The Wagener family was one of the most prominent families in the early settlement of Yates County. Establishing the first mill sites on the Keuka Outlet, the Wagener's were active in commercial enterprises, real estate, and public service throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The progenitor of the Wagener family in Yates County was David Wagener. Wagener was a wealthy landowner in Pennsylvania and a follower of Jemima Wilkinson (the Public Universal Friend). Wagener had received Wilkinson during her evangelical trips to Pennsylvania in 1782, 1784 and 1787. Impressed with her teachings, Wagener sold his holdings in Pennsylvania and followed the Friend to western New York in 1791. He settled in the Friend's community located on the west side of Seneca Lake. When the colony relocated to “New Jerusalem” above the west branch of the Keuka Lake Outlet, Wagener, his wife Rebecca and his brother Jacob settled directly along the outlet. In 1796 he purchased 279 acres of land on the outlet, which comprised most of the current village of Penn Yan. Wagener continued to improve his mill on the outlet and in 1799 set aside several acres of land to be used as a burying ground, now known as Lakeview Cemetery. David Wagener was killed in an accident that same year and was the first person to be interred in the newly created cemetery.
Wagener willed his land holdings to his two sons, Abraham and Melchior. Abraham, also a follower of the Friend, had settled near the village of Himrod in 1792. In 1796 he married Mary Castner. He succeeded in buying out his brother's share of their father's property and improved the mill complex. In that same year he erected the first frame house in Penn Yan near the Outlet. In 1801 he initiated the survey of the Elmira to Canandaigua road, part of which became Main Street in Penn Yan. He established a post office and served as its postmaster. In 1808 he was appointed to the position of Justice of the Peace, an office he held for 25 years. In 1816 he build a new frame house in the village, which later became a hotel known as the Mansion House, part of which is frame for the present Knapp Hotel. In 1823 the New York State Legislature established Yates County. In an effort to have Penn Yan named as the county seat, Wagener donated two acres of land for the establishment of the county offices. Penn Yan was named as the county seat and the land became the site of the Yates County Courthouse complex.
In 1828 Wagener purchased a parcel of land located at the southern tip of the town of Jerusalem at Bluff Point. In 1833 Wagener had the stone dwelling constructed on the site. The location at the end of the peninsula provided the most splendid view in the county. The construction of the stone mansion at such a remote and inaccessible location, 12 miles from Penn Yan, was testimony to the wealth and determination of Abraham Wagener. For reasons unknown Wagener left Bluff Point and returned to the village of Penn Yan in 1843, where he purchased Roderick Morrison's home, a stone house built by Roderick Morrison in 1820, on Highland Drive in Penn Yan, where he resided until his death in 1853. The Bluff Point property was willed to Abraham's son, George. George Wagener was a prominent businessman in his own right. During the 1880's he joined with several other businessmen to build a railroad between Penn Yan and the village of Dresden, and to renovate the mill at the foot of Main Street, today's Birkett Mills. His public duties included sheriff of Jerusalem township and Inspector of State Prisons.
Abraham Wagener was born November 29, 1774 in Norriton, PA, located 16 miles from Philadelphia and died May 21, 1853 in Penn Yan at age 79. Son of David and Rebecca (Supplee) Wagener.
Married Mary Castner (8/16/1774 - 6/3/1809) on May 26, 1796 in Ontario county (note that Yates county did not exist at this point). They had 7 children:
David 4/2/1798 - 11/9/37, m. Maria West
Samuel 12/29/1799 - 5/13/1827
Jacob 10/12/1801 - 10/12/1802
William 6/28/1803 - 8/24/1822
Mary 12/7/1805 - 3/23/1897, m. Uriah Hanford (Uriah Hanford house in Indian Pines)
Charles 12/16/1807 - 8/3/1885, m. Ann Elizabeth McKeon (Charles Wagener house in Penn Yan)
George 4/22/1810 - 3/22/1812
Married Joanna Norris Edmondson (4/3/1781 - 1/16/1854) in 1811. They had 6 children:
George (Abraham Wagener house on Bluff Point)
Henrietta Joanna (Monell? Built chapel in Lakeview Cemetery)