|Major Joseph Hugh Wagner
Joseph Wagner was born the son of Matthias Miller and Mary Salina Fyffe Wagner. M. M. Wagner was a large land owner in Johnson County. He raised live stock and ran a store. He owned two farms. One was on Roan Creek, four miles below town and the other was in town. Wagner owned 10 to 12 slaves.
When Joseph Wagner was just 19 years old he was elected colonel of the militia in Johnson County. He was called to aid the Confederates in the Carter County Rebellion. Later Wagner slipped through the lines in the Cumberland Gap to join the Union Army. At this time he was promoted to major. After the war the men of the 13th Volunteer Cavalry elected Wagner to the Tennessee legislature.
By the end of the Civil War M. M. Wagner was getting old. The war was very hard on the family. He was left with only one blind horse and his land. Wagner lost $30,000 in debts due him from men who were killed or went bankrupt by the war.
After the war Joseph Wagner changed political parties from Republican to Democrat. He felt the Democrats were doing a better job rebuilding after the destruction of the war. Wagner was faced with overwhelming opposition. In fact in 1868 no democratic tickets were even sent to Johnson County. Wagner had to cut one from the newspaper. Judge John Rankin asked Wagner why he voted against his friends. This vote caused a petition to be sent around town to remove Wagner's brother, Noah Wagner, as postmaster.
Changing parties caused other problems as well. The Wagners lost their mercantile store in Mountain City.
Joseph Hugh Wagner built his house between 1887 and 1889. Joseph Wagner lost his house for nonpayment of taxes. His son Noah nearly lost his home as well. Richard Eugene Donnelly, Noah's son-in-law, purchased the home on the courthouse steps, and returned it to his father-in-law. The irony is that M. M. Wagner's sons probably supplied the materials for most of the houses in the county from their founding in 1835. Since many of the individuals never paid for their materials, but kept their houses, and these brothers did not have the funds to keep their homes, and they either lost or nearly lost their own homes.
|The house was built on a 30 acre tract. The walls of the house were made of bricks. The brick layer came from Poland and made the bricks on the site of the home. The house had 12 rooms, including those used a bathrooms and the kitchen. It also has 10 fireplaces. One interesting feature was the walnut staircase with a huge hand carved newel post. All the wood trim was crafted locally. There are many types of wood in the house, used in very Victorian ways (fancier in the formal rooms; pine in others). The house also had several outbuildings which included a spring house, cookhouse, work shop, and two barns.|
The Rambo family bought the house from the Wagners in 1910. They updated the house with electricity, plumbing and central heat. On June 2, 1992 Mike and Libby Cornett bought the house in an auction. (At this time the house was on a 25 acre site. Two acres were taken away from the highway when in came and and supplanted Hampton Street.) They turned the attic into a schoolroom for the two boys. They lived in the house for five years until it was bought by Robert and Judy Hotchkiss of Atlanta. The house is now a Bed and Breakfast. The Hotchkisses decided to call their home Prospect Hill as this was the original name given to the house by Major Wagner himself.
Judy Hotchkiss, present owner and innkeeper of Prospect Hill, states her contribution to the home is a ghost has been seen and heard. And he/she likes to eat! People have smelled peanut butter cookies in the middle of the night! She has also built a party room, offices and rest rooms on the back of the house which now include the cold room (called spring house in your write up but the spring is on the Pennington's property way up hill and no water in ours) which will be completed in 2007.
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