The name of Peter Wagner is so closely associated with the History of Cabery, its progress and upbuilding, as to render it imperative that mention be made of him in this connection. He was a man of marked enterprise and strength of purpose, of keen discernment and of public spirit, and while promoting his individual success he also contributed in substantial measure to the general welfare. Moreover, there was not an esoteric phase in his career but on the contrary his methods were such as neither sought nor required disguise but would bear the closet investigation.
Mr. Wagner was born in Trier city in the Rhine province of Germany, in 1843, and arrived in Ford county in 1863 when a young man of twenty years to join his older brother. Upon reaching his destination, however, he found that his brother had been drafted for service in the Civil war. Mr. Wagner, who was then single, decided that he had better go in place of his brother, who was married and had a family. Accordingly he immediately joined the army and left for the south. He did not understand a word of English and felt handicapped and embarrassed, so he bought a dictionary and at once began to study the language. The regiment to which he belonged was assigned to duty with Sherman's army and while with that command Mr. Wagner became ill of malaria and was sent to the hospital in Chicago, where he remained until the close of the war. The spirit of unselfishness which he displayed in taking his brother's place was ever one of his marked characteristics and won for him in large measure the warm regard of those with whom he was associated.
When the war was over Mr. Wagner returned to Ford county and devoted his life to farming and other business pursuits. His investments were judiciously made, his business interests were carefully conducted and his enterprise and diligence were the salient characteristics of his success. He left a fine estate on the county line of Ford and Kankakee counties, comprising one hundred and sixty acres, constituting the northeast quarter of section 17, Rogers township and sixty acres across the road in Norton township, Kankakee county. He brought his land under a high state of cultivation, transforming his land into rich and productive fields which were carefully operated and brought him a gratifying annual income. When the Illinois Central Railroad was built through, by making to the company a heavy donation, he induced them to build a station where Cabery now stands on the Kankakee side. He then platted his land and erected a number of buildings and assisted in many ways to found the town and establish it upon a growing basis. He built the Cabery Tile & Brick Works and was the pioneer tile manufacturer in the Panhandle of Ford county. He was also the first to lay tile and promote the drainage and work which has been of inestimable value to Ford county, for thus much low and swampy land has been reclaimed for the purposes of cultivation and is today rich agricultural property, contributing in substantial measure to the prosperity of this part of the state.
After his military service had ended Mr. Wagner returned to Germany, where he was married to Miss Anna Bosen, to whom he had become betrothed in his youth. She was a native of Trier city, of the Rhine province, and following their marriage Mr. Wagner returned with his bride to the United States and spent his remaining days in Cabery with the exception of two years passed in Chicago. He died in Cabery in 1892, when in the fiftieth year of his age, and his wife survived him for about nine years, passing away in 1901 in her fifty-fourth year. She was one of a family of eleven children, ten of whom are yet living, and Mr. Wagner was one of a family of three children. Unto them were born three sons and two daughters: John, now a resident of Kankakee; Anna, the wife of Matt Seiwert, of Chicago; Kate, the wife of Fred Schneider, of Kankakee; Peter N., who resides at the old home in Cabery and manages the estate; and Frank, at home.
Mr. Wagner was a man of marked enterprise and public spirit, whose cooperation could always be counted upon to further any movement that tended to promote the welfare or advance the interests of Cabery and the county. He was liberal in his donations to all public movements of this character. His own home in Cabery was a large, fine dwelling in the west part of the town, a portion of his farm lying within the corporation limits of the village. Upon the place were also good outbuildings and all of the equipments of a model farm. In his political views Mr. Wagner was a stalwart democrat and filled all of the village offices, being unanimously elected president of the village. No trust reposed in him was ever betrayed in the slightest degree and on the contrary his life record furnishes a splendid example for emulation, because of his reliability and progressiveness in citizenship, his trustworthiness in business and his devotion to the ties of home and friendship.
Peter N. Wagner, to whom we are indebted for the sketch of his father, is living upon the farm where he was born, July 21, 1880. He has always followed agricultural pursuits and is accounted one of the progressive and energetic young men of Cabery. As a voter he is a republican, giving loyal support to that party and is now serving as one of the village trustees.

Extracted 19 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 1, pages 412-414.

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