Robert Waggener, contractor and builder, and proprietor of the City Planing Mill, at Franklin, Johnson County, Ind., was born in Shelby County, Ind., about six miles from Franklin, on August 27, 1830. He is the seventh of fourteen children born to Burges and Nancy (Shipp) Waggener. Our subject was reared on the farm until his eighteenth year, and attended the common schools and Franklin College. In 1849, he served an apprenticeship at the cabinet-maker’s trade in Franklin, and for the next year followed his trade at Edinburg. In about 1853, he located at Trafalgar, Johnson County, and began contracting and building, and remained at that place for about a year. He located in Franklin, in January, 1865, and continued contracting and building. In February, 1882, he leased the planing-mill of Payne & Payne, and was burned out the following year. Previously, in 1872, he was one of the organizers of the Builders and Manufacturers’ Association, of which he served for a while as president. In 1883, he leased the brick building, formerly used as Baldwin & Payne’s woolen-mills, and fitted it up with planing-mill machinery, and in 1887, purchased the buildings. He manufactures doors, sash, blinds, mouldings, brackets, mantles and all kinds of finished lumber, and deals extensively in pine and hard wood lumber. He also carries on contracting and building. During his life he has erected the following buildings, beginning with a small frame school-house near Jolity, Shelby County (his first contract), which building was occupied first as a school, taught by the present recorder of Johnson County; high school buildings at Trafalgar and Williamsburg; new high school building and colored school building; Presbyterian and Baptist churches, and he now has the contract for the erection of the college building, at Franklin, J., M. & I. depot at Edinburg, Presbyterian Church at Martinsville, and numerous other public buildings, all monuments of his skill and ability as a contractor and workman. His building is about 30x60 feet, three stories, with wing same height, 25x50 feet, and employs about twenty men during the season. It is furnished with new and improved machinery, and forty horse-power engine. He is now making arrangements for putting in a saw-mill plant. He is a member of the K. of H. fraternity, and also of the Baptist Church. He was married, January 3, 1850, to Nancy Shipp, who was born in Shelby County, Ind., June 12, 1830, and was the daughter of Easton and Nellie (Brockman) Shipp. She died in 1861. To their union seven children were born, three of whom survive. Mr. Waggener was married a second time, January 1, 1863, to Martha J. Alexander, who was born in Johnson County, Ind., in 1838, and was the daughter of Thomas Alexander. She died April 28, 1875. To this union six children were born, two of whom survive. On January 13, 1876, he was again married to Nancy Bryan, who was born November 17, 1842. To this union three children have been born, all surviving. Burges Waggener, the father, was born in Culpepper County, Va., in 1798, and was the son of Herbert, who at an early date emigrated with his family to Kentucky, where he died. Burges emigrated from Kentucky to Shelby County, Ind., in 1821, and settled on Blue River, being one of the pioneers of this portion of the state. At that time the country was a vast wilderness, covered with a thick undergrowth of hazlebrush, game abounded and he has many times stood in his door and killed deer. He was a deacon of the Baptist Church, and was a charter member of the first Baptist Church organized in Johnson County, the same being in Blue River Township, and is known as Blue River Baptist Church. This, it is claimed was the first church of any kind in Johnson County. He died October 20, 1880, after a long and useful life, his death occurring near Bloomington, Monroe Co., Ind., to which county he had removed in about 1875. The mother of our subject was born in Hardin County, Ky., March 18, 1800, and was the daughter of Richard and Mary Shipp, natives of Virginia and North Carolina, respectively. She died in Monroe County, Ind., in 1867.

Transcribed by Cheryl Zufall Parker

Banta, D.D. History of Johnson County, Indiana. Chicago, IL: Brant & Fuller, 1888, page 669.