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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Clifton Eugene Wagoner

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 777-778 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Clifton Eugene Wagoner, the proprietor of the well known mercantile firm of F. E. Wagoner & Son, since the death of his father, the late Frank Eugene Wagoner in 1923, is one of the more prominent younger men in the business circles of Little Falls. He was born in the town of Clayton, Jefferson county, New York, on September 13, 1888. His mother, who bore the maiden name of Cora Hill, was also a native of that county, born in the town of Orleans, on April 15, 1867, of Scotch-Irish parentage. She is now making her home with a daughter in Lafargeville, at the age of fifty-seven. Her parents were Elbridge and Mary Jeannette (Wiley) Hill, the latter from an old Connecticut family of Scotch-Irish origin. Mr. Hill was born in Jefferson county, New York, July 3, 1844, and died in Lafargeville, in January, 1915. He and his brother, Colonel Wyman Hill, were veterans of the Civil war, having fought in the Union army.

Through his father, Clifton Eugene Wagoner is descended from Lieutenant Colonel Peter Wagoner of the Tryon county militia, who came from Holland in the early part of the eighteenth century and first settled in Holland Patent, where he was one of the early pioneers. Mr. Wagoner's grandparents were Alfred and Melinda (Brown) Wagoner, both natives and lifelong residents of Jefferson county, who lived to an advanced age, the grandfather passing away in 1903, at the age of seventy-six and the grandmother in May, 1906, at the age of seventy-three. Their son, Frank Eugene, was born in the town of Orleans, Jefferson county, September 11, 1860, and died at his home in Lafargeville, October 23, 1923, following a long and painful illness. Frank E. Wagoner spent his early life with his parents on a farm, but early developed special mercantile business capabilities, and for a brief period conducted a grocery store in the city of Watertown. Later, in partnership with his brother, Edson, he entered the mercantile business and established a very successful trade at Fishers Landing, on the St. Lawrence river. After some ten years at this place Mr. Wagoner sold his share in the store and settled in Lafargeville, where for eight years he was the leading merchant of the town in what is now the H. J. & W. L. Bretsch general store. Because of ill health he retired from active business life in 1908. Since then, however, he assisted his son in taking over the Pierce Shoe Company in Little Falls, which Clifton Eugene Wagoner, the subject of this review, has managed.

Aside from his career as a merchant and unusually successful business man, Mr. F. E. Wagoner's life is worthy of record for his fine Christian character and lifelong devotion to the work of his church, the Methodist Episcopal, in which he was ever a prominent layman. As a youth he joined the Methodist church at Stone Mills, where he sang in the choir, attended the singing schools and by his participation in the church activities in other ways prepared for a very wonderful Christian life. While he made his home in Fishers Landing he assisted materially in making possible the fine Methodist church edifice of that place and always sang in the choir. After moving to Lafargeville he served as trustee, steward and treasurer of the church there and was a delegate to the annual conference. Many clergymen and laymen will long remember him as one who rendered a brotherly assistance in time of material and spiritual need. This spirit of service Mr. Wagoner took into all the relationships of life. His business dealings were always transacted on the highest plane, while so long as his health would permit he carried his idealism into civic affairs. His home life was happy, for the atmosphere was that of mutual affection and service. Of his five children, four are living: Bertha and Clifton E., who are engaged in business in Little Falls; Pearl, a secretary and accountant in the Watertown National Bank; and Everett, a high school student. One daughter, Grace, died at the untimely age of nineteen.

Clifton Eugene Wagoner was educated in the school of Lafargeville, from which he graduated in 1905 and for a year attended Adrian College at Adrian, Michigan. In the fall of 1907 he entered Syracuse University to take up the study of law, but like his father, he was possessed of strong business inclinations and at the end of the year he left his professional training to enter the mercantile world. For about two years he worked for a hardware firm at Clayton, New York, as a bookkeeper, after which he came to Little Falls, where he and his father bought out the Pierce Shoe Company. They reorganized the business under the firm name of F. E. Wagoner & Son, with Clifton Wagoner as the active business manager. Following his father's death Mr. Wagoner has become the sole proprietor of the store. He has "made good", as the saying goes in the business world, and is doing an excellent business. In fact, Mr. Wagoner is regarded as one of the most enterprising of the young business men of the city and a person who will develop considerable powers of leadership as the years go by. He has been elected president of the local Chamber of Commerce and is doing much toward realizing the ambitions of this body along the line of building up the city industrially and commercially. This is in itself a convincing evidence of the high position he holds in the esteem of his associates.

During the World war Mr. Wagoner gave unstintingly of his time and efforts to the prosecution of the various war activities and drives. He was chairman of several important committees, including those engaged in the work of the Red Cross and the Liberty Loans. Politically he is identified with the democratic party, but his activities of a public nature have been of a non-partisan character as a rule. As a Mason he belongs to the blue lodge, the chapter, commandery and Shrine and was formerly chairman of the Masonic Club committee of Little Falls. Mr. Wagoner attends the Methodist church, in which he was reared, and has been active in the Young Men's Christian Association of the city. His other clubs are the Exchange and Automobile Clubs.

Mr. Wagoner was married in Lafargeville, on the day after Christmas, 1910, to Miss Charlotte Irene Wright of Lafargeville. The daughter of Edgar A. and Nettie I. (Tallman) Wright, she was born there December 22, 1890. Her father is a retired merchant and farmer, and he and his wife are now living in Lafargeville. Mr. Wright was born in Clayton, Jefferson county, while Mrs. Wright, who comes from old Revolutionary stock, is a native of Theresa, the same county.

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