Monday, August 8, 2011

The Diaries of Louis Henry Wagner


While on vacation during the past week, I had the opportunity to intersperse visits with family members in various Ontario, Canada cities with genealogy pursuits. I finally donated the Henry Erskine manuscript to the University of Guelph's Centre for Scottish Studies and the professors at the university seemed genuinely thrilled to receive it.

I was also able to visit the Special Collections section of the Dana Porter Library at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. The library holds about 125 linear feet of original family documents connected with my wife Ellen's paternal ancestral family. In my two visits thus far, I think I have managed to go through only about one foot!

My goal on this visit, that I successfully completed, was to scan (the Special Collections section offers a great free scanning service) the four personal diaries kept by Ellen's great grandfather, Louis Henry Wagner (pictured to the right). These old, leather bound diaries contain Louis' descriptions of his activities and the activities of the family covering the period December 15, 1872 until November 30, 1891. They offer not only a great insight into the Wagner family but also into life in southern Ontario during that timeframe. I can only wish that my ancestors had left such great documentation for me!

Of the many entries that I will share over time, the following caught my attention as it is Louis' thoughts and recollections on the christening day activities for his son, and eldest child, Ellen's grandfather, Louis Jacob Gordon Wagner. The entry is dated:

"Saturday, January 1st, 1887

This morning finds us up in good time preparing for the christening of our dear little boy Louis Jacob Gordon.

We had quite a time getting a name for him. The first one selected was Jacob after his two grandfathers and three great grandfathers. The former - Jacob Wagner and Jacob Staebler and the three latter, Jacob J. Hailer, Jacob Staebler and Jacob Muerner. The second was Gordon after the English General Charles George Gordon, commonly called 'Chinese Gordon,' also 'The Hero of Khartoum,' a pious Christian soldier. The third we selected was Louis, after my Uncle and foster parent from my 13th year, Louis Breithaupt who died July 3rd, 1880.

Having the full name of my cousin Louis Jacob Breithaupt, he with his wife Emma kindly consented to be his Godparents. Rev. Father Wm. Schmidt who performed the sacred rite was the first to arrive - about 10:40 a.m. and very soon the old homestead erected by Grandfather Hailer over 50 years ago and now occupied by my mother, was filled with the pleasant faces of old and new relatives.

There were present beside ourselves and Mother's family consisting in herself, Alma, Wesley, Samuel and Eusebius, Aunt Breithaupt, Albert, Melvina, Caroline, John, William, Louis and family of 3 children, Louisa Hailer and child Erna, A. B. Augustine (Carrie's betrothed), Julius Knauf, Father and Mother Staebler, Ike K. Devitt with Annie and 2 children.

At 12:00 all was ready and we handed our boy to Louis and Emma and Father Schmidt preformed that beautiful and solemn ceremony baptizing in the name of "The Father, Son and Holy Ghost" in the German language. (Father S. also married my mother and two aunts). This was the first baptism in this old home, which was built by Grandpa Hailer about 1830.

Our charge is now publicly consecrated to God. May he grow up in the fear of the Lord, an honor to his Maker, a blessing to the world and a joy to his parents. May we train him up in the nature and admonition of the Lord! Amen - Amen.

The table set in the parlor was now surrounded and very soon all were busily engaged in supplying the physical wants of the body. We got two turkeys, one 18 pounds and the other about 8 pounds so there was enough and to spare. Immediately after dinner John took Will to Galt where he took the train for Kansas City and Albert B. Augustine also left about 3:00 p.m.

Mother was quite pleased that we had the christening at her house and everyone secured happy. In the evening we went out to Aunty's and next morning I left for my appointment to Strasburg and Hespeler leaving Mary and the baby to remain a few days longer in Berlin."

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