Just What Went on at the Wagner Hotel?

The starting point for today’s blog is the marriage between Joseph Wagner and Fredericka Estel.  They were married on August 26th in 1896 in Altenburg.  Once I started looking into these characters, it led me to the Wagner Hotel shown below.

Wagner Hotel

Joseph Wagner was son of Gustav and Theresa (Palisch) Wagner.  Early on, Gustav was a butcher, but by 1880, he is listed in the census as keeping the hotel.  That census also shows this family as having seven children ranging in age from 22 to 8 years of age, with Joseph being the youngest.  Because there is no 1890 census available, we do not know much about what happened between 1880 and 1900.  What we do know is that Gustav is not listed in the 1900 census, and there is no record of his death in the church records in the Perry County area.  We also do not find him buried in the Trinity Cemetery where his wife, Theresa, is buried.  We do have a photo of Theresa, and this photo gives credence to the fact that she is the woman who is second from the left in the above photo.

Theresa Palisch Wagner
Theresa (Palisch) Wagner

A very bizarre story was recorded in the Perry County Republican in 1880 concerning this family.  The story says that an altercation occurred at the hotel between two of the Wagner sons and another man (possibly a boarder at the hotel).  The altercation resulted in the man’s injuries causing his death.  I could find no other details about this event.  It is not likely that Joseph Wagner was involved in this event because he was just eight years old at the time.

Fredericke Estel was the daughter of Theodore and Fredericke (Naeser) Estel.  Theodore helped operate a flour mill in Perry County.  Here is the marriage record of Joseph and Fredericka.

Wagner Estel marriage record
Wagner/Estel marriage record

The life of this couple has some very puzzling circumstances.  They had three sons, only two which lived to adulthood.  The 1900 census shows the couple having one son, Hugo Otto Wagner, and Joseph being listed as a farmer and butcher. Also in another listing in the 1900 census, we see the widow, Theresa Wagner, running the hotel with two boarders included in the census.  One was William Christensen, a barber, and the other being Dr. G.B. Schulz.  You can see a sign on a tree in the Wagner Hotel photo that says, “Doctor Schulz”.  In 1903, Joseph’s mother, Theresa, died.  The 1910 census includes a second son, Elmer, with Joseph being called a livery man and Fredericka as the proprietor of the hotel.  In the 1920 census, Fredericka is shown living with her sister-in-law, Anna Wagner, and Fredericka is listed as divorced.  Meanwhile, their son, Hugo, is in a 1920 census living with his Aunt Hulda (Wagner) Herrmann, whose husband Gustave was a physician.  Below is Hugo’s draft registration form for World War I which was filled out in 1918.

Hugo Wagner WWI Draft Registration

You will notice that Hugo’s father, Joseph, is shown as living at 3204 Hawthorne in St. Louis.  This was also the residence of Dr. Gustave Herrmann, Hugo’s uncle.  However, Joseph is not shown as living there in the 1920 census…..just Hugo, his son.

The 1930 census shows Joseph and Fredericka once again living in East Perry County and listed as married.  They both had their occupation listed as “None”.  Fredericka died in 1935 and is buried in the Trinity, Altenburg Cemetery.

Fredericka Wagner gravestone
Fredericka Wagner gravestone

Joseph is not buried there and his death is unknown.  Joseph’s life is full of unanswered questions.

Interestingly, Hugo Wagner, who may have gotten to know Dr. Schulz at the Wagner Hotel, and lived with Uncle Gustave the physician in St. Louis, ended up being a doctor himself.  He became a Naval physician and surgeon, as shown on this portion of his California marriage license.

Hugo Wagner marriage record
Hugo Wagner marriage license

This family’s story had so many intriguing aspects.  Once again, I would encourage anyone who knows more details to this story to add their comments or send that information to research@lutheranmuseum.com.

Too bad the Wagner Hotel is no longer standing.  It would make for some great haunted house stories.  Barbers? Doctors? Butchers? Murderers? And just where are those Wagner men buried? Huh?


5 thoughts on “Just What Went on at the Wagner Hotel?

  1. The gravestone to the left of Fredericke’s is that of Joseph’s sister, Rosalie Wagner Pieske, the widow of Friedrich A H Pieske, who taught at Salem, Farrar from 1888 to 1898. Warren, I will get you the rest of the story soon.


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