THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM “THE WAGNER FAMILY: PIONEER LIFE ON THE MIAMI RIVER” BY MARGOT AMMIDOWN
One of Rose’s most vivid memories was of her first personal encounter with some of the local Indians . A flag of peace was raised at Fort Dallas in that year, and Indians were beginning to make friends with some of the settlers. They certainly knew that it was no longer to their advantage to continue active hostilities with the whites. Yet their reputation as warriors followed them, and Seminoles were still a fearful sight to many. The Wagners were reunited for about six weeks when on a Sunday morning William, Eveline, Rose, one of the boys, and a man named Roberson were walking towards the hub of the Miami settlement at the river mouth when they met a group of seventeen Indians. Among the group was Old Tiger Tail, Matlow, Billie Harney, Old Alec and Big Tom, also known as Snake Creek Tom. Old Tiger Tail introduced himself and shook hands with all the Wagner party who shortly thereafter invited the entire assemblage back to their house. When they arrived at the Wagner’s Tiger Tail and company stood outside as a meal and coffee were hastily prepared. Cooking at this time was done outside around a campfire located near the house. Rose’s later description of the event indicates that the meal was eaten either inside or on the front porch. After supper Wagner noticed that the clothing of the Indians was particularly tattered and he gave them all the spare wearing apparel there was about the house. Apparently he later had to go over to Fletcher’s store to replace the clothes he gave away, but his friendliness and generosity made life-long friends of the Indians, one of whom would later save the life of his son, William Jr.
It seems the Wagners were rather outgoing people who did quite a lot of entertaining at their home. Many of the Indians stayed late that night and sat around a campfire silently watching the boys play tricks on one another. One prank brought a delighted exclamation of “whoop, Jesus Christ” from young Johnnie Jumper. Some of the Indians camped on the Wagner property during the night, but left early the next morning.
Although the immediate Wagner family at this time consisted of Eveline , William , their daughter, and two sons, there are indications that others also lived with them. Rose mentions “colored help” and other “men folk” as being attached in some way to the Wagner place, but is no more specific. It may be that the Wagner/Sinclair mill was larger than the usual single family operation. Considering that they originally owned the sutler’s store and the mill concurrently, they must have employed some help and it would not have been unusual for a number of people outside the Wagner family to be occupying the same house.
END OF AMMIDOWN EXCERPT
“Within Lummus Park there are two non-contributing properties, including the William Wagner House. “The William Wagner House is a one-and-one-half-story, rectangular frame building with a symmetrical facade (Photo 23). The exterior of the house is covered with board and batten siding, and the building is capped by a gable roof covered with wooden shingles. The house has plain batten doors and single-hung, six-over-six sash windows set within wooden frames. A small, one bay wide porch with a shed roof is located on the north elevation. A second wraps around the south and east elevations. The William Wagner House was constructed circa 1855 and was originally located near Wagner Creek. The building was moved 50 feet in 1909 and was likely moved again in 1925. The house was threatened with demolition in the late 1970s and was moved to Lummus Park in 1979, after the district’s period of significance. A large portion of the building’s original architectural fabric was deteriorated, and consequently, much of the house should be considered a reconstruction. Therefore, it is not a contributing resource.” Sara Eaton, Historic Preservation Officer: Carl Shiver, Historic Preservationist, Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation
EDITORS AND LAST UPDATE
John William Bailly 31 August 2022
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