Referred to as an intemperate vagrant in the William Jaffray article, little is known about Paul Wagner #218 and #304 (1833-), a brief but repeat resident at the House of Industry and Refuge in Berlin, Ontario. He first entered the Poorhouse on February 14th 1871 for intemperance and then again on January 7, 1872 for what is listed as being a “lunatic”. In the Jaffary article, he mentioned that Paul has found himself in a “partial mental derangement” due to his numerous martial affairs: “Wagner – how he managed it is a mystery – has been married twice, and, not satisfied with this ample indulgence in marital privileges, lately eloped with third fair lady who must have been very easily pleased with a lover. The second wife is a niece of the first one, and Wagner took her to his bosom while the other yet lived, the issue being two children.”


Source: William Jaffray’s Day at the Waterloo County Poorhouse Lecture, 1871 from the Waterloo Region Archives

“A Day at the Waterloo Poor House, a Lecture Delivered” by William Jaffray 1871; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


He stayed in the Poorhouse for about five months and then was transported to the Insane Asylum in London, Ontario on May 2, 1872. There is one final record of Paul being at the London Insane Asylum in 1881.


Paul Wagner at the London Insane Asylum; Source:


The second wife, Bertha Wagner #128 (1847-), was also a resident of the House of Refuge and Industry, along with her two children, Ferdinand #129 (1863-) and Anne #130 (1868-), in April 1870. After being abandoned by Paul, Bertha was “left destitute” and went to the Poorhouse with her children where she is described as “a nice, simple hearted woman, ‘bar far too good for the Brute,’”.

Bertha emigrated from Germany in 1861 and settled in Picton, Ontario, along with her mother, Albertina Gruppe, her five siblings, Otto, Louisa, Ida, Herman, and Rudolph, and Wilhelmina Seakolah. After having another two children in Picton, Charles P. Gruppe in 1861 and Clara A. Gruppe in 1863, the family moved to Belleville, Ontario. The family remained in Belleville until about 1875 when they moved to Rochester, New York. At some point between 1861 and 1870 Bertha met and married Paul Wagner and had his two children, Ferdinand and Anne, respectively.

After hearing of the news of her niece living in the Poorhouse, Bertha’s aunt had her move to New York to live with her, placing the two children in the Rochester Poor House.


Source: Poorhouse Cashbooks 1875

Poorhouse Cashbooks 1875; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Most of the Gruppe family were living in Rochester, New York as of 1975. Albertina went to live with her son, Charles P., his wife, Helen E. Gruppe, and his son, Paulo M. Gruppe, in 1892. At the same time, Herman and Clara are living together in New York. Bertha’s location is unclear until 1900 where she is living with her mother, Albertina, and half-sister, Clara, in Rochester, New York. Bertha and her daughter, Anne, who she placed in the Rochester Poorhouse around 1871 found each other sometime around 1900 and Bertha went to live with her daughter and her husband, Albert Mutchler, until around 1930. It is uncertain when Bertha died, although the next census issued in Rochester, New York in 1940 shows Anna and Albert Mutchler living alone.

Bertha’s half-brother, Charles P. Gruppe, went on to become an established American painter, travelling the world with his wife and children and becoming very popular in the Netherlands where he painted with the Hague School of Art (Wikipedia). All of his children became artists, as well.