John Wolfe was born sometime around 1794 in County Kerry, Ireland. He was the son of Maurice James Wolfe, a Catholic farmer, and Helen (sometimes Ellen) Dore Wolfe. He had five siblings: Richard (b. 1795), Edmund Maurice, Maurice (b. ca. 1800), Bartholomew (b. 1809), and Michael (b. 1813).
On March 6, 1821, he married Julia Stack, of Rathea, in the Parish of Lixnaw, County Kerry. The couple had four children: Margaret (b. ca. 1821), Eleanor (b. ca. 1821), Mary (b. 1826), and Ellen (b. 1827). Julia Wolfe died sometime before 1830, possibly of complications from one of her births.
John Wolfe then married Bridget Ann Foley, probably around 1831. The couple had seven children: Katherine Marie (b. 1832), Maurice (b. 1837), Daniel, Johanna (b. ca. 1841), Ann (b. 1845), Bridget (b. ca. 1846), and Julia (b. ca. 1848).
Wolfe immigrated to the United States in the company of his wife and children in 1849, sailing aboard the Mary Ann Henry and arriving in New York on July 9. Wolfe’s brothers Richard and Maurice had already immigrated, the former in 1848, the latter, with their first cousin John R. Wolfe, in 1847. (Brothers John, Maurice, and Richard Wolfe and shared a grandfather with John R. Wolfe: James M. “The Barrister” Wolfe.) In addition, John R. Wolfe’s brother Thomas R. came from Ireland in 1848 and his brothers Maurice R. and Richard separately in 1849. Other cousins came, as well, including Margaret and Elizabeth Maher, daughters of John R. Wolfe’s sister Ellen, and Patrick, Dennis, Bridget, and Thomas Sheehan, the children of John R. Wolfe’s sister Margaret. Another cousin, John E. Wolfe, and his sisters Ellen J. and Mary Agatha, also emigrated. All of these extended Wolfe family members, except for the Sheehans, settled in LaSalle County, Illinois; a few moved on from there to Clinton County, Iowa.
By 1850, John Wolfe was living in Deer Park Township, LaSalle County, working as a farmer. A decade later he lived in Farm Ridge Township.
Wolfe died on April 7, 1863, in LaSalle County, and is buried at Saint Columba Cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois. His second wife, Bridget, moved to Carroll, Iowa, probably with her daughter Ann, who farmed there with her husband Joseph Collison beginning around 1874. Bridget Foley Wolfe died of dropsy on January 16, 1899. Her obituary appeared in the Carroll Sentinel on January 19:
Grandma Wolfe, as she was called by all her friends, lived a quiet christian life and was loved by all who knew her. Though her span of life extended over nearly the entire century she retained full possession of all her faculties until within a few hours of her death. She was a devout christian woman and of late years especially she lived near the cross. “That life is long which answers life’s great end” and in the fullness of time she passed away as quietly as a child lies down to peaceful dreams.
She is buried at Saint Joseph’s Cemetery in Carroll.
image: Gravestone for Bridget Ann Foley Wolfe, Saint Joseph’s Cemetery, Carroll, Iowa (Geo. Clinton / Find a Grave)