Hon. Rolland M. Wagner, Adam County’s representative in the Fiftieth General Assembly, has through his active and progressive career as a lawyer at Quincy since 1909 amply fulfilled the expectations of his friends who from their early acquaintance with his earnest and studious purposes and activities predicted more than ordinary success for him in the legal profession.
Mr. Wagner was born at Liberty, Adams County, Illinois, July 27, 1885, and already in his thirty-third year may be said to have attained that degree of success which makes his future secure. His parents were Charles A. and Claire (Collins) Wagner. The Collins family were numbered among the pioneers of Adams County, where Mr. Wagner’s mother was born. His maternal grandfather, Oliver Collins, was born in this county more than eighty years ago and has spent his entire life here and is still possessed of all his faculties.
He and his wife, who is also past eighty, make their home with their daughter, Mrs. Charles Wagner. Charles A. Wagner was born in Ohio, and came to Adams County with his parents. He was only nine years old when his father died, and was the oldest of four children, all of whom are still living and all married but one. Charles A. Wagner finished his education at Knox College, and after some years as a farmer joined his father-in-law,
Oliver Collins, in conducting a general store at Liberty. He and his wife are still living in this county, now practically retired. They are well known people. Their home is at Coatsburg. In the family were seven children: Clifford, deceased; Nellie, wife of John Y. Lawless, of Coatsburg; Herman T., a farmer at Waterloo, Iowa; Rolland M., Clinton B., of Coatsburg; Edna, wife of Leroy Myers, of Paloma, Illinois, and mother of a daughter,
Lucile; and Hazel, of Quincy.
Rolland M. Wagner graduated and afterward did post-graduate work in the Liberty High School, and for two years was a teacher in local schools. He then entered the University of Michigan Law School for one year, and the last two years was a student in orthwestern University Law School at Chicago, where he graduated in 1909. He remained for some months in Chicago gaining valuable experience and performing some useful service at the same time as an employee of the Legal Aid Society. In 1910 he was admitted to practice in the Federal Courts.
In October, 1909, returning to Quincy, he entered upon his career as a full fledged lawyer. In 1913 Mr. Wagner was appointed assistant state’s attorney under his present partner, Mr. Wolf, then state’s attorney of this county. The first case he handled was the State vs. Dobbs, but his chief fame as a prosecutor came from his work in the case State vs.
Ray Pfanschmidt. Ray Pfanschmidt, it will be remembered, was tried for the murder of his father, mother, sister and a school teacher who was boarding at the Pfanschmidt home. It was proved in the course of the trial that he committed the crime for mercenary reasons. Mr. Wagner and his associate labored assiduously preparing the evidence for this trial and Mr. Wagner’s arguments before the jury required six hours for delivery.
Since retiring from the office of assistant state’s attorney Mr. Wagner has been associated with Mr. Wolf in private practice and they are one of the busiest firms in Adams County. In 1916 Mr. Wagner was elected as representative of Adams County to the Fiftieth General Assembly and also to the Fifty-First General Assembly. He was a member of the judiciary committee and on the committee of judicial practice and procedure and was also a member of the legislative committee to visit penal institutions. As a democrat he
was four years secretary of the Executive County Committee. Mr. Wagner is a director of the Public Library of Quincy and was formerly attorney for the Quincy Humane Society. He is unmarried. Fraternally he is a member of Quincy Lodge No. 1, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, one of the oldest lodges in the state, is past president of the local lodge of Eagles, is an official member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, is a member of the Turnverein, the Quincy Country Club, the Y. M. C. A. and is a member
of the Presbyterian Church.
Submitted by: Barbara Freeman
Source: “Quincy and Adams County History and Representative Men” Volume II, Page 747-748. Chicago and New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919.