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Probably not.

There has always been some curiosity in our family as to whether we are related to the German composer (1813 – 1883). I’ve never found any connection, and he was born after our ancestor John Wagner was born in 1805. It is possible they have common ancestors. However, Wagner is a very common German name. Richard was from Leipzig, about 300 miles to the east of where our Wagners lived in Elleringhausen. I have found no genealogy for Richard going back further than his father Carl Wagner (who may not even be his biological father). Perhaps there is a DNA project that will tell us.

Related or not, when William’s grandson Russell William Wagner began composing classical music in the early 1900s, he used the name William Russell because “Wagner was already taken.” He said that if he had been a playwright and his last name was Shakespeare, he’d have changed it for that too.

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