Richard Wolfe was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, and baptized on July 16, 1815, in the Diocese of Kerry, Parish of Lixnaw. His parents were Richard James Wolfe and Johanna Relihan Wolfe. His baptismal sponsors were Richard Wolfe and Mary Connel. (Wolfe’s gravestone lists his birth year as 1807.)
Wolfe had at least nine siblings: James Richard (b. 1800), Maurice Richard (b. 1802), John Richard (b. 1809), Ellen (b. ca. 1810), Thomas Richard (b. 1811), Johanna (b. 1812), Margaret Ellen (b. 1818), Edward (b. 1821), and Patrick (b. 1822).
On February 26, 1838, he married Mary Carney, of Listowel, in Abbeydorney, a small village just north of Tralee, County Kerry. Witnesses were Richard Wolfe and Maurice Eagan. Carney’s surname may originally have been Kearney. The couple had eight children: Margaret (b. 1841), John (b. 1845), Richard “Dick” (b. 1847), Michael (b. ca. 1848), Sarah Elizabeth (b. 1854), Ellen V. “Nellie” (b. ca. 1856), James (b. ca. 1858), and James R. (b. 1863). The first James died sometime before 1862.
Wolfe, his wife, and several of their children immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City aboard the Liverpool on November 10, 1849. Built by Brown and Bell of New York in 1843 and, in 1849, owned by Grinnell, Minturn, and Company, the Liverpool was quite large: three decks and more than 1,400 tons. The ship carried between 600 and 700 passengers and completed its run from Liverpool to New York in just over two weeks.
Other Wolfe relatives had already immigrated and settled in LaSalle County, Illinois, including Richard Wolfe’s brother John and his first cousin Maurice, who sailed together in 1847. (Brothers Richard and John Wolfe shared a grandfather with Maurice Wolfe: James M. “The Barrister” Wolfe.) Wolfe’s brother, Maurice Richard, immigrated in 1849, arriving in September. While brother John and cousin Maurice moved on to Clinton County, Iowa, Richard Wolfe and his brother Maurice Richard remained in Illinois.
The 1860 federal census identifies Richard Wolfe as a distiller.
Mary Carney Wolfe died of heart failure on November 21, 1893. The federal census of 1900 fins Richard Wolfe living in the home of his daughter, Margaret Farrell, and describes him as a rectifier of spirits.
Wolfe died on September 12, 1906, and is buried with his wife in Saint Columba Cemetery, in Ottawa, Illinois.
image: Gravestone of Richard Wolfe, Saint Columba Cemetery, Ottawa, Illinois (Find a Grave / The VanFleets)