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WAGNER Family History

This is a 'Berufsname' or occupational name: firstly, a maker of wagons or carts, secondly, a carter. The root word is Middle High German 'Wagen'- wagon or cart. The name is found all over the German speaking countries, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. It can also be Jewish (Ashkenazic).

Wägner and Wegener are variants. There are others less obvious: e.g. Wahner, Wehner and Weiner.

One Bertoldus dictus Wagenare is recorded in Friedrichshafen in 1260. The name was anciently found in Saarland , Trier and Rheinland-Pfalz in western Germany; but is found all over Germany,with concentrations in the west, centre and south. It occupies 7th place in the list of most common names in Germany (date 2000). Contemporary numbers suggest it may have been pushed into 8th place, however. There are many of the name in Austria.

Early immigrant Wagners to America arrived in Pennsylvania in the mid 18th century. There the surname underwent the inevitable transmutations into Waggoner, Wagoner &c. Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Illinois are the states where high percentages of Wagners reside (1920 Federal Census).

In the U.S.A. present numbers (culled from Social Security Data) place Wagner at 152nd in the country's top surnames, with a population of 154, 516.

Two Famous Wagners

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) born in Leipzig, is surely the most famous bearer of the name. His extraordinary dramatic music, both orchestral and operatic, was the ne plus ultra of 19th century Romanticism, encapsulating the Sturm und Drang roots of the European Romantic Movement. More than this, he transformed 19th century music into a recognisably modern form, in for example, Tristan und Isolde.

Paula Wagner (b. 1960) born in Ohio, is an American Film Producer. She made her name as a talent executive in Los Angeles, handling some of the biggest movie stars of our times: such as Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Val Kilmer and Liam Neeson. She founded the production company Cruise/Wagner Productions with Tom Cruise in 1993, which brought out the Mission Impossible series.
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