Richard Downey Wolfe was baptized on June 15, 1829, in the Parish of Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland. He is the son of Maurice Richard Wolfe, who bred horses and came from a Catholic farming family, and Johanna Downey Wolfe. (Sponsors to his baptism were Richard Wolfe and Catherine Downey.) He had eight siblings: Margaret (b. 1827), Stephen (b. 1833), James Downey (b. 1839), Johanna E. (b. 1840), Catherine “Kate” (b. 1842), Maurice (b. 1848), John Francis (b. 1850), and Edmund Dean (b. 1853).
Little is known of Wolfe’s early life. He, his parents, and his siblings immigrated to the United States in 1849. They sailed from Liverpool to New York aboard the Senator, a 777-ton ship of the Black Star Line, owned by Samuel Thompson; they arrived on September 22, 1849. Maurice Richard Wolfe’s brother John immigrated to the United States in 1847, his brother Thomas Richard in 1848, and his brother Richard in 1849. They all settled, at least initially, in LaSalle County, Illinois. Richard Downey Wolfe and his family bought land there, as well, and stayed.
Wolfe married Margaret O’Kane on February 17, 1863. The couple had one child, Katherine Collins (b. 1863), before O’Kane died in 1865. Richard Wolfe married Margaret Shine Lyons, an Irish immigrant, on November 28, 1866. The couple had eight children: Johanna (b. 1867), Daniel Maurice (b. 1869), Honoria Euphrasia (b. 1871), Maurice Patrick (b. 1873), Margaret Theresa (b. 1875), Richard (b. 1878), Marie Louise (b. 1881), and Aileen Gregory (b. 1884).
In 1870, Wolfe lived in Osage Township, LaSalle County, and owned real estate worth $3,600 and personal goods worth $900. Sometime between April 1871 and March 1873 he and his second wife, along with several of their children, moved to Township 64, Atchison, Missouri. At the time of his death he had returned to Illinois and was living in Ford County.
Wolfe died on April 12, 1885, in Rankin, Illinois, from the effects of being kicked by a horse two weeks earlier. His skull had been fractured. He was buried at Lost Land Cemetery in LaSalle County, Illinois, on April 14.
images: Richard Downey Wolfe and Margaret Shine Lyons Wolfe (Find a Grave / Michele McCall)