X:1 T:Wagner T:Wagoner  M:2/4 L:1/16 R:Reel N:Tune directly above “Wagner” is “Grey Eagle.” S:G. McMillan music manuscript collection (1843) S:https://archive.org/stream/GMcMillanBook/MUMSS-S:00128#page/n13/mode/2up Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:C G2|[Ec]>[Ec][E2c2] [Ec]>[Ec][E2c2]|[E2c2] c'b agfe|[Ge]>[Gd][G2d2] [Gd]>[Gd][G2d2]|[G2d2] ed cBAG| [Ec]>[Ec][E2c2] [Ec]>[Ec][E2c2]|z ceg c'2g2|a3^ga3c' =g3fe3d|c2 [E2c2][E2c2]:| |:g3f|e3cg3c| e3cg3c|e3de3f g2 f3e|f3da3d f3da3d|f3ef3g a2g3f| e3cg3c e3cg3c|e3de3f g2g2|a3^ga3c' =g3fe3d|c2 [E2c2][E2c2]:|]
WAGONER . AKA and see “French Jig,” "Hero (The)," "Jolly Wagoner Reel," "Miss Brown’s Reel (1)," "Northeast Texas," "Tennessee Wagon," "Tennessee Wagoner (Wagoneer)," "Texas Wagoner," "Georgia Wagoner," “Oklahoma Wagoner,” "Wagner," "Wag'ner," "Wild Wagoner." American, Reel (cut time). USA, Widely known. C Major (most versions): G Major (Shaw). Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCDEFGHIJK (Reiner & Anick): AABB (Bayard, Brody, Christeson, Krassen, Ruth, Shaw, Titon): AA'BB' (Krassen): AABBAAB'B' (Phillips). This American melody is commonly played in the Midwest among fiddlers today, although it has been popular throughout the South and Midwest. It is thought by Bayard (1981) and Christeson (1973) to have been derived from the "Belle of Claremont Hornpipe," although Bayard, digging deeper, finds antecedents to "Claremont" as well (see note for "Tennessee Wagoner"). The title is to be found in a number of variations, usually with a different place (state) name before "Wagoner," such as "Tennessee Wagoner," "Georgia Wagoner," "Texas Wagoner," etc. However, it also appears under non-Wagoner titles as, for example, "Hero (The)" in George P. Knauff's 1839 publication Virginia Reels, volume II (Baltimore), and in some later mid-nineteenth century publications where it can be found as "Miss Brown’s Reel (1)."
Samuel Bayard believed "Wagoner (1)" to be composite in nature and traceable to older tunes. The first part he thought derived from "Billy in the Lowland/Lowground," while the second is a strain from an old Scottish air "Gaberlunzie (The)" (the earliest version of which can be found in Thompson's Opheus Caledonius, 1725, p. 23). This second strain has an old and venerable history in folk process; the second half of both "Wagonner" and "Gaberlunzie" greatly resemble the Scots tune "Johnny Cope" and "Keep Off the Grass," stated Bayard. Even the second half of the well known "Mississippi Sawyer (1)" may be derived from this element. "Wagoner" was in repertoires of Uncle Jimmy Thompson 1848 1931 (Texas, Va.) under above title and as "Wagner," and the John Lusk Band (Black string band from the Cumberland Plateau region of Ky.) as "Rolling River." It was supposed to have been the first tune Uncle Jimmy played on Nashville’s WSM in November, 1923, in what was to become the very beginning of the Grand Old Opry (Wolfe, 1997).
Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner maintained that it was written "in honor of (Texas cattleman) Dan Wagner years earlier, maybe one hundred years ago," (suggesting the Texas appellation to the title was correct) though he acknowledged that "some call it 'Tennessee Wagonner,' reason not known" (Shumway, 1990). In fact, the title honors a Tennessee thoroughbred horse that competed in a hugely popular Louisville, Kentucky, horserace in 1839 (see note for “Grey Eagle (1)”). See also additional information in the alternate titles given above.
"Wagoner" (along with "Wagoner in B Flat") was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from the playing of Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's, and by Herbert Halpert in 1939 from the playing of Lee County, Mississippi, fiddler W.E. Claunch. “Wagoner” was Kentucky fiddler John M. Salyer’s (1882-1952) favorite tune, according to his son Grover. Guthrie Meade lists 24 early recordings of various “Wagoner”-titled tunes on 78 RPM, including Uncle Am Stuart (1924), Doc Roberts & Dick Parman (1927), Reaves’ White County Ramblers (1928), Eck Robertson (1929), Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers (1930), and Fiddlin’ John Carson (1934).