Tag: Lake of the Ozarks

There’s No Place Like Home: The Waglers in Kansas

There’s No Place Like Home: The Waglers in Kansas

One hundred twenty-three years ago today, Louie Theadore Wagler was born in Gridley, Kansas. He was a second cousin twice removed on my maternal side, being the great-grandson of Samuel John and Mary (Walty) Slegel. This surname appears with a variety of spellings; Samuel John and Mary’s son, Samuel Slagel, was my great-great-grandfather who lived and is buried in Fairbury, Illinois.

Samuel Slagel’s sister (and Samuel John Slegel’s daughter), Magdaline “Mattie” Slegel married Christian Wagler in Iowa, but by 1880 the family was living in Liberty, Coffey County, Kansas. Mattie died in Coffey County after giving birth to 11 children. Her widower remarried and eventually moved to Fairbury himself. Christian and Mattie’s third child, Alpheus Wagler married Luella VanArsdale in Coffee County, and on 4 February 1901 their first child, Louie, was born.

Louie first appears in the 1910 census (listed as “Lewie”), though at this time his family is living in Rock Island County, Illinois. The first four Wagler children had been born in Kansas, but the fifth was born in Iowa in 1909. The sixth was not born until 1918, and by then the family was back in Kansas, enumerated in Shell Rock Township, Greenwood County.

Three years later, on 17 May 1923, Louie married Erma Grace Cokeley in Burlington, Coffee County, Kansas. Emma was 2 years and 6 days younger than Louie. There are some mysteries surrounding this family (mysteries to me anyway since I’m piecing things together from online records). Louie’s first cousin, Alpha Wagler, and his wife Vera had several children, including Alvin Van Buren Wagler, born 3 March 1929 in Morton, Illinois; and Doris Eileen Wagler, born 21 March 1931, also in Morton. According to Find a Grave, Doris was adopted by Louie and Erma, though this source lists Louie as Alpha’s brother rather than cousin. In the 1930 census baby Alvin is still living with his birth parents, but in 1940 Louie, Erma, Alvin, and Doris are all enumerated together in Madison, Greenwood County, Kansas. In 1930 Louie’s occupation was listed as “truck driver, oil field,” and in 1940 as “general work, oil field.”

In February 1942 Louie Theadore Wagler appears in the World War II draft records. He indicates his place of residence as Kenbro, Kansas and his employer’s name as “Tyde-Water Oil Co.” of Tulsa, Oklahoma, though his actual place of business is Kenbro. In the description section, Louie is noted as being 5’10”, 163 pounds, with gray eyes, brown hair, and a light brown complexion. Five year’s later Louie’s adopted son Alvin also appears in draft registration records. Alvin is listed as a senior at Madison High School also doing part-time farm work for George Clopton. He is 5’9″, 150 pounds, with hazel eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion.

At this point Louie and Erma’s nest begins to empty. A year later a notice appeared in The Selma (California) Enterprise concerning the wedding of Ruth Faye Anderson to Alvin Wagler at the Westside Christian Church in San Francisco on 18 June 1948. The article goes on to state that Alvin was “attending the Navy school at Treasure Island, where he is specializing in electronics materiel.” In the 1950 census Alvin, Ruth, and their new baby Judith are living with her parents at 31 Loehr Street in San Francisco, a house that was built in 1944 according to real estate websites but still exists.

Meanwhile Louie, Erma, and Doris are still living in Kansas, now in Iuka, Pratt County. Louis is listed as 49 and an oil well pumper for Tidewater Oil. Doris is also employed, as a bookkeeper for Iuka State Bank. Because 19-year-old Doris is one of the 20% of individuals asked to provide additional details to the census enumerator, we know that she had completed the 12th grade, had worked 26 hours the previous week and had earned $650 the previous year (equivalent to roughly $8450 today).

Later that year Doris would marry as well, to Walter Albert Peterson at the First Methodist Church in Pratt, Kansas. The Hutchinson (Kansas) News describes Doris’s white crepe gown and nylon veil, blue rhinestone necklace and earrings, and bouquet of red carnations and fern tied with a yellow satin ribbon. The couple honeymooned at Kirkwood Lodge at Lake of the Ozarks.

Because U.S. census records are only released after 72 years have elapsed, fewer details are available for the Waglers after 1950. The Wichita Eagle of 15 March 1989 includes Erma’s obituary, noting her death the day before and that she was survived by Louie, Alvin, Doris, plus seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Louie would survive a further 7 years, dying on Halloween 1996 at the age of 95. A brief obituary in the Gilroy (California) Dispatch notes Alvin’s death on 29 October 2016, and Find a Grave, as mentioned before, includes a full memorial for Doris, who died in Junction City, Kansas, on 25 April 2019. She was survived by 4 sons, 2 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, 3 great-great-grandchildren, and cats Kif and Spicy. Doris, Louie and Erma are all buried in the Iuka Cemetery. Louie’s Find a Grave memorial includes a photo of him from his work in the Kansas Oil Fields. Happy birthday, cousin.

Photo added to Find a Grave by Bertha Avery-Hood