagner) Bean was found dead. Dr. J. F. Honsberger, the coroner, would determine that the cause of death was apoplexy (or stroke). Margaret was laid to rest on 12 July 1918 next to her first husband Jacob Wagner and beside her parents and Breithaupt in-laws in Kitchener’s Mount Hope Cemetery.