George Wagner, the Captain’s grandfather, was also a native of Pennsylvania, born at Bald Eagle, on the eastern foothills of the Alleghanies, and was of Pennsylvania-Dutch stock, and the son of a Revolutionary soldier. He was accidentally killed, in Pennsylvania, a tree falling on him. Those of his children of whom we have mention were: Jacob, who settled in Taylor county, Iowa, where he reared a family; Christopher; John, who became an extensive farmer in Ohio; George, who settled finally in Allen county, Ohio, and reared a large family; Mathias; and Catherine, who married a Mr. Cline, settled first in Pennsylvania, and later moved to Holmes county, Ohio, where they reared a large family.
Mathias Wagner, father of Capt. John H. Wagner, was born in 1801 at Bald Eagle. He was reared in a wilderness from which the Indians had not yet departed, and under uncivilized conditions, and he never had any opportunity of attending school, but nevertheless he learned to read and write. He learned the carpenter’s trade, which he followed while he remained in Pennsylvania. There he married Elizabeth Ramsey, who was a little younger than himself and also a native of Pennsylvania, where her father, Hugh Ramsey, settled in an early day. Hugh Ramsey was born in Ireland, of Scotch-Irish stock, and his family consisted of two sons and one daughter, David, Andrew and Elizabeth. He followed farming in Pennsylvania, west of the Alleghanies, near some iron works. Mathias Wagner settled near Lucinda Furnace, in Clarion county, Pa., on Cherry creek, and there his son John H. was born. In 1842 the family moved to Indiana, making the journey down the Ohio river on a raft from a point on the Clarion river to Cincinnati, thence to Brookville, Ind., on the canal, and thence by wagon to Chesterfield, Madison county, Ind., where they lived one year. Mr. Wagner’s brother-in-law, David Ramsey, owned a tract of 200 acres three and a quarter miles east of the site of Elwood, which land was then entirely wild. It had been located by Mr. Ramsey when he was with a surveying party on one of the first surveys of this region. He died in Ohio, and his sister, Mrs. Wagner, being his only heir, the property fell to her, and the Wagners moved thereon. Mr. Wagner cut a trail from near a woolen mill two and a half miles east of the city out to the land, one and one half miles, cleared a spot and built a log cabin. He deadened a small patch at first and proceeded to clear part of the place, which he improved as he prospered. The death of his wife was a severe blow, occurring as it did only a year after they settled on this place. In 1854 he went to Cincinnati, leaving his household in the care of a neighbor while he assisted in building the Ohio & Mississippi railroad bridge across the Ohio. Returning to the farm, he passed the remainder of his life there, three of his children, John H., Elizabeth and George, living with him. He had married for his second wife, in Madison county, Ind., Phyllis Hall, but there were no children by this union. By his first marriage he had six: David, Julia Ann, Elizabeth, Mary Jane, George W., and John H. Two of the sons, George W. and John H., served in the Civil war, George W. serving as a private of Company G, 17th Ind.V. I.; he was killed at the battle of Hoover's Gap, June 23, 1863. Mathias Wagner, the father, died on his farm when aged seventy-eight years. He and his first wife were members of the Methodist Church. In political sentiment he was originally a Democrat, but he became a Republican upon the breaking out of the Civil war.
John H. Wagner was an infant when brought by his parents to Indiana, and he was but three years old when his mother died. He began his education in the log school-house in the home district, a primitive structure furnished with benches made out of linn poles and with a log cut out on one side of the building to admit the light, the opening being fitted with window glass. He went to school winters and worked on the farm summers until he was fifteen years old, meantime, in 1854, attending school in Cincinnati for one summer, when he and his sister Elizabeth went with their father to that city. He lived in Cincinnati for about two years, and for a time worked in a cotton factory there when only nine years old. When he was sixteen he left home and went to Tippecanoe county, Ind., where he was employed at farm work until he entered the army, and being a robust and strong young man he was able to work hard.
Captain Wagner served his country throughout the period of the Civil war, enlisting in April, 1861, on the first call for troops—in fact he was the first man to enlist from the village of Pipe Creek. He heard that volunteers were wanted while he was working on the farm, and stopped only long enough to collect some money his brother-in law owed him. Walking to Anderson, fifteen miles from his home, he became a private in Company G, 17th Ind. V. I., Capt. Robert C. Reed, for three years or during the war, and remained in the army four years and four months, being mustered out Aug. 18, 1865, at Macon, Ga. He became corporal June 12, 1861, and was detailed as color guard; nearly one year later, in June, 1862, he became second sergeant, and then first sergeant; on Jan. 4, 1864, he was honorably discharged at McMinnville, Tenn.; veteranized in Company G, 17th Ind.V.I., and was made orderly sergeant; served as a private until discharged to receive promotion to the rank of first lieutenant of Company G, in 1865; and the same year became captain of Company G, in which rank he served until mustered out. His promotions were all received for gallant and meritorious conduct in the line of duty. During all this time he was never away from his command except while he was in hospital at Bowling Green, Ky., for three days, and he was never wounded or taken prisoner, participating in all the campaigns, marches, battles and skirmishes of his regiment and Wilder’s Brigade, to which the 17th was attached. Gen. John C. Wilder was lieutenant-colonel of the regiment when it was organized and Milo S. Hascall was colonel. The latter was promoted to brigadier-general, and Lieut.Col. Wilder was promoted to the colonelcy, commanding the regiment until he was promoted to the command of the brigade, which he made famous.
Captain Wagner saw service in West Virginia (1861), Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia. He was in thirty-five battles and numerous skirmishes, a full record of which would fill a volume. Among the important engagements in which he took part we enumerate the following: Cheat Mountain, Elk River, Summit and Greenbrier, all in West Virginia; Pittsburg Landing; skirmishes near Stevenson, Ala., and near Bardstown, Ky.; Morgan’s raid; Corinth, where they were on the skirmish line from May 15th to June 2d, 1862; McMinnville; and Hoover’s Gap, a hard fight, where Captain Wagner’s brother George was fatally shot, dying the same night. From Aug. 21 to Sept. 8, 1863, they had frequent skirmishes with the enemy at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and on Sept. 11th were in a sharp fight with Scott’s Brigade of Confederate Cavalry, defeating them. On Sept. 12th they had a severe fight at Rock Springs, and others on the 13th and 18th. On Sept. 19th they fought all day in the battle of Chickamauga, and on Sept. 20th charged and drove the enemy, killing, wounding and capturing a large number. In one charge eighty prisoners were taken. On Oct. 1st they started in pursuit of General Wheeler, who was in the Sequatchie valley, ‘camped’ at the foot of Waldron’s ridge, and on the evening of Oct. 2d and 3d charged the Confederate Colonel Crew’s Brigade, across Thompson’s Cove. The 17th captured the battle flag of the 2d Kentucky Cavalry, presented to them by the ladies of Elizabethtown, Ky. On Oct 4th the regiment had a sharp skirmish at McMinnville, Tenn., and on Oct. 7th had a brisk fight three miles from Shelbyville on the Lewisburg road and made an attack, driving, the enemy from the field. On the same day, at Farmington, the regiment struck Wheeler a heavy blow. On Nov. 27th the 17th was attacked by Kelly’s Brigade.
In May, 1864, the regiment had many skirmishes with the enemy; on May 15th, near Rome, Ga.; on the i8th near Woodland; on the 25th at Pumpkin Vine Church; on June 9th marched to Big Shanty, where they found the enemy strongly entrenched and had a very severe fight; on June 10-11-13-16 they had heavy skirmishes, continued on June 20-22-23-27. The regiment fought all day in the battle of Kenesaw Mountain. On July 3d the regiment, drove the Confederates out of Marietta and followed them, capturing many prisoners. The 17th fought throughout the great Atlanta campaign. On July 4th they fought at Cotton Creek, on the 5th at Soap Creek, and on the 9th attacked the enemy, who were posted on the south bank of the Chattahoochee river. They waded the river, which was two hundred yards wide and nearly elbow deep, firing as they went, and driving the enemy, the 17th being the first troops across. On July 19th they defeated the enemy at Stone Mountain; then marched through Oxford to Covington, on July 24th, and had a skirmish, and on July 27th moved through Decatur around Stone Mountain. They camped at Flat Rock, threatening the enemy’s rear, were attacked in the night by the enemy, and on July 28th were cannonaded by the enemy. That day the brigade charged the Confederate lines and cut their way through. On Aug. 1st they moved eight miles toward Atlanta, and took the place of the 25th Corps in the line of works, skirmishing with the enemy until the 14th. On Oct. 7th they struck the enemy at New Hope Church, dismounted and charged, driving the enemy from the works, and killing and wounding several. The brigade crossed the Coosa river, passed through Rome near which they met the enemy’s pickets, and commenced skirmishing, driving the enemy’s skirmishers to their main body. The brigade charged, killing, wounding and capturing large numbers. On Oct. 13th the brigade moved on the enemy, finding them strongly posted on a creek near Coosaville, charged, dismounted and broke the line, Captain Wilder following the enemy on the flank and capturing the flag of Terry’s Texas Rangers. In the campaign of 1865 known as Wilson’s raid the regiment marched on April 1st, at daylight, seven rniles to Randolph, thence toward Selma. The Confederate forces under Roddy and Forrest contested the road, and battles were fought at Bogue’s Creek (Ebenezer Church) and Selma. Following this came skirmishes at Spring Hill, Montpelier, Catawba Run on railroad bridge, and at Mimm’s Mill, and Rocky Creek Bridge.
At Macon, Ga.; on May 30, 1865, the adjutant of the 17th Indiana, William E. Doyle, in the close of his pamphlet on the history of the regiment, thus summed up the record of the regiment: "As now the war is over, and the 17th Indiana has completed its work of fighting, let us look back over its career, and glean from its history some of its claims to immortality. What has it done? Let us see. It has marched over four thousand miles, captured over five thousand prisoners, captured more than six thousand stand of arms, seventy pieces of artillery, and eleven stand of colors, and more than three thousand horses and mules, all this with a loss of three officers and sixty-six men killed, and thirteen officers and one hundred and seventy-six wounded, a total killed and wounded of two hundred and fifty-eight. We have fought in nearly every State in the South, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama, have given resting places to our dead, as they opened new fields to us for conquest. None have striven harder than we to show a bright record. The trophies of our victories hang in the Statehouse in Indianapolis and in the capitol at Washington. Terry’s Texan Rangers, 2d Kentucky Cavalry, and many other Rebel regiments and battalions, have seen us carry their colors off the field. The country will give us the credit due to our actions. We never were defeated. With the cry of ‘Make way for the 17th’ we always carried everything before us."
After the war Captain Wagner returned to his home in Indiana and engaged in farming on part of the home place, having inherited forty acres of the homestead. He added to his original holdings until he owned 260 acres, and continued to improve his land and farm for ten years. He then came to Elwood and built, in company with Henry Hand and Milton Kidwell, a flax factory, continuing in that business successfully for several years. Following this venture, he was for fourteen years engaged in the plumbing and gas fitting business. He has been one of the substantial figures in business circles in Elwood throughout the period of his residence in that place.
In May, 1881, Captain Wagner was married, in Anderson, Ind., to Laura Ross, who was born in Madison county, Ind., daughter of Albert J. and Elizabeth (Waymire) Ross, the former a native of West Virginia, born at Buffalo, on the Big Kanawha river, and a descendant of an old Virginia family. John Ross, Mrs. Wagner’s grandfather, was a pioneer of Madison county, where he cleared two large farms from the woods and became a wealthy man. Two of his sons, Albert J. and Absalom, served in the Civil war in Indiana regiments. Albert J. Ross came to Madison county with his father in an early day, and married Elizabeth Waymire, daughter of David Waymire. Captain Wagner and his wife have one daughter, Effie, who is a graduate of the Elwood high school and is now living at home.
Captain Wagner is an honored member of the G. A. R., belonging to Post No. 161, at Elwood, of which he has been commander. He is a prominent member of the I. 0. 0. F. and has passed all the chairs of the lower lodge, up to and including that of noble grand, and is a member of the Grand Lodge of the State. The Captain is also a member of the I. 0. R. M., at Elwood. Mrs. Wagner belongs to the Daughters of Rebekah. The Captain is a Republican in politics, and though not an office seeker he served eighteen months as marshal and one year as constable.
JAMES H. VANDIVIER (deceased). The ability to produce great results in the business world from small beginnings, is an art most coveted of all commercial conjurations. It is indeed marvelous how some men possess the power— even though beginning the struggle with empty hands— to rise from one position to another, while others fail and are unable to keep what they had at the inception of their business career. This power of multiplying his possessions with infinite tact and skill, was a gift freely granted to James H. Vandivier, and he added to this ability, an abundant energy and devotion to his chosen calling, with the result that he became one of the wealthiest and most capable agriculturists and business men of Johnson county.
In Mercer county, Ky., on the thirteenth day of February, 1823, he was born, being one of fourteen children of Peter and Sarah (Garshwiler) Vandivier. His father was a native of New Jersey, born Oct. 15, 1787, and his mother of Kentucky, born Oct. 17, 1788. Of these children, ten of whom were sons, five are now living: Susan, widow of John Byers, living in Franklin, Ind.; Isaac C., of Franklin; Polly, widow of Hiram Deer, of White River township; Jefferson, of Union township; and Harriet, wife of Willis Dollin, of Johnson county.
Peter Vandivier was a miller by occupation, and for many years operated a mill near Harrodsburg, Ky. In his younger days he was a teamster, driving from Louisville to Harrodsburg. He moved to Johnson county in 1826, and entered 180 acres of land from the government in Union township, which, with the aid of his sons, he cleared and improved. He continued to live there until the time of his death, which occurred Sept. 30,, 1866. Both he and his wife, in earlier days, belonged to the Newlight Christian Church,, and latterly to the Christian (Disciples) Church. She died June 29, 1863. At the beginning of the War of 1812 he was drafted into the army, but furnished a substitute as he was unable to go. By abundant energy and effort he cultivated a prosperous farm and was highly esteemed by all who knew him, as was also his good wife. They were both earnest Christians, having a high regard for the sanctity of the Lord’s day, which they taught their children to observe as they themselves had done.
The paternal grandfather of our subject, Joseph Vandivier, was born in New Jersey, and was of sturdy Holland-Dutch descent. He died in his native State at an honored old age, leaving several sons and daughters. The maternal grandfather of Mr. Vandivier was Joseph Garshwiler, a native of Kentucky, who died at an advanced age. He was by occupation a farmer and reared several sons and daughters. He came to Indiana and settled in Johnson county in the early days.
Mr. Vandivier was of the tender age of three and one half years, when his parents removed to Johnson county, where he afterward made his home. As a boy his tastes and ability early turned in the direction of farming, and he soon became adept at all of its varied duties. In early years he attended the old fashioned subscription schools of that part of the State, and lived at home until he reached the age of twenty-five years, when his father gave him $100 in cash and he began life’s struggle on his own account. He first worked at farming by the day and later by the month, and did a great deal of clearing in that locality. Entering eighty acres of land with the money which his father had given him, he soon after sold it for $200, and bought one hundred acres of land for $950, sixteen acres of which he immediately set about clearing, after which he built a home and later bought sixty acres of land in Franklin and entered a tract of forty acres in Union township. After this he bought and sold until he accumulated over 800 acres of land.
On the 16th of November, 1848, he was joined in marriage to Mary M. Buckner, daughter of Avery and Margaret (Sturgeon) Buckner. His wife was born on May 29, 1832, in Kentucky, and of his union with her eight children were born, five sons and three daughters: John Wesley, born Nov. 18, 1849; Samantha Jane, Nov. 8, 1851; Avery Martin, May 29, 1854; Joseph Henry, Jan. 14, 1857; William Alvirous, Dec. 15, 1859; Sarah Margaret, Sept. 9, 1862; James Thomas, Aug. 15, 1864; and Minnie Belle, Jan. 5, 1871. Of these John Wesley married Elizabeth Rule, lives in Union township, and has four children, Vina, Charley, Bertha and Hazel; Samantha Jane married Charley Sisson, of Union township and has two children, Mary and James; Joseph Henry wedded Addie J. Hamilton, who died Sept. 17, 1907, and has one child, Stella; Sarah Margaret married Benjamin Merritt, of Union township, and has one child, Gracie; Avery Martin married Lizzie Merrick, and lives in Franklin township; William Alvirous married Fannie Paris, has one daughter, Jessie, and they reside in Franklin ; James Thomas married Carrie Cohorn, lives in Union township, and has five children; Minnie Belle married Clarence Doty, of Union township, and has three children, Paul M., Florence M. and Lillian B.
Mr. Vandivier, as his children arrived at the age of maturity, gave each a well-improved and productive farm, ranging from eighty to ninety acres, and valued at about $5,500 each. He was a man of indomitable energy, and was not content with conducting his large farm alone, but also he ran a threshing machine for some thirty-five years. His wife lived to the age of sixty years and four months, dying Sept. 23, 1892. She was a member of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in which Mr. Vandivier is now an active and influential member. In politics he is identified with the Democratic party, and is a stanch believer in its principles. He served as county commissioner for one term, and was director and president of the Gravel Roads system for about sixteen years, during which time the roads were improved from their almost impassable condition when he took charge of the work, to their present highly developed state. He also served as school director for two terms, in all of which positions he served ably and well.
Of the grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, the only one deceased died in infancy. Mr. Vandivier lived to see his long years of labor crowned with abundant success. He was the honored head of a large family for whom it was ever his pride and pleasure to furnish every advantage, and he was able when the children, one by one, left the home nest, to make each a handsome gift of a portion of the lands he himself had accumulated and developed to their present highly productive state. He died Sept. 11, 1907, and was buried in the old- Mount Pleasant cemetery. His funeral was one of the largest ever attended in this community and his loss was severely felt by
his fellow townsmen and a large circle of friends throughout the county.
NOAH R. VANDIVIER, one of the leading farmers of Franklin township, residing in Section 30, was born Feb. 28, 1848, on a farm near where he now resides, son of Joseph S. and Rachel (McCauley) Vandivier.
The paternal grandfather was Peter Vandivier, an early settler in Johnson county, Ind., at a time when wolves, deer and other wild game were numerous. Peter Vandivier entered land in Union township, Johnson county, and there resided until his death, which occurred when he was about eighty-five years of age. During the pioneer days, he gained a great reputation as a deer hunter. His family was a large one. The maternal grandfather was Robert McCauley, a native of Scotland, who coming to America settled in Kentucky, where he resided until his marriage, at which time he located a large farm of from 300 to 400 acres in Johnson county, Indiana, and there he died at the age of forty-nine years. In addition to being a farmer, he practiced medicine. He was a most worthy and upright man. His family consisted of three children.
Joseph S. Vandivier, son of Peter and father of Noah R., was brought from his native State, Kentucky, by his parents when a small boy, and lived with them in Franklin township. All of his life was spent upon the old home farm, except a year and a half when he resided in the city of Franklin. His death occurred on the home farm in 1892, when he was seventy-two years old. His wife, Rachel McCauley, who was a native of Johnson county, Ind., died in 1871, aged forty-four years and twenty-four days. She was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and he of the Christian Church. Twelve children were born to them, six of whom are now living: William S.; Noah R.; Carrie, wife of William King, of Franklin; Emma, wife of Wesley Deer, of Union township; Cornelius A. ; Annie, wife of Jesse Harris of Union township.
Noah R. Vandivier resided upon the farm of his father until he had attained manhood, when he purchased thirty acres of land and now owns 275 acres, part of which belonged to the homestead. This farm he has improved until it is one of the best in the township, and through his industry and energy, amassed a considerable fortune, which he is now enjoying. While his educational advantages were confined to the subscription schools, Mr. Vandivier is a well-informed man. In politics he always votes the Democratic ticket.
On July 24, 1890, Mr. Vandivier married Miss Cordelia Frazier, daughter of Green and Nancy Frazier. Six children have been born to them: Byron, Herman, Nellie, Claude, Dolph and Halcy. The parents of Mrs. Vandivier were natives of Kentucky who came to Indiana many years ago. They had eight children, five now living. Mrs. Frazier died in 1899, but Mr. Frazier survives and lives with his children.
CHARLES G. ZABEL (deceased), an early promoter of the manufacturing interests of Indianapolis, was born at Weinbola, in the Kingdom of Sachsen, Germany, July 12, 1830, and was reared to farm pursuits, receiving but eight years of schooling. He was a son of John G. and Rosa (Herrman) Zabel, both members of a prominent and highly respected family. They died in their native land, leaving these children: Frederick, who came to America in 1848, locating at Louisville, Ky., and died there; Charles G. ; Hannah Christina; Augusta; Emilia, and Rosa — all the daughters remaining in the old country.
Charles G. Zabel remained under the parental roof until the death of his father. At the age of seventeen years he was apprenticed to the cabinet making trade, at which after three years of work he received but fifty pfennige (about twelve cents) a week in wages. In 1851 he emigrated to America, the sum of $310 which he received from his father’s estate enabling him to make the voyage. He landed at New York and then pushed on to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he found employment and remained until 1854, when he went for one year to Lawrenceburg. In 1856 he first came to Indianapolis, and the years 1857-58 he spent at Dubuque, Iowa, and in 1859 at Tell City, Ind., engaged in carpentering, but late in the latter year he went to Louisville and worked there at his trade until 1861. In that year he returned to Indianapolis, and here became one of the most skilled men in his line in the Union of Cabinetmakers. This was an association of eighteen young men who had learned their trade in Germany and joined together for mutual benefit. Each put in $400 and they formed a land syndicate, purchasing a tract of land on which they erected temporary buildings, met their obligations, established thus a good credit, and later put up more substantial buildings of brick. The Cabinetmakers Union is still carried on as an industrial concern, some of the original promoters of the enterprise being yet interested. The history of this enterprise is very interesting. They built their own shops, worked in concert, piled up their lumber, after working hours in other places were over, did their own guarding, kept honest and true to each other, and attained success in their work of building up one of the biggest manufacturing plants in Indianapolis. After twenty-eight years Mr. Zabel sold his stock and retired from active labor, investing his capital in real estate, from which he realized a comfortable income. From 1888 Mr. Zabel was not connected with the Union, although three of his early comrades still are interested.
When Mr. Zabel came first to Indianapolis the population was about 18,000 and the future of the city did not look encouraging. But he lived to see the poor streets converted into beautiful thoroughfares, the erection of buildings rivalling those of any other inland city, and a wonderful growth and development of manufacturing and railroad interests. His late residence at No. 1015 East Ohio street, built in 1873, and occupied by him ever after, was at that time at the very edge of town, although now close to the center of the city. He was interested in all the city’s development and identified with much of it. Mr. Zabel was not a member of any religious body, but believed in and strictly observed the Golden Rule as his line of conduct. In fraternal connection he was an Odd Fellow, and he belonged to the society of German Pioneers. In politics he was a Republican on national questions, but in local affairs voted for the candidate he judged most fit. He died at his home May 7, 1907.
In 1864 .Mr. Zabel married Kate Merlou, who was born in Germany and came with the family to America in 1847, when four years of age. The parents settled at Palestine, Hancock Co., lnd., and she was reared on a farm. Her father, Henry A. Merlou, a most estimable man, died at the age of eighty-two years. His children were: Henry; John; Conrad; George; Mary; Kate; Emma; and Lizzie. Of the four children of this marriage two died young, the others being: Anna, who died aged twenty-one years; and Laura, wife of A. Graul, a merchant of Indianapolis. The mother, who was a consistent member of the Lutheran Church, died in 1871.
In 1873 Mr. Zabel married Barbara Korn, born in Germany, where she lived until the age of twenty-eight. Her parents died when she was young, and she accompanied a sister and an aunt to America. She is a most estimable lady, full of health, ability and cheerfulness, and has made a happy, sunshiny home for our subject. They reared two children, a son and a daughter, both of whom reflect much credit upon them, viz.: Emil, who is a bookkeeper in one of the breweries; and Lena, who married Carl L. Peters, a promising young man, who is a member of the firm of Geiger & Peters.