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Where the Sun First Rises in Tennessee & Tennessee History Begins


Daniel Wagner to Matthias Miller Wagner

by
Marjorie London Dyer

According to family history, Daniel Wagner, son of "old Jacob", first visited the Roan Creek Valley on a hunting trip with Daniel Boone during which he discovered magnetite, limonite, and other forms of iron ore and may have built a hunting lodge. (Both the Boones and the Wagners were wheelwrights in western North Carolina.) In the late 1700's, Daniel's son, Matthias with his wife, Susannah Miller, and Daniel's relative, Col. David Wagner, moved to the Roan Creek land that Daniel had been granted for service in the Revolutionary War. They purchased additional land. Col. Wagner developed an iron mine at the back of what is now Mount/Roark property, Matthias had a furnace in the Maymead area, and there was a forge on Vaught's Creek. Matthias built a 2-story log house on Roan Creek, and a family cemetery still exists on a land near this site. (Matthias and his wife Susannah are buried there, as well as, several members of David Wagner's family.)

A Samuel Fyffe had a business hauling local produce from Wilkes County, North Carolina, in four- and six-horse wagons to Philadelphia via the "The Great Wagon Road". This road began in Philadelphia, joining communities in Pennsylvania then moving southward to Winchester, Virginia and on to Roanoke where it split from the "Great Valley Road" which went on to Bristol, Virginia. From Roanoke the "Great Wagon Road" went through Staunton Gap terminating in Salisbury, North Carolina. Samuel established a second location in Athens, Tennessee, run by his sons, Isaac and James, who hauled produce to the Northeast via the Valley of Virginia on the "Great Valley Road". Samuel Fyffe probably traveled from his home on Brier Creek in Wilkes County to Athens via the "Boone Trail" into Roan Creek Valley as he and Matthias Wagner knew each other. This connection may have given Matthias the idea of building wagons and hauling produce from the Roan Creek Valley to Baltimore and Philadelphia via the Valley of Virginia.

Matthias's son, Matthias Miller Wagner ("MM"), having met the Fyffes, made trips to Athens where he met Isaac and James's sister, Mary. MM had graduated from a small "classics school" in Elizabethton, which was similar to others in East Tennessee that taught Greek, Latin, English Literature, and History. Mr. Matney, the headmaster, entered MM in Harvard University, but MM wanted to marry Mary Fyffe and enter business. A letter from Mr. Matney describes his sorrow at MM's "going behind the counter" rather than going to Harvard. MM's sister Nancy married James Fyffe. Another daughter of Samuel Fyffe married Hugh Smith, probably a Philadelphia businessman.

In 1836, Johnson County was separated from Carter County. MM and other residents laid out the town of Taylorsville, named for Nathaniel Taylor who had an interest in the iron business. When Mr. Taylor would not move from Elizabethton to Johnson County, they renamed the town Mountain City. After he married Mary Fyffe, MM built a large general store and the first clabbered house in Mountain City (of salt box design). He was the first Mountain City Postmaster and Clerk of Johnson County.

MM's children were:

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This page updated March 7, 2005