Wagley, O.N.

A picture of Mr O N Wagley a member of the Library Board in Newton Iowa. He is wearing a suit and coat, and is looking away from the camera slightly. His head is balding on the top and he has a long goatee style beard.
A picture of Mr. O.N. Wagley, member of the Newton Library Board, undated. Source: Newton Lodge No. 59 A.F. & A.M.
A advertisement card that says Compliments of O.N. Wagley Newton, Iowa. Underneath, it depicts a pink and red rose with a decorative boarder.
A card advertising Mr. O.N. Wagley’s druggist business. Mr. O.N. Wagley was a member of the Library Board. Source: Larry Hurto Collection
North façade of the Gorrell Block, Nos. 103-105 W. Main St., showing the location of O. N. Wagley, Druggist, at right, printed in The Newton Journal. Source: The Newton Journal, March 16, 1898
A photograph of a drug store bottle from Mr. Wagley’s store in Newton, Iowa. Embossed: O. N. WAGLEY / DRUGGIST / NEWTON, IOWA. Undated. Source: Mark C. Wiseman
A drawing of a bottle for druggist O.N. Wagley. Inscription says “O.N. Wagley, Druggist, Newton, Iowa”. Source: Mike Burggraaf

Mr. O.N. Wagley


O. N. Wagley, a longtime druggist in Newton, was a member of the Newton Public Library board of trustees from its inception in 1896 until his death in 1918.[1] In announcing his passing, the Iowa Library Quarterly regarded him as “a valued member of the board.”[2] “Mr. Wagley had served faithfully for many years as a member of the library board and will be greatly missed,” it reported.[3]

Olin Nelson Wagley was born near Beloit, Wisconsin, October 26, 1849, the son of Nils O. and Carrie Wagley, Norwegian immigrants.[4] Determined to be a teacher, he graduated from Whitewater Normal School.[5] He then took two years of work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.[6] The next seven years were spent as superintendent of schools at different places in Wisconsin, the last three years at Broadhead.[7] At the close of his school work there he was married to Gertrude A. Bowen (1862-1955), June 18, 1884.[8] Immediately thereafter Wagley opened his drug store in Newton, Iowa.[9] In 1886, he sold a half interest in his business to Dr. Wm. H. Booth, of Altoona, Iowa.[10] From 1892 to 1904 he conducted the store at 105 W. Main St. [now 1st Avenue W.] in partnership with Dr. C. C. Smead.[11] “The stock carried has always been a very heavy one composed of drugs, chemicals and compounds, patent medicines, paints, oils, druggist sundries, wall paper and window shades, and the prescription department, a leading feature of the establishment,” one of the local papers noted.[12] The paper indicated that “the active management of the business devolves upon Mr. Wagley, who is not only a successful pharmacist and a druggist of long experience but a gentleman of education and culture.”[13] From 1892 to 1918 Wagley was secretary of the Board of Education.[14] He was also a prominent lodge man, occupying high positions in the Masonic order.[15] Mr. and Mrs. Wagley were both charter members of the Order of the Eastern Star, which was organized in 1891.[16] Wagley was also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America.[17] He was “recognized as an ideal citizen and representative businessman.” He was an active member of the Business Men’s Association and took “a prominent part in every movement for the improvement of our condition as a municipal corporation or for the betterment of society intellectually, morally and financially.”[18] In 1916, Wagley sold out his business to G. H. Nollen.[19] He was an active worker and supporter of the First Congregational Church for which he was a longtime usher.[20] He died in Newton on December 12, 1918, and is buried in Newton Union Cemetery.[21]

-Larry Ray Hurto

[1] 1896-1957 Library Trustees, Newton Public Library History. https://cdm16179.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16179coll1/search/searchterm/library{d88251a6d044bb92acfc6562c844669d257905d2c83f008be98127c59e94a890}20trustees/field/subjec/mode/exact/conn/and/order/title/ad/asc.

[2] Iowa Library Quarterly, January-March, 1919, p. 144.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Year: 1880; Census Place: Plymouth Township, Rock County, Wisconsin; Roll: 1444; Page: 363C; Enumeration District: 195.

[5] The Newton Daily News, December 13, 1918.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., January 10, 1955.

[9] The Newton Journal, July 16, 1884.

[10] Ibid., January 6, 1886.

[11] Mike Burggraaf and Tom Southard, The Antique Bottles of Iowa, 1846-1915, Vol. 2 (Northfield, OH: Ohio Wholesale Copy Service, 1998), p. 492.

[12] The Daily Herald, Newton, IA, January 1, 1903.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Lucy E. Hall, A History of the Schools of Jasper County, Iowa [1959], p. 108.

[15] Wagley was made a Mason in Newton Lodge No. 59, Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons, on February 16, 1891. The Newton Daily News, December 13, 1918. He was Senior Deacon of Newton Lodge in 1892-1893, Junior Warden in 1894, Senior Warden in 1895, and Worshipful Master from 1896 to 1899. He was Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of Iowa in 1905. When the Grand Lodge met in 1912, he was elected Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden. 150th Anniversary, Newton Lodge #59 A. F. & A. M., Newton, Iowa [2005], pp. 39, 73, 75, 77, 82.

[16] The Newton Daily News, December 13, 1918.

[17] Ibid.

[18] The Daily Herald, January 1, 1903.

[19] Newton Daily Journal, February 21, 1916; The Newton Daily News, February 21, 1916.

[20] The Newton Daily News, December 16, 1918.

[21] Funeral Register, C. F. Morgan & Son Funeral Home, Newton, Iowa, Book 2, 1914-1920, p. 352. Jasper County Genealogical Society, Newton, Iowa.