Esther and Louis Wagner, c. 1899

I mentioned that I received some treasures of family history from my father’s cousin a week or so ago. One of the most valued was the picture above.

That’s a picture of my grandmother, Esther Wagner, and her younger brother Louis, which, judging by their ages, was taken about 1899. I had never seen that picture before, it’s the picture of her at the youngest age I have ever seen, and I am glad to have it.

My grandmother Esther Wagner Schuler was the only one of my grandparents who was alive when I was born and she died when I was very young. I believe I only met her two or three times and my recollections of her are few and fuzzy.

Although my parents, siblings, and I were very close and I continue to be close to my siblings and their families, we were not close to our extended families. As I noted above, I had no relationships with grandparents. My parents were both only children so I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins and, in fact, I never met any of paternal grandmother’s siblings or families and only one of my maternal grandmother’s siblings and their families. I wasn’t even aware of the existence of this cousin of my dad’s until very recently.

A few notes about Louis Wagner. Louis had a college education and was a lawyer which undoubtedly inspired my dad to become a lawyer. I don’t believe he practiced. Louis was married but to the best of my knowledge he and his wife had no children.


Since you may recall that my family is from St. Louis, you may wonder why there should be a picture shot in Chicago of my grandmother and her brother. When he was in his late 20s or early 30s my great-grandfather Wagner, Esther’s father, was blinded (or partially blinded) by a botched eye operation. My great-grandfather made the courageous (or reckless depending on how you look at it) decision to uproot his family, moved to Chicago, studied, and became a chiropractor. He and his family returned to St. Louis and he practiced that for the next half century until his death. I think I’ve got his diploma around here somewhere.

I assume that photograph was taken while the Wagners were here in Chicago.

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