WM. WAGENSELLER HAMILTON BUILDER IN LATE SIXTIES
Narrator: Mrs. Wm. Wagenseller, 91, of Hamilton, Missouri
Mrs. Wagenseller (born Eliza Garner of Illinois) lives by herself in her own home built by her husband Wm. Wagenseller sixty years ago on Kingston Street, in the extreme south end of Hamilton. In spite of her years, she is yet a careful house keeper and quilt piecer.
She and her husband came here in 1867 in the building boom. He had gone to Keytesville Missouri from his Crawford County Illinois home to claim a piece of land given him by his father, but it was so heavy with back taxes that he let it go. There he heard of the building boom in this county and he came to Hamilton hoping there would be need of his work - plastering and carpentering. Mrs. Wagenseller soon followed. They stayed at the Claypool Hotel (formerly the Davis House) on the east side of Main Street second block north of railroad till they found a vacant house to rent - "a shack" north of the Presbyterian church. Then Mr. Wagenseller bought the land on the Kingston road (now street) where he built what is known to old timers as the Murray House now replaced by bungelows. The Wagenseller family lived on the first floor and rented the second floor to another family. Such was the demand for houses. Then he sold this and bought a lot to the south where he built the present Wagenseller home.
In their part of town, the neighbors were Rev. and Mrs. Wilmot and her mother Mrs. Perkins - first house south of park (still standing); Whitely, the grocer in a store on the south corner opposite the park where a wind mill also stood later; the Schwartz house east of the Wilmot (still standing); the Sproue family farther down south on the road (Sproue committed suicide and was buried at the extreme south end of the Old Cemetery because self murderers were not entitled to a place among other dead); on the south end of Broadway were the Witwers (Mr. Witwer and sons had a wagon yard on the south east corner of South Main now commonly called the Cash corner); and by them lived the Healey family (Mr. Healey was Mr. Wagenseller's partner). Quite a distance down Kingston road was Wm. McCoy's ten acre place (now Booth property) where McCoy farmed and lived with his first wife and his large family - Mel, Mary, Lucy, Roxie, Ollie, Harmon and possibly more. He lost his first wife here. Afterwards he moved into town married the widow Farabee and built a grocery store facing on South Broadway, his home being on the same lot; above his store were rooms used for lodge and church purposes, later used as a home by the McCoy girls.
She recalled the Indian visits to the town in the late sixties. They would come up from the south road leaving their ponies outside of town. If a neighbor saw them coming, she would run and tell their neighbors. All would quickly prepare cooked food for that was what the Indians wanted. One woman had her own meal on the table when she ran to inform her neighbor about the Indians. When she came back her food was all gone. They walked into the homes without knocking.
Those were the days of bad fires for no fire company existed. When the cry of "Fire" was heard repeated on the streets it was the custom for a man to pick up a bucket and go to help with the bucket-line or bucket-brigade by which water was passed from the well to the fire. The first fire engine was bought early in the eighties. The hook and ladder company existed some earlier. The "hook" tore down buildings or walls to prevent a spread of fire.
After Mr. Wagenseller was too old to build, he became township collector. He was a strong G.A.R. man and a member of the school board for many years. His daughter Mollie (by his first wife) clerked in the O.O. Brown store on Broadway, Nellie gave music lessons, and Jessie (Mrs. Smith) was a school teacher of the nineties. His son George became a business man in the South.
Interviewed February 1934.
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