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RG5512.AM:  Wagoner Family

Papers:  1869-1950

Red Cloud, Webster County, Neb.:  Homesteaders, farmers, ministers

Size:  0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box


Of German descent, the American line of the Wagoner family began in Pennsylvania with the birth of John (or Johannes) Waggoner, Sr., around 1760. A member of the German Baptist Brethren, often called Dunkards because of their mode of baptism, Waggoner and his wife, Esther Cripe, moved to Montgomery County, Ohio, around 1801. The next generation of Waggoners settled in Pyrmont, Indiana, where the family name changed to Wagoner.

Benjamin Wagoner (1819-1880), grandson of John, was about ten years old when his family settled near Pyrmont, Indiana. He married Catharine Fouts (1824-1883) in 1842 and, with their family of ten children, relocated to Webster County, Nebraska, in 1870. Benjamin and his sons Daniel, Noah, David, and John, as well as various in-laws, filed for homesteads around Red Cloud, in both Nebraska and Kansas, where the family affiliated with the Brethren Church at Burr Oak. The Wagoners established a Sunday school, a community school, and provided land for a free burial ground for their neighbors. The Benjamin Wagoner Memorial Cemetery is marked as a state historic site.

The children of Benjamin and Catharine were largely self-educated, but all were successful in their chosen field. John was a carpenter and blacksmith; Daniel, Noah, David, and Sarah all taught school; and Stephen became a dentist.

Noah Wagoner (1851-1938), the third son of Benjamin and Catharine, returned to Indiana to attend the State Normal School in Ladoga, near his hometown of Pyrmont, in 1879-1880. He married Lydia Blickenstaff (1861-1949) of Cerro Gordo, Illinois, in August 1880. Noah was baptized and served as a deacon of the Brethren Church at Burr Oak. In 1882 was elected to the ministry by that congregation. Shortly thereafter he advanced to the eldership through the different degrees of ministry, a position he held for more than fifty years. He was one of the moving forces in the building of the Garfield Church and the Red Cloud Church. He and Lydia donated a corner of their land for the Garfield Church, where it stood for over sixty years. The District 18 schoolhouse was built on another corner of their land.

The three sons of Noah and Lydia, Jesse (1882-1961), Ira (1883-1965), and Laban (1895-1986) were all born on their father’s homestead in Webster County. Jesse and Ira attended McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, from 1901-1905. Jesse taught science at Hastings Junior High for several years. Ira was elected to the ministry in 1907 and preached his first sermon in the Garfield Church. With Jesse he attended the Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1908, finishing his theological studies in 1912. During his lifetime he held pastorates at Brethren churches in Red Cloud, Nebraska, and Burr Oak, Kansas, while he continued to farm. He also served Congregational churches in Olive Hill, Lenora, and Council Grove, Kansas, and Metaline Falls, Washington. Laban stayed on the family homestead where he farmed, worked as an auctioneer, and bred hunting dogs.


This collection consists of manuscript material arranged in three series: 1) Correspondence, 1869-1950; 2) Journals of Noah Wagoner, 1883-1900; and 3) Genealogy Material. This collection relates to the lives of various members of the Wagoner family on the homesteads that they claimed in Webster County, Nebraska, in the early 1870s. The collection revolves most particularly centers on the family of Noah Wagoner, who took out his homestead in 1872, and bordered the claim taken by his father, Benjamin, in 1870. The materials in the collection reflect the activities and circumstances of the Wagoner family as they worked to improve their land and their community near Red Cloud, Webster County, Nebraska.

The Correspondence, 1869-1950, of Series 1 includes letters written among members of the Wagoner family. Many of the letters were written to or sent by Noah Wagoner. Early letters in this series, written by family and friends in Indiana and Illinois, reported on family news, crops, income, the weather, and school news. A content Benjamin reflected that he was satisfied in Nebraska, where he had “plenty to eat and a warm house to live in.” Many of the letters sent and received by Noah were exchanged with his two sons, Jesse and Ira, who attended McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, from 1901-1905. The majority of the letters contain news about home events as reported by Noah and Lydia. They write about family activities, planting and other farm chores, crop developments, money made on crops and livestock sales, school events, church affairs, the weather, and the importance of Jesse’s and Ira’s studies.

The Journals of Noah Wagoner, 1883-1900, comprise Series 2. Produced in typescript form (the originals are housed at the Webster County Museum in Red Cloud), Noah’s journal entries offer brief notes about the weather, financial transactions, visitors, farm work, crop and livestock prices, chores of all of the family members, religious gatherings and church events, neighborhood activities, purchases, and trips to Kansas and Illinois to visit relatives.

The Genealogy Material of Series 3 includes a volume titled, “Descendants of Phillip Waggoner (Wagner), Sr.” by Pauline A. Wagoner and a file of notes on the Wagoner and related families.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1869-1950

Box 1


  1. 1869-1874

  2. 1875-1879

  3. 1880

  4. 1881-1882

  5. 1883-1894

  6. 1895-1902, Oct.

  7. 1902, Nov.-1903, Feb.

  8. 1903, Mar.-1904, 1907

  9. 1908-1911, 1917-1920, 1926, 1932, 1935-1938, 1950

Series 2 – Journals of Noah B. Wagoner, 1883-1900

  1. Journals of Noah B. Wagoner, 1883-1900, in typescript form, compiled by his granddaughter, Esther Wagoner Emmons

Series 3 – Genealogy Material

  1. “Descendants of Phillip Waggoner (Wagner), Sr.” by Pauline A. Wagoner

  2. Notes on Wagoner and related families



Agricultural laborers — Nebraska — Webster County

Church work


Red Cloud (Neb.) — History

Waggoner family

Wagner family

Wagoner family

Wagoner, Benjamin, 1819-1880

Wagoner, Catharine (Fouts), 1824-1883

Wagoner, Ira, 1883-1965

Wagoner, Jesse, 1881-1961

Wagoner, Laban, 1895-1986

Wagoner, Lydia (Blickenstaff), 1861-1949

Wagoner, Noah, 1851-1938

Webster County (Neb.) — History


AIF/kfk   05-28-2004

Encoded TMM   07-29-2011