"Pennsylvania to the Alamo," is song Number 11 on a CD called "A Mountain Man's Dream," just released by Danville musician and schoolteacher Van Wagner.
is also a friend of Paul Fagley, of Burnham, a well known local historian who the musician met at Greenwood Furnace State Park, where Fagley is a cultural educator.
Van Wagner, educator and folk musician, of Danville, released his 20th CD in March.
What an amazing story it is," Wagner
"I like that this story has more questions than answers," Wagner
"One of my favorite things about the song-writing process is how a story can pull you in. As I wrote the lyrics to this song, I found myself more and more fascinated at the facts."
pondered the facts of the three local men at the Alamo for a few years before it became a part of his
"The story has remained in my mind for several years since Paul told me about it," Wagner
"That brought me back to these three men from Pennsylvania," Wagner
"I reached out to a group of supporters on Facebook.
They call themselves the 'North of 80 Van Wagner Fan Club,'" Wagner said, explaining how the song was written.
fans to help him write the song.
"People added details about the men's lives they found fascinating, like 'selling a good rifle to pay for a horse.'
"I then took some of the ideas from this group and wrote the song, using as many of their ideas as possible."
The song's topic fits in with the musician's collection of original folk songs.
"I write about Pennsylvania history and nature," Wagner
"My songs tend to focus on the 1800s for some reason.
This story from the 1830s fits right in there, even though it ends in Texas."
Will other bits of local history find their way into future songs by Wagner?
Wagner teaches environmental science at Lewisburg High School, where he uses music as a tool to reach his students.
"One of my favorite traditions is to take my students on a field trip to the pioneer coal mine in Ashland.
Once we are several hundred feet underground, I pull out an old guitar and sing them some coal mining songs.
I really hope it becomes a memory they will carry their entire life," he
was named Conservation Educator of the Year in 2005 from Schuylkill County, and in 2007 and 2009 in Union County.
In 2012, he
was awarded the Sandy Cochran Award for natural resource education from the Pennsylvania Forestry Association
In 2015, the Red Cross presented Wagner
with the Robert N. Pursel Distinguished Service Award.
Outside the classroom, Wagner
audiences with his
music and programs on Pennsylvania history.
music has been featured on The History Channel, WVIA TV, as well as Country Music Television.
has released 20 original albums and published a book, "Coal Dust Rust and Saw Dust."