On Saturday, October 17, at 10:30am, a celebration recognizing Solomon James Wagner Jr. was held at the Blanco Cemetery. Included in the celebration were a speech and 21-gun salute from the Confederate Veteran Re-enactors, as was the unveiling of a new and proper headstone, while family and friends sang along to “Dixie.”
The gathering was in celebration of the life and legacy of the late Solomon James Wagner Jr. Solomon Wagner, Jr., was born September 25, 1845, in Franklin County, Tennessee to Elder James Wagner and Mary Ann Hudson. Mr. Wagner was the last surviving Confederate veteran of Blanco County when he passed away April 10, 1936, at the home of one of his sons, Leonard Clayton Wagner. At the time of his death, he was survived by 140 direct descendants.
At the young age of 16, Solomon Wagner enlisted in the Tennessee Cavalry, Confederate States Army. He dressed in the gray of the Confederacy on October 1, 1862, at Winchester, Tennessee, and he proudly served in the Company “K” Regiment, 4th Tennessee Cavalry under Captain Francisco Rice. During the months of May and June 1863, Solomon Wagner was reported absent from the Company “K” Master Roll, due to a wound he received in Dover. When he returned to duty, he continued to wear the colors with great pride until he was captured shortly before the end of the civil struggle as a prisoner of war in Tullahoma, Tennessee, on January 12, 1865. He was moved to Camp Chase, Ohio, on January 20, 1865, and he was not released until May 1, 1865, after signing an oath of Allegiance to the United States.
In Solomon’s obituary, as reported in April of 1936 in the Blanco County News, they shared stories such as this one showing his humorous side: “On one occasion when hostility between the Federals and the Confederates was not as bitter as it became later in the war, one of Mr. Wagner’s cousins, John W. Wagner, who had moved to Texas some years before the war, got in to a scrape within the Federal lines and was rescued by his cousin Solomon’s quick thinking. It happened that James Wagner was a Confederate Captain at the same time that Solomon was a private. On this occasion, Solomon had slipped out one of his father’s uniforms and was getting the full benefit of it as he took a walk along a little traveled road. Suddenly he was surprised at the sight of a man riding for his life with a troop of Yankee Calvary pounding behind him. As the rider approached closer, he saw that it was his cousin, John. He quickly stopped him, and when the Yankee troops drew in, Solomon put his best captain’s manner and explained to them as follows: ‘This is my man, and I will attend to him.’ The Yanks withdrew and John explained that he had got into some trouble with the Yankees in Winchester and shot one of them. Just why they left two of their foes to return to their own lines cannot be explained. Anyway, the uniform turned the trick.”
After the war, Solomon Wagner married Margaret McKelvey and they had four children, all born in Tennessee. The children’s names were James Hudson, Samuel Emery, John Forest, and Mary Elizabeth. Early in 1872, by wagon train they made the journey to Texas, with several other Wagner families.
Solomon’s family settled in Blanco County in September of 1872. After his wife Margaret passed away in 1873, he married Emily Jane McCowan. Solomon and Emily had 14 children, William, Dica Ann, Susan Tannessee, Lillie Josephine, George Francis, Perminda Lurana, Harriett Stella, Wyley D.S., Ovil H., Leonard James, Georgie Texanna, Myrtha Alice, Lucy Pearl, and Ethel May.
Solomon was considered to be a “colorful figure, a lovable character, and a useful citizen.” Solomon Wagner left behind a legacy of descendants who are very proud to be a part of the Wagner family.