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04 September 2008

George A. Wagener, Grocery Wholesaler & Phosphate Industrialist

Now for some interesting graves/interments from Bethany Cemetery in Charleston County, South Carolina. My first subject is George A. Wagener. Immediately upon researching Mr. Wagener, I find a discrepancy regarding his date of birth. A couple of websites on the Internet have his birth date as 25 December 1845. According to his gravestone in Bethany Cemetery, George was born 15 December 1846:


George Wagener was born in Charleston, South Carolina to General Johann Andreas and Marie Eliese Wagener.

During the Civil War, George and his brother Julius were soldiers in Company A, First Regiment, South Carolina Militia - German Artillery. A captain of their company was their uncle Frederich Wilhelm Wagener. [Note: George's father and uncle are also buried in Bethany Cemetery. All are in or near the German Artillery section, signified by a very tall monument, with a soldier standing lookout on top.]


George married Eleanor Keys 1870 in Anderson, South Carolina. She was born September 4, 1849 and died July 16, 1907. She is buried next to her husband, who died one year later.


After the Civil War, George was a grocery merchant and phosphate industrialist. He was president of Wagener & Co., a large mercantile establishment.

George and Eleanor owned a home at 179 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston. Construction was begun in 1876 (under a previous owner) and took eleven years to complete (under the Wagener ownership). It was later the home of Wagener's daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Harrison Randolph, President of the College of Charleston. You can see a photo of the home here.

George was very much involved in his local community. About 1888, George was the Board of Directors for the Bank of Charleston. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Waring Historical Library from 1891 to 1909. This is the special collections and rare book library for the Medical University of South Carolina.

In addition, Mr. Wagener was on the Board of Directors for the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Co. This corporation, founded 1899, controlled all the lighting and transportation facilities in the city.

George Wagener was a big strong supporter of the Southern Railroad and pushed for its line that ran through a small town in Aiken County, South Carolina. Consequently, this town became known as Wagener... What a legacy to leave behind!

Southern Graves Home



Additional Sources:
- South Carolina State Militia, State Troops & Other Independent Units
- The Manuel of Statistics Stock Exchange Hand-Book, pub. 1903
- The Charleston City Directory Together with a Compendium of Governments, Institutions & Trades of the City, pub. 1888
- South Carolina College of Arts & Sciences Institute for Southern Studies

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