Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

William H. Wagner

WILLIAM H. WAGNER. In point of continuous practice William H. Wagner is the oldest attorney of the Logan County bar. He has been a resident of the county since 1900, and his success as a lawyer has been only part of his contribution to the civic and material progress of the county and of his home town of Russell Springs.

Mr. Wagner was born in Kansas, near Independence in Montgomery County, March 31, 1876. His father, John E. Wagner, homesteaded a farm adjoining the Town of Jefferson in 1869. John E. Wagner was born in Pennsylvania, while his father, James F. Wagner, came from Germany to America. John E. Wagner was the only one of a family of three sons and two daughters to come to Kansas. He grew up in Hancock County, Illinois, and offered his services as a soldier from Illinois, but was discharged after three days. In Kansas, while he has always owned a farm, his personal business has been contracting and building. He has done a large amount of work throughout the country and has built many bridges. Though now seventy-eight years of age he still handles contracts. He married Elizabeth Brent, daughter of John Brent of Illinois. Their children were: John A.; James F.; Dean B.; Minnie M., wife of James Myers; William H.; Mollie E., who married Ira Moore; and Golda, who married Arthur Smith.

William H. Wagner grew to manhood on his father's farm in Montgomery County, Kansas. He attended the common schools and was still young when he entered the Kansas State Normal, where he put in three years. After that came a period of teaching, which he followed in Montgomary County. Having definitely made up his mind to become a lawyer, he entered the law department of the Kansas State University, where he was graduated LL. B. in 1900. Mr. Wagner after leaving college came at once to Logan County and located at Russell Springs. This district was still comparatively new. He gained the confidence of the community and had been here only a few months when, in the fall of 1900, he was elected county attorney. He filled that office with credit and ability for fourteen consecutive years. Aside from the routine duties of his office during his administration he had to handle the cases growing out of the era of cattle thieving, which for some years prevailed in the county. Mr. Wagner prosecuted several men on a charge of cattle thievery and convicted and imprisoned perhaps a dozen. One of the most difficult convictions came after the case had been tried twice in Logan County and twice in Wallace County. As adviser to the county board Mr. Wagner did much to secure the adjustment of the county debt. This debt early in his career as county attorney stood at $30,000, but before he left office it had been reduced to $1,000. Only one murder trial came under his official cognizance. The man charged with murder was acquitted on the grounds of self defense. In The only other murder trial held in the county Mr. Wagner was attorney for the defense, after he had left the office of county attorney. In this case he secured a second degree manslaughter verdict for his client.

Mr. Wagner served for eight years as local attorney for the Union Pacific Railway. He did as much if not more than any other citizen to secure the construction of a railroad through Russell Springs. He donated $2,000 for that purpose and otherwise has done much to improve the town, having given several blocks to citizens for building purposes. He has improved several sites in the business district and contributed his own home to the town.

Mr. Wagner has always been a republican, having cast his first vote for McKinley. He attended several state conventions as an alternate delegate, and assisted in nominating Governor Stanley. Some years ago the governor selected him as one of the Kansas delegates to an irrigation congress, but on account of professional work he was unable to attend. Mr. Wagner is a member of the Masonic Lodge, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America.

Mr. Wagner was married in Logan County in May, 1904, to Miss Nell Wilson. Mrs. Wagner was born in Marshall County, Iowa, a daughter of Edward Wilson, who came from that section of Iowa and located land in Logan County, Kansas, in 1885. Mrs. Wagner was the second of four children, the others being: Laura, wife of Henry J. Harwi, of Russell Springs; Ross B. and Marion. Mr. and Mrs. Wagner have two children, Kenneth W. and Billie, Jr.

Pages 2455-2456.