Thomas L. Wolfe was born in August 1840 in Listowel County Kerry, Ireland. He was the son of Thomas Richard Wolfe, a Catholic farmer, and Ellen Leahy Wolfe.aHe was baptized on January 5 1841, with witnesses J. Wolfe and M. McCuuliffe.
Wolfe had nine siblings: Richard L. (b. ca. 1837), Margaret (b. 1837), John (b. ca. 1839), Hanora (b. ca. 1843), James (b. ca. 1845), Mary Johanna (b. ca. 1846), Catherine “Kitty” (b. 1847), Ellen “Nellie” (b. 1853), and Maurice (b. ca. 1855). John Wolfe died between 1848 and 1850, and James before 1850.
In 1848, Wolfe emigrated to the United States in the company of his parents and siblings. They sailed from Liverpool to New York, arriving on September 11. From there they traveled to LaSalle County, Illinois, where they joined relatives.
Many members of the extended Wolfe family made the same journey. Wolfe’s uncle John R. Wolfe, along with a cousin Maurice, emigrated togetherin 1847. Wolfe’s uncles Maurice R. and Richard sailed 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 Wolfes, except for the Sheehans, settled in LaSalle County, Illinois. A few moved on to Clinton County, Iowa, John R. Wolfe and his cousin Maurice.
Wolfe and his family initially farmed in Deer Park Township, LaSalle County. By 1870, however, they had moved to Grand Mound in Liberty Township, Clinton County, Iowa.
On May 5, 1875, Wolfe married Katherine Mulvihill, a native of County Kerry, Ireland. Mulvihill’s father’s second wife, Margaret, and Thomas Wolfe’s father were second cousins. The couple had six children: Thomas Edward (b. 1876), Joseph, Vincent, Nellie (b. 1883), Cornelius (b. 1885), Francis Leroy “Roy” (b. 1891). Joseph and Vincent both died sometime before 1900.
Described in his obituary as “quiet and industrious,” Wolfe farmed for the rest of his life in Liberty Township. He died on May 26 1908, of what his obituary described as “stomach trouble.” Katherine Mulvihill Wolfe lived in the household of her son Thomas until her death, at Mercy Hospital in Clinton, on May 19, 1936. She and her husband are buried together at Saint James Cemetery in Toronto, Iowa.
image: Detail from the Oxford Mirror (Lost Nation Chronicle), June 4, 1908, page 5