John Buckley Wolfe was born in March 1851, in LaSalle County, Illinois. His parents were John Richard Wolfe, an Irish Catholic farmer, and Honora “Nora” Buckley Wolfe. He had seven siblings who survived to maturity: James Buckley (b. 1844), Patrick Bernard (b. 1848), Johanna (b. 1849), Maurice Buckley (b. 1855), Margaret I. (b. 1857), Catherine “Kate” (b. 1860), and Richard B. (b. 1862). Two sisters, Margaret and Catherine, died in infancy.
In 1847, Wolfe’s parents and brother James immigrated to the United States from Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, along with John R. Wolfe’s first cousin Maurice Wolfe and his family. (John and Maurice Wolfe shared a grandfather, James M. “The Barrister” Wolfe.) The families arrived in New York on August 23, 1847, and from there made their way to Chicago and then to LaSalle County, Illinois, where a number of John R. Wolfe’s brothers and cousins settled. John R. Wolfe and his cousin Maurice, with their families, both moved on to Clinton County, Iowa, arriving sometime around 1855.
Wolfe was raised in Liberty Township, Clinton County, and a mention in the Oxford Mirror newspaper, dated January 11, 1883, suggests that he farmed near Lost Nation, in Sharon Township.
Sometime around 1887 Wolfe married Mary Ann Lyons, of Clinton. They had nine children: John Vincent (b. 1888), Irene M. (b. 1891), Edward Lyons (b. 1892), Thomas Lyons (b. 1894), Frances Lyons (b. 1896), Richard Lyons (b. 1898), Paul Joseph Lyons (b. 1900), Eugene Maurice (b. 1902), and Cyril Dennis (b. ca. 1906).
The federal census of 1900 identifies Wolfe and his wife as living in the city of Clinton; Wolfe is described as a “capitalist.” A notice in the Oxford Mirror, dated August 30, 1900, puts him in Lyons, however, just north of the city.
Sometime in the next decade, the couple moved to Jackson Township, in Monroe County, Iowa, where Wolfe farmed. By 1920, Wolfe and family had moved again, this time to Grant Township in Clinton County.
Wolfe died on July 16, 1923, at Mercy Hospital in Clinton after a long illness. He is buried at Saint James Cemetery in Toronto, Iowa. His wife, Mary, died on December 13, 1946.
images: from the Oxford Mirror, January 11, 1883, page 5; from the Oxford Mirror, August 30, 1900, page 5