Just over a year ago, I wrote about the diaries kept by my wife’s great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner.
Louis was born in 1857 in Grove, Alleghany, New York state to Rev. Jacob Wagner and his wife Margaret (nee Hailer). By the time, Louis was a year old, his father had decided to end his career as a minister and he entered into a business partnership with his brother-in-law, Louis Breithaupt. Sadly the partnership in a tanning business located in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario ended abruptly when Jacob died in 1858. The tannery that he and Louis Breithaupt established went on to prosper as one of Berlin’s major companies with the Eagle Tannery building still a part of Kitchener’s downtown core.
While Louis Henry Wagner worked in the family tannery, he eventually became a minister in the Evangelical Association and married Mary Staebler. In a series of diary entries, Louis described his wife’s death of typhoid fever in 1887
, on the first birthday of their son, Louis Jacob Gordon Wagner, my wife’s grandfather. Just over two years following the death of his wife Mary, Louis married for a second time. His second wife was Sarah Lodema Moyer (whose family is the subject of voluminous ‘genealogical record’ compiled by Rev. A. J. Fretz in 1895).
Louis and Sarah appear to have lived a good and stable family life until their deaths in 1945 and 1941, respectively. Below is a family photo, taken around 1908 – 1910 of Sarah (far left) and Louis (far right) with their children, from left to right: Ida (born in 1893), Margaret Florence (born 1898), Louis Jacob Gordon (from Louis’ first marriage, born 1886), and Carl Henry (born 1897).
Louis and Sarah Wagner are buried together in the Mount Hope Cemetery located in Kitchener, Ontario.
I have found some things pertaining to my genealogy research in unexpected but I never imagined that a stamp club, more properly, a philatelic society newsletter, would be a source for genealogy information.
While working through one of my assignments for a National Institute for Genealogical Studies course, I found a newsletter for the British North America Philatelic Society’s Postal Stationery Study Group. Specifically in the group’s September 2002 newsletter (Volume 18, No. 2), there was an article about the postal stationery cards, more commonly post cards, used by The Breithaupt Leather Company of Berlin, Ontario. This is the tannery and leather goods company formed through a partnership between my wife, Ellen’s second great grandfather Jacob Wagner and his friend and brother-in-law Louis Breithaupt.
Following Jacob’s unexpected and early death in 1858, Breithaupt continued the company under his name. The tannery, known in Kitchener, Ontario as the Eagle Tannery, once one of the largest tanneries in Canada, perhaps North America, closed in 1950. Below is an image of the used post cards from the Breithaupt Leather Company that the philatelic society posted in it’s newsletter.
The newsletter contained more importantly an excellent article written by Chris Ellis that details the history of the leather company, including Jacob Wagner’s involvement. The article also as a bonus cites the source of much of its information including a PhD dissertation.
Lesson learned – expect the unexpected! Findings additional sources of family history information may turn up in the most unusual places.