Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy --- Go to Genealogy Page for Ira Gerald Wolfe

Notes for Ira Gerald Wolfe

Ira Wolfe's son, Homer Nelson Wolfe, wrote a short biography about Ira Wolfe. [1] The date that the story was written is unknown, but the typewriter appears to be the same as the typewriter still in use when Homer wrote a story about Paradise (c 1985) [2]. Some of the events in the story have been documented in the notes that follow the story, while some other events in the story may have been described figuratively. Homer's story was far from complete, and left out many events in Ira's life that have now been documented.

Ira Gerald Wolfe was born in 1853 at Hampton, Pennsylvania. At the age of 14 he ran away from home, crossed the Alleghenies on foot, and went to his cousin Joe Ichelberger's who was farming near Union City, Ohio [other documents suggest that Eichelberger did not move to Ohio until 1869, so Ira was more likely 15 or 16]. After a brief stay there he started out again and made his way to New York City. There he hired to the captain of a ship who left him in charge of one of the sailors until the ship was ready to sail. This sailor, in his drunkenness, ordered him to clean up his shoes, which Ira refused to do. The sailor then came at him with a knife and he was glad to get away as quickly as he could. That ended his sailor experience.

After many other happenings during which he endured much privation and want he returned home at the earnest request of his mother. He then went to school two more years, after which he secured a teacher's certificate. At the age of seventeen he went to Kansas with Wes Howard. There he farmed for Mr. Howard in the summer and taught school in the winter near Abilene, Kansas. One experience during his school-teaching days, as told to one of his boys later, was as follows.

Two boys, both large and strong, were having a fight. They had both broken the rules of the school and stood in need of punishment. Mr. Wolfe went to an uncleared plot nearby and came back with two long switches. He gave each of the boys a switch and told them to punish each other; which they did to his entire satisfaction.

After a few years of this farming and teaching Ira Wolfe went to Leadville, Colorado, which was a rough mining town at the time. Mr. Wolfe had a brother-in-law, a Mr. Luke, who came to Colorado to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. These pictures of mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls were sent to papers and magazines in the Eastern States for publication. Mr. Wolfe accompanied him on some long trips through the mountains. This was a very enjoyable experience, and he picked up some interesting souvenirs: a large bone-handled knife and a pair of buffalo horns which he polished and mounted and kept for many years were among these. These trips were not confined altogether to the State of Colorado, for on one occasion they crossed Mosquito Pass, in Texas.

After this Mr. Wolfe went back to Abilene, Kansas. Here he met an old friend whom he had known in Pennsylvania, and who had come west in a covered wagon with her folks. This was Miss Clara Brenizer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Brenizer. After their courtship they were married in 1885, at Hadam, Kansas, when Ira was thirty-two Years of age. They then moved to Scott County in Western Kansas and settled on a 120 acre farm. They were located between Garden City and Scott City, which was in the stage of building up, and they often gave a night's lodging to folks who were traveling between those two points. It was here, Jan. 7, 1886, that their first child was born, whom they named Charles Marion Wolfe.

But Mr. Wolfe seemed to have the wanderlust. He remained on the farm only two years after which they moved on to Lamar, Colorado. Here he went into the real estate business with a Mr. C. G. Armint. Mr. Armint told him that he was "too damned honest to make a success in that country." It was in Lamar that the twins were born on June 24th, 1889. Grace Bee Wolfe and her brother, Vere Brenizer. Vere lived less than two months and was buried at Lamar August 13th of the same year. His grave cannot be located today.

It was in Lamar also that Mr. Wolfe's wrist was broken. He was holding a rather high-spirited horse and had the halter rope around his wrist to insure a secure hold. A bunch of wild horses came running by some little distance away and his horse gave a sudden bound and started after them. Before he could disengage his hold his wrist was broken by the sudden jerk on the rope. The horse joined the wild gang and was never caught again.

After nine months in the real estate business Mr. Wolfe had quite a bit of money invested in business. He left with the understanding that his partner, Mr. Armint, would reimburse him for his investments when certain property was sold, but he never heard from the man afterward. He went from there to Union City, Ohio, where he had been with his cousin, Joe Ichelberger. He rented a small home directly across from the High-School building and next door to his brother-in-law, Frank Shawl. Clara's sister, Mary, and Frank, had three daughters, and the two families enjoyed close proximity for several years. Among other jobs that Ira held was that of a railroad switchman. He stayed near a switch through the night and switched trains to their proper tracks. He also worked on a railroad gang, and it was during that time that he had the two middle fingers on his left hand pinched off at the top joint. Several men were putting a long iron rail in place and Ira did not let go in time. The other men dropped the rail into place and Ira's fingers were pinched off when it dropped. It was here that Homer Nelson and John Franklin were born and, after a move across town, their youngest child, Faith Geraldine was added by birth. They remained here until Homer Nelson (The writer of this narrative), was in his ninth year. With this last move they lived next door to "Cousin Joe Ichelberger" where they had apple trees, cherry trees, quince trees, berries and a garden.

It was about the summer of 1904 that Mr. Wolfe and Frank Shawl visited Florida where a brother of Mrs. Wolfe, Jake Brenizer, lived in Jacksonville. They came back to Ohio with stories of a beautiful, mild climate and flowering trees and roses, and the following year, 1905, both families moved to the sunny land of Florida. Their oldest son, Charles, had married Petrovna Pickett in Union City, and now there were only four children in the family.

But the two families became separated in Florida. Ira Wolfe and his family stayed in Gainesville for a short time, then he bought a ten-acre farm in Paradise, a small community some six miles from Gainesville. Grace Bee began teaching school and was away from home, teaching in various Florida towns, most of the time. The farming venture was not a success, and Mr. Wolfe sold his farm back to the man he had bought it from and returned to Gainesville where he became manager of an ice-making plant. It was a fairly large plant and there were about a dozen delivery wagons that delivered ice throughout the city. Fruit cars were iced on a switch-line and some ice was packed in sawdust and shipped by rail.

After ten years in Florida it happened that the oldest son, Charles, was farming the old farm that was still owned by "Cousin Joe Ichelberger". It was an eighty acre farm and Charles did not have the needed equipment for operating it. At that time Mr. Ira Wolfe invested considerable money in the purchase of farm machinery and a couple of horses. He moved back to Ohio and acquired half interest in the farm production after the owner was given his share. After the first year Mr. Wolfe moved to town and left Homer to carry his load of the farm work. Homer was now twenty years old and was capable of doing a man's work.

Mr. Wolfe secured a job with the Kiser Grocery Company in Union City. The family attended church regularly and were well thought of by all who knew them. Grace Bee went to Dayton, Ohio, where she worked in the office of Kemper Brothers as receptionist and stenographer.

Ira Wolfe's mother was Anna Chronister, whose maiden name was Brenizer. The identity of Ira's father was not shared with his children, but we now know through genetic testing and court documents that his father was Edward Livingston Wolfe [3], the youngest son of Christian Wolf and Anna Steiner. Anna Brenizer was sister to Joseph Ritner Brenizer. Joseph Ritner Brenizer was father to Clara Brenizer, Ira's second wife. Thus, Ira Wolfe and Clara Brenizer were cousins.

Ira Wolfe grew up with Chronister siblings born to mother Anna Brenizer and his step-father Joseph Chronister. The notes of Ira's Chronister siblings, especially those of Willis Chronister [4] include interesting descriptions of Ira's life, after they moved to Kansas and Colorado.

1853 Ira Wolfe was born on December 12, 1853. Ira's mother, Anna Brenizer lived at Hampton, Pennsylvania at this time. [5]

1916 Ira Wolfe death certificate

1850-1870 Ira lived near Hampton, Pennsylvania with step-father Joseph Chronister and mother Anna (Brenizer) Chronister, perhaps in one of the houses owned by Chronister families northwest of Hampton, shown in an 1872 atlas.

1872 Map of Reading Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania [6]

1850 (David) Wesley Howard (age 13) lived in Straban Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania with three brothers and parents George (age 45) and Elizabeth (age 39) Howard. [7] The Howards lived just a few miles down the road from the Chronister household. Ira moved to Kansas with Wesley Howard in the early 1870's.

1860 Joseph Eichelberger Sr (age 40) and Caroline (age ), son Joseph E Jr (age 11), and other children, lived in Silver Springs, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, which is about 10 miles north of Hampton. [8] According to Homer's story, Ira left the Chronister home around 1870 and went to the Eichelberger's in Ohio. Other sources show that Joseph Eichelberger, born 1820 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, married Caroline Brenizer. [9] Thus, Joseph Eichelberger Sr was an uncle to Clara and Ira.

1860 David W Howard (age 22) and (brother?) Jacob Howard (age 26) lived in Straban Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania (no parents were listed). [10]

1860 Wesley and Mary Lott lived in Franklin Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania with children, including Martha [Mattie](age 2). [11] [Ira Wolfe and Mattie Lott were married in Kansas in 1876]

1860 Ira (age 6) lived in Hampton, Reading Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania with parents Ann (age 25) and Joseph (age 24) Chronister and siblings Laura (age 3) and Willace (age 9 months). [12] [13]

1869 Joseph Eichelberger Jr. moved from Pennsylvania to Darke County, Ohio at age 20 or 21.

1870 Annie (age 37) and Joseph (age 35) Chronister lived in Hampton with children Laura (age 12), Willis (age 10), Clara (age 6), Lafayette (age 4), and Austin (age 1) [14].

1870 According to the story that his son, Homer, wrote, Ira traveled, on foot, to Joseph Eichelberger's place in Darke County, Ohio. Ira went from Adams County, on the Pennsylvania-MD border, to Darke County, Ohio. Perhaps he went along the Ohio-Pennsylvania railroad through Harrisburgh and Pittsburgh or perhaps he went along the Cumberland railroad through Maryland, West Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio.

1850 Map of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad [15]

1870 Ira G Wolfe, born in Hampton, Pennsylvania, enlisted, for 5 years, in the US Army at Columbus, Ohio, on February 5. He was a farmer, age 21 (he apparently did not tell the truth about his age, perhaps so that he would be eligible to enlist). He had hazel eyes, dark brown hair, dark complexion, and was 5 feet 6½ inches tall. He was assigned to the 11th Infantry Regiment, Company P. The record indicates that he deserted on March 9, 1770, as did most men who were listed on the same page of the roster. [16]

1870 Ira would soon travel with Wes Howard to Kansas. In 1870, David (age 33) and Mary (age 25) Howard lived with son Charlie (age 3) in York Springs, Reading County, Pennsylvania. Mary Howard's maiden name was Chronister and their children would later marry into the Brenizer family. [17] Mary Howard was a 4th cousin of Ira's step-father, Joseph Chronister. Living with David Howard were Harriet Chronister (age 59) and her likely children Sarah (age 27), Anna (age 21), and John (age 31); and Alice (age 2, likely John's daughter). Harriet Chronister was the widow of Jacob L Chronister, who lived at Latimore Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania in 1850 and 1860 with children John, Sarah, and Mary, all of matching ages to this family. It is plausible that Mary Howard was the daughter of Harriet Chronister. Anna Chronister later married John L Brenizer's son, Charles Milton Brenizer, and Anna's sister Sarah and Alice Chronister lived with them.

1870 Ephraim Howard (brother of David Wesley Howard) lived in Straban Twp, Adams County, Pennsylvania with son Milton Howard (age 14). [18] Milton was mentioned in Willis Chronister's letters from Kansas as a companion of Ira's while they were doing artistry (photography).

1870 Ira's future first wife, Mattie Lott (age 12), lived with her parents, John W Lott (age 39) and Mary Lott (age 33), in China Twp, Lee County, Illinois. [19]

1870-79 "About this time also, quite a number of settlers arrived [in Dickinson County, Kansas] from Adams County, PA, who selected Cheever Township as their place of settlement" [20]. The European population of Buckeye Township (adjacent to Cheever), where Ira likely taught school, went from 0 in 1870 to 561 in 1880 [21].

1870 Wild Bill Hickok was the sheriff in Abilene. The original town of Abilene became established as a trading point for cattle, in 1869 Rice and Bonebrake's Addition; and in the following year, 1879, Bonebrake & Bidwell's Addition; in 1880 The erection of the Opera block by Mr. Bonebrake, gave Abilene a building that would be a credit to a much larger place [22].

1871-73 No record has yet been found of Ira in a normal school certification program in Pennsylvania, although Homer's story indicates that he returned to Pennsylvania from Uncle Eichelberger's in Ohio and got a teaching certificate. [23] The list of the first few classes from this school mention neither an Ira Wolfe nor an Ira Chronister [24]

1872 Ira went to Kansas about this time with Wesley David Howard, according to the story written by his son, Homer. He was known both as Ira G Wolf and as Ira G Wolfe in Kansas, although his name was often spelled incorrectly on public documents.

1872 The Chronister school opened in school district 37 in section 10 of Buckeye Twp, Dickinson County, Kansas. This was where Ira taught after he went to Kansas with Wes Howard. [Photocopy, "TG Wolf" was a teacher at the Chronister schoolhouse, Dickinson County, Kansas, c 1872. [www.sckans.edu/~orsh/school/home.shtml, website citing the Chronister school in "a-c", website no longer active].]

Chronister School District #37, located in the center of sec. 10 in Buckeye Township, was organized in 1872. J.M. Stewart, Joseph Underhill, and G. Livingston were the original school officers and John McCash was the first teacher. Some of the later teachers were: T.G. Wolf [possibly a transcription error for IG Wolfe], L.F.Fickles, Will Phipp, … In 1878 a new school was built in sec. 11 Buckeye Township and was used until 1918 …

1885 A map of Dickinson County Kansas showed schoolhouse 37 on land of John S. Chronister, in section 11 of Buckeye Township. Charles Milton Brenizer lived to the north, on the border of Cheever Twp, and D. W. Howard and John L. Brenizer lived further north in Cheever township. Maps from a series of agricultural reports show the original school in section 10 in 1878 and in section 11 in 1870. [25] [26] [27]

1885 map of the border between Buckeye and Cheever townships, Dickinson County, Kansas [28]

"The educational interests of the county are in keeping with the general progress and advancement of the other interests of the county. The schoolhouses are all in good condition and the sites are fenced. Nearly all of the school buildings are located on the prairie, and although located in these exposed positions, but very few have taken any steps to ornament the grounds by setting out shade trees. Inside, however, the buildings are well seated, and well supplied with maps, charts, globes, dictionaries and other school apparatus. … The total number of teachers employed during the year was 133, of which sixty-five were males and sixty-eight females. The average salary per month paid to teachers was, males $36, females $31.50." [29]

1875 I. G. Wolfe (age 21), farmer, lived in the household of David W Howard (age 38 merchant) and Mary E (age 30) in Cheever Twp, Dickinson County, Kansas. Son Charles Howard (age 8), of Pennsylvania, and daughter Lottie M (age 1), of Kansas, were in the household. Next door (household 50) was John Wesley Lott (age 43 farmer) and wife Mary (age 38) and their daughter Mattie (age 17) of Illinois and Pennsylvania. [30] The events were then in place for Ira's first marriage, to Martha, the girl next door.

1876 J. Chronister ran for the position of road overseer in Section 1 of Buckeye Township in Dickinson County. This was likely John Chronister, who traveled with Wes Howard and Ira to Kansas. [31]

1876 Marriage license for Ira Wolfe and Mat Lott [32]

1876 Charles Wolfe, Ira's son, kept a wedding picture, perhaps of Ira Wolfe and wife, perhaps Martha Lott, or perhaps Clara Brenizer (it does not look, to me, like later pictures of Clara Brenizer).

Wedding photo of Ira Wolfe and wife [33] [34]. Wellington Luke, photographer and friend of Ira, was in Abilene in 1876, and might have taken a wedding picture. [Photocopy, Newspaper, Abilene Chronicle, Luke photography.]

1876 A newspaper announcement reported "Married - By Rev. F.H. Burris, at his house in Abilene, May 25th, 1876, Mr I.G. Wolfe to Miss M.A. Lott, all of Dickinson County, Kansas." [35]

1876 Newspaper wedding announcement

1876 The letters of Ira's half-brother, Willis Chronister son of Joseph Chronister, provide a very interesting perspective on life in Kansas at this time. [36]

1877 Ira's first son, Ira, was born on 28 Feb, but Mattie died within 1 week. Son Ira died by August 1. [37] Mattie Wolfe's gravestone reads: "Wife of I.G." and she was buried at Union (Livingston) Cemetery in Section 10 of Buckeye Twp, Dickinson County, Kansas. She died 7 of March at age 18 years and 1 month. "The wife of Ira Wolfe of Cheever died last week buried Fri (Mar 9)". [38] DW Howard, born 1837 and died 1913, with wife Mary was buried nearby. DW Howard went to Kansas with Ira and was living in Abilene Kansas in 1910, according to the census. Also buried nearby were CM Brenizer (Charles Milton was John Leonard Brenizer's son) and Harriett, Sarah, and John Chronister, who lived with David Howard in 1870. [39]

1880 Ira Wolfe was listed as a widowed stepson living with Annie and Joseph Chronister in Cheever Twp, Dickinson County, Kansas along with Annie and Joseph's children Laura V. Luke and Willis, Clara, Austin, John, and Newton Chronister. [40] [Photocopy, Ira Wolfe listing in the 1880 census for Dickinson County, Kansas.]

1880 W.O.Luke, photographer, lived in Leadville, Lake County, Colorado with wife Laura (age 23), brother-in-law Willis Chronister (age 21), and 2 children. This was Ira's brother-in-law Mr. Luke (husband of Laura Chronister). Laura V. Luke (age 21) was also listed at Cheever Kansas, with her father Joseph Chronister and half-brother Ira Wolfe, in this census, an apparent double listing. Wellington O. Luke was a professional photographer with pictures published in several Colorado museums. Homer wrote that Ira traveled with Mr. Luke and took photographs of the West for magazines. [41]

1880 Davis M and Mary Howard lived in the city of Abilene with children including Lottie (age 7) born in Pennsylvania and Herbert (age 2) born in Kansas. Lottie's birthplace indicates that the Howard's (and Ira, who traveled with them) came to Kansas no earlier than 1873 [42]. Listed nearby were John (Uncle to both Ira and Clara) and Beatrice Brenizer with children Milton and Mary [43].

1880 Joseph Eichelberger (age 31, born Pennsylvania), farmer, lived in Jackson Twp, Darke County, Ohio with wife and three children. Joseph's nephew George F. Shall (age 17) lived with them, born in Pennsylvania with parents born Pennsylvania. [44] The names Ichelberger and Shawl appear in Homer's story, with variant spellings.

Ira Wolfe, perhaps about 1880 [45]


[1] Family Document, Provided by Homer's son, Homer Jr, to Robert Wolfe in 1983.

[2] Family Document, Provided by Faith Wolfe to Robert Wolfe in 1985.

[3] Janet and Robert Wolfe, Genealogy Page for Edward Livingston Wolf, [JRWolfeGenealogy].

[4] Janet and Robert Wolfe, Genealogy Page for Willis Chronister, [JRWolfeGenealogy].

[5] Ohio Department of Health, Ohio, Death Certificates, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord], [FamilySearch].

[6] D. J. Lake, Atlas of Adams Co. Pennsylvania from actual surveys (Philadelphia: I. W. Field & Co, 1872).

[7] United States Census, 1850, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[8] United States Federal Census, 1860, hard to read, [AncestryImage], [AncestryRecord].

[9] Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord], [FHLCatalogFilm].

[10] United States Census, 1860, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[11] United States Census, 1860, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[12] United States Federal Census, 1860, [AncestryImage], [AncestryRecord].

[13] United States Federal Census, 1860, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[14] United States Federal Census, 1870, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[15] Roberts, Solomon White, Map of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad (Pittsburgh: 1850), [LibraryOfCongress Map], [LibraryOfCongress Catalog].

[16] [FamilySearchImage].

[17] United States Census, 1870, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[18] United States Census, 1870, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[19] United States Federal Census, 1870, [AncestryImage], [AncestryRecord].

[20] William G. Cutler with A. T. Andreas, publisher, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883), 686, left column, [HathiTrust], [GoogleBooks].

[21] William G. Cutler with A. T. Andreas, publisher, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883), 683, [HathiTrust], [GoogleBooks].

[22] William G. Cutler with A. T. Andreas, publisher, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883), 689, [HathiTrust], [GoogleBooks].

[23] Conway Phelps Wing, History of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (1879), 259, (picture on first page), Reports the first class of 300 students at the Cumberland Valley State Normal school in Shippensburg started in 31 May 1873.

[24] Personal Communication, Karen Daniel, Archives & Special Collections Librarian, Shippensburg University.

[25] First Biennial Report of the State Board of Agriculture to the Legislature of the State of Kansas, for the Years 1877-8, Map of Dickinson County, Kansas, 1878 (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co.), [KSGenWeb Text], [KSGenWeb Map].

[26] Second Biennial Report of the State Board of Agriculture to the Legislature of the State of Kansas, for the Years 1879-80, Map of Dickinson County, Kansas, 1880 (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co.), 23, [HathiTrust].

[27] William G. Cutler with A. T. Andreas, publisher, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883), 683, [HathiTrust], [GoogleBooks].

[28] John F Fuller, Map of Dickinson County, Kansas (Ramsey, Millet & Hudson, 1885), [LibraryOfCongress Map], [LibraryOfCongress].

[29] William G. Cutler with A. T. Andreas, publisher, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883), 687, left column, bottom, [HathiTrust], [GoogleBooks].

[30] Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, 1875, line 49, [AncestryRecord], [AncestryImage].

[31] Newspaper, Dickinson County Chronicle (Dickinson County, Kansas), 1876.

[32] Family Document, Source not recorded.

[33] Family Document, Files of Newman Wolfe and Doug Wolfe. There is no label indicating whether this was Ira's marriage to Martha Lott or to Clara Brenizer.

[34] Family Document, Files of Newman Wolfe and Doug Wolfe. There was no label with names, and no indication of whether this was Martha Lott or Clara Brenizer.

[35] Abstracts from Dickinson County Newspapers 1870-1882, citing The Chronicle, Dickinson County, Kansas, Friday, May 26, [GoogleBooks].

[36] Janet and Robert Wolfe, Genealogy Page for Willis Chronister, [JRWolfeGenealogy].

[37] Abstracts from Dickinson County Newspapers 1870-1882, citing The Chronicle, Dickinson County, Kansas, August 3, 1877, [GoogleBooks].

[38] Newspaper, The Enterprise Gazette (Dickinson County, Kansas), Friday March 16, 1877.

[39] Rootsweb file, Listing with Mattie Wolfe at the Union cemetery. Also buried here were friend DW Howard and Brenizer and Chronister families, [Rootsweb].

[40] United States Federal Census, 1880, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[41] United States Census, 1880, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[42] United States Census, 1880, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[43] United States Census, 1880, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[44] United States Federal Census, 1880, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[45] Family Document, Files of Douglas Wolfe and Charles Wolfe.